FROM Severin Borenstein
What's Happened to North America's Oil Boom? The price of crude oil has dropped by 50 percent in the past year. Shell won't be exploring for oil in the Arctic Ocean after all. In the Gulf of Mexico, leases for new oil wells aren't selling. Tens of thousands of workers are being laid off, from Texas to North Dakota to Central Canada. Hydraulic fracking equipment is lying idle. Is it just another decline in a boom-and-bust industry or the beginning of the end of the oil economy? What's the immediate impact on the American consumer?
Is Solar Energy Too Cheap and Easy in California? California homeowners who install solar panels can sell power they don't use back to the utility companies who manage the grid. That can bring the homeowners' bills down to zero. Now, so many consumers have gone solar that the utilities are losing serious money and they're fighting back. We get background from KCRW's Saul Gonzalez, then hear about proposals to modify the status quo.
Tesla's Battery: Luxury Item or Energy Storage Game Changer? Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced the company's latest product. Powerwall is a series of lithium ion batteries that he says can store enough kilowatts to supply a typical home's needs for up to 10 hours, allowing consumers to grab energy when prices are low, and save it for peak times.
The Coming Age of Solar Power The cost of fossil fuels is going up, while the cost of solar power is going down. The tipping point has already arrived in many developing countries. In the US, it could happen by 2020. A decade later, fossil fuels could be economically obsolete. We've heard such predictions before, and the transition will not be easy. Coal, Big Oil and public utilities won't lie down. Government policies will be crucial. We look at the challenges posed by inevitable change in technology. (This discussion originally aired on October 30, 2014)
The Coming Age of Solar Power In the 1980’s, there was skepticism about the economic viability of cell phones. Now, most of the world’s poorest people can afford them. Today, the cost of fossil fuels is going up, while the cost of solar power is going down, and although solar power supplies less than 1% of global energy needs, the tipping point has already arrived in many developing countries. In the US, it could happen by 2020. A decade later, fossil fuels could be economically obsolete. We’ve heard such predictions before, and the transition will not be easy. Coal, Big Oil and public utilities won’t lie down. Government policies will be crucial. Will photovoltaic cells be the cell phones of the future? We look at the challenges posed by inevitable change in technology.
Will the United-Continental Merger Mean Friendlier Skies? Two years ago, Continental Airlines backed away from merging with United. Last month, United began a flirtation with US Airways. Suddenly, Continental had a change of heart, and over the weekend completed what some airline experts are calling a shotgun wedding. United and Continental now plan to become the world's largest airline .
Will the United-Continental Merger Mean Friendlier Skies? Two years ago, Continental Airlines backed away from merging with United. Last month, United began a flirtation with US Airways. Suddenly, Continental had a change of heart, and over the weekend completed what some airline experts are calling a shotgun wedding. United and Continental now plan to become the world's largest airline , if they get past anti-trust laws and union contracts. But it's a marriage of convenience, not love. United is known for canceled flights, lost baggage and surly employees. Continental is famous for customer satisfaction. Can those cultures merge? Is consolidation the only way airlines can stop losing money, when Southwest is gaining market share and showing a profit? Since de-regulation, most mergers have not gone smoothly. We hear the pros and cons of the next one.
How Dependent Is California on Alaskan Oil? Pipeline corrosion has shut down Prudhoe Bay , America's biggest oil field, which provides some 30%of the oil refined in the Western states. BP can't estimate when it will finish repairs to the Alaska pipeline. Severin Borenstein , who directs the Energy Institute at UC Berkeley , assesses how the closure will impact the price of gasoline in California.
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?