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United States - Apr 29

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

US air force calls for mission to combat climate change

David Adam, The Guardian,
The US air force will this week call for the world's top scientists to come together in a 21st-century Apollo-style programme to develop greener fuels and tackle global warming. It wants universities, governments, companies and environmental groups to collaborate on a multibillion-dollar effort to work out greenhouse gas emissions of existing and future fuels.

William Anderson, an assistant secretary of the air force, said the project aimed to calculate the overall carbon footprint of the world's energy sources, rather than merely measure their direct emissions.

He said controversy over the environmental impact of biofuels showed such an effort was needed to avoid making the situation worse: "If you look at the situation with bioethanol from corn, a lot of people saw that as a panacea, but now it seems that if you include the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, the carbon footprint may be worse than people realised.
(28 April 2008)

Rep. Markey Says Democrats Press Solutions for Gas Prices
Rep. Markey, US Congress via Energy Policy TV
Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Select Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee, lays blame for the run-up in oil prices at the feet of President Bush. Markey discusses the solutions Democrats have offered for rising gasoline prices, and denounces Republican efforts to block them.
(23 April 2008)
Blames speculators, the Bush administration, Big Oil and OPEC for high oil prices. Suggests opening up the the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to counter speculators.

These traditional Democratic views sound increasingly hollow in the face of peak oil.

Bakken oil a one-time harvest

Roger Johnson, Forum Communications Co. Fargo, ND.
The announcement that the Bakken Formation contains up to 4.3 billion barrels of potentially recoverable oil should give North Dakotans pause to rethink our state’s future.

As recently as 1995, the Bakken Formation was said to have 151 million barrels of recoverable oil. The new estimate is more than 25 times that figure. This announcement will lead to additional investments in North Dakota for exploration and production. But given the size of the production capacity, the results of the assessment will drive longer-term investments such as pipelines and processing facilities to fully utilize future production from the Bakken Formation.

In the 1990s, North Dakota agriculture, the state’s dominant industry, underwent a transformation. State government took aggressive action to encourage investment in agricultural processing ventures. Not only did the state’s farmers and ranchers produce crops and livestock, but they increasingly invested in ventures to add value to the raw farm products that long had been exported elsewhere for processing. A good share of North Dakota’s strong economy and low unemployment rate today are the result of those investments by farmers and ranchers, by state government and by private business to add value to agricultural products.

Crude oil is not unlike an agricultural commodity. It is a raw ingredient. It must be harvested, transported, processed, packaged and transported again to be useful. If we continue doing what we have always done, most of the new oil that will be discovered and produced in our state will be sent elsewhere to be processed into the various petroleum products. Unless North Dakota decides otherwise.

State government should aggressively investigate building additional refinery capacity in our state to add jobs and value to our crude oil. Given North Dakota’s successful state-owned mill and a state-owned bank, we should consider whether such a refinery could or should be state-owned in part or in whole.

Increased crude oil production will require more infrastructure. We can choose to build more crude oil pipelines to move the crude to where someone else will refine it. Or, we can build a refinery near the production and build new refined product pipelines to help move the finished product to market - and capture the added value along the way.

Much research and study needs to be done before such a great undertaking. And it needs to happen soon. We have a great university system that has or can acquire the resources necessary to determine the feasibility of such project, and also to train the people we need to carry it out.

The new estimates of the Bakken Formation reserves give us an enormous opportunity. We must move quickly to seize the opportunity, however, because crude oil differs greatly from agricultural commodities in one very important respect - it is a one time harvest.

Johnson is North Dakota commissioner of agriculture.
(28 April 2008)
Sounds like a valid strategy to defeat "the oil curse" that bedevils oil-exporting regions. -BA

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