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« Rocky statue to return to the Philadelphia Art Museum! | Main | Officeholders in Democratic Party censor ABC movie, ‘The Path to 9-11’ »

September 07, 2006

Comments

Kevin

Good news indeed! I can't even look at KOS anymore. Good news is given a sarcastic 'whoop-dee-doo', and bad news is trumpetted as proof that Bush is fascist or stupid or evil or greedy or megalomaniacal or ... I can't think of any more descriptions.

I read about a new hypothesis that oil is not actually rotten dinosaurs and plantlife, but instead just a natural byproduct of planet formation. As you know, many moons and planets in the solar system have vast quantities of hydrocarbons on their surface and, presumably, below them.

The hypothesis was being used to explain how we find oil at ever increasing depths, often in multiple layers. If true, it bodes well for future oil availability.

Nicholas

Well, Russian scientists are the major proponents of the abiotic theory of oil genesis, I believe, and they seem to have found plenty of it using this theory. So perhaps they're on to something. Perhaps not, but I wouldn't discard it without taking a serious look.

I read some of their technical/scientific arguments explaining how there is little evidence that oil is of plant/animal origin, and some that it is formed from minerals, and it made sense to me. I'm not a geologist though.

jj mollo

Free markets are wonderful at increasing supply when the price is right. People often underestimate that power. All of a sudden we're getting huge "new" deposits, such as the Athabasca oil sands, which just wouldn't exist at $10. If the price went high enough, people would find a way to make oil from banana peels and parking tickets.

The thing that markets won't do for you is control externalities, byproducts that no one pays for. Since CO2 is one of those, it's important to ascertain the long-term cost (or conceivably benefit) of that byproduct to society and impose said cost on the producers. (We can keep the benefit.) If we impose that cost reliably, producers will invent a way to handle it, which could work out well for everyone.

Personally, I would prefer that we have a coherent energy policy that would lead to a sustainable future. The way to do that is to simply overtax less desirable energy sources in order to advantage more desirable ones. IMO, the biggest untapped energy supply in our present economy is conservation. The most important transition source is nuclear energy, which should be subsidized, and the most important ultimate source is energy from nuclear fusion. Alternative energy can play a supporting role.

I'm glad we have new oil from an American source. It will help with the political issues, but in the long run, cheap oil is harmful to sensible planning.

Frank Warner

No energy policy will be acceptable to everyone, and all the players in the political game will argue over, and often distort, every calculation.

But one reasonable formula, considering our environmental and world security threats, would be for the United States simply to put a cap on U.S. oil use at the level 10 years from now.

The 10-year interim would give us time to build up alternatives, and after 2016, we'd have to focus only on those alternatives (including "clean oil") for any increase in energy or energy efficiency.

Then we'd have a base on which we could make other energy decisions, including taxation and regulation.

The trouble comes from the irrational monkey wrenches. ANWR is off limits from oil drilling for absolutely no good reason. New nuclear power -- even a safer generation of nuclear generators -- is off limits for no good reason. And the list goes on.

The world is full of silliness. Often the solutions to the big problems are right in front of our noses, but out of superstition or whim, we choose to keep our problems.

jj mollo

Capping oil use by legislation is a very chancy business. Command economies do not work. Prohibition doesn't work, and price controls don't work. Goverment's only hammer here is TAX. Taxes do work when not overstressed. People have been trained to think of "tax" as a bad word, but it is simply a tool. It can be used or abused.

As to nuclear energy, I'm predicting that it will be the trend in the future. Business Republicans have always believed in it, and increasing support from environmentalists will turn the tide. Rather than wishing the problem away, business interests are going to start selling nuclear as the solution to environmental problems. The necessary attitude change is already taking place.

Frank Warner

Keep in mind, I'm for the cap in oil use only if we're fairly sure that oil use is hurting the environment. I assume it is hurting the environment in a highly risky way, so the cap is not only an instrument of economic policy, it is a necessity.

If somehow oil use were discovered to be environmentally neutral, a cap would be difficult to justify, except to avoid subsidizing oil-producing dictatorships.

As for command economies, we already see government commands when it comes to new nuclear power and ANWR oil. Regulations have made sure we haven't seen a new nuclear plant in more than 20 years, and ANWR oil is offically taboo.

Christopher Taylor

nice CLogging :)

We keep finding more oil around the world, and while there is a finite supply, I doubt we've seen 1% of it so far. The truth is, theres a LOT more than hysterical cries let on and while I would love to see a better, newer energy source found, we're ok for now.

I can't figure out why ANWR should be off limits though, let's get what we can and use what we have while we look for something better.

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