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October 27, 2017

Energy – SciPol Weekly, October 21 – October 27

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Government

ClimateWire – Offshore Wind: Resort Town Gets High-priced Help to Take Aim at Turbines

Officials in the resort town of Ocean City, Md., fearful that wind turbines will damage their lucrative tourist economy, have hired a plugged-in Annapolis lobbyist to help them push the two projects farther offshore. The lobbyist, Bruce Bereano, said in an interview this week that he was hired to focus on Congress and the federal approval process.

Daily Journal of Commerce – California Utilities Delayed Effort to Map Power Line Risk to Wildfires

Two days before the deadliest outbreak of wildfires in California history, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and other utilities won the latest in a long series of delays to map where power lines pose the greatest wildfire risk. For nearly a decade California utilities have helped delay the mapping effort that critics said could have led to stronger power poles and better maintenance before the recent catastrophic fires.

Fox Business – Oil Prices Mixed Amid Tensions in Iraq

Oil prices fluctuated Monday as investors tried to gauge the potential for supply disruptions resulting from tensions in the oil-rich Kurdish region of Iraq. A drop in the number of rigs drilling for the U.S. last week helped lift the U.S. benchmark -- a sign that supplies in the U.S. will be tightening, analysts said -- U. S. crude prices have risen in nine of the past 11 trading sessions. 

Lake County News-Sun – Illinois Pollution Board to Rule on Complaint Alleging Coal Ash Contaminated Groundwater

A series of five-day hearings scheduled for next week will determine whether groundwater near coal-powered plants in Waukegan and other Illinois communities has been contaminated and whether those plants' coal ash storage sites are the cause, a spokesman for an environmental group said.

Oil Price – OPEC’s Newest Member Looks To Raise Oil Production

OPEC’s newest member country, Equatorial Guinea, is seeking to lift its crude production after smaller oil companies acquired stakes in offshore oil fields operated by U.S. Hess Corporation, Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Mines, Industry and Energy, Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, told Bloomberg in an interview published on Tuesday.

The Morning Call –  Power Grid Operator Slams Trump Plan to Aid Coal and Nuclear

The nation's biggest electric grid operator said a Trump administration plan to change the way electricity is priced to reward coal and nuclear power is both unworkable and potentially against the law.

World Oil – Secretary Zinke Announces Largest Oil and Gas Lease Sale in U.S. History

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has announced that the Department is proposing the largest oil and gas lease sale ever held in the United States--76,967,935 acres in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The proposed region-wide lease sale, offering an area about the size of New Mexico, includes all available unleased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf, surpassing last year’s region-wide lease sale by about one million acres.

Industry

Axios – The ethanol empire strikes back

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt assured a group of corn-state lawmakers in an unusually detailed letter last week that he won't alter a federal mandate that requires refineries to blend biofuels — mostly corn ethanol — into the nation's gasoline supply. The EPA was considering changing certain parts of the mandate at the behest of oil-industry lobbying — but backed off under pressure from seven Midwestern Republican senators and ethanol companies.

Houston Chronicle – Hilcorp seeks to build island to drill in the Arctic

America within a few years could be extracting oil from federal waters in the Arctic Ocean. Federal regulators are taking comments on a draft environmental statement for the Liberty Project, a proposal by a subsidiary of Houston-based Hilcorp to create an artificial gravel island that would hold production wells, a processing facility and the start of an undersea pipeline carrying oil to shore and connections to the trans-Alaska pipeline.

Mississippi Business Journal – Biofuel company announces plans for Mississippi refinery

A British company aims to build a $300 million refinery in southwest Mississippi to turn wood into the equivalent of diesel or jet fuel.  

Tech Crunch – Tesla makes quick work of Puerto Rico hospital solar power relief project

Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted on Twitter that Tesla’s solar team could indeed outfit Puerto Rico with power facilities that could be used to generate and store power reserves when the existing grid isn’t available, as it has been after the U.S. territory faced the devastation of hurricane Maria. Now, Tesla is showing that it’s making good on its promise of help, with significant progress being made on one solar generation/storage facility on the island.

Science

CNBC – North Korea may be using algae to work around international sanctions

Pyongyang may be interested in developing algae as "a strategic resource." Algae is a multipurpose resource that can produce food, fertilizer, feedstock and fuel from the same biomass. Over time, an algae industry could gradually "mitigate the negative effects of sanctions both on the country's energy supply and food security."

Phys.org – Transparent solar technology represents 'wave of the future'

See-through solar materials that can be applied to windows represent a massive source of untapped energy and could harvest as much power as bigger, bulkier rooftop solar units, scientists report today in Nature Energy. The authors argue that widespread use of such highly transparent solar applications, together with the rooftop units, could nearly meet U.S. electricity demand and drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels.

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