Not all Green Jobs were Created Equal

The stimulus package and the climate bill recently passed by the US House and now being considered in the Senate will create jobs while delivering a boost to our economy.  A "green" stimulus swill create  approximately three times as many jobs as the same amount of spending in traditional energy industries.  But clean energy is too diverse to consider a single industry.  What are the differential jobs creation effects of different types of clean energy and are the most effective sectors getting the most money? Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA In my next Greener Money column for Smart Energy Living...

The POTUS and his SOTUS: RT@moreofthesame TL;DR

Jim Lane The President’s State of the Union speech. What was new? (Not much). What was feasible amongst DC gridlock? (Not much) What about energy? (moreofthesame) Where was the Farm Bill? (AWOL). In case you were watching wrestling, President Obama gave the State of the Union speech last night. Big vision, small vision – practical, impractical – partisan, bipartisan. Cable news chattered away all night on those topics but the speech had the feeling of a long retweet. Amongst the Twitterati, he’s the POTUS, giving the SOTUS, and in a Twitterverse dominated by...

EPA’s 2018 Renewable Fuel Targets Disappoint Producers

In Washington, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final Renewable Fuel Standard renewable volume obligations for 2018. The agency finalized a total renewable fuel volume of 19.29 billion gallons , of which 4.29 BG is advanced biofuel, including 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. As the Renewable Fuels Association explained: “That leaves a 15 BG requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol, consistent with the levels envisioned by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. The 2018 total RFS volume finalized today represents a minor increase (10  million gallons) over the 2017 standards, and a modest increase...

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...

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. ...

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...

Trump Administration Flip-Flops On Oil Refinery Waivers Again, Farm Groups Protest Again

by Jim Lane In Washington, what must have become a weary if vigilant posse of the nation’s biofuel and farm advocates are out on the hustings again this week, over a fresh attack on the US Renewable Fuel Standard, this one led by officials in the Trump Administration, if a story reported by Bloomberg stands up against scrutiny. What has been described as a “misinformation campaign spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz” is seeking to overturn a unanimous court decision that would halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s abuse of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard.   The backstory In a unanimous panel, the...
Refinery exemptions RFS

Did Trump’s EPA Cost Corn Growers $3.65 Billion In 2017?

by Jim LaneIn Washington, new evidence has appeared that a Trump Administration shift on US low carbon fuel policy may have cost US corn growers an estimated $3.65 billion. The mechanism? A secretive effort by Administration officials installed at the US Environmental Protection Agency that destroyed an estimated 1.37 billion gallons of annual demand for low-carbon renewable fuels, in favor of fossil fuels. Officials at the agency exploited a loophole in US low carbon fuel legislation that allows small oil refineries to gain hardship waivers in cases of severe distress from complying in full with US low carbon fuel laws.  Now, evidence...

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,...
REG factory closure

Another Biodiesel Plant Gets The Axe. Here’s Why.

by Jim Lane In another small but sharp blow to the Trump Administration’s strategy for American manufacturing revival, news arrives from Texas of a second smaller biodiesel shuttering owing to “ challenging business conditions and continued federal policy uncertainty,” as Renewable Energy Group (REGI) phrased it in announcing the closure of its15 million gallons per year New Boston, Texas biorefinery.  The company is currently working with plant employees on relocation opportunities within the production network. The tax credit issue The forces impacting the US biodiesel industry at present are complex, but REG in this case is pointing the blame at the biodiesel tax...
ethanol ups and downs

Fortunately, Unfortunately: The Spring Saga of American Ethanol

by Jim Lane The ethanol signals from Washington DC are more inexplicably mixed than cocktails with names like Sex on the Beach. Let’s parse through the wigwagging over the future of American biofuels supply and demand — ethanol and otherwise. Fortunately: Trump backs year-round E15 ethanol blends In Washington, President Trump endorsed year-round E15 ethanol availability as an emerging compromise between oil refiners and US farm sector. The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The RFS originated in a bi-partisan Congress with the Energy Policy Act...

Solar Trade Case Analysis and Implications

by Paula Mints In terms of the current trade petition and the USITC decision, government interference will not correct an imbalance that is embedded in the industry (globally) particularly when it is put in place by a body that does not understand the nuances of the problem. Despite evidence to the contrary, attorneys and consultants for Suniva/SolarWorld seem to have convinced the USITC that cell manufacturing in the US can be resuscitated and that tariffs and quotas the mechanism that will stimulate manufacturing. In reality, this situation is stimulating uncertainty and doing harm. Table 1: Tariff Recommendations   ...

What A Portfolio Approach To Climate Policy Means for Your Stock Portfolio

Portfolio theory can lend insights into which carbon abatement strategies policymakers should pursue.  If policymakers listen, what will it mean for green investors? Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Good Info, Not Enough Analysis I've now read most of my review copy of Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World.  The quality of the information is generally excellent, as Charles has described in his reviews of the Wind and Solar and Efficiency and Geothermal chapters.  As a resource on the state of Cleantech industries, it's generally excellent.  As an investing resource, however, it leaves something to be desired.  Each chapter is written...

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...

Obama’s Climate Plan

James Montgomery Yesterday President Obama spoke at Georgetown University about his plans to broadly address climate change. Ahead of his actual talk, the White House released the gist of what he would propose. The EPA, working with states, industry, and other stakeholders, will establish new carbon pollution standards. "Tough new rules" will be established similar to those that exist for toxins like mercury and arsenic. These new rules, as anticipated, will target existing power plants as well as new ones. The federal government will make available up to $8 billion in loan guarantees for "advanced...

A Small New York Town Plans a Profitable, 100% Renewable Energy Future

A community choice program and a lack of natural gas are enabling Marbletown to achieve 100 percent renewable energy and tackle 100 percent renewable energy —while saving money. by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA With advances in technology, the pathways to 100 percent renewable energy are becoming clear. As a result, the central challenge has become less about how to get there, and more about how to pay for it. The town of Marbletown, in New York's Hudson River Valley, is finding that problem is solving itself. Marbletown is a town of 5,500 people covering 55 square miles on the edges of the Catskills...
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