Response to the IEA report on American energy independence continues to reverberate. Some commentators are reacting with skepticism or suggesting even suggesting that increasing US production may be a bad thing. “No, we are not the next Saudi Arabia,” says Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic and Robert Kuttner of American Prospect finds “The bad news in the good news.” Loren Steffy of FuelFix says “Our reign will be short” and MarketWatch says it’s our anemic economic growth that is helping supply meet demand. But Rich Newman of US News & World Report says globalization is finally helping American workers and Diana Furchtgott-Roth in the Washington Examiner pleads, “Don’t kill America’s energy revolution!”
The natural gas industry continues to exude confidence, even if prices remain painfully low to producers. Reuters reports that the gas boom will add another leg to America’s drive for self-sufficiency. Joann Muller in Forbes notes that natural gas vehicles are already arriving on the road and Motley Fool notes that low gas prices are reviving America’s chemical industry. But Chenier Energy, which is trying to build an export terminal in Louisiana, is starting to realize it faces long regulatory delays – if not outright opposition from anti-trade Democrats in Congress.
The UK has been rocked by the charges of whistleblower Seth Freedman (above) that Britain’s Big Six energy companies have engaged in the manipulation of natural gas prices. The British public is particularly upset because home heating prices recently took a big jump. The companies are insisting that they play by the rules but Secretary of Energy Ed Davey has promised to investigate. Chris Cook, a 1990s whistleblower who lost his home and his marriage in an unsuccessful crusade against alleged price-fixing in the oil market, tells his story to The Guardian.
Renewable energy continues its uneven progress as Areva has decided to cancel its ambitious Solar Dawn project in Australia. The company said the $1.3 billion, 250-megawatt desert thermal installation no longer made sense. The debt crisis is putting the crimp on renewable subsidies in Europe as well, says The New York Times. And Steve Hargreaves, writing on CNN, says President Obama’s election victory won’t revive renewable subsidies in this country, either. But SolarReserve has raised $586 million to proceed with two 75-megawatt solar farms in South Africa and Current reports that Germany is actually exporting a surplus of renewable energy despite its move away from nuclear – although the problem of intermittency still remains.
Finally, a carbon tax has suddenly appeared on the table as Washington wrestles with the fiscal cliff and the deficit crisis. Uber tax critic Grover Norquist actually wavered for a moment on Monday when he told the National Journal the tax might work if wrapped in a package that included reduction in other tax rates. But he was quickly reprimanded by the Koch-Brothers-funded American Energy Alliance, which told him to “butch it up and oppose the lousy idea directly.” The Koch Brothers’ fortune, of course, is in oil. Norquist quickly fell in line and said there was “no conceivable way” he would support a tax on carbon. Elon Musk, the flamboyant creator of the Tesla, says he is willing to give up subsidies for his electric vehicle in exchange for a tax on carbon, however, and editorial support is growing in other directions. But the Canada Free Press says it’s still “environmental piracy.” Don’t they have a lot of carbon-heavy tar sands up there?