Issue 9, 2020
"The 555 page legislative package combines almost all the 50 energy bills that were reported to the Senate in 2019, and is intended to increase innovation in clean energy technologies."

Why this is important: Energy state senators Manchin and Murkowski are partnering to push a bipartisan energy bill, trying to get ahead of the climate change curve by encouraging innovative energy strategies that might benefit fossil fuel use. By developing an "all of the above" bill, they make certain fossil fuels have a seat at the table as future funding for energy research is parceled out. With a little bit for everyone in the energy mix, and support from the majority leader, the bill stands a good chance for success in the Senate. --- David L. Yaussy
"The theory supporting the investment case for iron ore and coking coal is that China is likely to resort to a fresh round of economic stimulus to try and overcome the effects of a countrywide slowdown that last week led to an all-time low in the important manufacturing purchasing managers’ index."

Why this is important: China's economy has taken a hit from the coronavirus. Now, experts believe China's efforts to restore their economy with an economic stimulus package could create an increase in demand for metallurgical coal and iron ore. That could be good news for the currently depressed U.S. metallurgical coal export markets. --- Mark E. Heath
“'It’s clear we’re trying to make West Virginia is competitive with our surrounding states when it comes to this kind of economic development,' Ihlenfeld said."

Why this is important: Development of the downstream petrochemical manufacturing industry has always been a goal of NGL producers in the Appalachian Basin. House Bill 4019 and House Bill 4421 have passed the West Virginia House and are awaiting approval by the West Virginia Senate. H.B. 4019 allows taxpayers that invest in a new or expanded downstream manufacturing project, which creates jobs, to claim a credit against a portion of its state income taxes. Under H.B. 4421, an investor in facilities that store or transport NGLs, such as a subsurface storage facility or associated pipeline systems, also can qualify for state income tax credits. If passed and approved by Governor Justice, both pieces of legislation provide valuable support for future downstream manufacturing in West Virginia. --- William M. Herlihy
"The English Court of Appeal handed down a blockbuster decision which held that the British Government had to take into account the impact on global warming from adding a long-planned and long-delayed third runway to Heathrow Airport."

Why this is important: An English court has ruled the Paris Climate Accord requires the British government to take into account global warming when deciding whether to expand Heathrow Airport. This despite the fact the Paris Accord is not binding on any nation, and the manner in which one would evaluate climate change effects resulting from runway expansion is unclear. For example, will air traffic be increased on existing runways or just move elsewhere? President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord presumably avoids these sorts of roadblocks to American infrastructure development. --- David L. Yaussy
"Plato Investments managing director Don Hamson says Australian iron ore producers are set to benefit in the fallout from coronavirus as China will ultimately seek to stimulate its economy by investing in infrastructure."

Why this is important: Plato Investments sees a strong future for iron ore and metallurgical coal exports from Australia as China begins to recover from the coronavirus. The investment company believes coal and ore will be needed to meet China's anticipated incentives to grow their economy and restore economic growth. However, the investment company sees no similar recovery for steam coal due to the closing of coal-fired electrical generation plants. --- Mark E. Heath
"The deception technology method uses a decoy site that lets in intruders to learn from their tactics."

Why this is important: Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas are using hackers as "free labor" to learn how to better stop future cyberattacks. Hackers sometimes start an attack simply by probing a target site to see its response. More often than not, the site's defense mechanisms will stop, or at least identify, the attack at this stage. While this sounds positive, there is a drawback. Stopping the attack when it simply is a probe of the site does not let the site gain information about how a hacker might deploy a more sophisticated attack. The UT Dallas researchers have developed artificial intelligence that monitors hackers' activity on a decoy site that fools the hackers into thinking they have successfully gained access to the actual site. The information gathered then can be used to develop countermeasures to more sophisticated attacks. This is important because, as we previously reported, the frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks on the nation's electrical grid are increasing and, in some instances, those attacks have been successful in disrupting operations. The need to keep one step ahead of attacks is a costly task. One of the sources cited in the article estimates the worldwide spending on cybersecurity will reach $133.7 billion by 2022. --- Nicholas P. Mooney II
"Hohn, founder of hedge fund TCI, has emerged as one of the most outspoken investor voices urging companies to do more to tackle their own carbon emissions, and threatened in December to vote against directors who failed to act."

Why this is important: Hedge funds, central banks and other lenders are increasingly talking about refusing to fund coal-burning power projects. That may not mean much in the short run. China and Japan are increasing their coal generation capacity using sovereign wealth, and China is reportedly financing coal-burning projects in the developing world. In the developed nations, gas is a cheaper form of energy than coal, so there is little demand for coal project financing. Eliminating financing of coal projects with money from the developed world may not be enough to kill those projects worldwide. --- David L. Yaussy
Energy Question of the Week
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