Takes on the News

In-state oil refiners consider life after petroleum

Two major Bay Area refineries, owned and operated by Phillips 66 and Marathon Petroleum, announced in 2020 that they were planning to convert from producing petroleum to biofuels – specifically, the renewable diesel (RD) and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Google launches feature to track flight emissions

Google recently announced that their Google Flights platform will show the amount of carbon emissions each flight produces, allowing users to compare the environmental impact of their flight options. Many consumers choosing lower-carbon flights could push airlines to invest in more efficient aircraft and sustainable aviation fuels.

Jet fuel made from plastic waste

New research shows a promising method for tackling worldwide plastic pollution through fuel production. Researchers have found a new approach to convert a common plastic, polyethylene, into jet fuel in about an hour. Plastic pollution is a major environmental and public health concern, and technological innovation will be critical to solving this seemingly intractable problem.

New industry coalition pushes for clean hydrogen

The Clean Hydrogen Future Coalition (CHFC) is a recently formed advocacy group made up of various oil, gas, and utility companies. The CHFC’s stated goal is to lower the costs of hydrogen production while utilizing existing fossil fuels. Many environmental advocacy groups disagree with the CHFC, stating that its proposed hydrogen techniques would not alleviate — and would in some cases exacerbate — environmental and social harms.

Gasoline consumption may have already reached its peak

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently released a report suggesting that worldwide gasoline demand may never return to pre-pandemic levels. The IEA may be correctly capturing a declining trend in gasoline use due to lower future growth in car travel, ongoing improvements in fuel economy, and shifts to electric vehicles. But this is still highly uncertain, as we emerge from a pandemic where there may be considerable pent-up demand and there is the possibility of returning to previous global growth trends.

The Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer debut in Super Bowl advertisements

This year’s offering of Super Bowl electric vehicle advertising was a retreat from last year, offering fewer ads from fewer brands. Advertising is necessary (though it needs to be sustained and pervasive) but it is far from sufficient to encourage people to transition to EVs. Advertising is not going to solve the problem of where to charge or address the range “anxiety” that people have been told they will have if they buy an EV.