As expected, the Senate turned down a bid to honor President Obama’s request to eliminate the tax breaks for oil and gas companies. The debate had been little more than a showcase for arguments for and against the Administration’s policies and no one expected the bill to pass. The President renewed his request, however, saying that taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize high oil company profits. Meanwhile, gas prices appeared to be headed north of $4 a gallon and experts say the country still has the summer peak ahead. Meanwhile, a group called the American Energy Alliance has started running an ad criticizing President Obama’s energy policies in eight states crucial to the 2012 election.
Nuclear power suffered a big blow as two giant German utilities pulled out of plans to build up to eight new reactors in Great Britain. RWE and E.ON begged out, saying they were suffering big losses with Germany ‘s effort to withdraw from nuclear at home. Meanwhile, Korea is wrestling with the problem of selling its technology abroad in the wake of Fukushima, while China appears poised to renew its nuclear effort. India has also reconfirmed its commitment to developing nuclear and the latest Gallup Poll says 57 percent of the American public favors nuclear, not quite as high as the 62 percent right before Fukushima.
Obama reached an agreement with five states in an effort to fast-track wind farms in the Great Lakes. Japan is putting windmills on barges in an effort to replace nuclear power and China has developed a windmill that “learns” in an effort to smooth out wind’s intermittency. A survey in Nevada, however, has found that a $46 million effort to provide rebates for windmills is producing little useful electricity.
A geothermal plant has been proposed for the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge (above) in California and Japan is talking about easing for the rules for geo sites in national parks. Japanese investors are even talking about developing geothermal resources at Fukushima. They do work best in earthquake zones. SMU has developed a Google Earth map detailing favorable sites across the US at http://www.google.org/egs/.
Finally, investment advisors are giving their usual conflicting testimony about the best places to invest in energy. In Forbes, Mindy Lubber says investors are thriving on renewables and Eric Savitz says they’re focusing on consumer tech. But in Reuters, Olivia Oran says clean tech IPOs are generating a certain amount of skepticism and The Motley Fool says the smart grid has been a dumb investment. That’s why U.S. Treasuries always have their appeal.