Tag: Energy

New York’s Pipeline Fiasco

 

New York faces serious energy shortages today, largely due to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s insistence on banning fracking and blocking construction of new pipelines to import cheap natural gas from outside the state. He hopes to wean the state off of fossil fuels, which are said to drive global warming. Though the evidence concerning global warming and its deleterious consequences is quite thin, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the dire predictions of climate disaster are correct. If so, it becomes even more imperative to pick both the right sources of energy and the right way to get them to market. Solar and wind are too erratic to do the job, so we have to depend on some form of fossil fuel. Natural gas is high on that list. Unfortunately, the retrograde environmental policies of politicians like Cuomo is a key reason why New York faces an escalating energy predicament.

Today’s deep fear of climate change unthinkingly translates into abiding hostility toward any new technology for extracting and shipping fossil fuels. This regressive approach gets it backwards. As a rule of thumb, every new technological breakthrough results in higher levels of production with lower levels of risk. Therefore, it follows that we should encourage the displacement of old technology to capture these gains. The ideal way to proceed considers both the amount of pollution taken out of circulation and the amount of pollution added.

In most cases, new technology is better in every relevant dimension. Accordingly, the process of permit review under both federal and state environmental statutes should apply the same output measure to both systems and approve any permit for new technology that takes older technology offline. It should be evident that the easiest targets for displacement are the oldest, and least efficient, facilities.

Of Energy and Slavery

 

Democratic candidates are demonizing the energy industry–Bernie Sanders even called for the criminal prosecution of fossil fuel executives–believing or at least implying that America uses fossil fuels only because it is to the benefit of these companies, never considering the vital service that these fuels provide to millions of Americans and indeed to the entire world…which reminds me of an earlier article and discussion.

Christopher Hayes, writing at The Nation in 2014, asserted a connection between human slavery–in particular, human slavery as practiced in the US prior to 1865–and the use of fossil fuels. Specifically, he argues that the reluctance of energy companies and their investors to lose the financial value of their fossil-fuel assets is directly analogous to the reluctance of pre-Civil-War southern slaveholders to lose the financial value of their human “property.”He also asserts that environmentalists attacking the use of fossil fuels are in a moral and tactical position similar to that of the pre-war Abolitionists.

His article reminded me of a few things.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America oppose pretty much every big government plan being pushed by Bernie Sanders but they welcome his honesty that big tax hikes will be required to pay for his agenda. They also cringe as Department of Energy tarnishes a wonderful program to become a more prominent supplier of natural gas to other nations by referring to the gas as “molecules of freedom.” And Jim and Greg discuss Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise to confirm a Supreme Court nominee if a vacancy opens up in 2020.

President Trump Rocks Out with Real Heavy Metal Band

 

The afternoon of 20 March 2019, President Trump rocked out with a group that makes real heavy metal. The event was different from other presidential appearances, but featured many of the same themes. Two themes, American defense revival and energy dominance, stood in stark contrast to news from Germany. In the midst of the prepared remarks, with the usual riffs, President Trump elaborated on his criticism of the politician John McCain, who the appointed Senator from Arizona, Martha McSally, is unconditionally defending, raising questions about her viability or suitability in 2020. President Trump’s visit to the Lima Army Tank Plant was a great political messaging success on several levels.

The setting:

The Lima Army Tank Plant, in Lima, Ohio, is where the components of the M1 tank, in all its variations, are assembled into a heavy metal instrument that can rock your world. The plant has a uniformed Army oversight contingent, partnered with a skilled civilian workforce centered around proud UAW workers. President Trump spoke to the assembled plant crew, to repeated cheers from these skilled tradesmen, proud UAW members.

Member Post

 

In today’s Urbane Cowboys podcast, we discuss the state of energy and the politics intertwined in the United States and around the globe with Robert Bryce, Senior Fellow of the Manhattan Institute. Robert Bryce has been writing about the energy sector since high school and has had more than 1,000 articles published, many of which […]

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Quote of the Day: TANSTAAFL

 

“There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” — Robert Heinlein

I recall the first time I was exposed to this expression was during the science fiction binge reading period of my late teens. It was from reading a novel by Robert Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Mr. Heinlein was a Naval Academy graduate, and after experiencing health issues left the Navy and did some additional graduate work in physics, which I am sure in hindsight influenced his notion that the universe gives nothing for free, and wound it into his opines on the nature of men, and well … nature.

Why do I think exposure to college-level physics engenders a viewpoint of a curmudgeonly universe? Because after three semesters of physics, and then later grinding through, in greater computational depth, three more semesters of thermodynamics, it becomes clear that TANSTAAFL is in fact built into the operating system of the universe. Every exchange of one form of energy to another comes with a price. Every exchange of matter to energy, or energy back to matter (truly an exorbitant exchange) comes with a cost. This theory is enshrined in Laws of Thermodynamics and here are the rules as approximately coined by my introductory Physics class professor, who was riffing off Ginsberg’s parody theorem, which helps you get your mind around the “big picture.”

Victor Davis Hanson considers the accomplishments of the Trump Administration’s first year, looks at the president’s shortcomings, and assesses what’s next for both the Democratic opposition and Never Trump Republicans.

On this AEI Events Podcast, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar HE Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani joined AEI to discuss recent developments in the ongoing Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) crisis and US-Qatar relations.

His Excellency began with opening remarks discussing new agreements between Qatar and the US on topics of cyber security, trade and investment, human trafficking, and joint defense. He addressed Qatar’s resilience toward the diplomatic and economic blockade spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that began in June 2017, while calling for an immediate strategic dialogue to agree on common principles of coexistence among the GCC member states.

Richard Epstein analyzes a lawsuit several major cities are bringing against oil companies over climate change, explains the economic and scientific considerations necessary to seriously grapple with the issue, and describes the libertarian approach to environmental harms.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke for taking steps towards allowing energy exploration and development on more than 90 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf. They also fume at President Trump for taking a week when he could be highlighting his support of Iranian protesters, the Dow crossing 25,000 and expanding American energy production and instead ranting about nuclear button sizes and trying to order a book publisher not to release a book critical of his presidency. And they laugh at the liberals in the media and beyond who believed an online parody – about Trump being obsessed with the “Gorilla Channel” up to 17 hours at a time – was actually in that new book.

Member Post

 

Some non-physicts I know are excited by this graphene energy story. It seems to propose the possibility of perpetual subatomic friction of graphite-based materials which could endlessly supply energy and perhaps be scaled to suit a variety of applications. Is that correct? It sounds too good to be true, so it probably is. Over the […]

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Why the US Will Become the “Undisputed Global Oil and Gas leader for Decades”

 

This new analysis and forecast from the Energy Information Agency, reflected in the above chart, is amazing:

A remarkable ability to unlock new resources cost-effectively pushes combined United States oil and gas output to a level 50% higher than any other country has ever managed; already a net exporter of gas, the US becomes a net exporter of oil in the late 2020s. In our projections, the 8 mb/d rise in US tight oil output from 2010 to 2025 would match the highest sustained period of oil output growth by a single country in the history of oil markets. A 630 bcm increase in US shale gas production over the 15 years from 2008 would comfortably exceed the previous record for gas.

Junk Obama’s Clean Power Plan

 

In 2015, the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its Clean Power Plan (CPP) that prescribed detailed regulations for the control of carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-powered power plants as part of its effort to control climate change. Earlier this month, the Trump EPA under Scott Pruitt issued its own proposed rule to undo the Obama administration’s guidelines without a commitment to replace them with a substitute set of rules dedicated to the same end. In response to Pruitt’s major shift in policy direction, states like Massachusetts and New York are suing to prevent the new legal regime from going into effect.

Pruitt’s reversal in environmental policy raises two issues—one scientific and one legal. The scientific issue revolves around the 2009 endangerment findings from an Obama administration study, which determined that carbon dioxide emissions are a pollutant whose emissions levels must be regulated under the Clean Air Act (CAA) because “greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare.” Other chemicals on the list of six designated pollutants—like methane and nitrous oxide, with known toxicities—surely deserve that designation, but the Obama report overstates the risks of carbon dioxide to the environment.

Although that report acknowledges that the relevant science is evolving, it does not recognize that new information about climate change could weaken the case for regulating carbon dioxide. For example, the 2009 report assumes that modest increases in temperature are likely to create dangers to crops by shortening the growing season. But more careful studies since that time have shown that the increase in carbon dioxide has resulted, as Matt Ridley reports, in a dramatic increase in the greenery on the earth’s surface of about 14 percent over the last 30 years. This far outpaces any supposed harm that might come, as the EPA report suggests, from “weed and pest growth,” which are best controlled by specific technologies and not by top-down policies addressing climate change generally.

Bill welcomes the new Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, to the show and the two discuss the administration’s efforts to boost American energy exports, including the major announcement of a new deal to export U.S. coal to Ukraine. Bill also shares his own thoughts on the wild week in Washington politics and the selection of Gen. Kelly to be the new White House Chief of Staff. Then, Bill talks with Steve Wynn, Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, about his new game-changing resort in Boston and how he continues to stay ahead of his competition.

The Resurrection of US Nuclear Power

 

Harry Reid almost single-handedly crippled nuclear power in this country through his efforts to block the licensing of the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. In spite of a the safety evaluation report and the environmental impact statement published by the NRC that stated the repository would be sound for the 1-million-year period of waste isolation required in the regulations, licensing the repository has remained in limbo.

It wasn’t all Harry Reid’s fault. For a number of reasons, the public has been uneasy about nuclear power. To a great extent, this ambivalence has been due to the nuclear industry’s pitiful job of educating the public. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island dominate public perception; people don’t know the difference between nuclear weapons and nuclear power. In addition, the building of plants has become prohibitively expensive, particularly without government involvement.

But, perhaps the tide is turning. On June 28, the House Energy and Commerce Committee brought HR 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amends Act of 2017, out of committee with a 49-4 vote. The Act now goes to the full House.

Trump’s Speech Should Have Been About Nuclear Power, Not the Paris Climate Agreement

 

Maybe the best reason, such as it is, to support American withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement has nothing to do with the climate. Under President Obama, the United States agreed to a de facto treaty without submitting it to the Senate for ratification. As the editors at National Review rightly note, “In a government of laws, process matters.” Government certainly doesn’t need more unilateralism by its chief executive.

Unfortunately, the actual reasons driving withdrawal had more to do with populist politics, nationalism, partisanship, and unreasonable disbelief in climate science than constitutional conservatism. Oh, and plenty of reflexive anti-Obamaism in there, too.

What I worry about are a) the risks from doing something new to the planet, and b) that these sorts of risks — “arising in complex systems, full of interdependencies, feedback loops, and nonlinear responses” and taking place over a long period of time — are ones policymakers and voters have a tough time grappling with.

Trump Dismantles Obama Regs on Energy, Environment

 

President Trump issued a sweeping executive order Tuesday to unravel several Obama-era environmental and energy regulations. Signed at the EPA headquarters, the order calls for an immediate review of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which restricted greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired plants.

“We’re going to have safety, we’re going to have clean water, we’re going to have clean air,” Trump said, “but so many [regulations] are unnecessary, so many are job-killing.” He added, “Together we are going to start a new energy revolution.”

Fox News provided more detail on the executive order: