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The International Energy Agency (IEA) added to the growing enthusiasm for American oil production by putting out a paper claiming the US could surpass both Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s leading oil producers by 2020. Just to emphasize the point, the Department of Energy reported that production swelled to 6.68 million barrels a day last week, the highest output since December 1994. To add to the picture, the Interior Department announced it will make 806,000 acres owned by the Bureau of Land Management available for the development of oil shale and tar sands. “Oil shale” is different from shale oil and more closely represents the heavy bitumen that is being developed in Canada. The decision indicated that hydrocarbon resources the Green River formation of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming may be open to similar development, although the DOE plan was scaled back from a proposal originally made in the Bush Administration.

All this is having an impact on the world stage. OPEC acknowledged that shale oil development in the US will soon be reducing the demand for OPEC oil. This may not be a bad thing since OPEC supplies are looking more unstable all the time. Just this weekend Yemen closed its major pipeline because of terrorist bombings and Shell said it was closing its Nigerian pipeline because of chronic thefts.

Robert Murray (above), CEO of Murray Coal, the largest closely held coal company in the US, expressed his displeasure at President Obama’s re-election by scaling back operations and firing 163 workers. Murray publicly prayed for forgiveness but said the move was inevitable because of the EPA’s “War on Coal.” The Associated Press reports that coal hasn’t yet abdicated in Kentucky and the Courier-Journal says coal interests are hoping for a better break in a second term. But Power Engineering says it’s going to be a long four years.

Even as it predicted a coming US oil resurgence, the International Energy Agency is chiding world governments for an “epic failure” in improving energy efficiency. The IEA called efficiency the “hidden fuel” and said it could buy another four years in negotiating a world climate deal. The UK announced it will spend £39 million on energy efficiency projects and The Guardian speculates the effort could close 22 power stations. But then maybe they haven’t heard of Jevons Paradox, which says that efficiency improvements are just as likely to increase consumption as lower it.

Finally, solar energy continues to make headway as Germany steams ahead with its plans to replace nuclear. Installations are up 50 percent in the last year. The News-Observer reports that North Carolina farmers are “growing” solar panels instead of crops (trading one subside for another, one must presume) and Oregon has opened a 2 megawatt solar installation on 20 acres Lakeview. Bloomberg predicts China’s solar giants are going to get a government bailout and the Christian Science Monitor reports that the solar trade war between the US, Europe and China continues to intensify.

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