“Pipeline Fight Lifts Environmental Movement” – New York Times, 24 January 2014

Since June 2011, environmentalists have been rallying together to stop the approval of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline — XL meaning express line — which would send 800,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Canada sand formations to Texas refineries. Though it is unknown if Obama will authorize the project, environmentalists have taken their protests directly to the him.

In addition to transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day, the pipeline will also involve an oil extraction process that expends more greenhouse gas emissions than any other means of production. Those in favor of the pipeline say that the oil will be transported regardless; without the pipeline, it would probably be carried by railway, which would cause more pollution.

The pipeline has been an issue that has banded all American environmentalists together, allowing climate change organizations, like 350.org, to grow to double its size in just two short years. People from all economic and financial backgrounds have donated time, energy and money to the cause, merging national and grassroots environmental groups who often argue over attention and resources.

Keystone XL would create a bypass to the Gulf of Mexico and would expand TransCanada’s current Keystone pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Nebraska, Illinois and Oklahoma; Keystone XL would be a more direct pipeline across the US, to Texas. TransCanada and ally American Petroleum Institute have taken the matter into their own hands by running TV and radio ads advocating the many jobs the pipeline will create.

Whether environmentalists’ protests are successful or not, it is easy to agree that the pipeline issue has forever changed American environmental politics, allowing various environmental groups to rally together, and forming a durable infrastructure.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 31, 2014

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“Exxon Presses for Exports” – 11 December 2013, Wall Street Journal

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Wall Street Journal

According to Exxon Mobil’s annual energy outlook, in the following decades, the world’s rising need for oil and energy will be met by ample amounts of petroleum sourced both in the US and globally. Exxon is asking the US to end embargoes on crude exports, which were originally created during the Arab oil embargo of 1973. The oil giant believes that the nation is now generating enough crude to become an exporter.

The US’s abundant amounts of oil have created some issues for Exxon and many energy companies: increased production has flooded US demand, causing domestic prices to decrease and gnawing at energy companies’ profits. The US doesn’t allow crude to be exported to other countries, except Canada; however, the government will soon allow natural gas to be exported through terminals to countries that don’t have free-trade agreements with the US.

Exxon’s outlook states that, by 2015, more oil will be tapped in North America than from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), excluding Saudi Arabia. However, by 2040, Exxon foreshadows that OPEC will produce 45% of the world’s petroleum. Exxon’s outlook predicts that the world will use 35% more energy in 2040 than 2010, stemming from growing incomes and populations in developing countries like India and China. Exxon also predicts that oil and gas will supply 60% of energy used in 2040. Exxon’s projections are optimistic, noting that 65% of the world’s crude will remain untouched in 2040.

Lifting this embargo might be met with opposition, as consumers worry that crude exports can lead to rising US gas prices, and environmentalists worry about the environmental consequences of enlarged production. Exxon’s outlook reinforces the split between those who promote fossil fuel emission limits, and those — like Exxon — who deem such limits as impractical.

Exxon believes that coal will be mostly forced out by natural gas by 2030. By 2040, sources of gas, from materials like shale rock, will make up one third of the world’s energy.

As guardians of the free-trade market and pragmatism, we believe that US oil companies should be allowed to export (and import) oil and any other energy sources.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 2, 2014

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“Worth Gushing Over: Oil Output Eclipses Imports” – USA Today, 14 November 2013

In October, for the first time in almost 20 years, the US created more crude than it imported. While the US still imports 35% of its crude, domestic oil generation is the highest it’s been in 24 years, while oil imports are the lowest they’ve been in 17 years.

What has aided the US in its energy independence? An amalgamation of things, including hydraulic fracking, increased gas prices, and fuel efficient cars and buildings. Obama has also had a hand in reducing energy use, through his new fuel-efficiency standards for new cars and light trucks for 2025.

Fracking came into play when global oil costs were on the rise, forcing the US to further explore new fracking technologies. The method, coupled with the aforementioned improved fuel-efficiency standards and soaring gas prices, have allowed for lowered energy use. Until recently, around 2008, US oil production was on the decline — US energy independence only began increasing with the surge of fracking.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

December 29, 2013

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“Aluminum Can Continues Leadership in Sustainable Packaging as Most Recycled Beverage Container” – PR Newsire, 24 October 2013

The aluminum industry hopes that our recycling rate will reach 75% by 2015, and we are well on our way. According to a report by the Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), the rate of recycling for used beverage cans (UBCs) in the US continued to increase in 2012 to 67%, the highest recycling rate since the 1990s and the second highest since 1972.

According to the report, in 2012, the aluminum can industry was able to recycle almost 62 billion domestic and imported cans, and ship 92 billion cans across the US. This also means the US saved energy, equivalent to 19 million barrels of crude oil, enough gas to run 1.7 millions cars for one year. UBCs are great for both the economy and environment because they can be recycled a limitless number of times — a UBC can be back in the store in as few as 60 days.

Our recycling success can be attributed to the importation of cans to the US, from countries like Mexico, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Poland, etc. —  importing cans helps us to bulk up our recycling stream. A lot of money can be made from recycling UBC; it’s become a very attractive enterprise for recycling companies.

Recycling aluminum uses far less energy — 5% — than creating primary aluminum. Still, thousands of cans, amounting to $900 million, are wasted by going to the landfill, affecting our economic and environmental prosperity. The aluminum industry promotes recycling by supporting the Curbside Value Partnership, which helps to bolster participation in curbside recycling programs in the US.

A lot of work has already been done to achieve this 68% recycling rate , more dedicated work  still needs to be done to achieve the self-imposed goal of 75% recycling rate and still lot more to be done to achieve  world champion on Brazil’s  rate of 98%.

A lot of hard work is still to come, and with a lot more rewards — economic, environmental and most importantly, a favorable public opinion. We should be looking for sustainable packaging among the many alternatives.

Useful Related Links:
Phinix Blog
Brazil Remains Aluminum Can Recycling Champion
Aluminium Circle
Brazil remains leader in aluminum can recycling
Novelis hopes to raise US recycling rates with its ‘evercan’ Project

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 11, 2013

Phinix LLC

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