Energy


"No Confidence" State Will Protect Californians from Fracking, Senators Told

By Dan Aiello

At a joint committee hearing yesterday to discuss the administration's proposed oil and gas regulations to monitor a method of extraction known as fracking, California senators were told by one Ventura County supervisor that the state's lack of leadership, control, preparedness and monitoring have led to "a crisis in confidence at all levels of government" among local officials and the state's residents.

California Farmers Alarmed as Energy Companies Outbid Ag Water Districts for Resource

By Dan Aiello

There's a new water interest bidding for California's limited water supplies, and the managers of California's historic agriculture-centric water districts in the Central Valley aren't smiling.

With a finite supply of water, Sacramento may have to choose between expanding food production or fracking wells and oil and natural gas production. Either option will likely lead to increases in food or energy costs for consumers.

Out-of-state, (primarily Texas-headquartered) energy companies with deep pockets from record profits and the strongest lobby in Sacramento are anxious to extract as much severance tax-free California oil from the ground as quickly as possible.

Doing More with Less: Biofuels and Rural Economic Development

By Mary Solecki

As a small town Midwesterner, I know that farming opportunities are crucial for healthy communities in a large part of the country. My grandmother would remind me, as yours probably did too, "Waste not, want not." Our population is rising, so we have to find a way to do more with less: feed more people, make finite resources stretch.

And I think that is what's at the heart of the biofuels movement: doing more with less. How can we deliver our energy needs from domestic sources and still deliver the food we all need? Well, as my grandmother pinpointed so many years ago, the answer lies in the waste.

Fracking Regulations Only Exxon Could Love

By Judy Dugan

California's oil and gas industry regulators are about to write final state regulations on the controversial practice of fracking natural gas and oil wells in the state. Don't expect any backbone, however, from the state Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Regulation. So far, the draft proposals boil down to "trust the oil industry."

How Economists Routinely Get It Wrong on High Speed Rail

By Robert Cruickshank

The main purpose of any transportation project is to help people get to where they want to go. Cost should be a subsidiary factor in the planning of any transportation project. Unfortunately, in the 30 years since right-wing ideology became politically ascendant, keeping costs down so that rich people didn't have to pay higher taxes started taking precedence over building effective transportation projects. This may have been tenable as long as oil prices remained low. But once prices began rising again, it was clear that building electric passenger trains was a top priority for modern societies.

Brown Announces New Oil Industry Regulations Ahead of "Promised Land" Release

By Dan Aiello

The Brown administration Tuesday proposed new draft regulations that would require the oil industry to disclose where in California its oil extraction operations are using hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as "fracking," in advance of a new movie starring Matt Damon meant to bring public awareness to the environmental destruction caused by the practice.

California Gas Prices: A Rigged Game Where Consumers Lose Big

By Liza Tucker

Who would want two companies, Tesoro and Chevron, to control more than half of California's gasoline market? Only people, like oil company executives, who think paying five dollars a gallon should be the new normal.

That could happen, though, if a deal goes through for Tesoro to buy BP's refinery in Carson and its low-cost Arco brand. In California, the ninth largest economy in the world, gasoline refineries have shrunk from 32 in the mid-1980s to just 14, owned by only a handful of companies. The more consolidated a market, the more tempting it is to make more money by producing and selling less gasoline. California's gasoline market is so consolidated that it is now geared to shortages and scarcity, which is why a few refinery outages and some scheduled refinery maintenance can cause a price spike of the sort you should only see in the wake of a real disaster.

Why California's Gas Prices Have Skyrocketed

By David Dayen

Brad Plumer has a decent enough explanation of why gas prices have soared in California over the past week or so. But being a resident of Southern California, perhaps I can provide a bit more insight into how this has played out on the ground.

Professor James Hamilton explains that a series of refinery and pipeline shutdowns, and a fire at the Richmond Chevron refinery back in August, have conspired to create a perfect storm in California. A power outage shutdown at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance last Monday was kind of the last straw. As California is somewhat closed off from the rest of the country in terms of pipelines feeding into the state, this has a major impact. In addition, California mandates a particular blend of gasoline, which reduces smog and other pollution, but also is more specialized to produce. So the price of gas leapt 50 cents per gallon in the last week.

Majority See Global Warming, Energy as Important Issues—and Prefer Obama

By the Public Policy Institute of California

Most California likely voters say that the presidential candidates’ positions on global warming and energy policy are important in determining their vote, and a majority trust President Obama over Mitt Romney on these issues. These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), conducted with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

While global warming and energy policy have not been the focus of debate in the campaigns so far, 30 percent of California likely voters say these issues are very important in determining their choice for president and 42 percent say they are somewhat important. A majority—54 percent—say they trust Obama to handle these issues, while 33 percent trust Romney.

New Study: Smart Roofs Could Transform California Energy and Water Use

By Noah Garrison, NRDC, and Cara Horowitz, Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law

Installing green roofs and cool roofs in southern California could save consumers more than $211 million in energy bills and reduce emissions equivalent to removing 91,000 cars from the road each year, according to a new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law. Installing green roofs will additionally reduce stormwater runoff that pollutes our beaches.