Despite the fact that oil has long been nicknamed “black gold,” oil has been anything but gold as of late. Supply gluts in the United States and fighting among the OPEC countries caused a dramatic decline in crude oil prices over the last 6 months or so. As the chart below shows, crude oil prices have dropped from about $82 per barrel at the beginning of November to approximately $50 a barrel today. While US consumers enjoy lower prices at the pump, the significant drop in oil prices is causing major challenges in the industry. Continue reading
We have all heard of the Gold Rush in the State of California. In recent years, however, a new kind of “gold rush” has taken over the state – the rush for new water supplies. As the drought continues into its 4th year unabated, farmers are scrambling to drill new and deeper wells into the ground. However, these farmers face serious new challenges in their quest to secure new water supplies. Continue reading
Harvard’s Continuing Education in California Groundwater Rights
On January 22nd, Reuters posted an article “Harvard Buys Water Rights in Drought-Hit Wine Country.” An email flurry broke out with seemingly everyone in my contact list sharing a link. The article reported that the Harvard Endowment “has quietly become one of the biggest grape growers in California’s drought-stricken Paso Robles wine region, securing water well drilling permits to feed its vineyards days before lawmakers banned new pumping.” According to Reuters, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the $36 billion Harvard Endowment Fund has spent more than $60 million to acquire 10,000 acres in Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County since 2012. Harvard’s entity now numbers among the top 20 wine growers in Paso Robles.
Reuters asks was Harvard’s move a “well-timed water play”? Is it? Nope. Instead, it is covering itself from investing in vineyards in a region with a rapidly increasing groundwater overdraft problem. Continue reading