Fuel Fix: Shale Drillers Spending Most of their Cash Paying Off High Debt

After a credit-fueled energy boom and a punishing downturn, U.S. shale drillers now spend the vast majority of their operating cash flow paying off the debt they took out to expand their drilling.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says in the second quarter, 83 percent of domestic oil companies’ operating cash flow went to paying off debt balances as their cash piles shrink because of cheap crude.

That compares to 58 percent in the second quarter of 2014 and about 44 percent in early 2012. Over the last five years, oil companies have collected more than $250 billion in risky junk bonds to extract millions of barrels of crude from shale rock in Texas and North Dakota, eventually leading to a global oil glut that has cut the price of oil by more than half.

Bloomberg: VW's Emissions Cheating Found by Curious Clean-Air Group

It didn’t add up. The Volkswagens were spewing harmful exhaust when testers drove them on the road. In the lab, they were fine.

Discrepancies in the European tests on the diesel models of the VW Passat, the VW Jetta and the BMW X5 last year gave Peter Mock an idea. Mock, European managing director of a little-known clean-air group, suggested replicating the tests in the U.S.

So began a series of events that resulted in Volkswagen AG admitting that it built “defeat device” software into a half-million of its diesel cars from 2009 to 2015 that automatically cheated on U.S. air-pollution tests. The world’s second-biggest carmaker now faces billions in fines, possible jail time for its executives and the undoing of its U.S. expansion plans.

Business Insider: There's Finally a Reason for Tesla to Be Nervous

In 2010, the picture looked brighter for an electric-car revolution in the U.S.

Tesla had survived a major crisis in the 2008 to 2009 period and was gearing up for an IPO while selling the fast, sexy Roadster. The major carmakers were introducing all-electric vehicles and new gas-electric hybrids. Numerous startup electric-car companies had burst onto the scene.

Tesla has also had the EV market more or less to itself. It’s the only automaker that’s serious about building electric cars and only electric cars.

But that’s about to change, as several major car companies prepare to roll out vehicles designed specifically to compete with Tesla.

Slate: The Night They Drove the Price of Electricity Down

In the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, the mighty state of Texas was asleep. The honky-tonks in Austin were shuttered, the air-conditioned office towers of Houston were powered down, and the wind whistled through the dogwood trees and live oaks on the gracious lawns of Preston Hollow. Out in the desolate flats of West Texas, the same wind was turning hundreds of wind turbines, producing tons of electricity at a time when comparatively little supply was needed.

And then a very strange thing happened: The so-called spot price of electricity in Texas fell toward zero, hit zero, and then went negative for several hours. As the Lone Star State slumbered, power producers were paying the state’s electricity system to take electricity off their hands. At one point, the negative price was $8.52 per megawatt-hour.

National Journal: House Republican Plans to Boycott Pope Francis’s Speech Over Climate Change

Paul Gos­ar is not pleased with Pope Fran­cis -- and he’s ready to skip this week’s his­tor­ic speech as a res­ult.

In an op-ed on the con­ser­vat­ive site Town­hall.com, the Ari­zona Re­pub­lic­an ap­pears very much con­cerned that Fran­cis will urge ac­tion to fight cli­mate change when he be­comes the first pope to speak dir­ectly to a joint ses­sion of Con­gress. The pontiff is an out­spoken ad­voc­ate of ac­tion to com­bat manmade cli­mate change, a stand that does not sit well with Gos­ar, a skep­tic of the sci­entif­ic con­sensus that hu­man activ­ity is the primary driver of dan­ger­ous glob­al warm­ing.