Eric de Place

Eric de Place is a senior researcher at Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based sustainability think tank.

Feather in their cap

Regional cap-and-trade saves jobs and money

This post originally appeared at Sightline’s Daily Score blog. I’m not big on parroting press releases, but I’m going to make an exception for Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s carbon cap-and-trade program. RGGI is quietly demonstrating that carbon markets can work wonderfully. So it’s too bad no one seems to be paying attention any longer. Last week, RGGI’s most recent auction netted $83 million, for a lifetime total of nearly $861 million. The vast majority of that money is channeled into energy efficiency and job creation with immediate and tangible results. For example: Maine is investing a portion of its …

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

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. Where did this inflammatory language come from?

States of the art

Regional cap-and-trade advances

Everyone is disappointed about climate policy prospects. I can't say that I'm thrilled, but we should take heart at what's happening on the state level

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 …

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 …