Lisa Margonelli writes about the global culture and economy of energy. Margonelli is a fellow at the New American Foundation and the author of "Oil On the Brain: Petroleum's Long Strange Trip to Your Tank" (2008).
Fracking has worked miracles in the west, but are we back to a form of wildcatting for oil and gas — a boom time with no rules? Richard Manning, a writer based in Montana has been reporting on the impact of accelerated efforts to bring oil and gas out from the shale rock formations in Bakken, North Dakota.
This time last year, unrest in Libya sent oil prices climbing, adding pressure to an already struggling economy. Now, it looks like a similar scenario could happen this spring and summer: in retaliation for an embargo planned by the European Union, Iran has threatened to cut off oil supplies. Impacting virtually every aspect of the U.S. economy, these increased oil prices will almost certainly influence the election's climate.
Alaskan waters remain off-limits to drilling, much to many oil companies' dismay. But Exxon has decided to hop over the Bering Strait, and make a deal with Russia to explore for oil in the Arctic Ocean in their territory. This deal may show how lucrative climate change has become to the oil business, since more oil is becoming available as Arctic ice recedes.
It's been a year since the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill and many questions remain about the long-term impact that the disaster will have not just on public policy, but on the fragile ecosystems of the Gulf Coast. To mark the one year anniversary of the disaster, two of our regular contributors reflect on what the future looks like one year later. Lisa Margonelli is the Director of the Energy Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation and David Biello is an editor at Scientific American.
Tokyo's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is said to be registering at 100-thousand times the normal level of radiation following the Sendai earthquake three weeks ago. Is the breach at Fukushima further proof that, in our search for energy independence, nuclear power may just be an uncontrollable gambit? Or is there a safer means to extract the power of the atom? Does fail-safe technology really exist?
As prices at the pump go up, the government is considering tapping into our strategic oil reserves. Coming up on The Takaway, oil expert Lisa Margonelli says what makes sense in the short term is not a solution for the long term.
Back in 2008, the price of a barrel of oil rose to $133, and prices at the pump topped $4 per gallon. As the economy slowed, and demand for oil dropped, the price did as well. However, the cost of oil has risen to just over $90 a barrel, as confidence in the economic recovery grows stronger and the price of filling up your car is expected to keep rising throughout 2011. What will happen to our economic recovery if we hit the psychological benchmark of $100 per barrel or higher this year?
We've come a long way, baby...
The Macondo well may be sealed and "dead," but the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is going to be felt for some time to come. We're spending the whole hour wrestling with some of the unanswered questions and lingering issues that the BP oil spill has left in its wake. To help us navigate these dirty waters, Robert Hernan, author of "This Borrowed Earth: Lessons from the Fifteen Worst Environmental Disasters Around the World" joins us for the hour.
Also, check out our timeline of the entire disaster, spanning from the Deepwater Horizon's construction in 1998 through when it was declared "dead" on Sunday.
As we learn more about the BP oil leak, there's more that doesn't make sense. It's been almost six weeks since the explosion, which caused the disastrous gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, and many of the public's questions are still unanswered.
We asked our listeners for questions about the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and then had two of our favorite energy experts answer them. Lisa Margonelli is director of the New America Foundation Energy Policy Initiative and writes about global energy issues; David Biello is an associate editor on Energy & the Environment at Scientific American.
Top executives from BP, Transocean and Halliburton – the three companies involved in the massive oil spill that continues to spew in the Gulf Coast – testified on Capitol Hill yesterday, pointing fingers at each other and deflecting blame from their own firms.
Senators were clearly not amused by all the blame game in full swing. "There's this transference of liability, or finger pointing," Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said. "There's going to be plenty of time to figure out who is to blame, who is at fault.”
Energy reforms are on the minds of politicians following the collapse of the Deepwater Horizons oil rig that spewed more more than 200,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger has reversed his position, and come out against off shore oil drilling. Then yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a halt on new drilling permits until his agency determines the cause of the rig collapse. Historically, regulatory and environmental laws follow disasters and regulatory changes, from equipment upgrades to increasing legal liability, are already on the table.
President Obama unveiled plans to expand oil and natural gas drilling off the coasts of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and north coast of Alaska, yesterday. If implemented, the move is expected to decrease the country's dependency on foreign fuels, please oil and gas companies and Republicans, but anger those on the left and environmental groups.
This week, Exxon acquired XTO Energy, one of the largest domestic producers of natural gas. Natural gas is considered a cheaper and greener form of energy due to its somewhat lower carbon footprint... but the companies who may own the natural gas market may wind up being the same oil giants we already know. Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, is joined by Lisa Margonelli, from the New America Foundation, to explain what these developments in the natural gas market signify.
As we look for alternatives to oil and try to develop new technologies, we are tapping into an entire periodic table of new important commodities. These rare earth metals are the basis of a whole range of new "green" products. Lisa Margonelli is here to help us understand them. She's a regular Takeaway contributor who writes the energy blog for The Atlantic and is the author of Oil on the Brain.
"We're going to need to think about how we recycle the car even before we build it."
—Lisa Magonelli on developing new technologies