Climate & Energy

Plan of surrender

Unlike McCain and Clinton, Obama would have us capitulate to Gas Price Terror

Gas prices are high, which is the worst thing that’s ever happened in the history of America, dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. It’s a violation of the spirit of the Constitution of …

Another way of 'picking winners'

Output-based carbon regulations ignore critical types of efficiency

"Output-based standards" are getting credit around here as a politically impractical but sensible proposal. David described them as "relentlessly efficient." I'm sure relentless efficiency was the intent, but in fact it is very much a way of picking winners, of rewarding one particular type of efficiency at expense of others. The idea is that within industries, a standard will be set for maximum emissions per useful BTU delivered. So if you are heating tomatoes as part of making tomato paste, the standard would apply to your emissions per BTU used to raise the temperature of a tomato. The problem is that while this rewards delivering those BTUs more efficiently, it does not reward heating the tomatoes less, perhaps by substituting a filtering process for some of the heating. When I brought this up in comments, Sean argued that the second method still rewards by lowering fuel bills. But then, so does the first. If delivering BTUs more efficiently needs an incentive over and above fuel saving, then so does finding a way to use fewer BTUs in the first place.

A penny saved ...

Note to Bush, media: Opening ANWR cuts gas prices one cent in 2025

Bush blames Congress' failure to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for high gasoline prices. The administration's own Energy Information Administration found otherwise in a 2004 Congressional-requested "Analysis of Oil and Gas Production in ANWR" (PDF): It is expected that the price impact of ANWR coastal plain production might reduce world oil prices by as much as 30 to 50 cents per barrel [in 2025]. Don't spend it all in one place, American public! (Note to Bush: There are 42 gallons in a barrel.) EIA continues: Assuming that world oil markets continue to work as they do today, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries could countermand any potential price impact of ANWR coastal plain production by reducing its exports by an equal amount. Curses, foiled again!

Next decade could be cooler than expected, says study

Natural shifts in ocean circulation may trump human-caused warming over the next decade, causing global temperatures to cool slightly, says new research published in the journal Nature. But hang on to your pessimism: “Just to …

One hand clapping

Economic naïvete on carbon prices

If you put a price on GHG emissions, will it raise the cost of energy? That question goes to the core of carbon policy. Unfortunately, many people inside and outside the environmental community consistently get it wrong, with potentially disastrous results. Consider: if the answer is yes, then we don't need any incentives for GHG reduction. The costs of carbon-intensive energy will rise, giving we energy users the incentive they need to lower consumption. But if the answer is no, we will find ourselves with a tax on dirty energy but no incentive to reduce its use. That is, we will end up with a greenhouse-gas policy that fails to do the one thing it's supposed to do above all else: lower our greenhouse-gas emissions. The answer, more often than not, is no.

Food prices are high, and so are Big Ag’s profits

Food prices hitting you hard in the pocketbook? Agriculture giant Archer Daniels Midland feels for you, it really does — but gee, its profits jumped 42 percent this quarter, so it can’t really empathize. ADM’s …

Reason #689,251 oil sands suck

Killing ducks?! Come on now.

Carbon policy dilemma, 3

Trading efficiency for inevitability

This is the third in a series; see parts one and two. To briefly recap: Simplicity, efficiency, and political buy-in are important elements of climate policy, but if you want the first, you can only …

'ANWR, nukes, more ethanol, new technology, blah, blah, blah'

Bush’s energy/food strategy unsurprisingly underwhelming

Bush had a press conference yesterday morning to blame Congress for soaring energy and food prices: "Unfortunately, on many of these issues, all [Americans] are getting is delay." What does non-delayer Bush propose? Well, of course, new technology -- what else is new old? Heck, he even said the long-term answer was hydrogen. (Not!) Oh, but he did offer some "short-term" solutions. His answer to rising electricity prices: Nukes!

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.