Bloomberg, Naureen Malik: Natural gas surged to 60 times the going rate as howling blizzard conditions stoked demand for the furnace fuel across the U.S. Northeast. The gas squeeze underscores the lack of adequate pipeline capacity to haul enough gas from Appalachia and points farther afield to Northeast metropolises where households have been scrapping heating-oil tanks for gas-fired furnaces. As a result, gas in the region is the world’s priciest, commanding 14 times more than U.K. futures price and about nine times more than Asian imports of the liquefied version of the fuel.
Institute for Energy Research: Coal-fired electricity generation is far cleaner today than ever before. The popular misconception that our air quality is getting worse is wrong, as shown by EPA’s air quality data. Modern coal plants, and those retrofitted with modern technologies to reduce pollution, are a success story and are currently providing 30 percent of our electricity.
Paul Driessen, senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow: Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards were devised back in 1975, amid anxiety over the OPEC oil embargo and supposedly imminent depletion of the world’s oil supplies. But recall, barely 15 years after Edwin Drake drilled the first successful oil well in 1859, a Pennsylvania geologist was saying the United States would run out of oil by 1878. Steadily improving technology and geological acumen kept finding more oil. Then the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) revolution postponed the demise of oil and natural gas production for at least another century. The fuels that brought wealth, health, longevity, and modern industrialization, transportation, communication and civilization to billions will continue doing so.
Alexander Hellemans, IEEE Spectrum: As soon as the new Dutch government took office in October, it announced an aggressive target—to reduce carbon emissions by 49 percent by 2030. This will ultimately require the Netherlands to sequester 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year—equivalent to the annual emissions produced by 4.5 coal-fired power plants. Sequestering that much CO2 underground will be difficult, whether it’s captured directly from the flues of power stations and steel mills or extracted from the air. Currently, the Netherlands sequesters less than 10,000 metric tons of CO2 annually.
IEEE SPECTRUM, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.: IEEE Spectrum’s editors and writers investigate a dozen of the world’s most promising projects to cut greenhouse gases. We soaked up some of the best thinking on the use of tech to cut carbon emissions. But what did it all suggest collectively? Could these projects, and others like them, make a real difference? Let’s just say that they don’t call them “miracles” for nothing.
Fritz Vahrenholt, PhD Chemistry, Chairman, German Wildlife Foundations: The foundation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement has collapsed. By 2100, whatever we do, we will not exceed the 2 degree limit. What happens to the worldwide use of coal? There is no departure from coal except in Europe and Canada. China and India, according to the Paris Agreement, like all developing countries, massively expand coal-fired power stations. In China, 280,000 MW will be added, in India 174,000 MW. By comparison, the entire brown coal fleet in Germany has a capacity of 22,700 MW. 1600 coal-fired power plants are built in 62 countries worldwide, most of them by Chinese power plant builders and with the help of Chinese loans
James Hansen former NASA scientist, considered the father of catastrophic man-made global warming awareness: In his testimony on a proposed coal-fired power plant in Iowa, Hansen used a very provocative metaphor about the trains that deliver coal: If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains — no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria. The President of the National Mining Association wrote Hansen complaining: The suggestion that coal utilization for electricity generation can be equated with the systematic extermination of European Jewry is both repellent and preposterous. In 2017, Europe, Asia and South Africa are planning to build 1,600 new coal-fired plants.
Erin Mundahl, writer for INSIDESOURCES: Divestment has become a common goal for environmental protesters who have tried to get cities, universities, and other groups to stop investing in fossil fuel production. Surprising is that nonprofits who loudly support these causes also invest in conventional energy, even as they encourage others to divest. According to leaked documents, environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the American Museum of Natural History, and several other funds had investments in private equity firms specializing in oil and gas even as their public messaging hyped concerns about the role of fossil fuel use in climate change.
Virginia Lopez, correspondent for AL JAZEERA: Oil is Venezuela's lifeline. Ever since it was first pumped in 1914, oil has found a way of permeating every aspect of Venezuelan life. Initially it helped the backward, malaria-infested Caribbean nation out of poverty, and decades later nurtured a culture of easy wealth. And now - because Venezuela relies on oil for 95 percent of its revenue, and imports almost everything it consumes - the drop in the price of oil is challenging the government of the late Chavez's chosen successor, President Nicolas Maduro.
Dennis Normile, writer for www.sciencemag.org, website for AAAS, American association for the Advancement of Science: Most of the world is turning its back on burning coal to produce electricity, but not Japan. The nation has fired up at least eight new coal power plants in the past 2 years and has plans for an additional 36 over the next decade—the biggest planned coal power expansion in any developed nation (not including China and India).