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Category — Energy Postmodernism

California: Climate Policy Postmodernism (all-pain, no-gain for feel-good elitism)

“There is a vast difference between doing the right thing and doing the thing right. In this case, CARB is implementing AB32 in ways that ignore current realities and that likely make matters worse…. It is time for a major reset of the underlying law and its regulatory implementation.” – T. Tanton

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is all-in, damn-the-torpedoes relating to AB 32, the state’s 2006 anti-global warming law, even while acknowledging that it will drive up the cost of energy. CARB chair Mary Nichols confirmed the start of a statewide cap-and-trade auction system November 14 under which industrial firms will buy and sell emission rights for pollutants–despite receiving unrebutted testimony from manufacturers and business owners about the very onerous, and even devastating, impact of moving forward with the auction.


When the California’s Global Warming Solutions Act was enacted in 2006, things were quite different. Electricity prices were being pushed down by the early expansion of natural gas plenty. Other states and nations were considering similar climate change programs, and, in fact, the Western Climate Initiative set up by Western Governors looked to increase trade in emission allowances. Unemployment in the State was at about 7 percent, and the foreclosure debacle hadn’t yet hit (which would drive many cities to the brink of bankruptcy).

The prospect of “leakage” was known, but not the extent. Too much faith was held in the Hobson’s choice of cap-and-trade as opposed to the more draconian option of command-and-control regulation. And finally, national cap-and-trade seemed to be coming.

My how things have changed—except for the commitment to economy destroying state policies. The most notable change is that, nationwide, greenhouse gas emissions have already dropped to 1992 levels, without interventionist policies. California’s carbon intensity has improved 21 percent since the turn of the century. Compare this to AB32′s goal of reaching 1990 statewide emissions by 2020. [Read more →]

October 4, 2012   7 Comments

Think, Want Competitive Renewables: Travis Bradford gets Spacy at THE ECONOMIST

Travis Bradford, founder and president of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development, joins the postmodern crusade for the affirmative motion over at The Economist magazine: “This house believes that subsidising renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels.” (Voting is in its last day.)

Let’s assume (not debate) that fossil fuels are unsustainable, he says. And let’s just believe that a lot of government this-or-that can make the dilute dense and the intermittent firm. Build it, and they will come … or coerce and it will all work out.

Bradford asserts at the beginning:

In an effort to refocus the debate on whether subsidies are a good way to wean the world off of fossil fuels, it might be useful to frame the alternatives instead of rehashing the same old arguments about whether we should. As the moderator says, we absolutely should—full stop. Now on to more earthly concerns.

Space Cadet?

Sadly, energy commentary is dominated by general writing filled with vague assertions and assumptions, apple and orange (or apple seed and apple orchard) and inappropriate analogies. A careful reading of Travis Bradford’s piece reveals a number of shortcomings. [Read more →]

November 17, 2011   3 Comments