Yesterday, I wrote a post about President Obama’s speech at Georgetown, which focused on how the U.S. can reduce its dependence on foreign oil resources. For those who would like to see the entire speech (at just under 47 minutes), here is the video:
Today, President Obama discussed his strategy to reduce US oil imports, with the goal of a 1/3 reduction in the next 10 years. This announcement complimented his State of the Union commitment to the goal of producing 80% of the country’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 by focusing on the oil and gas section of the US energy pie. According to a senior White House official, the President’s strategy will focus on increasing domestic energy production while reducing consumption and can be broken down into the following 4 parts:
Part 1 – Increase domestic oil production.
According to the US Department of the Interior, more than 2/3 of offshore oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico and more than 1/2 of onshore leases on federal land are neither actively producing oil or exploring potential development opportunities. This represents a large untapped domestic energy resource that the President will propose we focus on developing. Today, the President discussed the “massive supplies of energy waiting to be tapped” and how we can ensure that these leases do not remain idle.
In response, the oil industry has already made statements regarding the lengthiness of the mapping, testing and infrastructure development process that must occur before oil or gas can be produced. According to the Western Energy Alliance, “…obtaining a lease is just the first step in a lengthy process filled with bureaucratic hurdles…If this Administration was serious about domestic energy production from federal lands, it would ease some of the redundant red tape that is preventing companies from developing leases they currently hold.”
Part 2 – Implement New Natural Gas Industry Incentives
The most unclear part of Obama’s plan focuses on developing domestic natural gas resources by increasing industry incentives for developing resources in a safe and responsible manner.
According to senior White House Official, “we know that in the U.S. we have tremendous reserves of natural gas but we need to develop those resources responsibly in a manner that is not going to impact our groundwater supply.”
Part 3 – Develop biofuel resources
The third part of the President’s 4-part plan focuses on the potential role for biofuels in reducing US oil imports. In his speech today, the President set specific goals for building four new advanced biofuel facilities in the US in the next 2 years.
Part 4 – Reduce energy consumption with efficiency
The final part of the President’s plan focuses on reducing energy consumption through energy efficiency. The President proposed several energy efficiency targets, including vehicle efficiency standards and smart grid standards and goals. This part of the President’s plan will be built upon the research and development dollars that he proposed in his 2012 budget.
Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Ichiro Fujisaki speaks to PBS about the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. In the discussion are comments on the nuclear crisis, and what “control” of this situation will look like.
(Discussion on nuclear crisis starts at 2:21)
On March 11, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocked northeastern Japan. An earthquake of this magnitude hasn’t occurred in this region in over 1,200 years and its effects have been felt across the world with tsunamis hitting coastlines from California and New Zealand’s north island. Its effects are also being felt in Japan’s nuclear fleet, as multiple failures and explosions have created the potential for the world’s largest nuclear disaster.
The Japan quake, and the tsunami that it created, knocked out the electricity supply used to run the cooling systems at the Fukushima Power Plant. And, for unclear reasons, backup generators did not engage properly. As a result, several reactors have experienced partial meltdowns that threaten the health and safety of Japanese residents. This morning, a team of Japanese engineers and technicians are risking their lives to prevent a catastrophic full reactor meltdown and radiation leak.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Scientific American is providing extensive coverage of the crisis. Included in today’s articles was a post by David Wogan that compares this crisis to last year’s Gulf oil spill. You can check out that post in Scientific American’s guest blog here.
This week, Japan was hit by an earthquake and tsunami that has left thousands of people lost and feared dead. At the same time, two nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Power Plant are at risk of a meltdown after their cooling systems were knocked out. These Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) keep their fuel cool and safe by continuously flowing water through their cores. These cooling system failures mean that the fuel is at risk of over-heating, which could lead to a core meltdown and a radiation leak.
Four months after President Obama officially lifted the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico a new drilling permit has been issued to Noble Energy Inc., a global independent energy company. Their well, located 70 miles southeast of Venice, LA, will drill 6,500 feet below the water’s surface. This is the first permit to be issued since the April 2009 Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill that released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf. According to Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement:
This permit represents a significant milestone for us and for the offshore oil and gas industry, and is an important step towards safely developing deepwater energy supplies offshore… This permit was issued for one simple reason: The operator successfully demonstrated that it can drill its deepwater well safely and that it is capable of containing a subsea blowout if it were to occur.
The permit came only days before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was set to defend the agency’s 2012 budget request in Washington, where Republicans have been critical of that office’s conservative approach to issuing new drilling permits after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Today marks 1 year since I started Global Energy Matters. I would like to say “Thank You” to all of you who read my posts and those who take the time to comment on the stories that I present, and pass them along to colleagues and friends. Thanks also for the tweets and e-mails with your thoughts on these subjects.
Over the past year, I have published 163 posts (0.45 posts per day) about energy and the environment in our lives. The three most popular of my posts over the past year (listed in order of most hits) included:
1. Smart Refrigerators (8/6/2010)
2. Energy Storage – via Fulvalene Diruthenium (say what??) (10/26/2010)*
3. How Green is ACL – really? (10/6/2010)
4. South Texas – A Wealth of Natural Gas in Eagle Ford (1/4/2011)
5. 10 calories in – 1 calorie out (12/11/2010)
Apparently I write my best pieces in the winter.
Today, on the 1 year anniversary of the day that I started this blog, I would like to ask you for a few minutes of your time – I would ask you to take a minute to tell me a little bit about yourself and why you read my posts each day, or week, or month. If you would be willing to leave a comment here, that’s great. If you’d prefer to e-mail me (melissalott at gmail dot com), I would enjoy hearing from you.
As year 2 of Global Energy Matters begins, many changes and big movement are on the horizon in the energy and environment spheres. I look forward to discussing them with you all via this blog, twitter and e-mail.
Thanks again to you all for being part of the dialogue.
*The second highest number of hits last year actually went to my “info” page – but, as this page isn’t really a post, I excluded it from the list.