In 1956, Texas oil geologist M. King Hubbert predicted that U.S. oil production would peak no later than 1970. Lo and behold, in 1970, oil production topped out at just over 9.6 million barrels a day (mbd) and began its decline. The predicted peak had been reached. Regarding the world oil supply – no worries. There were oceans of oil in Middle East deserts, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, new finds in the North Sea, as well as discoveries, largely offshore, of recoverable oil in other parts of the world, meant that the world was not running out of oil; just the United States was.
Domestically though, trouble was brewing on two fronts. For most of the century, U.S. oil imports were modest. Then, in the mid-1950s, oil imports reached 1 mbd and began climbing. From a consumer perspective, imported oil meant lower prices. But for domestic producers, cheap oil meant decreased revenues. To shore up revenues, domestic oil companies successfully lobbied the Eisenhower administration to impose import quotas on Mideast oil. Bad idea. In retaliation for those market restrictions, Middle East oil states formed the cartel known as OPEC – the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Now world …
A version of this post was originally published on Legal Planet.
Yes, it was a grim year in many ways. But there actually were some bright spots. Here are just the high points.
Cross-posted from Legal Planet.
The Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment published a survey of state energy policies through 2017. The trend toward renewables has continued in 2018. Even after nearly two years of the Trump presidency, states haven't given up. Instead, they're moving forward aggressively. If anything, Trump seems to have stimulated these states to try even harder.
Here's a quick rundown of what's happened so far in 2018:
At the end of June, in a vote divided along partisan lines, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) handed down a sweeping order that will impact electricity markets in a wide swath of the country – likely at the expense of renewable energy and nuclear power. Unfortunately, like Trump's power plant bailout, the result may be to delay the closing of coal-fired power plants. That's a serious problem. A new study by researchers at Resources for the Future shows that a two-year delay in plant closings would cause 353-815 deaths and release 22 million extra tons of carbon. A two-year delay would cause one death for every four or five coal mining jobs it saved for those two years.
The FERC order applies to PJM, which operates a vast part of the national grid encompassing much of the mid-Atlantic, upper South, and Midwest. My first thought was that …