Other stories below: Court Likely to Uphold EPA CO2 Rules; GE solar investments top $1.4bn in the last year
TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project backers including Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum say will create cheaper U.S. gasoline, instead risks raising prices as much as 20 cents a gallon in the Midwest, Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. Photo: Bloomberg
The line would create a new way to carry Canadian imports outside the Midwest and reduce an oil surplus that’s depressing prices in the central U.S. Spot gasoline was 55 cents cheaper in Chicago than in New York on June 1, the second-highest ever. Nationwide, retail gasoline set its highest February average at $3.55 a gallon, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Philip Verleger, principal of PK Verleger LLC. said “the Canadian plan was to use their market power to raise prices in the United States and get more money from consumers.”
The purpose of the $7.6 billion Keystone is to move 830,000 barrels of oil a day from landlocked Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, obtaining new customers and a higher price for heavy Canadian crude, Canadian regulators said in a 2010 report. The oil sold for $23.38 less per barrel in 2011 compared with heavy grades of Mexican crude, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“The Canadian plan was to use their market power to raise prices in the United States (UNG) and get more money from consumers,” Philip Verleger, founder of Colorado-based energy consulting firm PK Verleger LLC, said in an interview. Prices may gain 10 to 20 cents in central states, he said.
Proponents of the Keystone oil pipeline argue the $7 billion project will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, give the economy a shot in the arm, lower gasoline prices and wean the U.S. from foreign imports.
Too bad the claims don’t hold up.
House Speaker John Boehner renewed his attack on the White House this week for postponing approval of the project pending a State Department review of the environmental impact of the proposed 1,661-mile pipeline, which would cross six Midwest states to deliver Canadian crude to the Gulf Coast. Republicans have intensified their attacks on Democratic President Barack Obama’s energy policies in recent days, blaming them for higher pump prices that could hurt his re-election prospects in the Nov. 6 face-off against the eventual GOP nominee.
A searing new report says the environmental movement is not winning and lays the blame squarely on the failed policies of environmental funders. The movement hasn’t won any “significant policy changes at the federal level in the United States since the 1980s” because funders have favored top-down elite strategies and have neglected to support a robust grassroots infrastructure. Environmental funders spent a whopping $10 billion between 2000 and 2009 but achieved relatively little because they failed to underwrite grassroots groups that are essential for any large-scale change, the report says.
Released in late February by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Cultivating the Grassroots was written by Sarah Hansen, who served as executive director of the Environmental Grantmakers Association from 1998 to 2005.
Gasoline for $5 a gallon? The possibility is hardly far-fetched.
With no clear end to tensions with Iran and Syria and rising demand from countries like China, gas prices are already at record highs for the winter months — averaging $4.32 in California and $3.73 a gallon nationally on Wednesday, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. As summer approaches, demand for gasoline rises, typically pushing prices up around 20 cents a gallon.
And gas prices could rise another 50 cents a gallon or more, analysts say, if the diplomatic and economic standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions escalates into military conflict or there is some other major supply disruption.
After a two-day hearing, a federal appeals court appeared inclined to uphold key parts of the Obama administration’s first-ever rules for reducing greenhouse gases, but it wasn’t clear whether the court would endorse the government’s entire approach.
During three hours of oral arguments Tuesday, a three-judge panel for the Washington, D.C., appeals court made clear that industry challengers faced a uphill climb in attacking the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.
That determination set the stage for EPA rules regulating carbon-dioxide emissions on cars, beginning with the 2012 model year, and new rules on permits for power plants and factories.
Which has the lower carbon footprint — our life in the New Jersey suburbs or our life in a cabin in the woods of Maine? We recently hit the halfway mark for our year in the woods, so I now have enough data to answer the question.
As a social scientist at the Nature Conservancy, I collect data compulsively. It’s not my only compulsion, but it’s on par with drinking fine beers. (Sadly, the two do not mix well — unless I’m counting beers.)
Since we moved from Australia to New Jersey nearly six years ago, I’ve carefully collected data on how many miles we drive each year, how much household electricity and natural gas we use each month and how far we travel by air. In Maine, I collect data on miles driven, firewood consumption, diesel fuel used for our backup generator, propane for the stove, water heater and back-up heaters, and the air miles flown when one of us travels for work or pleasure.
Rick Santorum is touting the support of Sen. James Inhofe (R) even though the Oklahoma senator has not endorsed him.
Speaking Wednesday to an Oklahoma radio station, Santorum said Inhofe has praised him as having the best record on issues important to him.
“Jim’s the real deal, too, and it’s an honor to have his support,” Santorum said.
But Inhofe, previously a Rick Perry backer, hasn’t endorsed Santorum, and the senator’s communications director disputed Santorum’s assertion that Inhofe had previously said he’d vote for him.
President Obama’s re-election team is engaging conservative oil magnates Charles and David Koch in a public spat they hope will rouse the Democratic base and draw donations to their campaign.
The back-and-forth began Friday when, in a fund-raising email to supporters, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina accused the billionaire brothers of “jacking up prices at the pump” and bankrolling “Tea Party extremism.”
Messina also said the Kochs have reportedly pledged $200 million, through the outside nonprofit group Americans for Prosperity, to help defeat Obama in November.
“Let’s see how many of us can chip in $2 or more to the Two-Term Fund,” he wrote.
The message drew a sharp response from Koch Companies spokesman Philip Ellender. In a public letter to Messina he denied the Kochs were trying to manipulate gas prices, and he said there was no hundred-million dollar pledge from them to target Obama.
A GE subsidiary has bought a $100m stake in a 127MW US solar project, taking the company’s investment in the sector to $1.4bn in the past year.
GE Energy Financial Services’ latest investment is in LS Power’s $550m Arlington Valley Solar Energy II project in Arizona. Construction on the plant is now expected to start next month with a view to producing enough electricity to power 53,000 homes from 2013.
Overall, GE now boasts investments in solar projects worth $5bn across Australia, Canada, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United States and is also building what will be the largest US solar panel factory, a 400-MW solar plant in Aurora, Colorado.