“A carbon tax would have a net negative effect on consumption, investment and jobs, resulting in lower federal revenues from taxes on capital and labor. Any revenue raised by a carbon tax would be far outweighed by the negative impacts to the overall economy.”
Pricing carbon dioxide (CO2) to wring competitive advantage and to appease environmental pressure groups once drew notable business support from the big players, such as Ken Lay’s Enron and John Browne’s BP. But not from Lee Raymond’s Exxon Mobil, although Rex Tillerson’s Exxon Mobil supports a carbon tax as an alternative to cap-and-trade.
But presumably, as a key member of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Exxon Mobil is opposed to a carbon tax in the current political environment. Another big energy and political player, Dow Chemical, which dropped out of NAM on the gas export issue, is against a carbon tax judging from its Australian experience.
Where are other big companies, or small-business groups, when it comes to a carbon tax? No doubt their math shows that such a tax would hurt the bottom line given that a tax on energy is a tax on just about everything. And little doubt that the idea of a “revenue neutral” tax swap is rejected as other worldly (as something from the academic world, not the real world).
Carbon Tax Center: Business Shutout?
The The Carbon Tax Center (CTC), for example, lists various groups of tax supporters–editorialists, scientists, economists, opinion leaders, writers, pundits, and conservatives–but has no category for business groups. The Center’s arguments for a carbon tax–better weather and job creation–are about as weak as they come. Here is the pitch:
A string of extreme weather events, topped recently by Superstorm Sandy, bring the message home: Earth’s climate is changing in costly and painful ways. And yet we’ve barely started transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy and efficiency. Why not? Because price signals are too weak. The prices of fossil fuels don’t come close to reflecting their true costs. A permanent and increasing U.S. carbon tax will reduce the emissions that are driving global warming and generate revenue to pay for cutting regressive taxes that thwart job-creation. [Read more →]
May 24, 2013 No Comments
The Sierra Club, as yesterday’s post described, has ditched its previous support for natural gas, the cleanest burning fossil fuel. And so goes the modern, Washington, DC-based environmental pressure group movement, rejecting not only oil, gas, and coal but also nuclear, hydro, and most biofuels. Translated into today’s energy usage, some 98 percent is bad and 2 percent good. 
Turning an industrial economy over to the two most costly, unreliable (intermittent) energy resources–solar and wind–is a lights out, engine stall strategy for a modern industrial economy.
Where does such anti-industrial, anti-human, coercionist thinking come from? The answer is the deep ecology movement.
As mentioned yesterday, a radical wing of the modern environmental movement rejects a human-centered anthropocentric view of the world in favor of a nature-first ecocentric view. In constrast to shallow ecology, concerned with pollution and resource depletion in the developed world, deep ecology defends “the equal right” of lower animals and plants ”to live and blossom.” Deep ecology rejects what is seen as a master-slave relationship between human and nonhuman life. [Read more →]
May 23, 2013 3 Comments
[Ed. note: Tomorrow's post, "'Deep Ecology' versus Energy," will examine radical environmental metaphysics in more detail.]
An influential branch of the modern environmental movement rejects a human-centered anthropocentric view of the world in favor of a nature-first ecocentric view.
Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess in a 1973 essay differentiated between shallow ecology, a concern with pollution and resource depletion in the developed world, and deep ecology where “the equal right to live and blossom” ends what is seen as a master-slave relationship between human and nonhuman (lower animal and plant) life. 
The platform of the Deep Ecology Foundation, formulated by Arne Naess and George Sessions, declares that “present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening” and calls for
changes in policies affect[ing] basic economic, technological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.
Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature (1992: 216) identifies the “terminal sin” of man’s altering nature and complained about how “the greenhouse effect is the first environmental problem we can’t escape by moving to the woods.” He laments how “the cheap labor provided by oil” makes the “deep ecology model” difficult to fathom much less implement (200).
In chapter 12 of Earth in the Balance (1992), Senator Al Gore complained about a “dysfunctional civilization” predicated on fossil fuels.
The Sierra Club’s ‘Deep Ecology’ Turn
Mainstream (Washington, DC-based) environmentalism embraced natural gas in the 1980s as a “bridge” to a sustainable future. But no more. The Sierra Club is at war with natural gas, as it is with oil, coal, hydro, and nuclear. Biofuels is also out of favor with Big Environmentalism, which leaves wind and solar and not much else. [Read more →]
May 22, 2013 4 Comments
Draft National Assessment on Climate Change: Politicization of the Scientific Method ("1,200 horror-studded pages … of pseudoscience")
“The draft assessment continue[s] to miss the positive externalities associated with climate change, like the fact that we have doubled our life spans in societies that were largely powered by fossil fuels that have slightly raised mean global temperature.
Doubling the lifespan of, say, two billion people, is equivalent to saving one billion lives. This dwarfs any negative effects of climate change. Me, I’ll take 85 quality years versus 43 with a price of one degree Celsius, which I can counter simply by moving from the city into the burbs.”
- Patrick Michaels (et al), Cato Institute Center for the Study of Science, “The Missing Science from the Draft National Assessment on Climate Change,” April 15, 2013.
“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord Acton wrote in 1887. The current scandals in Washington, DC remind the entire political spectrum about how dangerous concentrated power is with THE institution that possesses a legal monopoly on the initiation of force.
Power has corrupted Big Government Climate Science too. In our country, Exhibit A is the multi-agency U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) whose periodic reports on the impact of manmade climate change on America are one-sided alarmism with policy activism and bigger budgets being the goal. Reports issued in 2000 and 2009 will be joined by a third report this year.
The Cato’s relatively new Center for the Study of Science submitted formal comments on the draft report last month. Some of the more salient criticisms of politicized science are reprinted below.
The USGCRP report is due out later this year. Will the draft report be altered to reflect the other side of the peer-reviewed (and Internet-corrected) science? The answer is just months away. [Read more →]
May 21, 2013 3 Comments
“The distinction between renewable and non-renewable resources is tenuous and perhaps in the last analysis untenable.”
- M. A. Adelman, The Economics of Petroleum Supply (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1993), p. 66.
“The tradition in academic energy economics is to stress the ability to overcome depletion threats.”
- Richard Gordon, The Energy Journal, (Vol. 22: No. 2), 2001, p. 128.
The headline from the May 15th Time article reads: “The IEA Says Peak Oil Is Dead. That’s Bad News for Climate Policy.” Author Bryan Walsh begins:
No one … was really looking forward to a peak-oil world…. Think uncomfortable and violent. Oil is in nearly every modern product we use, and it’s still what gets us from point A to point B—especially if you need to get from A to B in a plane. If we were really to see the global oil supply peak and decline sharply, even as demand continued to go up, well, apocalyptic might not be too large a word.
Walsh then degenerates to the “upside” of the old view–”We’d lose oil but save the world”–to explain why climate-change policy is in (further) trouble. Well, good riddance to climate policy–and expect the collapsing case for climate alarmism to be recognized as good news. Justin Gillis’s recent New York Times piece begins this long-awaited revisionism:
What’s new is that several recent [peer reviewed] papers have offered best estimates for climate sensitivity that are below four degrees Fahrenheit, rather than the previous best estimate of just above five degrees, and they have also suggested that the highest estimates are pretty implausible.
Walsh in Time shares the new “mainstream” view: [Read more →]
May 20, 2013 No Comments
“The Permian Basin is a story about combining the various talents of independents, majors, and service companies in using advancing technologies to sustain the lifespan of existing fields, to tap into zones that were previously uneconomic or inaccessible, and to increase the Permian’s proven reserves in a remarkable fashion.”
The Permian region, in western Texas and extending into southeastern New Mexico, has been one of North America’s major oil and natural gas producing regions for nearly a century. What makes the Permian stand out, besides its size, is its huge diversity. Rather than a single play, it is a collection of regional conventional and unconventional plays, producing from a variety of geological formations covering a wide area in more than a dozen productive formations.
Permian wells produce in depths ranging from a few hundred feet to tens of thousands of feet. While conventional exploration and production continues, horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing (in both vertical and horizontal wells) are opening up a new, more unconventional chapter.
The Permian accounts for about two-thirds of crude oil production in Texas and nearly 15 percent of that of the entire U.S. It also accounts for more than a quarter of U.S. rig activity.
According to a 1995 assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Permian had more than 100 billion barrels of oil in place. The key, of course, is how much of that can be recovered commercially, a figure that has continued to grow with technological innovation. [Read more →]
May 17, 2013 5 Comments
“The claim that wind projects in the U.S. are achieving 30% average capacity factors nationally [are] … not meaningful when considering that state RPS mandates are based on local resources. For states like New York and Pennsylvania, where average capacity factors are in the low- to mid- 20% range, many more wind turbines and related infrastructure (transmission) will be needed to meet RPS mandates than originally forecasted, resulting in increased costs and impacts.
Couple this with the fact that wind production in most states is seasonal with summer months producing at half that of winter months and also concentrated during periods of low demand (night time) — much of the energy arrives as excess energy making it less useful.”
The study, produced in cooperation with the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and other stakeholders, explored a modeled energy scenario in which wind could supply 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030. DOE made clear in the report that the 20% scenario was neither a prediction nor a goal, but, for wind proponents, the study served as the foundation for ongoing advocacy.
20% wind power by 2030 became a call to action and more. Absent a national renewables standard, AWEA heralded the 20% as a de facto mandate for wind.
The industry insists it’s on track to reach 20% wind (up from 4% today), but such claims are neither realistic nor wise. Despite explosive growth in new wind installations in the last five years alone,  challenges to further development have become more evident and will ultimately limit wind’s expansion.
An Unpopular Wind [Read more →]
May 16, 2013 7 Comments
“[A]s my father liked to tell me, ‘Son, a fool with a plan can beat a genius with no plan any day.’ Right now, when it comes to America and our effort to achieve greater energy security, we’re a foolish nation without a plan.
If it were up to me, America’s energy plan would have ….”
- T. Boone Pickens, “Leadership Absent on Energy Plan,” Omaha World-Herald, May 1, 2013.
“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine the can design.”
- F. A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (1988), p. 76.
T. Boone Pickens, the author and marketer of three national energy plans (see yesterday’s post), is a “man of system,” to use Adam Smith’s phrase from the mid-18th century.
Pickens’s grandiose scheme to use the powers of government to implement wind-for-natural-gas in electrical generation and natural-gas-for-oil in transportation (Pickens I) inspired Carl Pope, then head of the Sierra Club, to state back in 2008: “To put it plainly, T. Boone Pickens is out to save America.”  Plans II and III dropped wind (when business Boone did) to just push natural gas in the transportation market.
To plan or not plan–that is the wrong question in the realm of human action. Purposeful human action is planning. A central plan enforced by government (which by definition has a legal monopoly on the initiation of force) precludes planning on the individual and group level done by voluntary means.
Thus T. Boone Pickens has fundamentally misconstrued the question of planning which is who will plan: the market through private property, voluntary exchange, and the rule of law or government through its “experts” and legal monopoly on coercion.
Early Warming: Adam Smith [Read more →]
May 15, 2013 3 Comments
That starts to talk about a plan. He’s going to fund something to start something…. Make a plan … and do something different.
And low and behold, Pickens is crusading with yet another energy plan, his third in the last six years. As before, his animus is against Big Oil (see Appendix) and his fondness for personal dollars.
Pickens Plan III proposes that the federal government sell oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to jump-start the costly transition from oil to natural gas to fuel transportation. We don’t know the details yet, but T. Boone in March began pushing his new plan in the national media and local press.
Pending a legislative proposal with the specifics, two points can be made. First, the federal government should not be in the business of picking fossil-fuel winners. Second, the idea of selling federal oil should be elevated to a national debate to privatize the SPR to both reduce the federal budget and demote Washington from the day-to-day energy market. [Read more →]
May 14, 2013 1 Comment
The Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED) is an informal coalition of individuals and organizations interested in improving national, state, and local energy & environmental policies. Our basic position is that technical matters like these should be addressed by using real science.
Instead of a science-based approach, our energy and environmental policies are typically written by those who stand to economically or politically profit from them. As a result, anything genuinely science-based in these policies is usually inadvertent and accidental.
A key element of AWED’s efforts is public education. Towards that end, every 3 weeks we put together a newsletter to balance what is found in the mainstream media about energy and environmental matters. We appreciate MasterResource for their assistance in publishing this information.
A fascinating technical study at Phys.org concludes that turbines have adverse consequences to grid stability. For example:
“wind turbines do not only transfer wind intermittency to the grid, but they also amplify it… The data also shows that wind power intermittency does not only affect the output of individual turbines, as previous research has shown, but it also extends to entire wind farms, which has not been observed before.”
May 13, 2013 4 Comments