In the first sign of what could be a growing testiness between the United States and Canada, TransCanada has fired back at charges that the Keystone Pipeline will add a huge burden to carbon emissions, saying it won’t affect climate. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird also chided the Obama Administration on climate issues, saying Canada has done much more to cut coal. The Canadian press is starting to become very defensive about Keystone and the whole country is not likely to take it lightly if Obama nixes the pipeline, which is now a distinct possibility. Of course there’s always another alternative. The Administration could order another environmental impact statement, this one considering the effects on climate change, effectively kicking the issue over to the next President. In fact the courts may end up doing it for him.
Texas oil is experiencing a renaissance with the development of the Eagle Ford tight oil formation. There’s even talk that Texas is the new Saudi Arabia. The Seaway Pipeline, designed to relieve the bottleneck at Cushing, Oklahoma, has stepped up capacity to 400,000 barrels per day from 150,000, although small leaks and other technical problems are still limiting volume. Small oil companies were also encouraged when a federal judge threw out a U.S. Labor Department case against Gate Guard Services, a tiny operation that provides attendants to oil field operators. He DOL had said Gate Guard was violating the law by treating employees as private contractors. Sounds like ObamaCare is starting to rear its head.
California has won a big victory as a federal administrative judge ruled that several out-of-state energy companies manipulated prices during the great California Electrical Shortage thirteen years ago. Consumers will get a $1.6 billion refund if the decision holds up. The state ISO and PacifiCorp of Oregon have also announced they will cooperate in trying to smooth out the disruptions caused by increased reliance on wind power in the region. Meanwhile, a Wyoming wind developer is wondering if it can ship even more wind power to California from a planned 300-MW wind farm. Better get used to dealing with wind’s ups and downs.
Finally, electric vehicles are trying to survive the Tesla affair by improving the recharging infrastructure. New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg, who has his own national energy policy, is ordering electric chargers to be installed in 10,000 parking spaces (above). That’s probably more chargers than there are EVS in NYC. China is also offering big incentives and the Dutch are trying to introduce EVs in Amsterdam. Home charging stations are also becoming more common in the US. Most interesting, a German company has come up with a mobile recharging station to make the whole thing easier. How about a third rail?