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Eric de Place's Posts


E.U. carbon fraud: Could it happen here?

Cross-posted from Sightline's Daily Score blog. Europe's Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) cap-and-trade system has taken a somewhat undeserved drubbing in the press. Overall, it has functioned reliably and reasonably efficiently. Most of the alleged "Carbon Fraud!" you hear about in some quarters was really just easily fixable design flaws (like an initial over-allocation of allowances); tax payment scams that were wholly unrelated to the integrity of the carbon-reduction program (like the recent value-added tax scam); or a lousy offset program that is a potentially serious flaw, but that is also fixable as well as a threat to any carbon reduction plan.  But the latest revelation …


Fighting words

The 'War on Cars': A brief history of a rhetorical device

Photo: Craig WebbCross-posted from Sightline's Daily Score blog. Back in October, I started noticing the accusation that Seattle is waging a "war on cars" was popping up an awful lot in the local press, and in suspicious ways. On its face, the charge that Seattle is waging a war on cars is pretty silly. After all, that the bulk of the city’s political leaders support two car-centric megaprojects -- the 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way tunnel -- that will cost in the range of $7 billion, depending on how you do the counting. And the evidence marshaled in support …

Read more: Cities, Politics


States of the art

Regional cap-and-trade advances

I know everyone is supposed to be dour and disheartened about the prospects for climate policy right now. And while I can't say that I'm thrilled with where we are, it's useful to take stock of what's happening because it's not insignificant: California: Next week, regulators are expected to approve a cap-and-trade program for the Golden State. It should be a slam dunk given that Proposition 23 -- the oil company funded gutting of the state's climate laws -- got hammered at the ballot box. And now, new poll results from the Field Research Corp show that fully 64 percent …


The way forward after the Senate's climate failure

Here's President Obama in April 2009: Now, the choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy.  The choice we face is between prosperity and decline. As of yesterday, it looks like we're gonna go with decline. Prosperity was over-rated anyhow. That's what seems to be the message, anyway, from DC, where "pragmatism" from leaders has resulted in a complete capitulation on any subsantive climate and energy bill. I'll spare readers my anguish and frustration over the Senate's failure. In any case, you can find better analyses from Joe Romm (mandatory reading) and Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone …


60 times the original estimate

Gulf oil spill: A timeline of the estimates

The image says it all, I think: As has been remarked elsewhere, if the latest low-end estimate is accurate -- that the leak is spewing approximately 2.5 million gallons per day -- then the rupture is emitting as much oil about every 4 days as the Exxon Valdez did in total. Here's the timeline: April 20: Deepwater Horizon explodes. April 22: The leak is estimated at 1,000 barrels (42,000 gallons) per day. April 28: The estimate is increased to 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) per day. May 27: The estimate is increased to between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels (roughly 500,000 to 800,000 …

Read more: Climate & Energy


American Power Act: Allowance allocation

Following up on last week's preliminary analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill, here's a closer look at how allowances are distributed under the cap-and-trade program. High level: the allowances allocated over the life of the program, from 2013 to 2050, heavily favor consumer benefits. Smaller chunks are dedicated to deficit reduction, industry, and other objectives. [See full size image here.] What you see is that 68 percent of the allowances are specifically targeted at consumer benefits -- things like ratepayer insulation, protection for low-income households, and universal rebates. Additionally, 10 percent of the allowances are set aside to reduce the …


The Good, The Bad, The Boring

Kerry-Lieberman climate bill: The details

Editor's Note: Please bear in mind that this is a "first read" of a very large piece of legislation. It was researched and written within 24 hours of the bill's publication. The Kerry-Lieberman climate bill emerged yesterday mid-morning, weighing in at 987 pages. (Hey, changing the entire energy economy ain't easy.) Like the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last summer, the American Power Act is a comprehensive energy and climate bill. That means it touches a wide range of issues, from nuclear energy development to electric vehicles to offshore oil drilling. To find the full text of …


Reality Check From the Gulf

Something’s wrong when our best option is burning an oil slick

Yesterday was a good day for an energy policy reality check. Because we are in a place where the environmentally responsible choice is lighting a giant oil slick on fire. And that really is the best option available to us right now. That's how bad the situation in the Gulf of Mexico is. It is yet another horrifying example of the broken -- and I would say morally bankrupt -- energy system that Americans remain shackled to thanks to republicans and democrats alike. As a reminder, here's what President Obama had to say one month ago when he announced expanded …


The way to carbon neutrality

My co-presenter at last weekend's Carbon Neutrality Unconference, smart-guy Pete Erickson of Stockholm Environment Institute, used four slides that are worth sharing again. Taken together, they're an excellent -- if somewhat wonky way -- to think about the basic structure of reducing emissions. 1. What are the cheapest reductions? (Click for larger version) This McKinsey Institute chart depicts the cost of various carbon "abatement" (i.e. "reduction") strategies given current technology. The bars that fall below the horizontal axis depict abatement opportunities that pay for themselves (such as energy efficiency). The bars above the x-axis show the strategies that cost money …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Two Can Play At This Game

A lesson from California’s bad ballot measure

California's nascent cap-and-trade program appears to be threatened by a ballot measure that is both substantively idiotic and yet diabolically clever. Basically, the measure would suspend implementation until California's unemployment rate declines to below 5.5 percent. Financial backing comes from oil companies and other big polluters. Shocking, I know. Anyway, it's a stupid idea on the merits because, apart from one industry-funded study, detailed analysis has shown that the bill would actually be beneficial to California's economy, lowering energy bills and creating jobs. (Plus, the measure would, of course, reduce the state's sizeable contribution to the planet's greenhouse gas emissions; and California's carbon …