The zeal for ever-tougher controls on carbon emissions seems to be seeping away in Europe, too – a trend measuring a dramatic U.S. shift away from cap-and-trade and carbon ceilings under the Obama administration.

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Without so much as a farewell tip of the hat, President Barack Obama has pulled the plug on his Dan Morganmuch-promoted goal of comprehensive climate-change legislation. In his agenda-setting State of the Union address, he dropped any U.S. move toward EU-style cap and trade. Significantly, the word “climate” was never uttered. 

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Conservative control of the House of Representatives weakens the already-flagging momentum on climate-change legislation. Many new Congress members – Republicans (including Tea Party activists) – will expand the ranks opposing environmental action as too expensive or even denying the existence of global warming as a man-made problem.

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Nikos Tsafos is a Manager specializing in natural gas with PFC Energy.

U.S. Success Not A Blueprint For Europe

Europe, a continent where energy security--or insecurity--is a major source of anxiety, is beginning to look at the US success with shale gas, tight gas, and coal-bed methane gas, known collectively as “unconventional gas,” as a possible source of deliverance from its energy troubles. And the Russians, who are Europe’s largest supplier of natural gas, are genuinely worried that production could take off. Alexander Medvedev, the deputy head of Gazprom, recently expressed concern that gas from shale in the United States was a “dangerous development.” He meant, of course, that shale gas could perpetuate the current glut in global supplies, keeping profits down for Gazprom.

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Leading experts from both sides of the Atlantic discussed the re-emergence of nuclear power as a complementary asset in the drive to de-carbonize energy resources. In addition to evaluating current demand for nuclear power and the relative cost and capacity issues inherent in the industry's expansion, participants also addressed the challenge of nuclear safety and waste disposal, as well as the current financial and regulatory environments.

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