The Trump administration wants to open up nearly all the country’s offshore areas for oil drilling, leasing areas off places like Florida and California for the first time in decades, and reversing an Obama-era policy.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced Thursday that his department is planning the largest number of oil-lease sales in U.S. history starting next year. It would open up 90% of offshore land for drilling as part of a five-year plan. It reverses an Obama-era plan that would have kept only 6% of the same acres available for drilling.
Freezing temperatures in the U.S. Northeast have pushed up heating costs, creating serious stress for many Americans. Although the rich world’s energy poor are largely forgotten in discussions about climate policies, they bear an unfair burden for well-meaning proposals.
That reality is being laid bare this icy winter as energy and electricity prices surge. When we think about energy poverty, we imagine a lack of light in the world’s worst-off nations, where more than one billion people still lack electricity.
The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is expected to go up about 19 cents in 2018, according to the annual Fuel Price Outlook put out by GasBuddy, a tech company based in Boston that helps motorists find the cheapest gasoline in a given area. The average price in the U.S. is projected to go from $2.39 a gallon to $2.57 a gallon, the highest price since 2014. The increase will hit California drivers harder, since the average price for gasoline in the Golden State is higher (about $3.10 a gallon), due to higher taxes and the special blending requirements for fuel that are aimed at reducing air pollution.
The California Public Utilities Commission has amended its long-standing mission statement, leaving out the idea of ensuring “reasonable rates” for the water and power used by the public. The change comes as state utility regulators have been under criminal investigation for potentially improper backchannel dealings with the utility companies they oversee and facing multiple lawsuits alleging they failed to protect the people they serve. For more than 20 years, the agency mission statement said, “The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy.” Under a recent revision, the statement now says: “The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services.”
State regulators want Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to replace three natural gas plants with energy storage, a move that represents another significant step toward a clean energy future. The California Public Utilities Commission will vote Jan. 11 on the proposal that would require PG&E to seek clean alternatives to replace the three fossil-fuel plants.