Energy was on the front burner in Washington again as Congress appears ready to end the production tax credits that have propped up the renewable energy industry for thirty years. Senator Lamar Alexander, usually the voice of moderate Republicans, took the floor to argue that tax advantages should end for wind but said special favors for the oil industry should be eliminated as well. Meanwhile, the White House has compromised with House Republicans by agreeing to allow administration officials to testify in private over the Solyndra scandal. And environmental groups took the inevitable step and filed in District of Columbia Federal Court to block last week’s licensing of the Vogtle nuclear reactors.
A new turn occurred in the Mediterranean as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Cyprus for talks with Cypriot President Demetris Christofias (above). The two agreed to collaborate on exploring for gas in the Eastern Mediterranean and may even build a pipeline together to service Europe. The Pakistan Observer calls the budding friendship a “natural relationship,” although probably not out of complete admiration. Both Israel and Cyprus have issued with Turkey. Meanwhile the world’s oil giants were all bidding on a contract to help Turkey proceed with its own offshore oil exploration.
Nuclear power also continued to overshadow relations in the Middle East as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged his scientists to go out and build four nuclear reactors. Iran has made claims of nuclear progress this week, although a US State Department official called them “hype.” PressTV of Tehran claims the US is trying to “monopolize nuclear technology.” Britain and France also inked a deal to cooperate on nuclear technology and Australia’s largest state has decided to lift a decades-old ban on exploring for uranium. But the experience of leading Japan during the Fukushima crisis has turned ex-Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan into a crusader against nuclear power.
Finally, researchers at UMass Amherst have discovered a “mini-cellulose” molecule that reveals the chemical reactions that occur when wood and prairie grasses are converted to biofuels under high temperatures. The discovery may be another step in unlocking the holy grail of biofuels - the commercial conversion of cellulose into ethanol. Researches at Oak Ridge National Laboratory claim to have found a strain of bacteria in the hot sprints of Yellowstone National Park that may do the same. The bacteria can survive in extremely high heat. The recent failure of Range Fuels in developing Biofuels North American President Sue Ellerbusch claims it’s going happen. She said renewing the mandate for ethanol in American cars would be the key to the development.