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Friday, Dec 26th

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EIA: a tiny agency with a big role in energy debate

As energy increasingly dominates the economy, a quiet little agency in Washington holds the responsibility for tracking the particles that conduct, fuse, blow, heat, combust and convert the earth, wind and water into the energy that makes our society run.

The man behind the quiet data-crunching enterprise is Richard Newell, a Duke University economist and energy enthusiast. He sits in a glass-walled office a block off the National Mall, between the president who hired him and the congressional lawmakers who hammer his numbers into policy.

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Report looks at hidden health costs of energy production

Generating electricity by burning coal is responsible for about half of an estimated $120 billion in yearly costs from early deaths and health damages to thousands of Americans from the use of fossil fuels, a federal advisory group said Monday.

A one-year study by the National Research Council looked at many costs of energy production and the use of fossil fuels that aren't reflected in the price of energy. The $120 billion sum was the cost to human health from U.S. electricity production, transportation and heating in 2005, the latest year with full data.

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New Way to Tap Gas May Expand Global Supplies

A new technique that tapped previously inaccessible supplies of natural gas in the United States is spreading to the rest of the world, raising hopes of a huge expansion in global reserves of the cleanest fossil fuel.

Italian and Norwegian oil engineers and geologists have arrived in Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania to learn how to extract gas from layers of a black rock called shale. Companies are leasing huge tracts of land across Europe for exploration.

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Few Bush-era energy leases are valid, report finds

Reporting from Denver - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday that only 17 of 77 oil and gas leases on Utah public lands that the Bush administration auctioned off in December were valid and that his agency would prevent development on the remaining parcels, at least in the near future.

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The dark secrets of the trillion-dollar oil trade

The phenomenon of "floating storage", which has been brought about by a huge over-supply of global tanker capacity and unusual market conditions, is just one example of the multitude of ways in which a small group of private, mostly Swiss-based companies have become adept at turning vast profits from the closed and often murky world of independent oil trading.

The resulting profit can be anything between 15 and 20 per cent – tens of millions of dollars – even after the cost of hiring a tanker is deducted.

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Renewable Nuclear? Nuclear boosters disguise their product behind green verbiage.

Boosters of nuclear power plants usually depend on the fact that the facilities emit no greenhouse gases for their rationale, and a powerful one it is. They generally ignore problems of proliferation, terrorist vulnerability, the need to isolate and store waste products essentially forever, the expense of building the plants (once they're built they're relatively cheap to operate, but building them is very expensive), and the lack of capacity to enrich and manufacture their fuel.

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Secrets of Alleged Oil Price Manipulation Exposed

Transcripts and taped conversations of actions that took place in 2007, included in the commission’s case, reveal the secretive workings of high-frequency trading, a fast-growing Wall Street business that is suddenly drawing scrutiny in Washington. Critics say this high-speed form of computerized trading, which is used in a wide range of financial markets, enables its practitioners to profit at other investors’ expense.

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