States Moving to Penalize Home Solar Installations

Freeloaders live here. According to ALEC, they must be punished. (Photo by John Hritz/Flickr)

Freeloaders live here. According to ALEC, they must be punished. (Photo by John Hritz/Flickr)

Oklahoma’s legislature has now followed Arizona’s  in authorizing a penalty to be charged people who install small solar arrays or wind turbines and connect them to the grid. This is happening as a result of a campaign by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-financed group (backed heavily by the Koch Brothers, among others) that writes and distributes “model” legislation for state governments. This is the equivalent of the crew of the Titanic systematically smashing holes in lifeboats to make sure everybody does their best to save the ship. It is utterly wrong-headed, but its unintended consequences could be quite good. Continue reading

Study: Lights Going Out All Over the World

New York City, August 2003. (Photo by Zombiehunters.org (!)

New York City, August 2003. (Photo by Zombiehunters.org (!)

In August of 2003, an overheated electric transmission line touched a tree somewhere in Quebec and 50 million people in the Northeast including New York City lost power for days. The same year, a tree falling on a power line in Switzerland triggered a cascade of events that shut off the power in Italy. The whole country. In Brazil in 2009 (60 million people affected), in India in 2012 (600 million people), and around the world, the hits keep on coming, bigger and faster. A new international study looks at the evidence and concludes that it’s going to get worse. Much worse. Continue reading

Forbes Guru: “Shale Oil Boosters are Charlatans.”

shell game

A representative of Big Oil (right) explains the future of fracking to America’s top energy investors (left). (Photo by Michel Lagarde/Google Images)

A noted opinionator for Forbes Magazine, James Gruber, has had an epiphany about the renaissance of the oil bidness in America, and suddenly sounds like a contributor to The Daily Impact. Gruber runs an investment newsletter, Asia Confidential, and has been a fund manager and stock analyst in Asia for 13 years. He’s at least a Deputy Assistant Master of the Universe, and sings in that choir. Or he did. Now that he has concluded, and written in Forbes, that “the era of cheap energy is over,” and “shale boosters are charlatans,” he may be booted off the island. Continue reading

Energy Conference: World “Sleepwalking” into Crisis.

A Russian oil rig in the North Sea. New oil wells are deeper, more expensive, more complicated -- and play out faster -- than ever.

A Russian oil rig in the North Sea. New oil wells are deeper, more expensive, more complicated — and play out faster — than ever.

A teleconference of world energy, financial, political and military officials organized out of Washington and London last month agreed that a full-blown global energy crisis could erupt as early as 2016. The conference was convened by Daniel Davis, a whistleblower colonel in the United States Army “acting in a private capacity,” and Jeremy Leggett, a contrarian British oil geologist. The conference took place in December, and was brought to light by Britain’s Guardian newspaper last week.   Continue reading

Brazil: From Happy Days to Apocalypse Pretty Soon

A Petrobras deep water drilling rig off Brazil. After you get five miles down, you still might not hit oil.

A Petrobras deep water drilling rig off Brazil. After you get five miles down, you still might not hit oil.

Here’s what they were saying about Brazil six years ago: it was entering a new oil bonanza, it was going to be bigger than Saudi Arabia, it was going to enjoy energy independence, all the graphs of oil production were going straight up, through the roof, to the moon, Alice. It’s oil reserves were 50 billion…no, 100 billion…wait, 240 billion barrels. (How do you sing “Happy Days are Here Again” in Portuguese?)

Sound familiar? Sound like what the same folks are saying about the United States today? Funny how they’re not singing about feliz dias in Brazil any more. How did things work out for them down there? Continue reading

Top UK Scientists: Peak Oil is Here

Oil times are changing, and not in a good way.

Oil times are changing, and not in a good way. (Photo by AZRainman/Flickr)

Britain’s leading oil scientists — including the man who for years prepared BP’s in-house estimate of future world oil supplies — have concluded that peak oil is here. In a special issue of the journal of the Royal Society, they argue that the era of cheap oil is over, and that an era of rising prices, recessions, famines and resource conflicts is beginning. In this global context, they dismiss the so-called shale oil “revolution” in the United States as insignificant and short-lived. The story, whose implications for our immediate future cannot be overstated, was reported by London’s Guardian newspaper and virtually nowhere else in the general media. Continue reading

Fracking, etc: “An Investment in Death and Destruction”

Graphic by the Dallas Observer

Graphic by the Dallas Observer

The news from Planet Oil continues to be relentlessly upbeat. The United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia in oil production (except it hasn’t, unless you use a very specialized definition of petroleum liquids), now produces more oil than it imports (which means that it still has to import nearly half; during the oil shocks of the 1970s and 80s, we were only importing about a third) and is, in the words of USA Today, “tiptoeing toward energy independence” (which is a very long way to go on tiptoes).

The news from Planet Earth, on the other hand, continues to describe an unfolding catastrophe whose end state is not “Number One,” nor “energy independence.” Continue reading

Cable News: A Plug for Personal Energy Independence

The Next Big Thing in electricity is already pretty old -- it’s been around for two or three styles of IPhone. But the mighty USB cable may be about to electrify the world. In a good way. (Photo by Teo/Flickr)

The Next Big Thing in electricity is already pretty old — it’s been around for two or three styles of IPhone. But the mighty USB cable may be about to electrify the world. In a good way. (Photo by Teo/Flickr)

In the long debate between industrial, grid-based electricity and distributed, home-grown electricity…wait, you didn’t know there was a debate? Not surprising, since one side has all the TV commercials, all the cash-and-carry political power, all the hyper-funded “think tanks” and the endowed university departments. The other side has engaging stories to tell around campfires. Nevertheless, there are two sides to the debate, and the turtle in this race is showing some life recently. Continue reading

Oil Figures Don’t Lie, but Oil Liars Go Figure

Coming soon to a yard near yours? A fracking well looms over a residence in the Eagle Ford shale region of Texas. (Photo by Earthworks Action/Flickr)

Coming soon to a yard near yours? A fracking well looms over a residence in the Eagle Ford shale region of Texas. (Photo by Earthworks Action/Flickr)

The headlines are coming with dizzying speed. On October 11, “US Soon to Overtake Russia as World’s Largest Oil Producer.” And then days later, “US Surges Past Saudis to Become World’s Top Oil Supplier.” Wait, how can Russia and Saudi Arabia both be the world’s largest oil producer in the same week? Okay, never mind, they run neck and neck. So this is really great news for American oil burners, no reason at all now they should change their planet-warming ways. If the headlines were true. Which they weren’t. Continue reading

A New American Error in Oil and Gas: 3 Charts

US_crude_oil_production_1900_2035

In this, the mother of all oil charts, we can see that things were fine until 1970. It’s been downhill ever since, and will be from here on in.


Apparently there are still a few Americans who believe the hogwash being put out by the oil and gas industry to the effect that America is awash with gas and oil, is headed for energy security, and will soon be the world’s number one oil and gas producer. The people still clinging to this fantasy seem to include President Obama and the Wall Street Journal. We have refuted the case here more than once, using arithmetic and logic, but perhaps those languages are a bit arcane these days. Let’s try charts. I have three to show you. Continue reading