Comments by Gary Hunt Subscribe

On Common Sense Kiss of Death for Climate Change Lawsuits?


There is a lot of merit to considering a carbon tax, but the devil has always been in the details. Personally, I favor ending all energy subsidies and force every fuel and every technology to compete in the market for a place at the table based upon its price and merits.  The markets are much better allocators of capital and arbiters of value than government.

Frankly, your comments are a good example of why we have yet found a formula that works.  You said: "Fossil fuels have had a free ride for harming our citizens.  No more."  Your words betray your biases.  This has become the undoing of the entire climate change project. The desire for a carbon tax has little to do with "justice" and everything to do with a desire to subvert the markets to impose a socially engineered regime of favored technologies and politically correct policies.

HEADLINE:  This has not worked out so well so far!

As to issues of "externalities" most of these discussions are excuses to jury rig the cost comparisons to again benefit one favored technology over another ill-favored one.

Then there is a small matter of "indisputability" you first mentioned.  By now surely you realize the "inconvenient truth" that the controversy, revelations and debate that has surrounded this issue has resulted in only one indisputable fact---politics were more important than science----so the indisputable turned into the unbelievable.

October 30, 2012    View Comment    

On The Obama Energy Plan: A Progress Report Critique



We can find common ground around the reduction in GHG emissions made possible by expanding our use of natural gas for power generation, but it comes with high price volatility risks.  Remember back in 2008 when gas was >$13 per MMBTU compared to its <$3 per MMBTU today?

Germany is an interesting case to watch.  Having hugged the Russian bear and agreed, foolishly, to natural gas prices pegged to oil, Germany has little option but to return to coal if it chooses, again foolishly I think, to abandon nuclear power.

My advice is don't lose sleep over the risks with fracking.  Those risks are manageable with best practices and reputable drillers.  There is a scramble on for less toxic chemicals that work at well.



September 4, 2012    View Comment    

On The Obama Energy Plan: A Progress Report Critique



Our fundamental disagreement is over the issue of  the scarcity of fossil fuels. Nothing could be further from the truth, Ed. 

The development of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has made unconventional oil and natural gas economic to develop.  This results in a quantum increase in the technically recoverable amount of oil and gas.  Better yet those shale resources are now more widely distributed around the world blessing China, Argentine, Poland, France, South Africa and other nations in addition to the US.  The development of shale oil resources has the potential to undermine the market power of OPEC and drive down the price of oil just as the growth of shale gas in the US has driven down the price of natural gas.

Coal remains a plentiful fossil resource despite the reluctance to use it.  There is no scarcity and the growth of natural gas market share compared to coal means that the coal resources will be available even longer.



September 4, 2012    View Comment    

On The Obama Energy Plan: A Progress Report Critique

Oh please, Ron, quit whining because you fear Mitt Romney actually has a chance to win this horse race.
Irrational fear of domestic energy production is strangling our economy not to mention needlessly raising your blood pressure.

September 3, 2012    View Comment    

On Romney’s Energy Plan: ‘A Document Not Worth Serious Analysis’?


I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but President Obama's Blue Print for a Secure Energy future drinks from the same "energy independence" kool-aid noting that every president back to Richard nixon has called for it.

So trashing the Romney Energy Plan for calling for energy independence puts him in the good company of every president.

Now I happen to think that energy independence is a good sounding talking point but the reality is we live in an energy inter-dependent world where oil and gas are fungible commodities traded in world markets.  But I am willing not to kill the messenger politicans for using it.

You arguments fall flat with me when you use the tired old climate crisis mantras because we know the science is far from incontrovertible and the only thing overwhelming is the shrillness of its advocates.  The inconvenient truth for you is the global warming--climate crisis--climate change war is over.  The emerging markets were unable to get the first world to agree to massive wealth transfer payments to bribe them to reduce GHG emissions.  Then is became obvious to all that the developing world had no intention whatever of reducing their economic growth to achieve environmental objectives.  Europe signed up for a complicated Emissions Trading Scheme and then cheated.  The US Congress controlled by Democrats rejected the Cap and Trade legislation.   The climate change movement is now reduced to annual junkets to exotic locales to lament the lack of global agreement.

Meanwhile, here in the US low natural gas prices from expanded production of domestic fossil fuels from shales is have a more immediate, profound and lasting impact on reducing GHG emission that the SUM OF all the climate change debates, conferences, schemes and failed treaties.

Is this a great country, or what!!!!!

September 2, 2012    View Comment    

On The Obama Energy Plan: A Progress Report Critique

Edward: I think I DO GET IT! 

The Obama Administration believes that we "simply must transition away from carbon based fuels" as you chartacterize it.  The PROBLEM is the public does not and is not willing to bankrupt themselves trying to live into political correctness.

I'm not giving lip service to GHG emissions reductions.  I am celebrating the 40% reduction we are getting as a result of the displacement of coal by natural gas.  Low gas prices have proven 10 times more effective at achieving GHG emissions reduction than the onerous EPA regulations on coal-----let it happen!  And if it does happen on the President's watch he can take credit for it.

But, as you suggest, gas prices will not always be low so enjoy this while it lasts.  As E&P firms shift focus from gas to NGL and Oil gas oversupply will moderate to equilibrium and prices will naturally rise to market clearing levels.  But gas prices can go up to $5-6 before coal will begin again be competitive and by then the market share of coal and gas will have shifted to less coal and more gas.

Fossil fuels are not going away anytime soon so a policy of making war on coal is pure politics and should be named as such. 

You will never win the argument for wind and solar on the basis of exigent (externality) costs. There is a place for both wind and solar in our supply mix and we should encourage them on a least cost, best fit basis.  BUT---they must compete based upon their LCOE for a place in that supply stack just like every other technology without stacking the deck in a zero sum game for some technologies and against others. 

You forget that fossil fuels were the winners in the competition for incremental capacity additions because for decades each additional power plant added reduced the marginal cost of energy.  It was only beginning in the 1970's with high inflation and out of control capital costs for the first generation of nuclear plants that the marginal cost of new plants were higher not lower than the average embedded cost.  Since then we have used a "least cost, best fit" regulatory standard forcing supply side options to compete side by side with demand side options for a place in the competitive supply stack.

The advent of renewable portfolio standards and the tax subsidies for renewable energy hijacked that integrated resource planning standard that serves us well.  By mandating the % of renewable energy regardless of cost, making renewable energy "must take" ---at least in California, and using tax subsidies to change their place in the LCOE price competition we have jury rigged the system to pick winners.

September 2, 2012    View Comment