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With oil prices failing, where are our energy efforts now?

By Bobby Magill Road tripping used to feel like it broke the bank, with gasoline prices in many places hovering above $3.50 per gallon or higher. Today, filling up for more than $2 per gallon in some places feels jarring. Crude oil prices tumbled into an unexpected free fall in 2014, pushing gasoline prices down with them. Solar power prices continued their dive, too, helping usher in a new gold rush in renewables worldwide and predictions that rooftop solar could assist in a major transformation of the U.S. electric power grids in just a few short years. 2014 set the scene for a major turning point in energy in 2015. We’ll see how those free-falling oil prices affect how people drive and if that, in turn, will stunt use of public transportation and development of vehicles running on alternative fuels. The future of coal may be determined, just as solar power may start to spread outside California and Arizona and more deeply into places where the sun doesn’t shine every day, thanks to falling prices and new technology. The world is pinning its hopes on renewables to help cap CO2 emissions at a level that will prevent the globe from warming 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels, the point at which the effects of climate change could spiral out of control, scientists warn. 2015 could also be the year energy policies aimed at curbing those emissions could show if they have teeth, including the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Scheduled to be finalized in June barring legal challenges, the Clean Power Plan is likely to see its approval complicated by unfolding political theater that could define U.S. climate policies next year, and for many years thereafter. Aiming to slash emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, the plan sends a strong signal to utilities that natural gas and renewables are the federal government’s answer for how electric power companies should tackle climate change. More via Climate Central.

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