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Posts from December 0

Regulatory Reform at the Texas Railroad Commission (Part II in a series)

By Mark Miller -- October 14, 2016

“Retribution-and-restitution regulations should be favored over command-and-control. Wherever possible, regulated entities should have the flexibility and authority to find ways to prevent bad outcomes, while still assuring liability for bad outcomes or behaviors.”

Regulations that are overly complex, outdated, and obscure typically favor large well-connected entities over smaller entities and the general public. Regulations that have been on the books for decades are obvious targets to be modernized, clarified, and in some cases eliminated. Texas Railroad Commission regulations are certainly in such a state. The Commission has been promulgating oil and gas regulations for a century now. A good house cleaning is certainly in order.

Regulatory reform should start by establishing a culture of review and regular procedures for ensuring continuous re-evaluation. A sunset review policy could target something like 10% of all regulations per year, starting with the oldest ones first.…

Fossil Fuels: Abundant, Chemically Stable, Energy-dense

By Mark Miller -- October 13, 2016

“Energy fundamentals explain why oil, gas, and coal brought an end to mankind’s renewable energy era. The same fundamentals explain why decreasing the market share of fossil fuels requires so much government intervention at the expense of consumers and taxpayers.”

The use of fossil fuels grew and remained widespread for several reasons. First, they are abundant. Vast amounts of living matter on the earth accumulated over eons of time. This accumulation, combined with the ever-active nature of the earth’s surface, meant that large volumes of ancient bio-matter were captured in the earth’s crust and transformed into fossil fuels.

Secondly, hydrocarbon compounds (those consisting mainly of carbon and hydrogen) are very chemically stable. Though these compounds might change form over long periods of time and under intense pressure and temperature beneath the earth’s surface, chemical stability preserves their inherent structure and subsequent energy content.…