Energy News Recap: Dems Want Keystone XL Oil Export Ban; How Are Fossil Fuels Like Slavery?

"The Old Plantation", Unidentified Artist (c. 1790-1800)/Public Domain

Plus, the natural gas glut means many new wells will be uneconomical; over 4 gigawatts of US coal power plants are set to close or are being hung-up in court; and, nations should all pledge to double renewable energy at the Rio+20 conference in June. Here are the details:

EU Climate Head Urges Doubling of Renewable Energy at Rio+20
With a bit over five months to go until the Rio+20 environmental summit in Brazil, statements of what needs to happen there are increasingly coming in, and from all quarters. One of the latest: EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard is urging all nations to pledge to double to amount of the renewable energy they use by 2030, as well as doubling energy efficiency efforts. Read more.

Are We Abusing Fossil Fuels, As We Abuse Slaves?
In what is no doubt a deliberately provocatively framed article in The Guardian, Prof. Jean-François Mouhot raises some thoughtful similarities between the ways in which we now use fossil fuels the way we used to use slaves to power our nations—and how the transition away from fossil fuels will happen in a similar way. Also, how there's a similar situation about the impact on our fellow humans in one case and on the environment in another is ignored.

Our societies, like slave-owning societies, have a vested interested in ignoring the scientific consensus. Pointing our the similarities between slavery and the use of fossil fuels can help us engage with the issue in a new way, and convince us to act, as no one envisages comfortably being compared with a slave owner.

It's Not If But When The Natural Gas Bubble Will Burst
Some strong stuff from The Oil Drum:

The current boom in drilling for ‘unconventional’ gas has helped raise US production to levels not seen since the early 1970′s. This has been an incredible boon to consumers and has kept spot prices contained below $5 per million BTU for the past year, recently dropping below $3/mmbtu. Unfortunately, this price is below the cost of production for many of these new wells. When the flood of investment currently pouring into natural gas drilling operations dries up, the inevitable bust will be as scary as the boom was exciting.

Coal Plants On The Ropes: 4 GW Set to Close or Are Delayed
From Think Progress:

In less than one week, eight U.S. coal plants representing 4,099 MW of capacity have been put on the chopping block for closure or have been delayed in court due to environmental concerns. It is yet more proof of the major changes taking place in the American coal industry.

Why? Cheap natural gas, rising coal prices, stronger environmental standards, increasing energy efficiency at utilities, decreasing renewable energy costs.

Democrats Introduce Bill Blocking Export of Any Keystone XL Oil
The political maneuvering around the for-now-rejected Keystone XL tar sands pipeline continues. Republicans vow to keep pushing for an alternate route for the pipeline. Now Democrats have introduced legislation that would block exporting any oil transported through any future incarnation of the project. Despite industry and supporters' claims that the Keystone XL pipeline will increase US energy independence, opponents have consistently pointed out that the majority of the oil is bound for export once in reaches refineries in Texas.

Tags: Coal | Natural Gas | Oil | Renewable Energy | Tar Sands