The Dirty Little Secret of Economic Impacts of Federal Rules

“We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively referred to as the ‘‘Services’’ or ‘‘we’’), propose to revise our regulations pertaining to impact analyses conducted for designations of critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (the Act). These changes are being proposed as directed by the President’s February 28, 2012, memorandum, which directed us to take prompt steps to revise our regulations to provide …Continue Reading »

High Gasoline Prices and Politics are a Volatile Mix

Nothing infuriates Americans more than volatile, spiking gasoline prices.  Often the causes given for gasoline price hikes seem contrived.  Iran and Israel trade harsh words in press reports and before the ink is even dry of the page oil prices tick up.  Word of a fire at an oil refinery is enough to send prices shooting up as high as the flames on the cracker ---and just as fast. Those price spikes never seem to come down nearly as fast as they shoot up.  Politicians are quick to blame oil …Continue Reading »

Don't Mess with Texas, US EPA!

Don’t Mess with Texas!  That was the bottom line in a 23-page opinion by Circuit Judge E. Grady Jolly who headed a three judge panel from the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans reviewing the appeal by the State of Texas of the US EPA action denying approval of a state requested Flexible Permit Program under the Clean Air Act.  The court said US EPA’s action was “arbitrary and capricious” and that its delay in deciding the matter was unreasonable. The Appeals Court remanded …Continue Reading »

The Revenge of Competitive Markets and the Big Shift in Energy Economics


The economy, jobs and the debate over the direction of the country dominate 2012 political campaigns.  Nowhere is the political rhetoric fiercer than on energy issues. Today there is wave after wave of new Federal regulation designed to favor clean energy strategies at the expense of fossil fuels that still provide most of our energy resources.  There is broad public support for environmental quality but we see Federal energy industrial policy as hugely expensive, highly disruptive with spotty …Continue Reading »

Natural Gas is Cleaner, Cheaper, Easier and Riskier

There is much to like in the growth of natural gas as the marginal fuel of choice for power generation.  Clean, cheap, easier to site, quicker to build, fewer regulatory or environmental hassles----and it cuts emissions 40% compared to coal. A new study by Professor Lawrence M. Cathles, Cornell University, recently published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems calls natural gas a transition step to a low-carbon energy future of wind, solar and nuclear energy.  He says …Continue Reading »

Energy Dodged the Dodd Frank Bullet

Energy industry appears to have successfully dodged a big Dodd Frank bullet with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) decision July 10, 2012 by a 4-1 vote defining a “swap” for energy transaction purposes as largely exempting any regulatory driven environmental transactions.  The types of typical transactions exempted includes environmental commodities, power supply peaking supply contracts, tolling agreements and many natural gas supply contracts, as well as environmental …Continue Reading »

Smart Grid versus a New Blue Mustang

When smart grid was in its infancy the toy of choice was a smart meter.  Like a stuffed animal in the crib every home had one.  Now smart grid is reaching adolescence and the toys cost more.  A lot more. The smart grid phenomenon is maturing and that is shifting the way the electric power industry addresses the changes, opportunities and risks it brings.  Smart grid burst onto center stage stimulated by more than $3 billion in Federal stimulus money like a teenager with raging hormones.  …Continue Reading »

Preparing for the Next Boom

It does not feel like recovery.  Recovery is a time for rationalizing the old and positioning for what is to come.  I know it seems like the economy is still in the ditch.  But now is the time to get to work preparing for the competitive, smart-grid enabled, distributed, global energy future. But first we still have some clean-up work to do.  Over the last two energy business cycles we saw high inflation crater nuclear power generation, the rise of exempt wholesale power generators, qualifying …Continue Reading »

The Search for New Energy Market Consultant Leadership

The energy industry has been turned on its head by the impacts of the recession, global energy competition, and new regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand renewable energy, and make the power grid smarter. The insatiable energy demand from emerging economies is driving technology change making the oil patch more digital and accessible through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Disruptive innovation technology dominates the transformation of the energy industry. Even …Continue Reading »

Death by a Thousand Fracking Rules: An Update

On June 26, 2012 the US Department of the Interior extended the comment period on its proposed rules of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands for sixty days to September 10, 2012 at the request of the Governor of Wyoming and others who said they needed more time to study the implications of the proposed rules.  Governor Matt Mead had asked for ninety days.  Advocates for the rules also wanted more time in order to stiffen the proposed requirements to include forced disclosure of the chemicals …Continue Reading »