In today’s edition, musings on opportunities for a greener economy thanks to falling oil prices, and geopolitical considerations with a new nuclear plant in South Africa. Also, in the Natural gas / Coal section, the first-ever regulations for coal ash by the EPA. 

Quote of the day

“Considering the much-stronger relationship between the Zuma presidency and the Russian government than under the previous South African administration, it looks much more likely that the expansion of the nuclear program will be awarded to Russia.”

Robert Besseling, a Johannesburg-based analyst with IHS Country Risk, in the Bloomberg News’ story Geopolitics Key to South Africa’s $100 Billion Nuclear Plan 

Lead stories 

Cheaper Oil, Fatter Wallets and a National Opportunity 
By Jeff Sommer – The New York Times  
Oil prices have plunged so rapidly that financial markets are treating them less as an opportunity than a danger, like a falling knife. 

Keystone ‘not even nominal benefit’ to US consumers, Obama says
By Laura Barron-Lopez – The Hill
President Obama on Friday said building the Keystone oil pipeline would “not even have a nominal benefit” to consumers, pushing back at claims it would lower gas prices further.

Geopolitics Key to South Africa’s $100 Billion Nuclear Plan
By Paul Burkhardt and Franz Wild – Bloomberg News
Politics may tip the balance as Russia’s Rosatom Corp. and France’s Areva SA prepare to battle it out for South Africa’s planned nuclear-energy project that could cost $100 billion. 
***LB: Also in this story “The Soviet Union and then Russia historically kept close ties with the ruling African National Congress from the days in which it was battling against the apartheid regime.”

Regulators want to change energy pricing rules for federal land
By Timothy Cama – The Hill
Federal land managers will release proposed rules next month to change the pricing structure for oil, natural gas and coal leases on public land.

WH: Agencies should factor for climate change in project reviews
By Laura Barron-Lopez – The Hill
The White House is floating new guidelines for federal agencies on how to weigh climate change impacts when reviewing energy and infrastructure projects.

China Invests in Region Rich in Oil, Coal and Also Strife
By Edward Wong – The New York Times 
In a desolate park on the city outskirts here, oil bubbling from the ground fills small pools next to a wooden walkway. By one pool is a statue of a bearded ethnic Uighur man sitting on a donkey, playing a lute.

(Australia’s) Direct Action unlikely to meet emissions target, says Climate Change Authority
By Oliver Milman – The Guardian 
The government’s climate advisory body has delivered a stark assessment of the Coalition’s policies, stating it was unlikely that its Direct Action policy would meet Australia’s 5% emissions reduction target and calling for the renewable energy target (RET) to remain intact.


Defense, National Security & Climate Change Symposium
January 7-8, 2015
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington DC

2015 Climate Leadership Conference
ACCO, EPA, The Climate Registry, C2ES
February 23-25, 2015
Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City (Arlington, VA)


Building Toward a Goal of Reducing Emissions in New York City by 80 Percent
By Lisa W. Foderaro and Matt Flegenheimer – The New York Times  
On the eve of the People’s Climate March in September, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ambitious goal: The city, he said, would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. 
***LB: Also in this story “The plan builds on a goal set by the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to cut emissions 30 percent by 2030. Because of work done since 2007, the city has already reduced its emissions by 19 percent.”

Natural gas / coal

EPA unveils first-ever regulations for coal ash
By Timothy Cama – The Hill
The Obama administration on Friday announced the first federal regulations for disposal of coal ash from power plants in an attempt to shield the environment from the toxic substance. 
***LB: Also in this story “The new rule from the EPA sets structural integrity standards for all existing and new disposal sites to reduce the chances that they will leak or break. It also requires that new coal ash ponds be lined and not located in sensitive areas like wetlands and earthquake zones.”

Greens pan EPA’s coal ash rule
By Timothy Cama – The Hill
Environmental groups say the Obama administration let them — and the public — down with its new rule for coal ash disposal.

Student Study Reveals Fracking in Texas Could Intensify Texas’ Water Shortages
Environmental Protection 
A new economic and policy analysis concludes that the hydraulic fracturing (HF) or “fracking” being done in Texas is adding to the state’s overuse of its water resources, but is only part of the state’s water problem.
***LB: Also in this story “A recent study conducted by students at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University has been summarized in “The Takeaway,” published by the school’s Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy.”


Green light for world’s largest planned tidal energy project in Scotland 
The Guardian
Construction of the largest planned tidal energy project in the world is expected to begin off the Scottish coast next month, developers have announced. 
***LB: Also in this story “The equity investments in the project by Scottish Enterprise (through the Renewable Energy Investment Fund) and Atlantis value the MeyGen project on a post-money equity basis at over £70m.”

Centrica confirms £50m Barrow offshore wind sale
By Jessica Shankleman – BusinessGreen
British Gas owner Centrica has sold its 50 per cent stake in one of the UK’s first offshore wind farms to DONG Energy, giving the Danish energy giant full ownership of the project.


How We Could Put An EV Charging Station On Every Lamp Post
Fast Company 
At the moment, people charge electric vehicles one of three ways: at home, at a public charging station, or on a company network like Tesla’s cross-country Supercharger system. 
***LB: Also in this story “In the U.S., there are about 20,000 public stations currently, and about 80% of charging is done at home, according to PlugIn Insights, a research firm.The key: use regular outlets instead of high-speed charging stations.”


Water Left Out Of Lima Climate Negotiations 
By Codi Kozacek – Circle of Blue 
Exactly one month after the United States and China signed a landmark climate change agreement that focused on water supply and water quality in two of its six major provisions, negotiators at the international climate conference in Lima, Peru were silent on the subject.


How To Reduce Home Energy Costs This Winter 
By Ellie Ramm – C2ES
“Oh the weather outside is frightful.” That line from the classic song “Let it Snow” usually heard this time of year is a reminder winter is upon us, bringing hot chocolate, holidays – oh, and higher energy bills.

Officials scramble to respond to Bangladesh oil spill 
By Allie Wilkinson – Science Insider
The United States and the United Nations (UN) are sending experts to Bangladesh to assess the impact and potential clean up of a serious oil spill that threatens the Sundarbans, a globally important mangrove ecosystem and home to endangered river dolphins.

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