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EPA Unwavering in Support for Ethanol, Despite Drought

Last Friday the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected the petitions of a bi-partisan group of state governors for a waiver of the federal ethanol mandate, resolving one of several energy-related issues that had been deferred beyond...

Posted November 21, 2012    

Is Gas Rationing Superior to Raising Prices for Consumers?

With New Jersey about to end the odd-even gasoline rationing  imposed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we have an opportunity to consider whether this kind of response actually produces better outcomes than the price increases by which the...

Posted November 13, 2012    

Push-me/Pull-you: Post-Election Energy Policies

I've seen numerous commentaries on the energy implications of President Obama's narrow, 51%/49%  victory. One of the most intriguing of these, from Reuters, concerned the prospects for exporting a portion of the growing output of...

Posted November 9, 2012    

US Natural Gas Prices and the Election

Every fall my natural gas utility asks if I'd like to lock in my gas price for the next 12 months.  In some respects the timing for this looks ideal.  Commodity natural gas prices haven't been lower than this year's average since 1999...

Posted November 5, 2012    

Solyndra's Second Chapter

The details of the reorganization plan approved Monday by the judge hearing the Solyndra bankruptcy case reminded me of the admonition of one of my mentors always to beware of unintended consequences.  I'm sure the Department of...

Posted October 26, 2012    

A123 Bankruptcy Casts Doubts on EV Goals

The theory was that the federal government could guide an entire US electric vehicle (EV) industry into existence by orchestrating a constellation of grants, loans and loan guarantees to manufacturers and infrastructure developers,...

Posted October 17, 2012    

Sacramento's Role in California's Gasoline Price Spike

How much higher were gasoline prices in California last week than elsewhere?  Enough to raise the national average price for unleaded regular by about $0.10 per gallon.  So while the rest of us were paying an average of $3.75/gal.,...

Posted October 12, 2012    

Election 2012: Romney on Energy

After last week's review of President Obama's energy record and campaign materials on energy, Governor Romney's energy plans present a sharp contrast. They are based on a fundamentally different view of energy and the economy, relying on markets to...

Posted October 5, 2012    

Candidates & Energy 2012: Obama

It's curious that energy hasn't been as big an issue in this year's presidential campaign as it was in 2008, the year of "Drill, baby, drill."  The price of unleaded regular gasoline has averaged roughly a dime per gallon higher through...

Posted September 28, 2012    

The "Four-Gallon Rule": Another Unintended Consequence of Ethanol Policy

The energy field is replete with unintended consequences, and US policy promoting ethanol fuels has had more than its share.  The growing competition  between food and fuel uses of corn, amplified by the current drought, is a...

Posted September 20, 2012    

Jet Fuel from Trees (or Almost Anything Else)

Out of the dozens of press releases that hit my email inbox in the last week, one that caught my eye was for a gathering of a group called the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) in Missoula, Montana this Thursday.  Their agenda is...

Posted September 13, 2012    

What If Saudi Arabia Became an Oil Importer?

I've seen numerous references in the last several days to a Citgroup analysis suggesting that Saudi Arabia might become a net oil importer by 2030.  The premise behind this startling conclusion seems to be that economic growth and demographic...

Posted September 7, 2012