Wednesday, June 15, 2016

AAEA President A Featured Speaker at NBCC 24th Annual Conference

Johnson Publishing Sells Ebony to Clear View Group

Chicago-based Johnson Publishing has sold Ebony, its African-American lifestyle magazine, and the now digital-only Jet magazine to Clear View Group, an Austin, Texas-based private equity firm, for an undisclosed amount.  Johnson Publishing will retain its Fashion Fair Cosmetics business and its historic Ebony photo archives, which remains up for sale. The deal, which closed in May, also included the assumption of debt.
A family-owned business throughout its history, Ebony has documented the African-American experience since it first hit newsstands in 1945. It has shaped culture ever since, coming into its own as it reported from the front lines of the civil rights movement during the 1960s in powerful photos and prose.
In recent years, though, Johnson Publishing has seen declining media revenues as it struggled to evolve from print to digital platforms.
Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing and daughter of founder John Johnson, will serve as chairman emeritus on the board of the new company.
The new publishing entity, Ebony Media Operations, will maintain the magazine's Chicago headquarters and its New York editorial office, as well as much of the current staff, according to Michael Gibson, co-founder and chairman of African-American-owned Clear View Group.  It is the first investment in the publishing business for Clear View.
Cheryl McKissack, who has served as chief operating officer since 2013, will assume the role of CEO of the new publishing entity under Clear View, operating out of the magazine's Chicago office. Kierna Mayo is stepping down as editor-in-chief of Ebony to pursue other opportunities, Gibson said.
Chicago-based Kyra Kyles, who has headed up digital content for Ebony and Jet since last June, will add the role of editor-in-chief of Ebony, Gibson said.
Desiree Rogers, the former social secretary for President Barack Obama who has been steering Johnson Publishing since 2010, will remain CEO, focusing on the cosmetics business, which represents about half of the company's total revenue.
In January 2015, Johnson Publishing put its entire photo archive up for sale, hoping to raise $40 million. The historic collection spans seven decades of African-American history, chronicling everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Sammy Davis Jr.  The collection is still for sale.  (Chicago Tribune, 6/15/2016)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

SCOTUS Leaves Intact EPA Mercury Rule

The Supreme Court on Monday left intact a key Obama administration environmental regulation, refusing to take up an appeal from 20 states to block rules that limit the emissions of mercury and other harmful pollutants that are byproducts of burning coal. The high court’s decision leaves in place a lower-court ruling that found that the regulations, put in place several years ago by the Environmental Protection Agency, could remain in effect while the agency revised the way it had calculated the potential industry compliance costs. The EPA finalized its updated cost analysis in April.

Power plants are the largest source of mercury in the United States. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can damage children’s developing nervous systems, reducing their ability to think and learn. All told, for every dollar spent to make these cuts, the public is receiving up to $9 in health benefits.

In March, a month after voting againsy the Clean Power Plan — the Obama administration’s signature regulation on climate change — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. rejected a separate request to stay the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards rule.

More than 20 states had joined a lawsuit opposing the MATS rule, arguing that the controversial pollution controls mandated by the regulation are too expensive relative to the health benefits.

The White House and environmental groups argued that the rule was not only economically sound, but also an important public health measure. Decades of mercury pollution from coal-burning also has contributed to elevated levels of the toxin in fish. In April, the EPA issued an updated analysis of the estimated costs and benefits of the regulations, arguing that the cost for the industry to comply would amount to a fraction of annual revenue and probably would not lead to steep increases in customer bills. As the fight over the MATS rule has worked its way through the courts in recent years, many utilities have already complied with the new requirements.  (Wash Post, 6/13/2016)

Friday, June 10, 2016



By Norris McDonald

I have worked on energy issues for 36 years and felt that I had a pretty good handle on the issue until recently.  Now don't get me wrong, energy has always been a complex issue area, but lately things have gone upside down on me. The biggest confounding variable in my energy thinking has been the mixed phenomenon of fracking and horizontal drilling.  This technology changed the entire American energy game.

Fracking has been around for decades but when it was combined with horizontal drilling, it revolutionized the recovery of natural gas and petroleum. About a million wells used fracking before it was seriously applied to horizontal drilling.  Now, instead of being dependent on Arab or OPEC nations for oil, America is exporting oil and natural gas.  Amazing.  I am still trying to digest the full implications of how this technology has revolutionized American energy policy.

I also suspect that although only one percent of our electricity is currently generated by oil, I think this will go up by several percentage points in the next decade.

Below is some interesting energy information from the U.S. Department of Energy Energy Information Administration.


Americans use many types of energy

Petroleum, natural gas, coal, renewable energy, and nuclear electric power are primary sources of energy. Electricity is a secondary energy source that is generated from primary sources of energy.

Energy sources are measured in different physical units: liquid fuels in barrels or gallons, natural gas in cubic feet, coal in short tons, and electricity in kilowatts and kilowatt hours. In the United States, British thermal units (Btu), a measure of heat energy, is commonly used for comparing different types of energy to each other. In 2015, total U.S. primary energy consumption was about 97.7 quadrillion (1015, or one thousand trillion) Btu.

In 2015, the shares of total primary energy consumption of the five energy-consuming sectors were:

  • Electric power—39%
  • Transportation—28%
  • Industrial—22%
  • Residential—7%
  • Commercial—4%

  • The electric power sector generates most of the electricity in the United States, and the other four sectors consume most of the electricity it generates.

    The pattern of fuel use varies widely by sector. For example, petroleum provides about 92% of the energy used for transportation, but only 1% of the energy used to generate electricity.

    Domestic energy production is equal to about 91% of U.S. energy consumption

    In 2015, energy produced in the United States was equal to about 89 quadrillion Btu or about 91% of U.S. energy consumption. The difference between production and consumption was mainly in net imports of petroleum.

    The three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—accounted for most of the nation's energy production in 2015:

    The mix of U.S. energy production changes

    The three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have dominated the U.S. energy mix for more than 100 years. Several recent changes in U.S. energy production have occurred:

    • Coal production peaked in 2008 and trended down through 2015. Coal production in 2015 was about the same as production was in 1981. The primary reason for the general decline in coal production was the decrease in coal consumption for electricity generation.

    • Natural gas production was higher in 2015 than in any previous year. More efficient and cost-effective drilling and production techniques have resulted in increased production of natural gas from shale formations over the past ten years.

    • Crude oil production generally decreased each year between 1970 and 2008. In 2009, the trend reversed and production began to rise. More cost-effective drilling and production technologies helped to boost production, especially in Texas and North Dakota. In 2015, crude oil production was at nearly the same level as in 1972.
    • Natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) are hydrocarbon gas liquids that are extracted from natural gas before the natural gas is put into pipelines for transmission to consumers. NGPL production has increased along with increases in natural gas production. In 2015, NGPL production was about two times greater than it was in 2005.

    • Total renewable energy production and consumption both reached record highs of about 9.7 quadrillion Btu in 2015. Hydroelectric power production in 2015 was about 18% below the 50-year average, but increases in energy production from wind and solar helped to increase the overall energy production from renewable sources. Energy production from wind and solar were at record highs in 2015.


Electricity Generation By Energy Source

In 2015, the United States generated about 4 trillion kilowatthours of electricity.1  About 67% of the electricity generated was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum).
Major energy sources and percent share of total U.S. electricity generation in 2015:
  • Coal = 33%
  • Natural gas = 33%
  • Nuclear = 20%
  • Hydropower = 6%
  • Other renewables = 7%
    • Biomass = 1.6%
    • Geothermal = 0.4%
    • Solar = 0.6%
    • Wind = 4.7%
  • Petroleum = 1%
  • Other gases = <1 li="">
Preliminary data; based on generation by utility-scale facilities.