Only a week after press commentators were scoffing at Mitt Romney’s proposal that North America could achieve energy independence they are celebrating an International Energy Agency prediction that the US will surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer and become self-sufficient by 2035. (And in the end, they’ll probably give President Obama the credit.) Is all this just blue-sky prognosticating or is there something substantial? Well, OPEC is already complaining that growing US production will hurt its investment plans. That’s a good sign. Still, the peak oilers remain skeptical. They say the shale and unconventional output is just a flash in the pan.
Even though oil production is booming, many people believe natural gas vehicles are the coming thing. If all that surplus natural gas could be converted to liquid fuel, they argue, we could free ourselves from foreign oil that much quicker. Yossie Hollander’s Fuel Freedom Foundation is one of the chief advocates here. Michigan Live suggests that compressed natural gas may be the answer. GE and the indefatigable T. Boone Pickens (above) have just struck a deal to provide natural gas for trucks. Wyoming is expanding its plans for natural-gas gas stations and the Florida Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition has just added three new members – United Parcel, the United States Sugar Corporation and Clean Energy. Is China involved in this as well? Is the Pope Catholic? They’re exploring natural gas for both cars and ships.
The wind tax credit will try to postpone its obituary once again as President Obama brandishes his new mandate while the Republican House majority digs in its heels. A bi-partisan coalition of more than half the state governors has urged renewal but the dogged Texas Public Policy Foundation argues that wind subsidies are only disrupting power systems and increasing costs. It’s going to be just another uncertainty as Congress heads for the January 1 Fiscal Cliff.
One thing we can be sure of about January 1, however, is that there won’t be any more 100-watt incandescent bulbs in the stores. No matter, the new LEDs are already on sale. Best Buy is already stocking the Insignia, a 100-watt LED with a 10-year warranty and a 22-year predicted lifetime. It seems like a good deal but then who wants a light bulb that lasts 22 years? Farhad Manjoo, writing in Slate, says they’re not worth $50.
Finally, in company news, the North Carolina attorney general is welcoming Duke Energy’s decision to remain in Charlotte by challenging its rate increase to North Carolina customers. Reuters notes that oil service companies such as Schlumberger Ltd, Halliburton Co and Baker Hughes that do business with national oil companies and independents are doing much better than Big Oil. Oanda has temporarily closed down its Nigerian pipeline because of chronic thefts and four Danish companies have combined to form the world’s 4th largest utility.