Comments by Steve Offutt Subscribe

On Why Should the Obama Administration Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline?

My apologies, James, for wording my comment in a way that would create resentment.  I am supportive of everyone who understands the need to take strong action on climate change.  I suspect you and I are 95% on the same page, so no need for us to fight among ourselves.  Perhaps after 20+ years of my career spent trying to see (and make) something more substantive actually happen, I've become a bit cynical.  Pessimistic, too.

I am absolutely behind your strong support for effective policies.   Keep it up.  Since we can't seem to get either substance or symbol, I'm willing to take either.  So it's not so much I'm hoping for symbol OVER substance; I'd just like to see someone do something.  Anything.  (By "someone," I don't mean you or me or individual citizens; there are many who are doing a lot.  I mean those with the power to make things happen on a large scale: leaders.)

February 11, 2013    View Comment    

On Why Should the Obama Administration Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline?

Sorry that my metaphor was unclear.  I was not suggesting "addiction" to apply to individuals.  You are right: our society and infrastructure are designed to make it virtually impossible for individuals to stop using fossil fuels.  No, I was speaking more politically.  Efforts to shift our economy from one dependent on fossil fuels to something better, i.e., getting off our "addiction to oil," has been nothing but empty rhetoric for 2-3 generations.  Doing something, anything (like declining the KXL), would be a first step--perhaps even a painful one--to showing the political will to make a change.

I think you said $3.5B to develop the pipeline.  I believe that $3.5B wisely invested in energy efficiency would yield more savings to the American people than the energy that would be delivered by the pipeline.  I haven't done the analysis, so I may be wrong, but the idea is valid.  We're investing in the wrong things, and approving the KXL is just perpetuating those poor decisions.

February 10, 2013    View Comment    

On Why Should the Obama Administration Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline?

Six or eight presidents in a row have talked about getting off our "addiction to oil."  And that was before we truly understood the magnitude of the climate crisis.  As with any addiction, one must make an initial commitment.  The first cigarette not smoked; the first drink not taken.  Why start now?  After all, one single additional cigarette doesn't make any difference in the long run, does it?  And, shoot, I'm feeling a bit stressed today, and that one cigarette will help me deal with that better.  I'll stop tomorrow.

Likewise with our addiction to oil.  So far, we have never said "no" to any oil field; to any pipeline.  We just keep feeding our addiction.

So the point is not that we can rationalize or justify on an incremental basis any particular pipeline or refinery or oil field.  You've done a fine job of that with this post, in fact.  The point is that at some point we have to say, "No."  If we can't say no to this particularly ugly, dirty source of carbon emissions, then we probably can't say "no" at all.

That's what troubles those of us who are most concerned about climate change.

February 8, 2013    View Comment    

On What Economists Missed: Why World Coal Consumption Keeps Rising

I'm unclear on where the pricing in your graphs comes from.  Figure 4 shows oil at over $800 per barrel.  That seems an order of magnitude too high.

December 21, 2012    View Comment    

On Will Cheap Energy Storage Come to Coal and Nuclear's Rescue?

Not sure what "2 to 5 times lower than" means.  Isn't 1 times lower already zero?


I think you meant to say 50-80% lower.

March 24, 2012    View Comment