A Free-Market Energy Blog

Political Economy Energy Terms

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 7, 2022

I am writing a new book, Energy Crisis and Leviathan, that summarizes the history of government intervention with energy during wartime and other energy emergencies. To better understand these crises, I review the intervening periods of relative normalcy.

My effort is not a treatise but an overview that relies on key political economy terms to best understand the unhampered market process versus interventionism. The terms below will be referred to in future posts here at MasterResource given the current energy emergencies and habit of government to expand rather than contract.

This is a working draft. The reader is invited to suggest, correct, or present new terms to this list of 21.

Border adjustments: Nation-to-nation tariffs to prevent some jurisdictions from disadvantaging others in the global quest to price or ration carbon dioxide. (Cf. cap-and-trade, carbon tax.)

Btu tax: An energy tax based on the heating value of different fuels at the source. (Cf. carbon tax, energy tax.)

Cap-and-trade: A program to reduce emissions whereby a maximum allowable is set and parties can buy or sell credits based their assignment. Such a cap is intended to create a price for the particular emission in question. (Cf. decarbonization, carbon tax.)

Carbon tax: A levy on CO2 emissions that is intended to reduce the quantity taxed. (Cf. cap-and-trade.)

Climate alarmism: The belief that human activities are or soon will be endangering the ability of humans to thrive, or even live, within Earth’s climate. (Cf. energy transition.)

Conservationism: Government programs to reduce demand, often associated with commodity shortfalls from price controls. (Cf. gapism, productionism.)

Decarbonization: A policy of reducing the usage of carbon-based energies (oil, natural gas, coal).

Deep Decarbonization: A policy of electrifying homes, businesses, and transportation to back out natural gas and oil.

Deep Ecology: A philosophy valuing plants and animals as much as, or more than, humankind and in which nature is considered to be in its optimal condition when there is no anthropogenic influence.

Energy security: The ability of a country to weather external interruptions of energy supply, especially cutoffs by unfriendly countries (aka, energy independence).

Energy tax: A levy that directly increases the price of energy. (Cf. BTU tax, carbon tax.)

Energy transition: A government- and business-led substitution of wind power, solar power, and electrification for coal, petroleum, and natural gas. (Cf. decarbonization, net zero)

ESG: Environmental, Social, and Governance investing. Replaced CSR, or corporate social responsibility.

Environmental Justice: Fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. 

Green energy: Wind power and solar power, as opposed to carbon-based mineral energies. Hydropower, geothermal, and biomass are also sometimes considered “green” energy. Most recently, nuclear power has been considered green.

Green Energy Crisis: Supply discouragement and price spikes from anti-fossil-fuel policies.

Green-energy Industrial Policy: A central organizing principle for the economy based on wind and solar on the electricity side and electrification otherwise for transportation, business, and residential usage.

Greenflation: Higher prices from “green” energy directly via increased costs and indirectly through monetization of government debt associated with green-energy policies.

Hot oil: Crude oil produced at the wellhead in excess of permitted allowables as established by state agencies. “Hot gasoline” is gasoline refined from “hot oil.”

Market-demand proration: Programs, typically by U.S. states, that limit wellhead oil or gas production to an agency-assigned “market demand.”

Mises Interventionist Thesis: The propensity of government intervention to expand as the result of its own shortcomings. (Cf. gapism, productionism, conservationism.)

Net zero: The goal to eliminate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a future year for a company or jurisdiction.

Peak Gas: A forecast maximum of production at a particular time due to geologic and economic constraints. (Cf. peak oil.)

Peak Oil: A forecast maximum of production at a particular time due to geologic and economic constraints. (Cf. peak gas.)

Peak-oil demand. A forecast of a maximum usage based on either supply economics or public policies intended to reduce demand. (Cf. peak gas, peak gas)

Productionism: Government programs to increase supply, often associated with commodity shortfalls from price controls. (Cf. gapism, conservationism.)

Soft energy path: An approach to future energy use that is based on renewable energy and conservation, as opposed to fossil fuels and nuclear power.


  1. Ed Reid  


    Net Zero: Remove the words “growth in” from the definition.

    The goal is to eliminate emissions, not emissions growth, although that obviously must happen first.


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