New data from the International Energy Agency “indicate that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.”
Said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol: “This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today.”
“Global emissions of carbon dioxide stood at 32.3 billion tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the preceding year. The preliminary IEA data suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.”
The Associated Press reports that “OPEC and lower global oil prices delivered a one-two punch to the drillers in North Dakota and Texas who brought the U.S. one of the biggest booms in the history of the global oil industry.”
“Now they are fighting back.”
“Companies are leaning on new techniques and technology to get more oil out of every well they drill, and furiously cutting costs in an effort to keep U.S. oil competitive with much lower-cost oil flowing out of the Middle East, Russia and elsewhere.”
The Business Roundtable provides an interesting infographic that shows various energy-related tactics businesses employ to improve sustainability.
The Jamestown Sun reports that “North Dakota’s oil tax revenues took another nearly $1 billion hit in the latest revenue forecast released Wednesday, but the picture for general fund revenues was nearly $131 million rosier than in January, leaving some lawmakers scratching their heads as they pointed to slumping oil prices and a drop in drilling activity.
“The forecast, prepared by the Office of Management and Budget with consultant Moody’s Analytics, is the first since a Jan. 29 forecast from Legislative Council predicted the state would collect $4.3 billion in oil and gas revenues next biennium — $4 billion less than the December forecast used in Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s budget proposal.”
“Wednesday’s forecast drops oil tax collections by another $870 million in 2015-17, to $3.4 billion, and by $108 million in the current biennium. That assumes the state’s ‘small trigger’ oil extraction tax exemption will last through June and the “big trigger” exemption will be in effect for 11 months of the next biennium.”
Bloomberg reports that “World powers have offered to suspend U.S. and European oil sanctions against Iran within months of signing an agreement if the Islamic Republic adopts strict limits verified by intrusive inspections of its nuclear program for at least a decade, according to U.S. and European officials.
“Limits on Iran’s oil exports would be suspended after Iran complies with an initial set of restrictions, such as disconnecting the majority of its centrifuges and submitting them for verification, according to the officials who spoke to Bloomberg News on condition of anonymity to describe the private negotiations under way in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“Negotiating teams from six powers — the U.S., U.K,, France, Germany, China and Russia — are working toward a self-imposed March 31 goal to reach the framework of a nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Senate Republicans used a hearing “on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) landmark climate rule to highlight the objections from states that oppose the rule,” The Hill reports.
“The GOP brought in officials from Indiana, Wyoming and Wisconsin — each of which has Republican governors and Republican majorities in both legislative chambers — to outline how they find the rule unreasonable, irresponsible and illegal.”
“Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee brought in officials from New York and California — whose governors are Democrats — to support the regulation, which aims to slash the power sector’s carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030. It was the second hearing in as many months that the panel has held on the rule, to which Republicans strongly object and have sought to scuttle or change significantly.”
The Hill: “The morning coffee that so many depend on to get through the day is at risk due to climate change, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency warned Wednesday.”
“The coffee plant is just one of the numerous staples that a change in climate could threaten if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, Gina McCarthy said.”
“’Now, coffee’s a temperature-sensitive crop,’ McCarthy said Wednesday at a speech hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. ‘Climate change puts the world’s coffee-growing regions at risk.’”
“Starbucks Coffee is among more than 200 companies that have endorsed the EPA’s proposed rule to slash carbon emissions from power plants. The companies argue that climate change threatens their operations.”
The Guardian: “New evidence suggests the rate at which temperatures are rising in the northern hemisphere could be 0.25C per decade by 2020 – a level not seen for at least 1,000 years.”
“The analysis, based on a combination of data from more than two dozen climate simulation models from around the world, looked at the rate of change in 40-year long time spans.”
“Over the 900 years preceding the 20th century, 40-year warming trends rarely showed an average rate much higher than 0.1C per decade, the study found. But by 2020 the rate was expected to have risen to an average of 0.25C per decade, give or take 0.05C.”
“The findings are published in the journal Nature Climate Change.”
Inside Climate News: “Since the Obama administration announced its plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions and combat climate change last year, many states have been on the offensive. Some have sued the Environmental Protection Agency, arguing that the agency has overstepped its authority. Republican leaders in Congress have vowed to dismantle carbon emission regulations. And state legislatures have set up numerous blockades to delay the Clean Power Plan.”
“Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA’s administrator has the authority to devise a plan if a state fails to do so. But there’s a catch.”
“The EPA likely has authority to enforce only one, or, according to the agency, two of four [emissions reduction] building blocks … The act, as it stands now, allows the EPA to restrict emissions from plants but does not give it the authority to increase power generation from plants or order states to set up more renewable energy sources.”
“If a state doesn’t submit a plan, or submits one that doesn’t meet the EPA’s requirements, the agency will formulate a federal plan for the state.”
“A federal plan is going to be bad news for customers. Reducing emissions at coal plants is a lot more expensive than, say, increasing customer energy efficiency. It’s fairly certain that a federal plan will result in higher electricity prices than a state plan would.”
Fuel Fix: “The U.S. shale boom may finally be slowing down, according to projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.”
“Oil production from the six largest shale plays in the U.S. will hit 5.6 million barrels per day in April, an increase of less than 300 barrels per day over March, the EIA said in its monthly drilling productivity report on Monday. The increase would be the smallest since February 2011.”
“If the EIA’s projection holds, April’s production would be a drastic decrease from a record-breaking surge in 2014; in 10 of the last 16 months, U.S. oil production gained at least 100,000 barrels per day.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget includes new funding for an array of energy projects fueled by both traditional and renewable resources, and it relies heavily on one energy source — natural gas — to pay for it.”
“The Democratic governor is proposing to issue a $675 million bond to pay for economic development initiatives, with $225 million of it slated for a package of alternative energy, natural gas and energy efficiency projects.”
“The estimated $55 million annual debt service for the bond would be paid from a severance tax that Mr. Wolf wants to put on the volume and value of gas extracted from the Marcellus and Utica shales.”
Climate Central: The solar sector is growing so quickly as solar panel costs drop that employment in the industry jumped 21.8 percent in 2014, adding 31,000 new jobs in that time for a total of 174,000 solar workers nationwide … Solar employment is expected to jump by another 36,000 workers this year.
“The solar power industry employs a lot of workers despite solar power being only a tiny fraction — less than 1 percent — of total U.S. electric power generation … The industry’s growth is based mostly on the falling cost of photovoltaics … Since the late 1970s, solar panel costs have fallen 99 percent.”
“The biggest takeaways from the GOP-dominated Iowa Ag Summit here this weekend may be the opportunity that the Renewable Fuel Standard offers Hillary Clinton to address income inequality and the danger that the Obama administration’s dithering management of the RFS may pose to her quest for the presidency,” National Journal reports.
“Clinton is said to have identified income inequality as the defining issue for 2016 and to be looking for ways to reduce it.”
“Clinton wasn’t in Iowa for the summit, of course. Only Republican candidates chose to participate in the day-long event organized by Bruce Rastetter, a wealthy Iowa agribusinessman, philanthropist and Republican donor. When Rastetter interviewed the candidates, there were no surprises. All the major candidates endorsed the RFS except Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.”
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is counseling states to defy a key pillar of President Obama’s climate change initiative,” The Hill reports.
“But while it may be politically attractive for some states to heed the call to just say ‘no,’ to the Environmental Protection Agency’s landmark limits on power plant emissions, experts say doing so could bring unwanted consequences.”
“McConnell, a Republican from coal-rich Kentucky, reasoned in a column in the Lexington, Ky., Herald-Leader that states’ refusal to comply with the contentious rule could be a powerful display of protest against an administration he accuses of overreach. At the same time, he argues, states could avoid expensive impacts of a regulation that he thinks is doomed by either Congress or the federal courts.”