Late Night: Wind Power Officially Cheaper Than Coal

By: Sunday October 6, 2013 8:00 pm

Lost in all the news torrent on the shutdown and debt ceiling debate is this bit of good news: “The U.S. Energy Information Administration produces an ‘Annual Energy Outlook’ that attempts to predict costs for power plants that come online in 2018. Cheap natural gas has substantially changed the equation in recent years, because it is the least expensive energy source, by far. Then comes onshore wind (offshore wind is frightfully expensive), hydroelectric, geothermal, and then coal.”


President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Not Even Close

By: Monday August 12, 2013 7:15 pm

In June, after more than five years as president, President Obama finally proposed a climate action plan for America. True to form, the president gave an eloquent speech, with strong words for those still in denial about the severity of the crisis we face: “We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.”

Unfortunately for all of us, the blueprint he presented is more PR than plan.

The Pileup Behind the Fiscal Slope, and the Consequences of Inaction

By: Friday December 21, 2012 10:23 am

Say what you will about the 2010 deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, which helped to set up what we’re seeing this month. But there was definitely a virtue in getting it done by early December, allowing for a productive lame duck session that repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, passed the New START arms reduction treaty, and several other measures. Because this entire lame duck has been consumed with fiscal slope negotiations, and really only the tax rate and social insurance part of it, bills that might have had a chance to pass through Congress if the pipeline were unclogged instead remain dormant. And unlike 2010, the bills in question in 2012 are more of the must-pass variety.

Wind Energy’s Boom and Bust Cycles

By: Thursday October 18, 2012 2:15 pm

Tim McDonnell has a good, depressing piece on the wind power industry scrambling to extend the production tax credit, and the carnage that will face the industry if they fail. This has been turned into an electoral issue because of the prominence of the industry in swing states like Iowa and Colorado, and because Mitt Romney has taken a rare stand against the tax credit, in contrast to the Obama Administration’s desire for an extension. But I think the more important thing to stress here is how our industrial policy, as it were, particularly on energy, is so detrimental.

The Depressing Energy Debate in America

By: Wednesday October 17, 2012 10:00 am

Anyone hoping to see an end to our policies of encouraging the burning of fossil fuels certainly winced at the energy section of last night’s debate, which did not mention climate change but did feature both candidates trying to convince the country that they would deliver more coal and oil-based domestic energy.

Greentech Industries Imperiled by Anti-Stimulus, Removal of Federal Supports

By: Friday September 21, 2012 5:00 pm

One of the highlights of the stimulus package, according to Michael Grunwald’s book The New New Deal, was the $90 billion in investment in green energy. This kick-started a moribund industry and more than doubled the output of renewables as a percentage of overall energy.

What it did not do is secure the place of renewables in the US energy mix.

Romney Releases Energy Plan

By: Thursday August 23, 2012 6:48 am

Mitt Romney released an energy plan yesterday that some outlets report sets a goal of energy independence by 2020. That’s not quite right. The goal expressed here is “North American energy independence” by 2020, and when you consider that one of our biggest if not our biggest energy trading partner is Canada, and that Mexico ships a fair bit of oil as well, that really says very little.

The white paper shifts back and forth between “North American” energy independence and just “energy independence,” seeking to blur that distinction. But one of the key elements of the plan is a “North American Energy Partnership,” which mainly consists of approving the Keystone XL pipeline and any other pipelines Canada and Mexico want to build. There’s also a whiff of the idea that we should gouge Canada and Mexico and purchase their oil at a discount. The white paper makes this outlandish statement that “America still imports more oil from OPEC than it does from Canada and Mexico,” when OPEC consists of practically every oil producing nation on Earth, with much greater capacity than the two North American countries, and yet it’s STILL pretty close, with the US getting 37% of its oil resources from Canada and Mexico, compared to about 50% from OPEC.

Governors Ask EPA to Suspend Corn-Based Ethanol Mandate

By: Thursday August 16, 2012 3:37 pm

The Obama campaign has responded by saying that the President is a strong supporter of ethanol as a driver of the economy. The President was speaking in Iowa at the time. But even if you support ethanol – and studies show the corn-based version costs us more in energy to harvest than it’s worth – you cannot deny the economic harm created by the mandate at this time, given the drought conditions. The price spikes have caused a severe hardship for livestock producers in particular who use corn to feed their animals. The head of the UN’s food program, Jose Graziano da Silva, also called for a suspension of the ethanol mandate.

Lakeside Diner

By: Tuesday August 14, 2012 4:45 am

A variety of links to articles/interviews/speeches/videos on current issues that may be of interest.

Romney: Delay the Trigger Cuts

By: Saturday August 4, 2012 10:00 am

There was a big breakthrough in the Presidential race, with implications for US fiscal policy, that sort of slipped by unnoticed on a Friday in August. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, argued for a one-year delay in the trigger, the automatic cuts to defense and discretionary spending set to go at the end of the year. Importantly, he did not identify an offset. He merely said that the trigger ought to be delayed.

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