Law360: Obama Slams Door on Arctic, Atlantic Drilling

President Barack Obama made the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans indefinitely off-limits to oil and gas drilling Tuesday, a major victory for environmentalists that will likely be challenged by President-elect Donald J. Trump after he enters the White House next month.

Using his executive authority under Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Obama withdrew the entire U.S. portion of the Arctic's Chukchi Sea and major portions of the Beaufort Sea to future drilling, as well as U.S. portions of the north and mid-Atlantic Oceans.

Electrek: Tesla Set Fire to a Powerpack to Test Its Safety Features -- The Results Are Impressive

The use of lithium-ion battery cells in large energy storage applications is fairly new, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) wanted to know more about what would happen if one were to catch fire.

Tesla built its Powerpack with safety first in mind and was willing to put its battery system to the test. The company teamed up with NFPA last year and gave them two Powerpacks to set on fire. We got ahold of their test results.

A Powerpack is made of 16 individual “energy storage pods” -- the same pods are used in the Powerwall, but with one pod per Powerwall instead of 16 per Powerpack. In the first generation Powerpack, each of those pods is made of approximately 900 battery cells separated into two modules, for a total of approximately 14,400 battery cells within the Powerpack -- or 100 kWh of energy capacity.

For the first test, NFPA tried to simulate what would happen if one or several cells within a single pod go into thermal runaway. Will the pod explode? Will it propagate to other pods? Will the entire Powerpack catch on fire or explode? Let’s find out.

The Texas Tribune: Rick Perry’s Energy Legacy Is More Complicated Than You Think  

As he said farewell to the Texas legislature in January 2015, Rick Perry couldn’t help but reflect on how energy technology and policy had transformed the state’s landscape -- and fueled its economy -- during his record 14 years as governor.

“Today, horizontal slant drilling is tapping oil and gas fields unreachable just a few years ago,” he said, going on to scold New York for banning hydraulic fracturing. “In Texas, we have chosen jobs. We have chosen energy security, and we will one day end America’s dependence on hostile sources of foreign energy.”

Although Texas' longest-serving governor was, perhaps unsurprisingly, pro-oil and gas during his tenure, he didn't simply nod to those iconic, staple fuels: “You can be proud that Texas produces more energy from wind turbines than all but five countries,” he said.

International Business Times: What Causes Earthquakes? Oklahoma Issues Fracking Guidelines Amid Increased Seismic Activity Near Oil and Gas Wells

Officials in Oklahoma issued guidelines on hydraulic fracturing Tuesday to stop the increase in earthquakes in the state. Amid mixed messages about whether fracking actually causes seismic events, the state planned to take a proactive approach by analyzing the link to prevent future quakes. 

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the state's oil and gas regulatory agency, and the Oklahoma Geological Survey issued guidelines for two areas in the state that are home to the majority of new oil and gas drilling sites. Depending on the severity and location of seismic activity in the areas, the groups will work together to determine whether to proceed with fracking operations.

The guidelines declare earthquakes ranking at 2.5 magnitude or higher within 1.25 miles of fracking operations will be assessed, and "mitigation procedures" will then be put in place at the drilling site. For quakes of 3.5 magnitude or above within 1.25 miles of a site, fracking operations will be suspended until an in-person assessment takes place to determine whether they should continue.

Hydraulic fracking refers to the process by which water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the ground to break apart rock and release gas trapped within. Controversy surrounds fracking operations throughout the United States, but particularly in Oklahoma. The state has seen a spike in earthquakes in recent years, with an average of two and a half magnitude 3 quakes every day, a seismicity rate 600 times greater than in the years before 2008. A 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck central Oklahoma in September, leading the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to shut down 37 wells within a 725-square-mile radius of the epicenter.

Quartz: General Motors’ Sustainability Chief says Trump Can’t Stop the Green Energy Boom

As Donald Trump staffs his cabinet with climate deniers and skeptics, green activists have been putting together battle plans.

General Motors’ sustainability director David Tulauskas has reassuring words for them: Renewable energy has reached a tipping point where it is rapidly becoming cheaper and more reliable than carbon. So there’s nothing Trump can do to get the world’s third-biggest automaker to go back in time to fossil fuels: “Four years, eight years of whoever’s the president of the United States really has no impact on our commitment to renewable energy,” he said, discussing GM’s promise to be 100% powered by renewables by 2050.

Even if Trump’s fervent climate-change denialist EPA chief Scott Pruitt were to try to cut government subsidies for green energy, it couldn’t kill the market forces moving in favor of renewables. “We don’t need the old type of policy around incentives to support a nascent technology to sort of incubate it. We’re well beyond the incubation period. Renewable technology is here, it’s proven, it’s reliable, it’s affordable,” Tulauskas said. “Wind energy no longer necessarily needs credits…it’s some of the cheapest energy you can find anywhere in the world. So a Trump administration really has no impact at all.”