Fuel Fix: Oil Glut Could Continue Into 2016, Says IEA

Market optimism underpinning oil prices this month is probably wrong, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday, as its view of the global oversupply of crude worsened.

Even if OPEC kept oil production flat, worldwide crude inventories could climb by 2 million barrels a day in the first quarter and keep increasing by 300,000 barrels a day in the second half of this year, the Paris-based group predicted in its monthly oil-market report.

“With the market already awash in oil, it is very hard to see how oil prices can rise significantly in the short term,” the IEA said. The agency advises oil-importing nations.

Washington Post: Why So Many Economists Back Obama's Idea of a Tax on Oil

When the White House announced last week that President Obama would pursue a $10-a-barrel tax on oil to fund major transportation system reforms, there were instant denunciations from many politicians, and especially congressional Republicans.

These critics were, in a sense, merely reflecting public opinion at large -- much research suggests that gasoline taxes (and the proposed tax would certainly raise the price of gasoline) are very unpopular. For instance, a 2015 study of the matter found that “large majorities of Americans (65%-70%) oppose higher taxes on gasoline and electricity” (although the research found that different messages about gas taxes can reduce resistance somewhat).

But despite the lack of public support, a large number of economists are convinced that taxes on fossil fuels in general are a pretty good idea.

Guardian: Thousands Lost From Retirement Savings in Fossil Fuel Investments

Many Australians are losing thousands of dollars a year from their retirement savings because their super funds continue to invest in fossil fuel companies, according to a new report.

Members of 15 super funds lost an average of $1,109 per member in fossil fuel investments over two years. Some funds with heavier investments in fossil fuels lost almost triple that.

Market Forces, an activist group that works on environmental finance, looked at the default investment options for 15 different super funds. They identified investments in companies directly involved in the fossil fuel industry, and tracked the performance of those investments.

Utility Dive: How Austin Energy Is Looking to Manage Solar-Plus-Storage on Its Grid

Distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) are an area of promise. They could be used by utilities to flatten demand curves, integrate a wide array of distributed technologies, and even control prices. But the technology is still in its early stages, and the market has not reached the point where there is a standardized solution.

Austin Energy is one utility looking into the promise of this technology. The Texas municipal utility is implementing new energy storage and software tools to help integrate a big increase in solar power on its system as the utility moves toward its target of deriving 55% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.

MIT Technology Review: What Obama’s Cybersecurity Strategy Leaves Out

After a year of online megabreaches, President Obama on Tuesday proposed sharply increasing cybersecurity spending to $19 billion (from $14 billion) and released an executive order establishing a cybersecurity study commission.

The president’s proposals include retiring antiquated federal servers and IT systems and shaking up R&D efforts to ensure that next-generation technologies are more secure from the start.

But the plan has some big gaps. For one thing, while his new study commission includes a nod to national security in its mission statement, it does not explicitly include a mandate to create policies that will combat terrorists’ use of social networks for recruiting and spreading propaganda.