News bites: Oil and the economy, Cuccinelli’s climate war and Google invests in efficiency

“Multinational oil companies have curtailed production in Libya as protesters engage in violent confrontation with the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Analysts estimate that as many as a million barrels of Libyan oil a day have been removed from world markets in recent days, and investors fear that more oil production could be disrupted if the unrest spreads to other crucial producing nations, like Algeria,” their piece states.

Even relatively small changes in global supply can matter a lot, The Times notes.

“Libya produces less than 2 percent of the world’s oil, and exports little to the United States. But the high quality of its reserves magnifies its importance in world markets,” they report.

“Libya’s ‘sweet’ crude oil cannot be easily replaced in the production of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, particularly by the many European and Asian refineries that are not equipped to refine ‘sour’ crude, which is higher in sulfur content.”

Also in The Times: A look at Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s vigorous climate skepticism. The piece notes his campaign against climatologist Michael Mann and lawsuit against EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases.

Cuccinelli has allies on Capitol Hill.

“Now his allegations of manipulated data and scientific fraud are resonating in Congress, where Republican leaders face an influx of new members, many of them Tea Party stalwarts like Mr. Cuccinelli, eager to inveigh against the body of research linking man-made emissions to warming,” the piece notes.

Speaking of global warming, Canadians are more likely than Americans to agree with the overwhelming view among scientists that it’s happening.

“The dividing line in the climate-change debate could well be the 49th parallel, according to a new survey that suggests there are major differences in attitudes between Canadians and Americans when it comes to global warming,” the Montreal Gazette reports.

“The survey, released Wednesday, found that 80 per cent of Canadians polled said they believe there is solid evidence of global warming, compared to 58 per cent of Americans.”

Google is pouring money into a small energy company with big ideas, The Los Angeles Times reports.

“Google Ventures has funneled $20 million into a start-up that claims to prevent most of the energy loss that occurs in solar panels, electric cars, computer servers and more,” the paper reports.

“Transphorm Inc., based in Goleta near Santa Barbara, makes an electric power conversion technology that probably doesn’t sound as sexy as the latest new wind turbine or algae biofuel breakthrough. But on Wednesday the company emerged from 'stealth mode' with $38 million in capital from Google, Kleiner Perkins and more,” the story adds.