12:03 PM, Nov 6, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
President Obama announced today to much fanfare (and to much angst on the right) that he is killing the proposed KeystoneXL pipeline, which would transport Canadian tar sands oil through the United States. But as much as he would like to claim the mantle of environmentalism (this is the man who promised to slow the rise of the oceans, after all) the president is giving himself a little too much credit here. For President Obama is not killing Keystone; the economics of oil are.
Tar sands oil is remarkably expensive to cultivate; according to State Department figures, energy companies require oil prices of somewhere between $65 and $75 a barrel to break even on tar sands mining. Oil is currently trading at less than $50 a barrel and there’s increasing speculation that the stuff will remain cheap for a long time to come. The plunge in oil prices is already affecting tar sands production: Earlier this year, Shell cancelled plans for a major investment in the tar sands. Nor are they the only ones calling off future development.
The plunge in oil prices and fall-off in investment means that Keystone simply no longer makes economic sense.
As Pete Howard of the Canadian Energy Research Institute told the MIT Technology Review early this year, of oil prices remain around $50 a barrel, “the necessity for Keystone XL may disappear . . . We’ve got rail [transportation] right now as a safety valve, and if we build up rail capacity to carry three-quarters of a million barrels, that pretty much takes up all the projects that are under construction right now.”
The president may as well take credit for the sun rising in the east this morning.
12:01 AM, Jul 11, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Pope, President, Prices and Paris. That covers just about everything you need to know about the next step in the battle to prevent what has come to be called climate change, the title now preferred to “global warming” by those who worry that CO2 emissions are causing, er, global warming.
9:04 AM, Apr 20, 2015 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The president is taking Air Force One to Florida this week. He is going there, unsurprisingly, to make a speech. On Earth Day, about climate change. He could make the speech in Washington, of course, but he needs a prop—in this case, will be the Everglades, which he describes as “one of the most special places in our country.
2:43 PM, Dec 16, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
As if the plunging price of oil were not enough to doom the market for electric and hybrid automobiles, there is this from ABC News:
A carbon tax won’t happen without some give from the left. Nov 10, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 09 • By ELI LEHRER
Despite growing support from some conservative policy wonks, the idea of taxing carbon dioxide emissions, even as an alternative to the sort of heavy-handed greenhouse regulations promulgated by the Obama administration, has failed to garner much enthusiasm on the right.
The idea remains almost untouchable for Republican politicians, and the notion that there’s any chance that could change in the near future has been dismissed as “wishful thinking” by left-wing outlets like Mother Jones.
12:00 AM, Sep 28, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Last week was good for environmentalists, and perhaps even for the environment. President Obama doubled down on his effort to increase the likelihood of the success of the 2015 UN climate change conference in Paris, claiming the U.S. has “a special responsibility to lead. That’s what great nations do.” He took the occasion of the UN meetings in New York to put the heat on China, the world’s largest polluter, to match the steps the U.S. is taking to reduce its CO2 emissions.
Jun 16, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 38 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Scrapbook was dimly aware that the U.S. Army was reengineering its ammo but still was taken aback to read that it took 15 years and an estimated $100 million to come up with a new 5.56 NATO round for our infantrymen. It cost so much and took so long because, you know, it’s not easy being green. Today’s bullet is lead-free—made from copper with a steel penetrator.
2:48 PM, Jun 4, 2014 • By ADAM J. WHITE
"Everything reminds Milton of the money supply," Robert Solow once said of his fellow Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman at a symposium. "Well, everything reminds me of sex, but I keep it out of the paper."
And the benefits.12:00 AM, May 24, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
The fracking euphoria had to end. For three reasons. First, the claims for its benefits were wildly exaggerated, ensuring eventual disappointment as even a cheerful reality could not meet the imaginings of the pro-fossil-fuel gang. Second, environmental groups were not going to sit idly by, their formidable political weapons holstered, while fossil fuels received a new lease on life in America.
2:38 PM, May 7, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The administration has made climate change its signature issue until something better comes along. This means that the the EPA will be walking point. After all, no new environmental legislation will be coming out of Congress. President Obama didn’t ever try for that when his party had majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Of course the weather was nicer back then, so Washington may not have felt the urgency.
8:26 AM, Apr 22, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The Keystone pipeline has been under study for five years and will be studied further. It will be built, or scuttled, when the politics are right.
10:01 AM, Mar 12, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new Gallup poll shows the American people say climate change is one of the problems they worry about the least.
The polling firm asked Americans how much they worry about 15 separate issues facing the country, with the economy, federal spending, and health care ranking at the top. Fifty-nine percent said the economy and jobs were an issue they worried about "a great deal," and 58 percent and 57 percent said the same for federal spending and health-care affordability, respectively.
4:10 PM, Mar 11, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Harry Reid claims that recent bad weather is more evidence climate change exists and needs a response from the federal government. Reid's comments today come just after the Senate's all-night "talkathon," during which several Democratic senators spoke back-to-back about climate change.
7:44 AM, Jan 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In recent days, the new U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, took to Twitter to express deep concern about the practice of a local Japanese tradition.
"Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries," Kennedy tweeted.
8:01 AM, Jan 15, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The EPA awarded $461,368 in grants this week for various environmental projects along the U.S.-Mexico border. About half of the funds went to projects in Calexico, CA and Phoenix, AZ, but the remaining $230,000 went to two cities on the Mexican side of the border, Nogales and Ensenada.