“Top Court to Weigh Pollution Standards” – Wall Street Journal, 26 November 2014

This past November, the US Supreme Court surveyed the case that presents the US’s first standards obligating power plants to curb mercury emissions and various air toxins, one of many major elements in President Obama’s newly introduced climate policy.

The case is being disputed by the utility industry and almost two dozen states, namely states where coal is a major player in their economies. The case will go to trial in the spring and the court will reach a decision in June 2015. Concurrently, Obama is is working on more regulations that will reduce existing power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions.

The EPA also introduced an amended national standard for ground-level ozone, or smog, in November; enforcement of renewed ozone standards rely on the mercury rule. The mercury rule was initially proposed in 2012 and will be enforced beginning in April 2015 for existing power plants, which obligates plants that are powered by coal and oil to eliminate most of their mercury emissions.

What falls on the Supreme Court is whether the EPA’s new regulations should acknowledge how much the regulations will cost utilities. This has been an ongoing complaint from utility and power companies, and many coal states, which assert that placing restrictions on power plants will drive up the cost of electricity. According to these companies and states, the EPA’s rules will increase utility industry costs by $9.6 billion per year.

The EPA argues that the public-health gains from reducing air pollutants surpass any additional costs to utilities: the public will benefit $37 billion to $90 billion per year, and avoid 11,000 deaths per year.

The result of this case can affect EPA regulations, such as the agency’s initiative to reduce carbon emissions from almost 600 fossil fuel-fired plants, which was supported by the Supreme Court in 2007. If the court doesn’t rule in favor of the EPA, the EPA might not have as much power — or be as ambitious — in the future.

This month, the EPA will distribute final emissions standards for new power plants; the agency will issue similar standards for existing power plants this summer. The mercury rule instructs coal utilities to use scrubbers, which will help lower emissions. Many facilities have been given an extra year to install scrubber technology.

(From Wall Street Journal)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 14, 2015

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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

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2014. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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