Climate & Energy

Note to media/Bush

Saudis/OPEC don’t control the price of oil any more

With Bush going to Saudi Arabia to beg -- again -- for lower prices, the media is gaga over a confrontation that has about as much significance as a Rocky Balboa fight. Even the venerable NYT just published an article, "Bush Rebuffed on Oil Plea in Saudi Arabia," that opens, "With the price of oil hitting record highs, President Bush used a private visit with King Abdullah to make a second attempt to persuade the Saudis to increase oil production and was rejected yet again." Unlike the 1970s and 1980s and even much of the 1990s, neither OPEC nor the Saudis any longer control the price of oil. If any country had a million barrels a day of (sellable) spare oil capacity, they could make more than $100 million a day selling it, even if that much new oil dropped prices 20%, which it probably wouldn't. Who would sit on that kind of money? Yes, the Saudis are selling over 8 million barrels a day, so they don't really need the money. But if they have any significant excess capacity, it is sour or high-sulfur crude (see the other experts on the full CNBC interview here). Such crude is not currently in demand: "Many refineries are not set up to process such crude because it is more difficult and expensive to refine into products."

Nitrogen bomb

‘Science': nitrogen as important as carbon in climate change

Speaking of the troubles associated with industrial agriculture and its fertilizer regime, check this out: The public does not yet know much about nitrogen, but …

High gas prices, healthy new habits

Gallup shows Americans making smart choices to break the gas habit.

It took soaring fuel prices for old habits to shift. But they're shifting alright. Just take a look at these poll results -- Gallup finds that big numbers of Americans are making changes in their daily lives to deal with higher gas prices. Here's a snapshot:

Conservative Christians launch skeptical climate campaign

Conservative religious leaders have launched a “We Get It!” campaign that just goes to prove that saying something doesn’t make it so. The campaign aims …

A future for FutureGen?

Senate slips life support for ‘clean coal’ boondoggle into war supplemental package

Remember FutureGen, the pilot program that was supposed to yield the nation’s first zero-emissions, “clean coal” power plant? The one that even the Bush administration …

Windfall beneath his wings?

McCain might not be as opposed to a windfall profits tax as his fellow Republicans

Via the Democratic National Committee’s blog, this video makes it seem like John McCain might not be as opposed to a windfall profits tax on …

EPA plans to loosen air-quality rules near national parks

Photo: Wolfgang Staudt Call us crazy, but rewriting the Clean Air Act to ease the way for new coal plants near national parks seems to …

Them's the breaks

‘Energy and Tax Extenders Act’ clears committee, heads to House floor

The House advanced legislation yesterday that would renew billions of dollars in tax breaks for wind, solar, biomass, and other renewable energy sources, and extend …

Cap-and-trade or carbon tax? Both!

Five ways BC’s carbon tax shift can strengthen Cap and Trade

The Vancouver Sun gives some ink to a cluster of issues that I've been pondering of late: how BC's carbon tax shift fits with Cap and Trade. I'm famously infatuated with carbon tax shifting. I'm also a zealot for auctioned Cap and Trade. The good news is that with careful policy design, Cap and Tax can be better than either Cap or Tax. The Tax toughens the Cap, the way steel rebar strengthens concrete. The bad news is that without careful design, the two could weaken each other. The challenge for policy makers is gaming -- firms' aptitude for subverting market rules established with good intentions. Remember how Enron and its ilk manipulated the California electricity market in 2001? The interaction of a carbon tax in British Columbia with a regionwide carbon Cap-and-Trade system in the West could open channels for such profiteering. In the worst case, gaming could both undermine and discredit the policies, risking their political survival. Fortunately, such gaming is preventable, as I'll explain in a moment. First, though, the upsides: