Just as President Trump takes power promising to ramp up oil and gas production, a sudden resignation in a key agency threatens to put such projects on hold across the United States.
On Thursday, Norman Bay, one of just three current members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), said he would resign effective Feb. 3, even though his term isn't up until next year. His announcement came shortly after Trump decided Bay's fellow commissioner, Cheryl LaFleur, would serve as the commission's new chair.
"I think [Bay] was perhaps disappointed that Commissioner LaFleur was elevated above him," says Carolyn Elefant, an energy lawyer who represents landowners negotiating with pipeline companies. After Bay's abrupt decision, Elefant says she's "heard in some FERC circles he's being criticized for that."
The resignation could mean costly delays for some major pipeline projects.The Economist: Construction of Most Nuclear-Power Reactors Is Behind Schedule
The boom in nuclear energy began in the 1950s, when America, Russia, Britain and France rushed to develop reactor technologies for electricity generation. By the late 1970s around 230 reactors were under construction. However, following the accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, fears about safety led governments in Europe and America to halt construction and wind down research on new civilian nuclear technology. Interest in nuclear energy did not rebound until the turn of the millennium, when concerns over securing energy supplies, reducing carbon emissions and meeting the growing demand for electricity in developing economies kick-started another wave of investment.
Building reactors is not an easy business proposition. Two recent additions to the world’s nuclear fleet, in Argentina and the United States, took 33 and 44 years to erect, respectively. Moreover, neither of the two technologies that were supposed to revolutionise the supply of nuclear energy -- the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) and the AP1000 from America’s Westinghouse -- has yet been installed, despite being conceived early this century. According to the Global Nuclear Power database, almost two-thirds of the 55 plants currently under construction are behind schedule. In Finland, France and China, all of the EPRs in progress are years behind planners′ expectations. Delays in construction of the AP1000s in America are likely to cost Toshiba, their owner, billions of dollars. On January 27, Toshiba said it was scaling back its nuclear ambitions.Digital Trends: Gargantuan Offshore Wind Turbine Crushes Record for Most Energy Produced in 24 Hours
There’s a massive offshore wind turbine in Østerild, Denmark breaking energy generation records left and right.
MHI Vestas Offshore Wind -- a joint venture between Vestas Wind Systems and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries -- showed off its 9 MW turbine prototype in December 2016, an upgrade to its V164-8.0 MW version. The Goliath of wind turbines generated nearly 216,000 kWh over 24 hours during its December test, breaking the previous record for energy generation record for a commercially available offshore wind turbine. To put the numbers in perspective, that’s enough energy to power the average American household for roughly 20 years.The Hill: Overnight Energy -- Senate Begins Moving Trump's Energy, Environment Team
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources will vote on two Trump administration nominees on Tuesday, pushing ahead the confirmation process for President Trump's energy and environment team.
The committee will consider Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to be Interior Secretary and Rick Perry to be Secretary of Energy.
Energy Committee members held confirmation hearings for both Zinke and Perry the week before Trump's inauguration, and neither are seen as particularly controversial nominees. Even so, some Democrats expressed concerns about their positions on climate science, public land ownership under the Trump administration and possible cuts to research funding, meaning there is plenty of potential for dissenting votes on Tuesday.
Neither nominee, though, draws as much Democratic and environmentalist anger as Trump's Environmental Protection Agency nominee Scott Pruitt, whose confirmation is due up in the Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday.