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On Energy Quote of the Day: 'Lord, Grant Me One More Boom and I Promise Not to Screw it Up'

The quote we should be hearing from the political leadership of the U.S.: "Lord, grant me one more oil glut, and I promise not to screw it up."

December 22, 2014    View Comment    

On Christmas and Carbon: What's The Connection?

"A huge chunk of the deforestation is to cater to the demands of the paper manufacturing industry."


December 21, 2014    View Comment    

On Is Cellulosic Ethanol All it’s Cracked Up to Be?


Gasoline has an energy content of 114,000 btu / gallon, and currently wholesales for $1.58 / gallon, or $13.86 / mmbtu.  Ethanol has an energy content of 76,000 btu / gallon, and currently wholesales for $1.66 / gallon, or $21.84 / mmbtu.   (

In other words, ethanol is currently 1.58 times more expensive than gasoline on an energy equivalent basis, even though corn and ethanol prices are at historically very low levels. In fact, corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol have never in history been less expensive than gasoline.

As to your suggestion that the drop in ethanol prices caused the recent sharp drop in oil prices, the net energy yield of corn ethanol production is the energy equivalent of about 300,000 barrels of oil per day, or less than 10% of oil production from fracking in the U.S., and about one third of 1% of global oil consumption.  The impact of corn ethanol production on oil price is insignificant, and is far more than offset by increased food prices.

Finally, as to your claim that cellulosic ethanol is starting to come online, I challenge you to produce a reliable reference stating the cost and eroei of cellulosic ethanol production.

December 16, 2014    View Comment    

On Big Banks Propping Up Coal Industry to the Tune of $89 Billion


If you are as passionately opposed to coal as your rhetoric suggests, you could start reducing its use by leaving the Sierra Club and supporting nuclear energy.  Otherwise, you are embracing codemning billions of people to abject poverty or even genocide through malnutrition or the spread of preventable disease.

Of course, the victims of eliminating coal without greatly expanding nuclear would not live in affluent places such as San Francisco, so maybe you don't much care.

December 14, 2014    View Comment    

On This Map Explains Why the Ivanpah Solar Plant Is Performing Worse Than Expected

Unless I'm way off in locating Ivanpah on the map, you are suggesting that a solar irradiance level 2 to 3% lower than average resulted in a production loss of 75%. This makes the excuse "The dog ate my homework" seem brilliant! It also makes Solyndra look like a blue chip investment.
December 10, 2014    View Comment    

On Renewable Natural Gas Helps Reduce Emissions, Policy Support Needed

Edward, I'm all for this in concept, but two numbers that I rarely see presented with what seem to be great ideas for a low carbon or carbon neutral energy source are unit cost and eroei.  Do you know of any estimates for these?

December 8, 2014    View Comment    

On A Carbon Tax on Me: How to Cut Emissions, Save Money, Invest for the Future and Help End Energy Poverty

Thanks for the tip,  I just ordered it.

November 23, 2014    View Comment    

On Eight Pitfalls in Evaluating Green Energy Solutions

"History shows that world emissions tend to rise more, in the period with CO2 taxes!"

Gail, do you have any references on this?

November 22, 2014    View Comment    

On Senate Rejects Bid to Force Approval of Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

"If they want jobs, they have them now in the form of people working on the railroads that currently move the crude around."

Interesting point.  If one follows that logic, then why not move the oil by covered wagons or wheelbarrows?  Think of all the jobs that would create!  Better yet, how about bucket brigades?  

Then we could get really serious about creating jobs by banning all farm machinery.  Granted, there would be mass starvation, but we'd have full employment!

November 21, 2014    View Comment    

On Why Hydraulic Fracturing is Not Necessarily Contaminating Water or Using More Water Per Unit of Oil Production

Actually, the odds of not experiencing leakage through casing are extremely high.  That's because, contrary to your assertion, casing is not the only thing keeping the gas out of the aquifer.  The gas is produced through tubing within the casing, not through the open casing itself.  If a leak in the tubing were to occur, then this would be indicated immediately by a drop in flow pressure and production.

Once the well has stopped producing at commercial rates, and the gas pressure in the producing reservoir has depleted, the well is abandoned.  The tubing is pulled and the casing is filled with cement, according to a program that must be approved and supervised by the governing authorities, typically the state division of oil and gas.  

If you know of a single case of leakage through casing either during production or after abandonment, please provide a reference to it.

The only real risk of leakage is not through the casing, but from a breakdown of the cement layer between the outside of the casing and the rock wall.  That's why the operators are required to demonstrate by a cement bond log or water shutoff test that the producing interval has been isolated from the aquifer.  While a breakdown of this isolation is possible, it is extremely rare.  

In any event, the risk of such leakage has nothing to do with fracking.  To the extent that the risk exists at all, it occurs in all forms of oil and gas production.

November 21, 2014    View Comment    

On Cellulosic Ethanol

"studies on the life-cycle emissions of CO2from using corn ethanol showed that CO2 emissions could range between 0.7 and 1.3 times that of petroleum-based gasoline"

Ripudaman, could you provide a reference for this?  I'm not trying to be confrontational, I just want to know if these studies consider the impact of the release of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere related to the use of nitrogen fertilzers.

November 14, 2014    View Comment