The Energy Spectator

The Energy Spectator

Growing Demand at the Pump Is a Good Sign

By 5.4.16

All of us loved paying less than $2 a gallon at the pump. AAA reports: “Americans paid cheapest quarterly gas prices in 12 years” — which resulted in savings of nearly $10 billion compared to the same period last year. However, oil (and, therefore gasoline) has been creeping upward since the February low — topping $45 a barrel, a high for the year. And that could be a good thing.

While low prices at the pump have been a boon to consumers, the plunge in oil prices has been a bust for American producers.

Throughout the past 20 months, crude oil prices have dropped almost 80 percent, nearly 300,000 people are out of work, and corporate valuations for oil and gas companies have plummeted — even Exxon Mobil’s credit rating has been downgraded. In this environment, bankruptcies are frequent, and stock portfolios and retirement funds are feeling the pinch.

The Energy Spectator

‘Climate Hustle,’ May 2: Don’t Miss It

By 4.27.16

Perhaps you watched the Earth Day news coverage of the “historic” ceremonial signing of the Paris Climate Agreement during which representatives from 175 countries walked up to the stage in the General Assembly hall at the United Nations headquarters in New York, sat down behind a desk on the podium, and added their signatures to the book. “In the name of the United States of America,” Secretary of State John Kerry signed his name with his young granddaughter on his lap.

The Energy Spectator

Earth Day Won’t Always Have Paris

By 4.21.16

Friday, April 22, will mark the 47th Earth Day. You may think it is all about planting trees and cleaning up neighborhoods. But this year’s anniversary will be closer to its radical roots than, perhaps, any other since its founding in 1970. Considered the birth of the environmental movement, the first Earth Day took place during the height of America’s counterculture era. According to EarthDay.org, it gave voice to an “emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.”

We did need to clean up our act. At that time “littering” wasn’t part of our vocabulary, The air in the Southern California valley where I grew up was often so thick with smog we couldn’t see the surrounding mountains.

Thankfully, that has changed.

The Energy Spectator

The ‘Establishment’ Is Slow to Learn

By 4.12.16

In this election cycle, we hear a lot about the “establishment.” Most people are not really sure who they are, but they are sure that they do not like them. The anger toward the establishment is not party specific and has propelled two unlikely candidates: Donald Trump on the Republican side and Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democrats.

The faithful following these outsiders may be more about “the grassroots trying to teach the establishment a lesson,” as Gary Bauer posited last month, than about affection for either man. In an InfoWars video, reporter Richard Reeves, at the University of Texas in Austin, speaks to Wyatt, a young man who’d just voted for Sanders. Wyatt indicates that most of his fellow students likely voted for Sanders as well. The surprise is his comment about the students’ second choice: “Donald Trump.” Why? He’s not “establishment.” Wyatt admits he didn’t consider voting for anyone else — just Sanders and Trump.

The Energy Spectator

Let the Subsidized Sunshine In

By 4.8.16

The past couple of weeks have highlighted the folly of the energy policies favored by left-leaning advocacy agencies that, rather than allowing consumers and markets to choose, require government mandates and subsidies. Three major, but very different, solar entities — which would not exist without such political preference — are now facing demise. Even with the benefit of tax credits, low-interest loans, and cash grants that state and federal governments have bestowed on them, the solar industry is struggling.

We’ve seen Abengoa — which I’ve followed for years — file for bankruptcy.

Ivanpah, the world’s biggest solar power tower project in the California desert, is threatened with closure due to underperformance.

The Energy Spectator

Hillary’s Hibachi Racket

By 3.30.16

Hillary Clinton’s “trustworthiness” problem is fed by a long history of “varying credibility,” as a recent Politico story delineated, including cattle-futures trading, law firm billing records, muddled sniper fire recollections, and e-mail use.

While providing pertinent points, the Politico list is just a sampling.

One missing item on the “mistrust” litany is a project she reportedly cooked up as Secretary of State, but that was shaped by her family foundation. State Department staff sent official emails to solicit funds from foreign governments.

The project sounds innocent enough: “to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change.” What miracle product can do all that? A cookstove. Yes, that is correct — a cookstove. This is not the product of “as seen on TV” wizardry, nor is it the latest in high-efficiency appliances.

The Energy Spectator

Hillary Clinton to Miners: Let Them Eat Coal

By 3.24.16

By now, most people probably know about one of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s biggest campaign gaffes to date: “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” As soon as I heard it, I tweeted: “Imagine a presidential candidate running for office based on putting people out of work?”

I wasn’t the only one shocked by the uncharacteristic clarity of her statement. Lacking the usual political-speak, her comments were all the more surprising in that they were not made at a fundraiser in billionaire environmental donor Tom Steyer’s posh San Francisco living room. They were made in Ohio — coal country, where coal production in 2015 was down 22 percent — at a nationally televised CNN town hall and just hours before the important state’s primary election.

The Energy Spectator

Green Is the Color of Status

By 3.17.16

Researchers have found that some buyers are willing to pay for environmentally friendly products because those products are “status symbols.” A report in the Atlantic states:

Environmentally-friendly behaviors typically go unseen; there's no public glory in shortened showers or diligent recycling. But when people can use their behavior to broadcast their own goodness, their incentives shift. The people who buy Priuses and solar panels still probably care about the environment—it’s just that researchers have found that a portion of their motivation might come from a place of self-promotion, much like community service does good and fits on a résumé.

With “green” having become a status symbol, the affluent can afford it. Yet, their desire to “broadcast their own goodness” actually results in higher costs to those who can least afford it.

The Energy Spectator

Both Parties Are Fractured, But on Energy Each Is Unified

By 3.9.16

There is no shortage of news stories touting the splits within each party.

The Democrat divide is, as NBC News sees it, between dreamers and doers — with the International Business Times (IBT) calling it “a civil war over the party’s ideological future.” The Boston Globe declares that the “party fissures” represent “a national party torn between Clinton’s promised steady hand and Sanders’ more progressive goals.”

The Energy Spectator

Obama’s Clean Power Plan: How Much Staying Power?

By 3.2.16

After months of debate and public comments, President Obama’s controversial Clean Power Plan (CPP) was issued in August 2015 and published in the Federal Register on October 23, 2015. But that is hardly the end of the story. Instead the saga is just beginning — with the ending to be written sometime in 2017 and the outcome highly dependent on who resides in the White House.

Pages