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A Bipartisan Fix for the Oil Crisis

Joseph Petrowski, Wall Street Journal
As president of Gulf Oil, New England’s largest independent petroleum company, and as someone who has spent his life in and around energy markets, I find the tone and substance of the current debate about our energy policy to be profoundly disappointing.

Partisan sides are using a serious crisis to advance political agendas, create political attack sound bites, and launch hearings to “expose” the culprit. Pick your favorite: speculators, Big Oil, environmentalists, China, India, etc.

This is not leadership.

A fundamental misunderstanding of how markets work, and how an effective government can support the private sector, is delaying remedies that will bring down energy prices now.
(10 July 2008)

Canadians ponder cost of rush for dirty oil

John Vidal, The Guardian
As oil prices continue to reach record highs, the search for new sources of energy has led the world to Alberta, Canada, and its vast oil sands. Now, John Vidal finds, the country famed for its wilderness and clean living finds itself caught between fuelling the world’s oil-hungry economy and the ecological devastation and soaring greenhouse gas emissions that exploiting the tar sands produces
(12 July 2008)

Sunny side up

Editorial, Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont)
While the arguments rage on in the United States about drilling for oil in our coastal waters, relicensing aging nuclear plants or mining more coal, Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders is busy exploring an energy vision that goes beyond oil, coal or nuclear power.

Sanders has proposed legislation calling for the installation of photovoltaic solar panels on the roofs of 10 million homes and businesses over the next 10 years.

It sounds like a lot, but this is only about 10 percent of the homes in the United States. Just the same, these 10 million solar homes would generate up to 10,000 megawatts of electricity – or about the equivalent of 13 Vermont Yankee-sized nuclear reactors.

There are around 102 million homes in the United States. If 70 percent up them had solar panels, energy experts say these solar homes could supply 70 percent of peak U.S. energy demands during the summer months.

Combined with energy efficiency and weatherization, Sanders said his proposal has “huge potential” and can help the nation become energy independent and break our dependence on fossil fuels.
(9 July 2008)

House Hearing on Global Warming Effects on Extreme Weather
US House via Energy Policy TV
The Select Committee holds a hearing examining the links between global warming, extreme weather events, and how these events affect the world now and will in the future.
(10 July 2008)

Cap & Trade – Misplaced Confidence

Laurie Williams & Allan Zabel, California Energy Circuit
As poles and glaciers melt, permafrost thaws and oceans acidify from our ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions, the question of whether a carbon cap-and-trade program or carbon fees would provide swifter, more equitable and certain emissions reductions is increasingly urgent. Based on our experience as environmental enforcers (including Allan’s experience with cap-and-trade programs), we believe that the California Air Resource Board’s confidence in cap-and-trade is misplaced and that carbon fees provide the more effective and efficient path to the goals of AB 32, California’s landmark climate protection law.

As long expected, California’s recently released AB 32 Draft Scoping Plan relies heavily on “cap-and-trade” to reduce the state’s significant contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions. The draft minimizes the value of a system of “carbon fees.” The Air Resources Board justifies its preference by calling cap-and-trade a more certain route to meeting AB 32’s requirement to reduce California’s emissions 30 percent below “business as usual” by 2020.

However, cap-and-trade has serious downsides.

Unless all cap-and-trade elements, including offsets, are limited to systems with accurate emissions measurement, the cap on total emissions will likely be inflated and claimed reductions exaggerated. While the emissions of large electrical generating facilities with continuous emission monitoring systems can be accurately tracked, many other sources of emissions and offsets cannot be as closely monitored.

If these less-accurately-measured sources participate, the integrity of the cap-and-trade program will be undermined, as will the certainty in reductions that CARB seeks. In addition, even if the market is limited to facilities with continuous emission monitors, this will create artificial scarcity that is likely to result in disruptions and unfairness, as initial and future allocations of the right to emit are distributed and traded.

A preview of such disruptions was provided by the manipulations that created the California energy crisis early in this decade.
(11 July 2008)