One day after President Obama’s re-election speculation is already rising as to what direction the administration will take on energy. Climate change is expected to leap back to the forefront – particularly since Hurricane Sandy may have been the deciding factor that finally turned the campaign in the President’s direction. Reuters sees a harsher regulatory regime ahead and the Iowa Gazette sees renewable subsidies as a winner. But environmentalists are warning that the President’s green credentials are now on the line.
The Keystone Pipeline is certain to be a critical point of decision. The President was able to boot the issue until after the election but now the time for choosing has arrived. Canadians are expressing confidence that the US will allow its vast bitumen supplies to enter the country but US enjoy David Jacobson is warning them not to be so sure. It’s hard to fathom what a US rejection of Canadian oil will do to relations between the two countries but it isn’t going to be pretty. At the same time, US environmentalists have drawn a line in the sand. It’s going to be interesting.
There’s no doubt where coal’s fortunes are headed – down. Coal stocks took a huge hit yesterday as the entire market lost 300 points. Peabody Coal’s shares fell 9 percent and River Coal was down a stomach-churning 24 percent. Steve LeVine, writing on Quartz, says the industry made a bad bet and Justin Loiseau on Motley Fool says it’s going to be another rough four years.
While fossil fuels are taking a hit, Michigan environmentalists’ attempt to strong-arm the state into adopting renewable energy also failed boldly, by a 64-to-36 margin. Jeff Gibbs on Huffington Post calls is “a big fat bio-massacre.” ThinkProgress complains that utility opponents raised $24 million but it’s hard to imagine that an advertising campaign could have that kind of impact. Nonetheless, backers are looking on the bright side and vowing to continue their crusade.
They don’t call it “Down Under” for nothing. On the other side of the world, energy issues couldn’t be any further from falling coal stocks and dubious renewable mandates. Instead, the Australians are considering utility deregulation as a way of confronting rising power prices. In Australia, the provincial governments have considerable autonomy and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson says he is only asking them to consider the possibility. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who has pushed a carbon tax through Parliament, will be using both charm and force to push the effort. Green Party activists have taken their usual oppositional stance and argued that the deregulation will hurt consumers. They crashed the party by disrupting Energy Minister Ferguson’s announcement of the new program.