Obama’s New Energy and EPA Appointments

Jim Lane   Ernest J. Moniz is the nominee for US Secretary of Energy In Washington, President Barack Obama nominated MIT professor Ernest J. Moniz as US Secretary of Energy, replacing Steven Chu, and nominated Gina McCarthy as EPA Administrator. Moniz is currently serving as the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, as well as the director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. He was formerly undersecretary of Energy and associate director of the White House office...

350.org’s Smart New Campaign

Garvin Jabusch Many parallels exist between the college campus divestiture campaigns of the 1980s and today. Both were/are seeking to apply intense student and community pressure to persuade boards of trustees to get endowment monies out of investments in businesses or locations perceived as undesirable. In the '80s it was South Africa and Apartheid that students objected to. Back then, one could almost conceive of college students versus a beleaguered South African government as something of a fair fistfight between entities with comparable chances of winning popular opinion and thus investment dollars to their side. And indeed the students...

The Worst Waste

Jim Lane Peter Brown of FFA Fuels, promotes his company these days with the pithy slogan, “Fuels from the Worst Waste Around.” Which of course raises the legitimate question, what is the worst waste, and can we find a use for it? Discussions of worst waste will usually focus on the obvious say, landfill or the odious say, medical or nuclear waste. Toxicity and longevity are typical concerns, and that’s one of the reasons why nuclear energy remains controversial to this day. No Waste in Nature As LanzaTech’s Jennifer Holmgren observed in a recent article by...

What Obama Did To Coal Investors, What The Next President Might, And How Investors...

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Investing in the past is a good way to lose money.  Just ask anyone who has been investing in coal stocks since Obama we re-elected. A glance at the chart above shows that the VanEck Vectors Coal ETF (KOL) is down about 50% over the last four years, even while the broad market (as represented by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY)) has gained almost 50%.  But even if we knew this was going to happen, should investors have rushed into the energy sectors most loved by liberals: That is, Wind, Solar,...

Overcoming Hurdles to Clean Energy Commercialization

by David L. Levy In the absence of a global framework for regulating emissions, the future of the planet largely rests on choices by private firms and investors regarding which technologies to pursue and commercialize. Despite the mounting evidence of severe climate change, there is a funding crisis for potential solutions. The Department of Energy released data at the beginning of November showing that global emissions of CO2 rose 6% in 2010, despite the ongoing economic recession. This trajectory is higher than the worst case projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in it’s 2007 Fourth...

Does Buying Green Stocks Do Any Good?

Tom Konrad CFA Volt owners are almost universally happy with their cars, despite the fact that very few will recoup the extra costs of the car in gas savings.   Even though the financial savings are small compared to the large up front payment for the vehicle, the emotional payback more than compensates. As someone who helps people invest in green stocks, I can tell you from first hand experience that investor enthusiasm has everything to do with recent financial returns, and not much to do with the good we’re doing. In 2007, when practically any stock which could be...

EVs, Lithium-ion Batteries and Liars Poker

John Petersen Last week I stumbled across a link that led to a 2010 report from the National Research Council titled "Hidden Costs of Energy, Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use." This free 506-page book takes a life-cycle approach – from fuel extraction to energy production, distribution, and use to disposal of waste products – and attempts to quantify the health, climate and other unpriced damages that arise from the use of various energy sources for electricity, transportation and heat. After studying the NRC's discussion of the unpriced health effects, other nonclimate damages and greenhouse gas...

Trump to Health, Education, Small Business, and the Environment: You’re Fired!

Jim Lane  Good-bye ARPA-E, DOE, Loan Guarantee program, Energy Star, OPIC, USTDA, NEA, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. Even Big Bird gets the guillotine. In Washington, the White House released its budget requests for 2018, a high-level, 62-page overview of President Trump’s strategy for “Making America Great Again”. Departmental impact In order of percentage impact, the departments are as follows. Defense: Up $52B or 8 percent Veterans Affairs: Up $4.4B or 6 percent  Homeland Security: Up $2.8B or 7 percent Small Business Administration: Down $43M or 5 percent Health & Human Services: Down $15.1B...

Cap and Trade: Right Debate, Wrong Solution

David Gold          As we have seen in just the past few years, fossil fuel prices can vary dramatically over very short periods of time.  Creating greater certainty regarding steady increases in fossil fuel prices over the coming decade would have an enormous impact on private sector investments in both alternative energy and energy efficiency.  Cap and trade is the right debate to be having because it focuses the discussion on how to change the fundamental economics of fossil-based energy.  But ultimately cap and trade is the wrong solution; superior means exist to achieve the results...

Renewable Fuel Producers Score A Win

Despite Trump’s vow to roll back all measures endorsed by Obama, his Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is backing off plans to scuttle the U.S. biofuel policy.  The Trump administration had planned to change regulatory standards to reduce the amount of renewable fuel that must be blended with conventional fossil fuel for gasoline and diesel supplies.  In the third week in October 2017, Pruitt sent a letter to Congressional leadership indicating the renewable fuel volume mandates for 2018 would remain unchanged. Most analysts saw the about face as a win for ethanol and renewable diesel producers such as Green Plains (GPRE:  Nasdaq), FutureFuel...

A Cleantech VC Who is Unconvinced of Man-Made Climate Change

David Gold Go ahead call me a hypocrite.  I claim to be a cleantech venture capitalist yet I tell you here and now that I am not convinced of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change (aka global warming).  And I will audaciously tell you that my convictions on climate change in no way run contrary to my strong belief in the need for a cleantech revolution Many supporters of clean technologies make it seem as though anthropogenic climate change is an absolute fact.  To some of them anthropogenic climate change is almost like a religion where any debate...

President-Elect Trump: A Gift?

by John Fullerton Imagine if you can, Donald Trump has arrived as a gift, to illuminate for us the American “shadow” at this pivotal moment in history. The Swiss Psychiatrist C.G. Jung refers to “the shadow” as the dark side of one’s self. The shadow, Jung wrote in 1963, “is that hidden, repressed, for the most part inferior and guilt-laden” aspect of our personality hiding out in the unconscious. Failure to recognize our shadow leaves us exposed to the destructive possession by our disowned shadow. Are we prepared to see the message of the shadow, illuminating our ongoing...

Hurricane Sandy: “It’s Global Warming, Stupid”

Garvin Jabusch On today's broadcast of the news show Democracy Now hosted by Amy Goodman, Cynthia Rosenzweig, co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, went out of her way to begin her comments on Hurricane Sandy and the effects of global warming to issue a disclaimer: "but first Amy, I need to make something very clear: any one storm cannot be associated directly with climate change…we have to be very careful not to say Hurricane Sandy was caused by climate change." Unfortunately, this could easily be taken to imply that warming and Sandy may have...

Renewable Energy Standards: Savvy or Silly?

David Gold State renewable energy standards have gained momentum over the past decade with 29 states having put in place various types of standard mandates and five more having implemented voluntary standards (34 total).  Now the federal government is looking to get into the game with a bi-partisan bill (S. 3813) aiming to set a minimum national standard. Renewable energy standards certainly feel good, but do they really provide the best path for achieving their goals?  The existing renewable energy standards are savvy in finding a way to reduce fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions while simultaneously being...

A 10-Minute Guide to Obama’s New Energy Policy

Jim Lane   Stopwatch photo via BigStock A major push from Obama on energy. From DOE: “Liquid fuels demand can be sufficiently reduced so that biomass can meet all liquid fuel needs.” What’s up? What is an Energy Security Trust, anyway? The Digest’s 10-Minute Guide tells all. In an address at the Argonne National Laboratories on Friday, President Obama said: “You see, after years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to take control of our energy future.  We produce more oil than we have in 15 years. ...

Why America Must Focus On Domestic Energy Solutions Instead of Imports

John Petersen On September 17th, the White House released a report titled, 100 Recovery Act Projects That Are Changing America. Since the report included eight companies that were awarded a total of $1.1 billion in ARRA battery manufacturing and vehicle electrification grants in August 2009, I created the following table to summarize the first tier job creation impact. As I pondered over the relatively high cost per first tier manufacturing job, I decided it might be better to look at the overall value chain including second tier job creation impacts (new jobs in companies that...