Energy “Subsidies”

The Federal government is continuing its ethanol mandates in its misguided effort to clean up the fuel our cars burn as we get about our business.  In an op-ed earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal rightly decried the artificial, government-created and -propped up market in RINs, which oil refineries can trade around in order to get credit for ethanol that they’re unable to obtain and blend into the fuel they produce.  As the WSJ noted, one of several outcomes of this artificial market is this.

The core problem is that the federal government has distorted the energy market by using subsidies and mandates to support biofuels.

Private Moves and Regulations

The Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management is moving to rescind and replace an Obama administration regulation that would drastically limit methane gas emissions by companies drilling for hydrocarbons on Federal land.

While the move is salutary—the Obama regulation would have imposed too much cost, would have stunted energy innovation, and would have limited energy supply with resulting higher prices to us consumers—there’s one tidbit in the Wall Street Journal article carrying that news that needs emphasis.

Environmentalists rejected that claim [of impeding energy development] and decried the decision, pointing out that several companies had already moved on their own to start cutting methane emissions.

An Edge of the Envelope

Here’s one estimate of the cost of converting internal combustion vehicles to an all electric fleet.  Certainly, it’s a single datum, but it’s a useful one as an outer bound, plausibility estimate.  Nicola Sturgeon is Scotland’s First Minister, and she wants to replace all of Scotland’s internal combustion vehicles with electrically powered vehicles by 2032, which lends irony to the outer bound datum.  Great Britain’s green energy aficionados want to replace all of Great Britain’s internal combustion vehicles with electric ones by 2040.

Professor Jack Ponton of Edinburgh University has rudely run the numbers [emphasis in the original].

What Hath Fracking Wrought

From AEIdeas comes one indication:

AEIdeas summarized the circled section:

In 18 of the last 19 months starting in December 2015, the energy share of consumer spending has been below 4% marking a historic period of the most affordable energy in US history (annual data on energy spending back to 1929 confirms this).

That’s evil oil and gas for you—making our lives easier and making that ease cheaper.

Another Example

…of the failure of government intervention in “green” energy.  And of the lack of understanding of the problem by the participants.  This four minute video via Deutsche Welle tells the tale.

A group of Spanish farmers, in order to “improve their pensions and to do something for the environment,” banded together to build a solar farm, Spain’s biggest cooperative solar park, an operation of solar cell collectors at roughly €90,000 per module.

The central takeaway:

[T]he modern facility is currently losing money because the conservative government has drastically cut the subsidies for solar power.

It’s About Time, Ollie

In a move met by applause from at least one congressman, the Energy Department announced a pilot program for research into domestic mining of rare earth elements.

Rare earths are minerals critical to computing technologies and to various military and civilian sensor technologies.  China currently dominates the production and market for these elements, with about 85% of the world’s production from its domestic mines.

Another major source for rare earths, not yet exploited, is the South China Sea floor.  Part of the purpose of the PRC’s seizure of the South China Sea and of its island-building and militarization of those constructs is to control access to those rare earths and to reserve them for itself.

A Terrible Nightmare for Bureaucrats

Here’s Joe Pizarchik, ex- Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Director in the Interior Department, for all of the Obama years:

My biggest disappointment is a majority in Congress ignored the will of the people.  They ignored the interests of the people in coal country, they ignored the law and they put corporate money ahead of all that.

Wow.  Just wow.  Because the people, exercising their will in electing the majority of Congress—all the members of Congress, come to that, every single one of them—had their will ignored when the majority that they elected executed on their will by rejecting a bad regulation.

A Carbon Tax Proposal

No less a pair of lights than George Shultz and James Baker III have one regarding atmospheric carbon emissions.  They’re prefacing their case on their then-boss, President Ronald Reagan’s successful negotiation of the Montreal Protocol to rein in the failures of atmospheric CFCs that were destroying the ozone layer.  Not that the two have anything to do with each other, but it makes for good obfuscation.

Shultz and Baker have four “pillars” to their proposal:

Of Course It Is

Now that the Obama administration’s end is near, and a new guy is being put forward to run Obama’s EPA, that agency is changing its mind about the impact of fracking.

Fracking can affect drinking water supplies in certain circumstances….

The report, written by Environmental Protection Agency scientists, includes findings that are more open-ended than those in a draft version last year, when the agency said fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, isn’t having “widespread, systematic impacts on drinking water.”

Energy Subsidies

Here’s how they stand, via Watts Up With Thatenergysubsidies

I’m happy with eliminating energy subsidies.  Let’s get rid of all of them.