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ODAC Newsletter - Aug 6

Welcome to the ODAC Newsletter, a weekly roundup from the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, the UK registered charity dedicated to raising awareness of peak oil.

There was an almost audible sigh of relief this week in the US as BP and the White House proclaimed the 'static kill' procedure on the Macondo oil well a success. With elections approaching the Obama administration will be keen to draw a line under the oil spill and focus on other issues, as reflected by a surprisingly upbeat press conference on Wednesday in which officials announced not only the plugging of the well but also the apparent disappearance of 75% of the spilled oil.

For BP and the oil industry the timing of this breakthrough could prove felicitous. Congress failed to pass even the watered down energy bill before the summer recess which starts next week. There will now be a break of month, which will then be shortly followed by elections, by which time the oil spill will no longer be the top news story, possibly allowing the questions of liability and tighter regulations to be fought out in less of a media spotlight. Typically this has proved to be beneficial to the defendant - just ask Exxon, who managed to haggle down their initial fines for the Exxon Valdez disaster by a factor of ten.

US failure to pass the energy bill demonstrated once again the massive challenge of fighting peak oil and climate change in a global system where energy companies hold huge political sway. A report this week from Bloomberg New Energy Finance demonstrated just how unfair is the fight between renewables and fossil fuels. Despite endless carping about subsidies for renewable energy, the report shows subsidies to the fossil fuel industries are ten times higher. And governments depend on the tax revenues from fossil fuels just as the producers rely on subsidies, creating huge inertia in the system. Getting off fossil fuels isn't just about a change of energy sources, but also a power shift – if you'll excuse the pun.

Meanwhile alarming news about the urgency of the task at hand continues to accumulate. A report published in Nature this week claims that there is evidence of a 40% drop in phytoplankton in the oceans in the last century, but largely since the 1950s and probably due to global warming. This follows on from last week's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report that the last decade set another milestone for the hottest on record. With UN climate talks in Bonn stuttering on, a glimmer of hope that progress might be possible came this week by way of the heat haze and raging fires of Russia. President Medvedev was quoted as saying: "What's happening with the planet's climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organizations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate." Right on, Dmitry, now make it count.

Oil

BP leak the world's worst accidental oil spill

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U.S. optimistic end in sight in drive to permanently seal oil well

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Deep-water drilling ban might end early

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In Gulf, Good News Is Taken With Grain of Salt

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Britain slams 'unconstitutional' plan to ban BP from drilling in US

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Crude Oil Heads for Biggest Weekly Gain in a Month on Equities

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Fossil fuel subsidies are 10 times those of renewables, figures show

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US Senate delays action on scaled-back energy bill

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Al-Qaeda-Linked Group Claims Suicide Bombing Attack on Mitsui Oil Tanker

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Iraq

The US isn't leaving Iraq, it's rebranding the occupation

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Gas

EU Seeks Caspian Gas Accord to Cut Russian Dependence

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NY Senate passes gas drilling moratorium

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Electricity

Carbon Capture Closer to Profit as Oil Rallies Toward $100: Energy Markets

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Power line in China could help bring cheap, sustainable electricity to the EU

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Renewables

World's biggest wave hub starts installation in St Ives

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Madrid cuts subsidies for solar power plants

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Iceland geothermal takeover under a cloud

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Biofuels

World Bank: Biofuels Didn't Cause Grain Price Booms

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Drax delays biomass power station decision

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Waitrose to convert food waste into energy

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China

New Silk Road Built by China Connects Asia to Latin America

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Hot political summer as China throttles rare metal supply and claims South China Sea

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Climate

Will Russia's Heat Wave End Its Global-Warming Doubts?

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Big Oil's politics rule Senate on energy

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Climate deal loopholes 'make farce' of rich nations' pledges

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The dead sea: Global warming blamed for 40 per cent decline in the ocean's phytoplankton

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EPA rejects challenges to labelling carbon emissions a pollutant

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Editorial Notes: The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC) is an independent, UK-registered educational charity working to raise international public awareness and promote better understanding of the world's oil-depletion problem.

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