Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who is leading a working group examining energy tax provisions, praised the idea of opening master limited partnerships (MLPs) to renewable energy companies. The structures have been popular among oil and gas, pipeline and coal companies as a way to attract investors, but current law does not allow renewable companies like wind and solar developers to use them.
Legislation allowing wind, solar and other renewable energy companies to establish MLPs will be reintroduced in the House and Senate later this month, and the idea has emerged as a key focus of the renewable energy industry and policy watchers as Congress pursues its overhaul of the tax code. →
On Friday afternoon, Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured, spilling between 80,000 and 420,000 gallons of tar sands diluted bitumen in a suburban neighborhood in Mayflower, Arkansas.
In 2010, a similar tar sands diluted bitumen spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River watershed demonstrated that diluted bitumen spills were significantly more challenging to clean up and damaging to the environment, particularly water bodies, than conventional crude. Moreover, tar sands diluted bitumen pipelines typically operate at significantly higher temperatures than conventional crude pipelines, increasing their risk of rupture due to external corrosion and other factors.
While details regarding the cause of the rupture and the magnitude of the spill are still coming in, the Mayflower tar sands spill is yet another demonstration of the risks that tar sands pipelines pose to the communities and sensitive water resources they cross. At about a tenth of the full capacity of the Keystone XL tar sands pipelines, the 90,000 bpd Pegasus pipeline rupture offers us a small sample of the risk that tar sands pipelines pose to American communities. →
A miniature streetcar at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. (Photo by Aapo Haapanen via Creative Commons)
In Shanghai, Peggy Liu’s family has largely adapted to China’s chronic air and water pollution — even accepted it as part of the price to pay for living in one of the world’s most vibrant, compact and convenient cities.
But it’s going to take more than water filters and pollution masks to survive China’s next looming environmental disaster.
It’s going to take a dream.
China’s middle class is projected to grow from 474 million today to 800 million by 2025, and Liu is among many sustainability experts concerned about the unprecedented strain that growth will put on the planet’s resources.
Liu, co-founder of the Joint U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE), spoke at an Ensia Live event Wednesday at the University of Minnesota about her solution: the new “China Dream” (Midwest Energy News is a media sponsor for the Ensia Live series).
At its core, it’s about giving China’s growing middle class a new, greener path to aspire towards — one that doesn’t emulate the “American Dream” of ever-growing consumerism. →
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is arrested in front of the White House Wednesday during a Keystone XL protest. (Photo by cool revolution via Creative Commons)
Detroit resident Rhonda Anderson is heading to Washington D.C. to join thousands of people from across the nation in a protest Sunday calling on President Obama to take action on climate change, including by rejecting TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Anderson opposes Keystone XL, which would carry Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast, but she says other Midwesterners are already being impacted in other ways by the industry.
Residents who live near pipelines and refineries already handling tar sands say their experiences raise red flags about Keystone XL; and they are also calling for increased regulatory scrutiny for existing tar sands pipelines and infrastructure.
“There are instances of tar sands projects affecting communities all across the country,” said Kady McFadden, an associate organizer for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “The Keystone we see as the biggest offender, which is why so much attention has been given to it, but we’re also giving (Sunday’s event) a local focus and face, saying these are places tar sands are already being brought and already having effects.” →
Shipments of coal on U.S. railroads dropped 11 percent in 2012, according to new figures from the Energy Department, reflecting utilities’ continued shift away from coal-fired power generation in favor of natural gas and renewable fuels for electricity.
But although coal captured a smaller share of rail deliveries in 2012, oil helped make up the difference. Last year, crude oil and petroleum products delivered by rail rose 46 percent over 2011, or by roughly 171,000 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads. →
The BP Whiting refinery looms over Marktown, a neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana surrounded on all sides by industry. (Photo by Kari Lydersen / Midwest Energy News)
EAST CHICAGO, Indiana — Billowing plumes of white steam swirl around the towering steel matrix at the BP Whiting oil refinery, while blossoms of orange flame from flares light up the cold night sky.
This is the backdrop to Marktown, an unusual enclave built in 1917 to house employees of a nearby steel mill owned by Chicago industrialist Clayton Mark.
About a quarter of the pastel, stucco Marktown homes are now vacant and crumbling. There is a general appearance of abandonment and decay. But on the evening of Jan. 23 the Marktown community center was bustling, packed with residents confused and alarmed about the news circulating over the past few days.
“This is more people than I’ve ever seen in Marktown,” remarked one local, who declined to give his name.
Kim Rodriguez, a 54-year-old lifelong resident, had called the meeting to try to save the neighborhood.
That’s because BP officials recently acknowledged they are looking to buy up and raze Marktown homes. →
By adopting technologies that pay themselves off in less than two years, the road freight industry could deliver hefty emissions reductions and save thousands of dollars in fuel costs, according to a report released Tuesday by the Carbon War Room.
By adding a suite of seven efficiency technologies to its tractor-trailer fleet, the U.S. trucking sector could save 624 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2022, according to the report. The technologies would also achieve $22,400 in annual fuel savings per truck, which would see the upgrades paid off in 18 months.
“We found that there were a lot of low-hanging fruit in the sector: There were a lot of easy-win technologies that weren’t extremely expensive, but could make a huge difference in terms of reducing emissions and reducing — what we see as a problem — an overreliance on fossil fuels,” said Hilary McMahon, director of research at the Carbon War Room.
The report recommends five physical fuel-saving technologies, including aerodynamic upgrades, anti-idling devices, decreased rolling resistance with better tires, new transmission systems and adaptive cruise control. One of these technologies could provide between 3 and 15 percent in emissions reductions and fuel savings over a 10-year period, it says. →
The most recent map of drilling rigs in Ohio’s Utica Shale play. Triangles designate “oil” rigs at work; circles are “gas” rigs. Map courtesy of the Energy Information Administration, from Baker Hughes rig count data.
That’s certainly what one might think after reading the latest Energy Information Administration report on drilling in the state.
Drawing on the widely read reports on drilling rig activity published by Baker Hughes Inc., EIA said in a “Today in Energy” mini-report last week that there were twice as many active rigs in Ohio’s Utica oil and gas play at the end of October than a year ago. And the big difference was oil exploration.
“The growth in active oil-directed rigs has more than offset the declines in active gas-directed rigs. According to Baker Hughes, about 86 percent, or 24 out of 28 active rigs in the Utica play, were directed toward drilling for shale oil,” EIA said. A year ago, 15 percent were looking for shale oil in the state.
That is a head-scratcher for Ohio’s reborn energy sector. The mother lode in eastern Ohio is believed to be natural gas of the “wet” kind, in which methane pipeline gas is spiked with valuable natural gas liquids — ethane, propane and butane. →
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