Category Archives: Clean energy

10 questions for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on energy and climate change

We have now been through four debates in this election cycle — three for president and one for vice president — and there has not been a single question posed to either candidate on energy and climate change.

At Preserve the Beartooth Front, we believe that this is the key issue facing the United States over the next 20-30 years. It is central not only to energy policy, but to economic development, national security, immigration, infrastructure, and much more.

It is deeply concerning that these issues have not taken center stage in the campaign. Failure to debate them publicly lessens our chances of coming to consensus about a course of action that will enable the US to become an effective leader in reducing the impacts of climate change, and to transform our economy to take advantage of the dramatic shifts in energy technology that will occur in the coming decades.

We have tracked the candidates’ positions on energy and climate change for over a year, and have many questions we would pose to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump if we had the chance. Here are ten. Continue reading

Posted in Clean energy, Climate change | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Tesla just killed the gasoline powered car

Tesla Motors killed the gasoline-powered car last week. The Silicon Valley company accomplished this feat without delivering a single automobile. But as sure as Henry Ford killed the horse and buggy by mass producing an affordable Model T a century ago, Tesla’s announcement of its Model 3 means we’re approaching the end of the internal combustion engine.

The proof is in the astonishing public reaction to the announcement of a car that will sell for $35,000, and won’t even enter into production until late 2017. In the first weekend after the announcement, 276,000 buyers put down a $1000 non-refundable deposit for a car they won’t be able to see for two years.

What we’re talking about here is global market disruption, not excess government regulation, and the impact will be tremendous. Vehicle consumption currently accounts for about 70% of our oil usage in this country. The rise of the electric car and the death of the internal combustion engine will change our energy landscape forever.

To read more and take a virtual test drive in the Tesla Model 3, click on the link. Continue reading

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Bankruptcies gash the oil industry as clean energy growth surges; a lesson for the Beartooth Front

It is often important for communities to understand macroeconomic trends in making local decisions regarding business development and growth. This is certainly true in the energy sector, where long-term trends are clear. Along the Beartooth Front, these trends are particularly important in light of what has transpired over the last two years.

2015 was not kind to oil and gas operators. Between the filings of WBH Energy Partners on January 3 and Swift Energy on December 31, a total of 42 oil and gas companies filed for bankruptcy last year, with a combined total debt of $17.85 billion. These are levels last seen during the Great Depression, with many more to come in 2016.

While the oil and gas industry is deeply depressed, the clean energy industry is growing quickly. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance clean energy investment surged in 2015 to a record high of $328.9 billion, up 4% from 2013 and 3% from the previous record set in 2011. Global investment in clean energy has grown by nearly six times in dollar terms since 2004.

These trends are clear. Clean energy is replacing coal, oil and gas. The pace is gradual today, but market forces and government action will accelerate the change over the next two decades.

The oil market will probably recover in the short term, and there will probably be another boom. Another oil developer will come knocking on our door along the Beartooth Front, promising jobs and riches.

But we shouldn’t be fooled.

To read more, click the link.

Continue reading

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Billings Gazette Editorial: Montana can’t stake its future on coal

There was an interesting and unexpected editorial in this morning’s Billings Gazette, entitled “Montana can’t stake its future on coal.”

The central argument of the editorial is that US coal-fired power generation will continue to decline and be offset by an increase from renewable sources, so it makes no sense for Senator Daines and others to accuse the Administration of “killing coal,” as Daines did this week in Billings. Instead “Montana must look forward….We don’t want anyone to lose jobs, but in a dynamic economy jobs are lost and new jobs are created. Any Montana workers who will be displaced by changes in the coal and electrical industries deserve training and support to land good, new jobs.

“Montana’s leaders in government and business should host summits on energy diversification. Let’s figure out how to provide what energy customers want and how to best transition out of the energy they don’t want.”

This is an argument that we have been making on this site for years. Montanans need to recognize that the battle to prop up fossil fuels is lost. The transition to a clean energy economy may play out over years or decades, but it is time for the state’s leaders to step forward to put Montana at the forefront of that transition, not, as Senator Daines would have it, trying to beat a dying horse. Continue reading

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We’ve reached a tipping point: there are now more solar jobs than oil jobs

For local communities, the most compelling argument for the growth of oil and gas operations is the promise of jobs. But, as we’ve learned from the boom and bust in the Bakken over the last two years, explosive growth can occur, but oil jobs are not sustainable over the long term.

By contrast, the solar industry is growing at 20% per year, and this growth is likely sustainable, driven by substantial reductions in the cost of installation since 2010. As a result, solar is now an affordable energy source. And solar growth is not subject to the same booms and busts as oil extraction, because it is not dependent on volatility in the price of an external energy source.

The implications for local communities are clear, and elected officials in Carbon and Stillwater Counties would do well to take heed. Continue reading

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The first electric car for the masses is here. It’s time to start planning for a renewable energy future.

For those of you who have missed me, I’ve been taking some time off enjoying holidays with an expanding family. Number one son is getting married, and I’ve already got a “World’s Greatest Father-in-Law” coffee cup. If I’d only known it was this easy.

Lots is happening on the energy/climate front, and I’ve got a number of posts started, but I saw something today that really brought home how fast the world of energy is changing.

Whenever I write something remotely negative about the oil and gas industry, I’m sure to get at least one email that says something like, “If you hate oil and gas so much, why don’t you get rid of your car and start walking?” I usually resist the urge to respond, although I’ve got some good comebacks up my sleeve.

What got me so excited is that, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today, Chevrolet announced that it has won the race to produce an electric car for the masses. It’s called the Chevy Bolt, ready for sale later this year.

It’s like the first robin of spring. There are many more that will follow.

It’s time to start planning for a renewable energy future. Continue reading

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