The energy independence debate continues to rage a week after the International Energy Agency issued its controversial report saying the United States would soon overtake Saudi Arabia in oil production. Rolf Westgard, a lecturer at the University of Minnesota, says it’s just a mirage. David Nicklaus of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says don’t expect savings at the pump. The Kansas City Star editorializes that a bit of reality is needed to temper the forecasts. Thomas J. Donahue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says developing domestic resources would speed the economic recovery but environmentalists still worry about the impact on climate.
Natural gas fracking continues to be controversial as well, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (abve) indicated that his state will not meet a self-imposed November 29th deadline for deciding on whether to allow drilling. The industry is aggravated but Cuomo has a huge celebrity contingency in New York City to keep happy. No wonder upstate New York, taken by itself without New York City, would now rank as the poorest state in the country.
The EIA reports that renewable energy around the world will actually decline in 2012, but mainly from less output from hydro. Other renewable sources are still expanding. The UK says it will triple subsidies to renewable technologies but conservatives in the US are still trying to erase state renewable mandates. The International Renewable Energy Agency argues that renewables are now the most cost-effective form of generation but that probably doesn’t include the costs of their intermediacy.
While America is moving away from coal, production continues to expand around the world. Coal opponents are still reeling from the report last week that 1200 new plants are in the works, mainly in India and China. A methane explosion has killed 22 coal miners in China, where 80 percent of the world’s coal accidents still occur. Australia’s International Coal announced its resources have swelled to 1.2 billion tons and Indonesia remains the world’s largest exporter of fuel. But West Virginia Senators are preparing the state for a downturn and Vancouver environmentalists are trying to block a port that would export American coal to China.
Finally, electric vehicles continue their rocky progress, as the GM Volt and Nissan Leaf fail to attract buyers. GM plans to double down by turning out 500,000 EVs by 2017. (Is it that government part-ownership that’s pushing the move?) The Detroit Free Press reports that EV buyers are both smart and rich – but maybe that’s the problem, not enough smart rich people. EV World promises that the reported death of the EV is again premature, but CNN notes that hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, which are coming on strong again, may be poised to overtake electric cars.