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On Will the U.S. Comply with President Obama's Paris COP21 INDC Pledge?

Last year when President Obama made his initial INDC commitment to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26% - 28%, China announced capping their greenhouse gas emissions at some to-be-determined level, but greater than today, in 2030.  Refer to a Whitehouse Fact Sheet.  China’s so called to-be-defined commitment became increasingly uncertain when the NY Times recently reported they have been substantially under reporting their coal consumption by at least 17%, or a level approaching and almost totally cancelling out President Obama’s INDC submission.  These highly unreliable political promises will probably make the COP21 agreement just another less than creditable action by the UNFCCC and do little or nothing to affect the current 2 degree centigrade global warming increase computer model projection from becoming a reality later this century.

November 19, 2015    View Comment    

On One Million Tonnes of CO2

The only initiatives that make CCS technology installations economically feasible, other than current EOR markets, will be some combination of government subsidies and/or carbon taxes.  Realistically, to make a CCS plant economic it will likely require carbon taxes on the order of $100 per MT or 10-times current world markets.  The Shell project appears to have taken advantage of a past insitu tar sands production project in order to store the carbon dioxide underground in the same buried space created by displacing and recovering the tar sands oil.  Yes, this operation does reduce the full-lifecycle carbon emissions of the synbit/dilbit Canadian heavy crude oil production, but this operation will be limited by the future production of tar sands oils and available buried-open geological space to store future carbon dioxide injection.  This same strategy could be used within the U.S. where natural gas and fracking oil productions create other possible underground storage capacities.  However, a carbon dioxide infrastructure pipeline transportation system will be needed to transport this GHG from its source, such as a coal power plant with CCS, to the vacated and available underground storage.  Another issue is the risk of contaminating drinking water in the carbon dioxide.  This is not an issue of carbonated water only flowing from the tap.  The risk is the fact that carbonated water is highly corrosive and will leach or dissolve hazardous amount of heavy toxic metals from the underground rock formations, which risks poisoning local residents drinking water.

November 19, 2015    View Comment    

On Maybe It's Time for the Department of Justice to Investigate Restraint of Trade by Nuclear Plant Operators

It will be interesting to see Consumer and Regulator reactions to MA’s plans to access Canadian hydropower imports, which will directionally enable shutdown of this nuclear plant in the near future.  MA Consumers will of course pay the increased power bills.  Refer to a recent Platt’s article on the subject.   The State’s Power Grid’s reliability could also become an increasing issue particularly if the NIMBY special interests are successful in blocking or substantially delaying access to needed Canadian Hydropower, or blocking the installation of required new power cross-border/New England transmission lines.

October 23, 2015    View Comment    

On Republican Leaders Badly Out Of Step With Party Regulars

Your referenced poll’s data is obviously another example of the normal behavior of most U.S. Consumers: “they poll green but don’t buy green”.  This most recent behavior example begins with the rapid increase of lower mileage trucks and SUV’s purchases.  If Republicans (and Democrats) needed to support renewing the past very generous wind/solar power subsidies, which will most likely add further to the growing U.S. Federal debt, then why did the EPA recently implement the Clean Power Plan regulation?  Since this regulation forces States’ Power Companies to substantially reduce their common and carbon emissions through installing significant increases in renewable wind & solar, why does Congress even need to consider renewed and potentially wasteful government subsidies?

October 23, 2015    View Comment    

On Could Congress's Lifting the Crude Oil Export Ban Threaten U.S. Energy Security?


A few months ago the Obama Administration stated they oppose Congress passing a bill to lift the export ban.  The primary justification was that “it’s the Commerce Dept.’s job, not Congress’s”.  It sounds like Obama is more concurred with U.S. energy security than Congress.


October 3, 2015    View Comment    

On FASTER Carbon Pricing Mechanisms


Perhaps a more accurate carbon pricing acronym would be UNFAIR


  • U – Universally unaffordable to Developing Countries.

  • N – Not achievable with existing costly & inefficient renewable energy technologies.

  • F – Far from fair to all Middle and Lower Class individuals in Developed Countries.

  • A – Acceptable primarily to the Upper Class Rich, Bureaucrats and Dictatorships.

  • I – Increasing the costs of fossil fuels will create more burdens on most weak economies.

  • R – Reducing the relative costs of renewables vs. fossil fuels thru taxing and wasteful subsidies has a small probability of achieving the promised benefits.


October 3, 2015    View Comment    

On How Shale Reduced U.S. Energy Risks from Hurricanes


No argument that the amount of heat available in our oceans is enormous.  The problem is the relatively small heat gradients and the enormous cost to capture the heat and convert it into usable energy to displace existing higher energy intensity sources beginning with fossil fuels, and currently available hydropower, wind and solar, and possibly developing hydro-current power generation technologies.


October 3, 2015    View Comment    

On The Problematic Governance of Climate Engineering


What do you mean that climate engineering won’t fix climate change problems such as ocean acidification?  We could seed and fertilize the oceans to grow substantially increased levels of bacteria and algae that would feed off the ocean’s increasing carbonic acid levels and convert it into organic biomass.  Increased oceans biomass could then feed a growing saltwater fish populations, which could in turn feed a growing world human population.  This strategy could be more feasible and cost effective compared other climate engineering proposed solutions such as to installing some form of umbrellas or light diffusers above the upper stratosphere;  .  Of course the major issue could be the growing world human population and growing energy/food consumption.  But this issue is obviously too politically sensitive for organizations such as the UNFCCC or most Countries to seriously consider.  Only China has ever actually addressed this excessive population growth issue;


October 1, 2015    View Comment    

On Low Oil Prices: Why Worry?


Low energy prices definitely and historically impacts the economy and level of affordable/sustainable oil production.  Shell temporarily discontinued their Arctic production project is because market prices don’t support this higher cost development project.  US domestic production is in decline since low market prices don’t support many more costly and less efficient hydraulic fracturing projects in the lower-48.  Somewhat surprising is the fact that lower cost energy’s impact on the economy’s performance or growth has been insignificant thus far.  Obviously there are other factors that are constraining a more healthy economy and its growth.  Perhaps increased and excessive government regulations that make developing new and the growth of existing companies less attractive today than existed before the most recent US and World economic recessions.


October 1, 2015    View Comment    

On Change Ahead: Cutting Carbon from U.S. Highways


Obviously the solution to reducing U.S. on-road carbon emissions is consuming less petroleum motor fuels.  What this article and referenced study over look is the fact that cellulosic biofuels have negative NEV’s or consume more fossil fuels energy than is produced in the biofuel finished product, EV’s are hardly carbon free including the full lifecycle emissions and power generation sources, and the fact that the behavioral change begins with substantially reduced vehicle usage, or VMT’s.  What’s the odds of U.S. residents largely getting out of the vehicles and staying at home most the year in the future?  If social media is the center to your life, maybe not a big change.  If you must commute to your job, like to take vacations to see the country/world, or need to access most goods and services (food, medical care, clothing…) more than a few blocks from where you live, the assumptions used in this reduced highway carbon study may not be very feasible. 


October 1, 2015    View Comment    

On Study: Electric Vehicles Can Dramatically Reduce Carbon Pollution from Transportation, and Improve Air Quality


Yes, on a total-overall vehicle fleet basis.  But total plug-in EV sales thru August of this year was about 72,000 vehicles  out of total vehicle sales of 5,300,000 purchased by consumers during the same period.  At this rate of EV sales, including relatively slow annual increased sales in recent years, it might take more than 35 years to replace the existing 250,000,000 on-road total registered U.S. vehicle fleet.


September 20, 2015    View Comment    

On Why Carbon Pricing Matters


Perhaps another question is: What matters most?  The world’s population and level of average living standards?  Or the belief that we can tax our way to someday to reducing the population’s ability to access the carbon based energy sources that have historically enabled the world’s population growth and current average living standards?  Before the significant access and use of fossil fuels, or about 1800, the world population was limited to about a maximum of 1.0 billion.  Over the past 200 years the availability and use of fossil fuels has enabled the population to grow to over 7 billion and it is predicted to grow by another 3 billion in the next 50 years or so.  Are you suggesting the solution to climate change is reducing the world’s total population?


September 19, 2015    View Comment