President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement on June 1, 2017, and exactly a year later, also directed his administration to take steps that would prevent the closure of coal and nuclear power plants in the country. Meanwhile, the production of U.S. shale is at record highs (the price of gasoline in the domestic market is also at its highest in several years) and crude oil production heavyweights, like Russia and the Saudi Arabia-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are also mulling increasing their output. Despite the virtual stranglehold on global production of crude oil by OPEC and Russia, and the pursuit of environmentally-unfriendly policies by the Trump administration, a new study found there is an economic "carbon bubble" forming, one that could lead to the sudden loss of up to $4 trillion in the global economy by 2035, mostly accounted for by "stranded" fossil fuel stockpiles. Economists and policy experts from Cambridge and the Open universities in the United Kingdom, Radboud University in the Netherlands, Macau University, and Cambridge Econometrics ran detailed simulations that showed technological changes in the energy and transport industries would lead to a significant decline in the global demand for fossil fuels in the coming years. This change in the near future would occur even if major nations did not adopt climate-friendly energy policies, leading to a slump in fossil fuel prices and stocks of associated companies.
The disconnect between production inspired by individual actors and infrastructure that needs collective action to be approved and built is nothing new. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, settlers streamed across the Appalachian Mountains to farm the fertile Ohio River Valley, long before financiers and government officials arranged for the construction of roads and canals that would carry the grain efficiently and economically to New York City and other markets. In the late 1850s and 1860s, oil pioneers started drilling and producing oil in rural Pennsylvania before railroads and pipelines had been built. More recently, entrepreneurs and companies have rushed to build huge wind farms in Texas and the Plains--often far in advance of the construction of transmission lines to carry that power to market. The reality is that mapping out a big interstate infrastructure project takes a degree of planning and coordination between governments and multiple states that isn't necessary when you're just, say, drilling for oil or setting up wind turbines but becomes a requirement once those activities reach a critical mass.
ENERGY: A rally in oil prices petered out after four days of gains driven by OPEC's deal to cut production next year. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 96 cents to $50.84 in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, shed 99 cents to $53.94 a barrel in London. Among energy stocks, pipeline operator Kinder Morgan and Devon Energy each fell 1 percent.
No contour of California's vast landscape inspires such passionate devotion as its coastline, so state lawmakers recoiled when President Trump announced in April that he wanted to expand offshore drilling. The outrage was channeled into a proposal for preventing any new infrastructure along the water, pipelines or otherwise, for additional oil production. But the day before a key Sacramento committee hearing this summer, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) received some bad news about her legislation -- it was opposed by a politically powerful labor group whose members' paychecks depend on the steady flow of oil. In a letter to lawmakers, the top lobbyist for the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California said he feared harming projects that "maintain and create new employment opportunities." The legislation, Senate Bill 188, stalled the following day, an unceremonious defeat for a proposal announced with much fanfare months earlier.
This story originally appeared on CityLab and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. During this year's record-breaking hurricane season, oil rigs and refineries were just as exposed as any structure on the precarious Gulf Coast, and their owners were limited to the same options as everyone else: evacuate, prepare, and hope the storm was merciful. The devastation Harvey and other storms left behind illuminates just how defenseless oil and gas infrastructure is in the face of hurricanes that are growing in magnitude and frequency and challenging the permanence of the oil and gas industry's presence in the Gulf. Harvey shut down 22 percent of the nation's refining capacity, vitally disrupted the oil and gas transportation networks that deliver energy to much of the US, and caused damage to facilities that leaked more than a million pounds of dangerous air pollutants into communities around Texas. The road back to full operational capacity will take weeks, if not months.