The United Arab Emirates, especially Abu Dhabi, is a crucial player on the global energy stage. The UAE is one of the world’s 10 largest oil producers and a critical member of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It is also an important player in a critical region of the world that’s been riven by geopolitical tensions of late. The UAE’s hydrocarbon production has supported a dramatic economic expansion that has turned it into an important financial and trading center. The UAE has also diversified its energy investments, focusing on low-carbon options such as solar energy, carbon capture and storage, and other new technologies.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Omar Suwaina Al Suwaidi, who sits at the center of many of these developments as the Executive Office Director of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), a company where he has worked for nearly fifteen years. As part of its Executive Management team, he oversees operational and business development activities for the company’s vast oil and gas reserves.
State-run ADNOC is the main oil-producing company in the United Arab Emirates, supplying nearly 3% of global oil demand. Crude oil remains the centerpiece of the company’s operations, and ADNOC has sought to remain competitive in a busy market by improving efficiency, applying cutting edge technology, and reducing extraction costs. The company has recently announced sizeable new oil and gas reserves, and it has announced the goal of making the UAE self-sufficient in gas. It has also expanded its outreach to international investors and to foreign partners.
Jason sat down with Omar on the sidelines of the ADIPEC -- the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference -- in November to discuss ADNOC’s ventures and the state of play of UAE’s oil and gas industry.
On the global energy scene, oil, gas, and petrochemicals still play a prominent role, even as sustainability concerns become steadily more and more urgent. Investors are pressing for greater efficiency, reduced emissions, and heightened attention to financial discipline, as well as long-term viability. An important player in the energy industry of the Middle East region is the Abu Dhabi State Investment Company, Mubadala Investment.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Mubadala Investment’s Chief Executive Officer for Petroleum & Petrochemicals. Musabbeh Al Kaabi is responsible for a portfolio of more than $40 billion in assets spanning the global oil and gas value chain of the Mubadala Investment Company. Previously he headed Mubadala Petroleum as its CEO -- the company’s wholly-owned exploration and production company, at a time of declining commodity prices. He also spent a number of years with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) -- eventually managing its exploration division. He is a frequent and highly-respected commentator in the world of international energy investing. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines and a Master of Sciences in Petroleum Geoscience from Imperial College, London.
Jason sat down with Musabbeh on the sidelines of ADIPEC -- the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, one of the largest energy conferences in the world -- in November. They discussed how Mubadala Investment Company’s investments in the energy sector are playing out, the role of natural gas in the context of the energy transition, how the Middle East will meet its energy demand, the forecast for petrochemicals given sustainability concerns, and much more.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, regulates interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity. For decades, FERC has played a key role in energy policy but often labored in obscurity. Today, FERC stands squarely at the heart of some of the biggest energy policy issues that we face in this country: pipeline capacity, cyber attacks, the role of natural gas in the energy transition, and issues of grid reliability and resilience as we transition to a more distributed and lower carbon electricity grid composed of more renewable energy.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Cheryl LaFleur, a nationally recognized energy leader and one of the longest serving commissioners at FERC, having served from 2010 until August of this year. She was appointed by President Obama as chairperson both for 2014-15, and also served as acting chair from 2013-14, and was again named chair in 2017. She is the only person to leave FERC twice, under two different administrations.
Cheryl joined FERC after a long career in the northeast utility industry, retiring from her role as Executive Vice President and acting CEO of the utility company National Grid, which serves electricity to over 3 million customers. She most recently stepped down from her role at FERC and was elected to the Board of Directors of ISO New England, an independent nonprofit that operates and plans the power system and administers wholesale electricity markets for New England.
Jason sat down with Cheryl to discuss the changes she saw at FERC during her tenure, the role of natural gas in the energy transition, what FERC can do to address climate change, and much more.
East Asia and the Pacific is one of the fastest growing regions of the world, a place where the demands for energy are increasing just as rapidly, as are the risks of climate change and other environmental calamities. To one extent or another, nations in that region like China, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines recognize the need to provide energy that’s not only accessible, affordable and reliable but also sustainable. And helping them do that is the World Bank.
In today’s edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Ranjit Lamech, the regional director of the World Bank’s Infrastructure Department in the East Asia and Pacific region. As such, Ranjit is responsible for overseeing the bank’s loans, grants and other assistance for infrastructure development in the region, including energy development.
Ranjit has spent nearly three decades across the bank’s energy practice, most recently as the manager covering South and Central Europe, Western Balkans and Central Asia. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he led the bank’s energy lending and advisory program in China and Turkey during a transformational period in energy markets.
An Indian citizen, Ranjit began his career with Tata Electric Companies in Bombay.
Bill and Ranjit talked about China and other East Asian and Pacific nations and their challenges and opportunities when it comes to energy and the environment, as well as what the World Bank is doing to help them respond in a sustainable way. They also discussed the roles of governments and state-owned enterprises in adapting to changes in energy supply, what the World Bank looks for in deciding whether to provide assistance, and a recent undertaking in China aimed at helping workers in coal-dependent regions amidst a shift to cleaner forms of energy.
He’s known as the father of fracking. And while the designation may not be quite right, there’s no doubt that George P. Mitchell set the stage for a revolution in natural gas and oil production in the United States through hydraulic fracturing of shale formations. So, what made this man tick and what lessons might policymakers and industry leaders learn from him today?
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Loren Steffy, the author of a new book from Texas A&M University Press called “George P. Mitchell: Fracking, Sustainability, and an Unorthodox Quest to Save the Planet.” Loren is writer-at-large for Texas Monthly and a former business columnist for the Houston Chronicle. Before that, he was the Dallas bureau chief and senior writer for Bloomberg News.
The book is Loren’s latest of three, including one that explored the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Of the late George P. Mitchell, Loren says, “not since John D. Rockefeller had one single individual in the energy business made a greater public impact.” He tells a story of the son of Greek immigrants who built Mitchell Energy and Development Corporation from a small start-up into a pioneering company that enabled the commercial success of hydraulic fracturing in the U.S.
Bill reached Loren by phone at his home outside Austin, Texas, to discuss this fascinating figure, his contributions to fracking, the financial hardships his company endured to bring them about and the extent to which the government assisted those efforts. They also talked about Mitchell’s strong commitment to sustainable development, which sometimes put him at odds with his peers in the gas and oil industry.
The U.S. shale revolution has been among the most consequential developments in the global energy sector over the last decade. The U.S. is a large net exporter of gas, and is on the cusp of becoming a net exporter of oil, with significant economic, geopolitical and environmental consequences. The outlook for U.S. oil and gas production is increasingly uncertain, however, as lower oil prices, investor demand for capital discipline, and questions about the pace of the energy transition increasingly impact the sector.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Bobby Tudor, Co-Head of the Advisory business of Perella Weinberg Partners and Chairman of Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co, a leading energy investment and merchant bank. Prior to joining TPH, Bobby was a partner with Goldman Sachs & Co., and a leader of its worldwide energy practice, and over his 30-year career in investment banking, has worked on many of the defining transactions of the period. In his volunteer work, Bobby is a patron of the arts and a passionate supporter of higher education, having served until recently as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Rice University.
Jason and Bobby discuss the recent decline in the Permian and what's next for the U.S. shale revolution, peak oil demand, the energy transition and more from an investor's perspective.
Climate change, or the climate crisis as many would prefer to call it, has risen to the top of the legislative agenda for the U.S. House of Representatives since Democrats took control of the chamber in January. And laying the groundwork for policy options is the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis established by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to place a high priority on the work. So now, months later, what has this special panel accomplished and how has it navigated this controversial issue?
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Representative Kathy Castor, a Florida Democrat who heads the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Now in her seventh two-year term, Chair Castor represents a district that includes Tampa, a city on Florida’s Gulf Coast that’s at risk of sea-level rise. Before her election to Congress, she was a member of the Hillsborough County Commission and chair of the county’s Environmental Protection Commission.
In the House, she’s also a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where much of the climate legislation will be assembled once the select committee that she heads completes its work.
Bill caught up with Representative Castor in her office on Capitol Hill to talk about what the select committee has done so far, how it will fulfill its mandate to provide legislative recommendations, and how she sees the politics of climate change playing out in Washington. They also talked about some of the options her panel has considered and what she needs to hear from the public before she submits recommendations early next year.
It’s a small country with big ambitions when it comes to climate change. The new government in Denmark plans to overhaul entirely the way it conducts climate policy, with a goal of reducing emissions by 70 percent by 2030 compared to 1990. And it says it’s doing so based on what science tells us, not what political expedience would suggest.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities since June. Minister Jørgensen was elected to the Danish parliament in 2013 and served as minister for food and agriculture between 2013 and 2015. He was also a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2013, and has taught at universities in Denmark, France and the United States.
Now, he’s in charge of an ambitious climate policy put in place by Denmark’s ruling Social Democrat Party and its three center-left allies.
Bill sat down with Minister Jørgensen during his recent visit to Washington to talk about Denmark’s plans to be among the nations that do the most to combat climate change, and the political climate in Denmark that makes such policies possible now. He walked Bill through some of the initial steps taken by his government and its plans to lock in its policies through a new climate law.
They also talked about Denmark’s plans to promote such policies across Europe and enable financing of green technology around the world.
Finally, the minister outlined a collaboration with Germany and the Netherlands to build an artificial island in the North Sea that could provide 10 to 15 gigawatts of offshore wind power and serve as a source for other forms of energy, like using hydrogen for energy storage.
China is the world leader in emissions of heat-trapping gases, and the Chinese government is taking many steps to reduce emissions, including policies that have made China the world's leader in renewable energy and electric vehicles. But other Chinese policies are working in the opposite direction, including support for coal-fired power plants.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by David Sandalow, the inaugural fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy and the author of the 2019 edition of the Center’s Guide to Chinese Climate Policy, a book that helps readers navigate the complexities of China’s response to climate change.
David is the founder and director of the Center’s U.S.- China program and co-director of the Energy and Environment Concentration at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. He’s also been a distinguished visiting professor in the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University.
Before that, he held several senior positions at the White House and the U.S. Departments of State and Energy.
David and Bill got together to talk about the guide, the original version of which was published in 2018. Among the topics they discussed were major commitments that China has made in response to climate change and how the nation is following through on them. They also talked about some contradictory trends in China, such as its simultaneous construction of coal and renewable energy power plants.
And at a time when putting a price on carbon is a hot topic in the U.S. and other countries, David explains what China is doing about it.
Iraq is one of the world’s largest energy producers, but its people and its economy are hampered by pressures of electricity shortfalls and rising demand. The reliability of electricity services has long been an issue for the country, with violent protests breaking out last summer in the south due to blackouts from high demand. The disruption cost the old electricity minister his job.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Iraq’s new Minister of Electricity, Luay al-Khatteeb, the man responsible for addressing these problems and who, it has been said, has perhaps the toughest job in the Iraqi government, considering the history of challenges in the electricity sector.
Luay al-Khatteeb was a former non-resident fellow at CGEP as well as the Founder and Director of the Iraq Energy Institute. He’s had a vast career in business and in public policy, with positions at various international oil companies, as well as commercial banks and management consulting firms. He’s been a contributor to the Brookings Institution, Chatham House, the Kennedy School at Harvard, and other organizations.
Today, questions remain about how to manage power demand and supply, and whether new plans to rehabilitate transmission lines and build up resilience of the grid will pan out in light of security challenges, financing challenges, and international pressures. Jason sat down with Luay in Abu Dhabi at the World Energy Congress to discuss these challenges and much more.
Today’s unprecedented rate of change leaves many questions about the benefits and risks of new technologies, and how we can best leverage innovation to address our biggest challenges.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Lord John Browne to discuss his latest book, Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering the Future of Civilization -- which serves up an optimistic look at the benefits engineering, technology, and innovation can bring in solving some of humanity’s greatest challenges, such as disease, climate change, and artificial intelligence.
Anyone who studies or works in the energy industry knows Lord John Browne. He has been one of the legendary and visionary leaders in the sector for decades. He’s the former Chief Executive of BP, with a career spanning more than 40 years in the company. He rose from apprentice to heading the British multinational oil and gas company, where he notably engineered a merger with rival Amoco, and was a strong proponent of renewables, famously rebranding the BP initials to “Beyond Petroleum.”
Jason and Lord Browne also discussed his latest endeavor, a merger of Dea and Wintershall to create one of the world’s largest oil and gas independents and other developments in global energy markets and in policy.
We know climate change is real. It’s caused by human activity, and primarily by emissions from energy use. But there is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of misunderstanding about just how bad its effects will be. An op-ed last month by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio suggested South Florida should become more resilient and just adapt. On the other hand, maps of the world at 2100 show coastal cities submerged, not to mention a range of other calamities that scientists say may be caused by climate change. Scientists who study climate change often have trouble communicating the risks in ways the public can broadly understand.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by journalist David Wallace-Wells, a fellow at the New America Foundation and a columnist and deputy editor of New York Magazine. He is also the author of a new book, The Uninhabitable Earth, which depicts in meticulous and terrifying detail a future that may await should we continue to add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere unabated.
As the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit gathers in New York City today, kicking off Climate Week, Jason and David’s conversation about adequately communicating the worst effects of climate change, and what motivates action -- as well as what kind of action is needed to address the crisis -- is timely.
Climate change is an urgent challenge. We are nowhere on track to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement in countries around the world. Action depends not just on reducing emissions here at home, but meeting rapid economic growth around the world – China, India, Southeast Asia – while decarbonizing the global energy mix far more quickly than we are today.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Jonathan Pershing. Jonathan has been a key architect of the world’s landmark climate change deals, including securing the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. He served as Special Envoy for Climate Change at the U.S. State Department, was lead U.S. negotiator to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and was a senior advisor to the Secretary of Energy, Secretary of State, and the White House. He’s also worked at leading organizations like the World Resources Institute and the International Energy Agency.
Jonathan holds a PhD in geology and geophysics; and is now doing innovative work putting the resources of the Hewlett Foundation to work addressing our global environmental and climate challenges.
Jonathan and Jason sat down to discuss the role of government policy to send market signals, various approaches for addressing the variability of renewables, the practical impact of the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and much more.
U.S. waters off the Atlantic coast are shaping up as a bonanza for offshore wind power, with the federal government having approved 15 tracks of water for development and investment flowing in from overseas. But some say projects may be facing a crosswind as the U.S. government takes a closer look at their impact.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Jeff Grybowski, until recently the co-CEO of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind and previously the CEO of Deepwater Wind, the Rhode Island-based company that completed the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., a five-turbine project off Block Island in 2016. Jeff joined Ørsted when the Danish company, a global leader in offshore wind energy, bought Deepwater Wind last year.
Jeff shepherded the Block Island project to completion, drawing on his experience not only in business and law but also as a former state policymaker in Rhode Island. Alex Kuffner, a reporter for the Providence Journal, wrote that Jeff, “by proving that an offshore wind farm could be built in the United States, is arguably more responsible than anyone for ushering in the current rush of development.”
Likewise, Thomas Brostrom, the CEO of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind, told the Journal that Jeff is “one of the pioneers of the offshore wind industry in the U.S.”
Bill and Jeff last met two years ago, when the Block Island turbines had been spinning energy for less than a year. Here, they get together again at Jeff's North Kingston, R.I., home to catch up on this emerging industry, the proliferation of projects and the outlook its expansion in the U.S.
They also discuss a controversial decision by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to take more time to examine the impact of a project called Vineyard Wind, an 84-turbine project planned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables that would be the first large-scale wind farm in the U.S. That government inquiry has implications not only for Vineyard Wind but also projects planned by Ørsted and other developers off the Atlantic coast.
They touch, too, on the significance of state policies for offshore wind energy as well as federal policies, like a soon-to-expire investment tax credit.
As we prepare for a busy fall and exciting new episodes, the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast will be on hiatus for the next two weeks. Now is a great time to listen or re-listen to some of our favorite episodes, which we have pulled together on a special #CEEFavorites playlist. Take a listen to Rhiana Gunn-Wright, policy director for New Consensus and one of the architects of the Green New Deal, talk to host Jason Bordoff about the thinking behind the ambitious plan; or Senator Lisa Murkowski talk to host Bill Loveless about the role of regulation in energy development; or Maarten Wetselaar, the Integrated Gas & New Energies Director and Member of the Executive Committee at Royal Dutch Shell, talk to host Jason Bordoff about the outlook for global gas demand.
We encourage you to explore all of our Columbia Energy Exchange episodes and subscribe here today!
How we communicate about climate change and climate science has been a challenge and a growing concern for decades.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by one of the pioneers of climate-change reporting, Andy Revkin. Andy is an award-winning science and environmental journalist and one of the most recognized and experienced environmental journalists in the United States. He was one of the first to tackle the issue of climate change in journalism with reporting dating back three decades.
Andy wrote for the New York Times for more than two decades, was a Strategic Advisor for Science and Journalism at the National Geographic Society, and was a senior reporter for ProPublica. He recently joined Columbia University to launch and head a new initiative on communication and sustainability at the Earth Institute.
Jason and Andy sat down to discuss how Andy became a climate-change reporter, the current state of climate reporting, what he hopes to achieve with his new initiative at the Earth Institute, and much more.
For more than three decades, the word Chernobyl has become synonymous with catastrophic failure and with disaster. Its legacy weighed on popular perceptions of nuclear power for years, and it came to symbolize Soviet decline. Chernobyl is now attracting renewed attention these days, with a popular HBO miniseries and a tremendous new book, Midnight in Chernobyl, written by Adam Higginbotham.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Adam Higginbotham to discuss his new book, a thrilling, chilling, and gripping account of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The book holds lessons today, too, as we contemplate the role of nuclear power in trying to achieve a decarbonized world to address the threat of climate change.
Adam has written extensively on a variety of topics for The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Wired, GQ, and many more publications. He’s also the former U.S. correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph.
Jason and Adam sat down to discuss Midnight in Chernobyl, the causes and consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, the future of nuclear power, and much more.
The introduction of a flurry of bills calling for a carbon tax in the U.S. Congress is breathing some new life into a topic that has long been popular among economists but shunned by politicians.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks with Noah Kaufman, a Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy and economist specializing in carbon pricing, about this burst of activity on Capitol Hill and its implications for policymaking.
Before joining CGEP in 2018, Noah was a Deputy Associate Director of Energy and Climate Change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality during the Obama administration. He also worked at the World Resources Institute, where he led projects on carbon pricing, the economic impacts of climate policies and long-term decarbonization strategies.
Previously, he was a senior consultant in the environment practice at NERA Economic Consulting.
Noah and Bill discuss elements of the carbon-tax bills introduced by Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress and the circumstances under which they have cropped up now, as well as whether any of them stand a chance of much consideration as the U.S. approaches the 2020 presidential election year.
Noah also breaks down the thinking behind putting a price on carbon emissions, including the level to set it at and distribution of the revenue a carbon tax would raise.
How other climate policies – like incentives for renewable energy – match up with a federal carbon tax also comes up in the conversation, which Noah and Bill carried out by phone from their locations in New York and Washington, respectively.
A handy complement to this discussion is a new online resource from the Center on Global Energy Policy that illustrates what you need to know about a federal carbon tax in the United States.
With the next U.S. election just 15 months away, advocates of action on climate change are gearing up with fresh plans to address the issue and bring them to the attention of the American electorate. Among the biggest such efforts is the Beyond Carbon campaign launched recently by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable-giving arm of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless talks to Carl Pope, the senior climate advisor to Michael Bloomberg who has played a major role in developing the strategy behind the Beyond Carbon campaign. Bloomberg Philanthropies has put $500 million behind the campaign, which it calls the largest ever effort in the U.S. to fight climate change.
Carl is well known in environmental circles, having led Sierra Club for more than 30 years before stepping down in 2010. He is also a founder of the BlueGreen Alliance and has served on the boards of the California League of Conservation Voters and the National Clean Air Coalition. He’s written three books as well, including one in 2017 with Michael Bloomberg called “Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses and Citizens Can Save the Planet.”
Bill reached Carl by phone the other day at his office in San Francisco, where he is a Principal Advisor at Inside Straight Strategies.
Among the topics they discuss are the goals of the Beyond Carbon campaign and why Bloomberg and Pope are now targeting natural gas, as well as other fossil fuels, for elimination in order to put the U.S. on a path to a 100% clean-energy economy.
Bill probes Carl, too, regarding the timing of Beyond Carbon ahead of the 2020 elections, his views on renewable energy and nuclear energy, whether putting a price on carbon makes sense, and how the media is covering climate change.
Of course, with another round of debates for Democratic candidates for president about to take place, Bill also gets Carl's take on their positions on energy and climate issues.
Global energy markets are in flux, from the rapid growth in renewable energy production and falling technology costs to talk of peak demand and calls for urgent action on climate change. At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions went up last year at the fastest rate they have since 2011, and we saw growth in coal, oil and gas production and consumption. When it comes to energy and climate issues, there’s tension between the rhetoric, our ambition, and the reality of the facts on the ground.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Dr. Christof Rühl, an internationally renowned economist specializing in macroeconomics and energy economics. Christof served as Chief Economist at BP for nearly a decade, and most recently, was the Head of Research at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
Jason and Christof discuss how energy markets are impacting geopolitical risk and the global economy -- from sanctions to trade wars and the escalating tensions in the Straits of Hormuz. They discuss the shale revolution, and its global implications as the U.S. becomes a major exporter of both natural gas and crude oil. They also discuss plastics, electric vehicles and new technologies from advanced nuclear to battery storage and hydrogen, and the role they might play in the energy transition.
The coal industry continues to tumble in the U.S. as electric power plants turn increasingly to natural gas and renewable energy as their fuels of choice. And that decline might only worsen for coal mining and the communities that rely on it if Washington someday adopts strong policies to reduce carbon emissions associated with climate change.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless pays a visit to Adele Morris, a senior fellow and policy director for climate and energy economics at Brookings Institution. Adele and Noah Kaufman, a research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy, and Siddhi Doshi, a senior research assistant at Brookings, have written a new paper from the center that looks at the danger of fiscal collapse in coal-reliant communities.
What they tell us is that while climate risks to corporations have received scrutiny in recent years, local governments, including coal-reliant counties, have yet to grapple with the implications of climate policies for their financial health.
Bill and Adele talk about some of the communities hard hit by shutdowns of coal-mining operations, the implications for tax revenues and bonds that support schools, roads, hospitals and other critical programs, and the difficulty of tracking that information for research like this report.
They also examine the implications for policymakers as they search for options to address climate change while also focusing on the needs of communities impacted by those policies.
Adele joined Brookings in 2008 from the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, where she advised lawmakers and staff on economic, energy and environmental policy. Before that, she was the lead natural resource economist for the U.S. Treasury Department for nine years and also did stints earlier at the President’s Council on Economic Advisers and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
A key initiative at the Center on Global Energy Policy is our Energy Journalism Initiative, which provides aspiring young reporters with a bootcamp to better understand the deeply complex issues of energy and the environment. This initiative is important because when journalism is at its best, the public’s understanding of these deeply complex issues is elevated. Few reporters meet that standard for excellence time and again the way this week’s guest does.
In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by the award-winning investigative reporter for energy at The Wall Street Journal, Russell Gold. Some might remember reading his work during the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010, which was honored with a Gerald Loeb Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His recent work has shed light on the bankruptcy of PG&E, which he calls the “first climate change related bankruptcy in history.” And he wrote the go-to resource for understanding the transformational shale revolution with his first book, The Boom.
Russell has now followed that up with Superpower: One Man's Quest to Transform American Energy. It captures the country’s ever-more urgent quest for renewable energy, and it tells the story of one pioneer who tried to make it happen. It takes us beyond renewable generation to the critical but often overlooked part of the grid: transmission.
Jason and Russell sat down to talk about Superpower, efforts to tie electricity grids together across the panhandle of the United States, and much more.
Nuclear energy is increasingly seen as a solution to climate change, thanks to its carbon-free characteristics. But harnessing the atom more for peaceful purposes like electric power also requires assurances that it will be done safely and economically, and won’t fall into the hands of those who would use it as a weapon.
In this episode of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless is joined by Dan Poneman, the author of a new book from The MIT Press called “Double Jeopardy: Combating Nuclear Terror and Climate Change.” Based on his decades of experience in nuclear issues, Dan writes that nuclear power is essential to decarbonizing the environment and can be relied upon more even as we reduce the risks of nuclear.
Their conversation is timely, happening as headlines over nuclear threats in Iran and North Korea compete for attention with those over climate change, and raise questions over whether those two characteristics of nuclear energy can really be reconciled today.
Dan and Bill talk about that as well as what Dan considers to be good policymaking in nuclear energy and nuclear nonproliferation, and what’s taking place along those lines in Washington today. And he tells us what advances in technology he thinks are needed to make nuclear energy an option again for new generating capacity in the U.S.
Dan is the president and CEO of Centrus Energy Corporation, a Maryland-based firm which sells enrichment, fuel and fuel services to utilities with nuclear reactors around the world. Previously, he was Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy during the Obama administration and a member of the National Security Council staff responsible for nonproliferation and export controls during the Clinton administration.
On a lighter note, Dan and Bill also talk about his off-hours activities as a rock musician over the years, including a band named "Yellow Cake," a humorous reference to an ingredient in the nuclear fuel-making process. It gives us a look at another side of a man known primarily for his work on a rather sober topic.
When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., the private sector is playing a bigger role than ever before, and that goes for some energy providers, too. Among them is Xcel Energy, the first major U.S. utility to pledge to go entirely carbon-free.
In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless sits down with Ben Fowke, the chairman, President and CEO of Xcel Energy, which in December announced a bold commitment to provide 100% carbon-free electricity to its customers by 2050. Not only that, but Xcel also set a goal of cutting the company’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
Since then, other utilities have also unveiled major carbon-cutting initiatives. Among them Idaho Power and Public Service Company of New Mexico, with goals of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045 and 2040, respectively.
Ben doesn’t pretend that achieving Xcel Energy’s goals will be easy and he tells Bill why. Nevertheless, he’s confident that the Minneapolis-based company, with 3.6 million customers in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and four other states, is off to a good start.
Bill caught up with Ben while he was in Washington to testify on energy storage before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. They talked about his company’s ambitious carbon agenda, including its growing reliance on renewable energy and its movement away from coal for electric generation.
They also discussed the role that natural gas and nuclear energy will play in Xcel’s resource plans and the challenges of finding the technologies necessary to make carbon-free electricity a reality for Xcel and other utilities.
Not surprisingly, the Green New Deal came up in their talk as did proposals for a carbon tax and other options for policymakers to consider in addressing climate change.