Rising gas prices continued to dominate the political landscape as President Obama used his radio address to address the issue. The President said technological innovation offered an answer and touted a next generation of automobiles. Meanwhile, Republican candidate Mitt Romney (above) published a manifesto in the Columbus Dispatch saying the US can become an “energy superpower.” Rival Newt Gingrich has prepared an entire half-hour video touting his own energy policies. The political rivals are going toe-to-toe a day before the key Super Tuesday primaries. Meanwhile, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, says that the President’s focus on “green energy” is what may not be costing him as gas prices rise.
Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued a long-awaited proposal for a “clean energy standard” that would require utilities to switch their generation to low-carbon resources. The Bingaman proposal includes nuclear energy, natural gas and “clean coal” as well as the standard renewable energy technologies. Third Way, a policy shop that is trying to straddle the split between Democrats and Republicans, issued an immediate approval. Amy Harder of the National Journal called it a “conversation starter.”
In Ohio, Governor John Kasich sought to capitalize on the growing riches of the Utica Shale by announcing a new severance tax on natural gas. He said it would all the state to get a fair share of the new $5-billion-a-year industry. The tax would be combined with new regulations seeking to limit the environmental impact of shale development. The EPA has announced it would be heightening its scrutiny of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. A Polish study has found that fracking does produce toxic wastes but that these can be handled in the process. Meanwhile, Motley Fool predicts that China will soon be leading the world in shale development.
Wind energy advanced as BP announced it was planting its 1000th windmill in the US. The Houston Chronicle reports that the wind business is thriving in West Texas. But Germany’s efforts to expand offshore wind may have stalled because of problems with connecting to the grid.
Finally, the wake of last week’s ARPA-E Conference in Washington, enthusiasm has waxed for energy innovation. The federal agency has earmarked $150 million for new innovation grants and is seeking applicants for $30 million in developing cars that can run on methane. AARPA-E director Arun Majumdar is charting the agency’s progress and says there are breakthroughs on the horizon.