Elon Musk A Muppet? Critical Copper Coalition

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Today’s Key Takeaways: Senate Republicans oppose Nuclear Regulatory Commission re-appointment for Baran. Competing views on peak oil demand. House votes to stop gas stove bans. Australian billionaire says, “Musk is a Muppet.”  An act of congress to elevate copper to critical mineral status.


Ranking Member Capito: Five More Years of NRC Commissioner Baran Would Impede America’s Nuclear Energy Future

June 14, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a business meeting to consider the nomination of Jeff Baran to serve another term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) led Republicans in voting against Baran, saying, “His votes and positions simply do not align with enabling the safe use of nuclear technologies that the NRC is expected to undertake in the coming years…his confirmation would not align with an increasing role for nuclear energy that so many of us support, including through efforts such as the ADVANCE Act.

Below is a portion of Ranking Member Capito’s opening statement as delivered.

“We are here again this morning to consider, as we heard, the re-nomination of Jeff Baran to serve as a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“Two weeks ago, this Committee supported the bipartisan Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy, the ADVANCE Act, by a resounding 16-to-3 vote.

“So we are committed to the ADVANCE Act, which will help position the United States as the undisputed global leader of nuclear energy, including the next generation of advanced reactors.

“Commissioner Baran’s nearly nine-year record shows that he is not the right person for the NRC, especially at this critical time for nuclear energy and the emergence of new technologies.

“His votes and positions simply do not align with enabling the safe use of nuclear technologies that the NRC is expected to undertake in the coming years.

“Throughout his past nomination processes, he has a history of telling the Committee he supports advanced nuclear, and then not doing so once in office.

“I will not belabor that point now that I believe has been made before, including at the last business meeting.

“Instead, I ask unanimous consent for my opening statement from our business meeting last week, as well as a letter of opposition from several pro-nuclear organizations, to be entered into the record. 

“Based on his record, I will oppose his nomination.”


IEA: Global Oil Demand Will Peak Before The End Of The Decade
Alex Kimani, OilPrice.Com, June 14, 2023

The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that global oil demand will peak before the end of the current decade as the transition to renewable energy gathers momentum.

According to the IEA, global oil demand will rise by another 6% from 2022-28 to hit 105.7 million barrels per day. The agency expects demand growth for oil to slump to just 400,000 barrels per day in 2028, way below the growth of 2.4 million barrels per day forecast for 2023. 

The energy agency has also predicted that global demand for oil used in transportation will start declining in 2026, thanks in large part to the EV revolution as well as policy measures that push for more efficiency. Growth in gasoline demand is expected to reverse at the end of the current year, but the demand for “combustible fossil fuels” is expected to continue growing before peaking in 2028. IEA sees long-term oil demand degrading really badly and has predicted demand will fall to just 24 million barrels per day by 2050.

Other agencies have different outlooks for long-term oil demand.

Earlier in the year, energy expert Energy Intelligence Group predicted that not only will oil demand grow in 2023 but it will continue doing so till the end of the decade. According to the analyst, global oil demand will grow to 101.2 million barrels per day in the current year and will continue growing to hit 106 mb/d by 2030. Global oil demand will grow by 1.5 mb/d in 2023, with China accounting for 650,000 b/d after the country abandoned its rigorous zero-Covid policy. Indeed, this year’s average will top the previous high of 100.6 mb/d set in 2019. 

No less than 10 organizations, including OPEC, Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), and the Energy Information Administration (EIA), have predicted that global oil demand will continue growing through 2050 and not shrink as most analysts have forecast. The most bullish among these is the U.S.-based EIA which has projected global oil demand to increase by 34% to hit 126 million barrels per day in 2050.


House votes to restrict feds from banning or regulating gas stoves
Rachel Frazin, The Hill, June 13, 2023

The House on Tuesday voted in favor of preventing the Consumer Product Safety Commission from banning gas stoves and also limiting the safety agency’s ability to regulate the products. 

Tuesday’s 248-180 vote comes after the legislation was put on the backburner last week after conservative Republicans decided to block floor action — putting the House floor in a state of paralysis and raising questions about Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) ability to control his conference.

The GOP conservatives joined Democrats to block a rule bringing the bill to the House floor last week. Rule votes are typically party-line votes and it was the first time in more than 20 years that a majority party in the House had lost a rule vote. Rules are necessary to govern House votes under the rules of the chamber unless a bill is brought to the floor under suspension of House rules. Doing so requires a supermajority.

On Monday, the conservative defectors announced they would stop blocking floor votes for now as they look to gain more power from party leadership and cut spending.

The gas stove vote comes after the suggestion of a ban sparked a firestorm in Washington. Republicans have sought to draw attention to the issue. 

The legislation is unlikely to be taken up by the Democratically-led Senate. The White House said that it opposes the legislation, but has stopped short of a veto threat. 

A total of 29 Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of the bill.

The House on Tuesday also approved an amendment from Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) that expanded the legislation beyond stoves, making the restrictions apply to commission bans on any type of appliance based on its fuel source.


Billionaire Forrest calls Musk a ‘muppet’ over fuel cell doubts
Bloomberg News/Mining.Com, June 14, 2023

Andrew Forrest, the Australian billionaire betting much of the fortune he made in iron-ore mining on green power, said doubters of hydrogen fuel-cell technology are “muppets.” That includes Elon Musk.

“Anyone, including Elon, including, you know, whoever you like, who says hydrogen hasn’t got a massive future are muppets,” Forrest said in an on-stage interview at the Bloomberg New Economy Gateway Africa forum in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Tuesday. “Battery and fuel cells are the way of the world in the future.”

Musk, the world’s richest person and founder of electric-carmaker Tesla Inc., has previously described hydrogen fuel-cell technology as “the most dumb thing I could possibly imagine for energy storage.”

While Musk uses lithium-battery technology in Tesla vehicles, Forrest is focusing on using green energy including solar to produce hydrogen, which is then stored and used to power fuel cells in the auto and other industries. The 61-year-old is the founder, chairman and biggest shareholder in Perth-based Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment sent by email.


US lawmakers: Copper is critical, period
Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News, June 9, 2023

Arizona lawmaker defies USGS with bill that would elevate copper onto the list of minerals deemed critical to the US.

Copper is critical – this is the message a group of Western lawmakers is sending to the U.S. Geological Survey with the Copper is Critical Act.

This bill, which was introduced to the House by Congressman Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., on June 8, consists of one sentence that defines minerals critical to the United States as copper and whatever other minerals, elements, substances, or materials deemed critical by the USGS.

This one-line copper bill is cosponsored by Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.; Jim Baird, R-Ind.; David Schweikert, R-Ariz.; Eli Crane, R-Ariz.; and Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz.

“The importance of copper to our economy and national security cannot be overstated,” Congressman Newhouse said. “It is long overdue that copper be designated as a critical mineral and I’m proud to support this legislation to make that a reality.”

Copper criticality debate

A debate has been brewing over copper’s criticality since the USGS unveiled its updated list of critical minerals in 2022. Copper was nowhere to be found between the aluminum and zinc on this list of 50 minerals and metals deemed critical to the U.S.

This was a surprise to many, considering the enormous quantities of copper that are forecast to be needed to build the wind turbines, solar farms, electric vehicles, and increased electrical transmission lines required to deliver energy of a low-carbon future.

In 2019, the World Bank estimated that roughly 550 million tons of copper are needed over 25 years, which is roughly equivalent to all copper that has been mined over the 5,000 years since the dawn of the Bronze Age.

Metals analysts at S&P Global, Goldman Sachs, and other large financial institutions have put out similar forecasts for copper.

Based on the expected growing demand and competition for copper, which Goldman Sachs deemed to be the new oil, CDA decided to get a second opinion on copper’s criticality.

“Because USGS data was considerably out of date upon the release of the 2022 Critical Minerals List, and the risks to copper from imports has increased dramatically, we engaged an analyst to update copper’s supply risk score with the most recently available data to 2022,” said Copper Development Association (CDA) President Andrew Kireta, Jr.

Based on this analysis using USGS methodology, the CDA says copper has hit the “critical” echelon and called for the electrical conducting metal to be included in the U.S. critical minerals list.

“Copper is and always has been critical to our economic and national security but now to the clean energy transition as well,” Kireta added. “As copper now meets the threshold for inclusion based on the very latest available data, we need to act immediately to enable the copper industry to provide the essential inputs that copper provides to our national defense and economic security.”