“A review of energy developments in 1976, published in RFF’s Resources magazine (Jan–March 1977, p. 3) reached a Hotelling-like conclusion: ‘Nonrenewable and exhaustible fuels supply most of our needs now,’ the staff article stated, ‘but they will be increasingly expensive to obtain and use, until, around some distant corner, they will be replaced’.”
In its first half century, RFF’s central message has gone from energy optimism to energy pessimism, complete with an embrace of major government intervention in energy markets. The transformation began in the 1970s with a fixity/depletion view of mineral resources, which spawned conservationism (less energy usage for its own sake, with a government role).
And when the energy-short 1970s turned into the energy surplus of the 1980s, RFF’s angst shifted to issues surrounding a human influence on global climate, primarily from carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas.…
“Your paper inspired me to re-review some of the congressional testimony of the renewable interests to see whether the litmus test of success was a cost target or more generally, competitiveness and market penetration. I think it is clearly the latter.”
“Imagine the coach of a football team justifying a perennial losing record by telling the administration that his players are getting bigger and faster …. Surely the administration would respond—’yes, we know the general trend and our participation in it. But we want real victories, not moral victories’.”
– Letter from Robert Bradley to Dallas Burtraw, January 1999.
It was arguably the very top intellectual research paper to justify past and continuing U.S. government support for renewable energies at the time of its publication (1999). I had a chance to rebut, working at Enron (as director, public policy analysis) that was a financial supporter of Resources for the Future (RFF), as well as a business leader in renewables.…