Twelve States Produced 80% of U.S. Wind Power in 2013
EIA | April 17, 2014
In 2013, 12 states accounted for 80% of U.S. wind-generated electricity, according to preliminary generation data released in EIA's March Electric Power Monthly report. Texas was again the top wind power state with nearly 36 million megawatthours (MWh) of electricity. Iowa was second, with more than 15 million MWh, followed by California, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
These 12 states produced a combined 134 million MWh of electricity from wind. Nationwide, 167 million MWh of power came from wind in 2013, a 19% increase from 2012. Wind power increased its share of U.S. total electricity generation in 2013 from 3.5% to 4.1%. All but 13 states reported to EIA some generation from wind, and 23 states increased their wind generation more than 10% above 2012 production levels. California's wind generation exceeded geothermal generation for the first time in 2013.
The proportion of wind to total electricity generated varied widely by state. Leading the nation in wind generation share was Iowa with 27.4% of net electricity production coming from wind turbines. Second was South Dakota, at 26%. Other states with more than twice the national share of 4.1% wind power were Kansas, Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado, Oregon, Wyoming, and Texas.
Federal Appeals Court Says EPA Can Force Power Plants to Cut Mercury Emissions
Washington Post | April 17, 2014
As researchers embark on a project to connect 30 million patient records, questions about privacy arise.
States led by conservative governors — among them Michigan, Idaho, Ohio, Alaska and Kansas — joined trade groups in claiming that EPA overstepped its authority by crafting the mercury rule without considering its $9.6 billion per year cost to the economy, risking 16,000 jobs.
When Congress granted EPA the authority to limit emissions of hazardous air pollutants in 1990, lawmakers were more concerned with the impact on human health than costs, Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote in the opinion.
“Congress was focused on the health hazard of emissions and the slowness of EPA regulation of them, and concluded it was reasonable to make decisions without considering costs,” Rogers wrote. There was no congressional requirement for the agency to focus on the economic hit.
Other factors weighed against the financial impact to industry, including health and environmental improvements worth more than $100 billion a year, the EPA said. The American Lung Association claimed it would prevent 11,000 premature deaths, about 5,000 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks.
The court was not in full agreement in the case. Although Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh concurred with Rogers and Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland on many points, he dissented on the EPA’s failure to consider the cost of its regulations.
“In my view, it is unreasonable for EPA to exclude consideration of costs in determining that it is ‘appropriate’ to impose significant new regulations on electric utilities,” Kavanaugh wrote.
“To be sure, EPA could conclude the benefits outweigh the costs. But the problem here is that EPA did not even consider the costs. And the costs are huge .?.?. $9.6 billion a year, by EPA’s own calculation.”
Through several pages of the opinion, the judge’s debated the meaning of the word “appropriate.” A dictionary was consulted. In the end, the meaning, in relation to the case, was ambiguous.
Rogers ended the argument — for now. Lawmakers said nothing about considering costs in 1990 revisions to the Clean Air Act. “Basically, the petitioners and our dissenting colleague seek to impose a requirement that Congress did not,” she wrote.
National Mining Association President Hal Quinn called the court’s decision unfortunate, saying utilities had already spent $100 billion to reduce mercury since 2005. “The costs of EPA’s rules are significant and substantial,” he said. “Already more than 40,000 [megawatts] of electricity capacity have been scheduled for closure because of these rules. The Department of Energy forecasts that capacity retirements will reach 60,000 — enough electricity to power almost 30 million homes.”
Coal-fired power plants are among the nation’s greatest sources of stationary pollution, according to a January 2011 report by the Congressional Research Service. In 2005, they accounted for 70 percent of emissions of sulfur dioxide, nearly half of the mercury and 20 percent of the nitrogen oxide.
Mercury is among the most dangerous toxins. Studies link it to cancer in adults and neurological disorders in young children. Emissions of mercury from utilities fall on land and water, contaminating humans and fish.
In water, it develops into a more toxic strain called methylmercury and concentrates in large predator fish such as tuna. A recent study of small fish off the Maine coast found that their metabolism races as waters warm with the climate, compelling them to eat more in waters contaminated with methylmercury.
Smaller fish are eaten by larger fish up to the very top of the food chain, where methylmercury is concentrated in high doses. One of the predator fish, tuna, often winds up in small cans in kitchen pantries.
“Mercury from power plants is a leading source of the pollution that has led to fish consumption advisories in rivers and streams around the country as well as here in the Chesapeake Bay region,” said Jon Mueller, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s vice president for litigation. “Those contaminated fish put the health of many, including those who fish to feed their families, at risk.”
Natural Gas and Oil Market Update
Natural Gas Prices Rally After Supply Data
MarketWatch | April 17, 2014
Natural Gas futures on Thursday rallied after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that supplies of natural gas rose 24 billion cubic feet for the week ended April 11. That was less than the market expected as analysts surveyed by Platts forecast an increase of between 34 billion cubic feet and 38 billion cubic feet. Total stocks now stand at 850 billion cubic feet, down 850 billion cubic feet from a year ago and 1 trillion cubic feet below the five-year average, the government said. May natural gas was at $4.69 per million British thermal units, up 16 cents, or 3.4%. It was trading lower at $4.51 before the data.
Brent Crude Trades Near Six-Week High
Bloomberg | April 17, 2014
Brent crude traded near a six-week high amid concern that the escalating crisis in Ukraine will disrupt supplies. West Texas Intermediate rose for a second day.
Brent for June settlement was 37 cents lower at $109.23 a barrel as of 12:47 p.m. on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $6.30 to WTI for the same month. The spread widened for a third day yesterday to close at $6.57.
WTI for May delivery rose as much as 52 cents to $104.28 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was down 2 cents $103.74 a barrel. The contract added 1 cent yesterday. The volume of all futures traded was about 25 percent above the 100-day average. Prices have gained 5.4 percent this year.
EIA - Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report
Working gas in storage was 850 Bcf as of Friday, April 11, 2014, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 24 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 850 Bcf less than last year at this time and 1,010 Bcf below the 5-year average of 1,860 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 460 Bcf below the 5-year average following net injections of 6 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 418 Bcf below the 5-year average of 789 Bcf after a net injection of 10 Bcf. Stocks in the West Region were 132 Bcf below the 5-year average after a net addition of 8 Bcf. At 850 Bcf, total working gas is below the 5-year historical range.
NYMEX Natural Gas Week-to-Week Price Change
Natural Gas Futures - Five Year Price
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