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Energy policy - Sept 25

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Nuclear power pushed for oil sands production

Shawn McCarthy, Globe & Mail (Canada)
Reliance on natural gas as heating source is industry's Achilles heel: Swedish group
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OTTAWA -- The much-touted potential for Canada's oil sands to offset projected declines in North American oil production remains highly questionable because of constraints on natural gas production and environmental problems, a group of Swedish industry experts concludes in a new report.

To meet its ambitious targets, the industry would likely require the construction of a nuclear power plant near Fort McMurray in Alberta in order to replace natural gas in the energy-intensive production process, the scientists argue.

Writing in the influential European journal Energy Policy last month, the analysts for the Uppsala Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group warned that the world should not count on Canada's massive oil sands deposits to meet future demand growth.

"While the theoretical future oil supply from the oil sands is huge, the potential ability for the Canadian oil sands industry to meet expectations of bridging a future oil supply gap is not based on reality," said the authors, who are led by prominent "peak oil" theorist Kjell Aleklett, a physicist from the University of Uppsala.
(25 Sept 2006)


The Potential Collapse of Oil Prices Makes Restraint of Gasoline Consumption Key to Controlling CO2 Emissions

Raymond J. Learsy, Huffington Post
...Will oil prices go the way of natural gas? Again I say I don't know. Certainly OPEC will do all it can to impede a significant erosion of prices. Whether they can hold the line in a well supplied market remains to be seen. But the important thing here is that it may happen, and with it a steep decline in the price of gasoline as well as the price of distillates. All of which is not bad except as it impacts our consumption of these products. Low prices will encourage greater consumption of fossil fuels and a laxness in the impetus and steps we are beginning to take to wean ourselves away from our addiction to oil.

To protect our environment, for reasons of national security, for reasons of economic rationality and self reliance we need to kick our addiction to fossil fuels for once and for all, whether the price of oil is high or low. And much better that the price be as low as possible, especially as regards our national security and our economic well being.

High prices for crude oil are in the interests of the oil companies, their hangers on and the national producers, i.e. OPEC and its adherents such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela among others.

But we need to prepare for low prices and for that reason we need to have a plan in place to cap our consumption of gasoline and to bring it ever lower as alternative fuels and solutions take hold. In my Post "Breaking Oil's Price, Curtailing Gas Consumption, Regaining our Self Respect" 08/14/06,
(25 Sept 2006)
Raymond Learsy is a critic of peak oil theory. Yet in this and previous columns, he espouses positions that Peak Oil people can agree with. -BA


Untransformed
(Bush and energy technology)

Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker
Of all the many ingenious American things this President is optimistic about, technology is supposedly near the top of the list. “And technology will once again make this country the leader in the world, and that’s what we’re here to celebrate,” he told a group of Californians this past Earth Day.

Just about every decision that the Administration has made on energy policy belies these claims. If you examine Bush’s record, you find that the technologies he supports are either those which were developed in the past-coal mining and oil drilling-or those which lie securely in the future: cars and buses that zip around on hydrogen.

When presented with new technologies that could actually change the way Americans live in the here and now, the White House wants nothing to do with them. Methods currently exist, for instance, to cut mercury emissions from power plants by as much as ninety per cent; the Administration is uninterested. Similarly, there are already (Japanese-made) cars on the road that comfortably seat a family of five and get more than fifty miles to the gallon.

Yet it is only in recent months that the White House has begun to investigate the possibility of raising fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles, which have languished at twenty-seven and a half miles per gallon for the past twenty years. The new transformer rules are the first efficiency goals the Bush Administration has proposed; meanwhile, the D.O.E. has missed deadlines to raise standards for equipment ranging from dishwashers to fluorescent-lamp ballasts (and has been sued by fifteen states for its negligence).

This is not the record of a technological optimist, of someone who believes in the “ingenuity of the American people.” This is the record of a pessimist.
(25 Sept 2006)


Hearings on DOD alternative energy and energy efficiency

U.S. House of Representatives
On Tuesday, September 26, 2006, at 2:00 p.m. in Room 2118 Rayburn House Office Building, the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities and the Subcommittee on Readiness of the House Armed Services Committee will meet in a joint session to receive testimony on the alternative energy and energy efficiency programs of the Department of Defense, along with additional testimony on improving energy security through changes to both energy supply and demand.

As the largest single consumer of fuel in the United States, the Department of Defense is concerned not only about the rising cost of oil, but also about ensuring it has assured mobility and superior capabilities on the battlefield. Consequently, the Department is engaged in a number of energy conservation and alternative energy research, development, test, and evaluation efforts. The purpose of the hearing is to gain a better understanding of these programs and to provide the appropriate level of oversight to the Department as it develops a comprehensive energy security strategy.

Witnesses:...
(Sept 2006)


Environmentalists back Putin over Shell's energy permit

Terry Macalister, Guardian
· Downing Street and US express concerns
· Report lists mounting problems of gas project
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...Campaigners from the Bankwatch group, a network of environmental groups in 11 countries, say Russia was right to stop environmental and other abuses at Sakhalin which had been going on for far too long.

Fears have been expressed for the Pacific grey whale which swims in the waters around Sakhalin. Bankwatch also argues that Shell should receive no funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, on the grounds that it is breaking bank rules by presiding over rising levels of crime and HIV.

Greig Aitken, of Bankwatch, said: "Russian and international environmental organisations have, for several years, documented the same pattern of violations cited by the Russian government, as well as a range of others that all have a grim bearing on an island that depends on fishing for one third of its economy.

"If there is talk of Russia asset-grabbing as it carries out its right to, belatedly, defend its environment, it should not overshadow the asset-grabbing Shell is attempting in the form of billions of dollars of international taxpayers' money for a project it has been unable to get right for the last three years."
(25 Sept 2006)

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