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Gas Is Going To $5 Per Gallon: First In California, Then Across The Country

Gas Is Going To $5 Per Gallon: First In California, Then Across The Country

Get ready for $5 per gallon gasoline – especially if you live in California.

At least, that was the contention of a new WSJ op-ed that claims higher taxes and environmental regulations are both driving up the price of gas.

Author Allysia Finley notes that the average cost at the pump in California is now $4.18 a gallon, pointing out that in 2017, Democrats in the state’s legislature raised a tax on each gallon by 20.8 cents over three years.

California drivers are now paying an astonishing average of 63 cents a gallon in state and local taxes, compared an average of 36.8 cents elsewhere in the country.

The reasoning for the price hike was to repair the state’s infrastructure, but instead the proceeds have been “directed toward projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as bike lanes and mass transit,” the op-ed notes.

The California Air Resources Board is also responsible for imposing a tax through its cap and trade program, which has added about 14 cents per gallon to the state’s average gas price.

CARB requires that retailers sell “a special extra-clean-burning gasoline blend” which raises the price about another 10 cents per gallon. The Board “assigns carbon-intensity scores to hundreds of fuels” and requires refiners to meet a low score to blend lower-carbon fuels. If they can’t meet the threshold, they are forced to buy carbon credits, which also drives up the price of fuel.

The board awards these credits to utilities when their customers charge EVs at home. Utilities then turn around and sell the credits to refiners. Gas powered vehicle drivers are subsidizing thousands in incentives to EV buyers, the op-ed notes:

So Californians can get a $1,500 rebate from their local utility on top of $2,000 from the state and $7,500 from the feds for buying an electric vehicle. Sweet.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars

Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars

Because plants convert CO2 (a greenhouse gas) into oxygen, gardens combat global warming. Right? Isn’t this, as Sherlock Holmes would say, elementary? So why then is the mayor of a major coastal city, one whose very existence is threatened by global warming, intent on destroying community gardens? Could it be because the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, isn’t terribly concerned about the already unfolding ecological catastrophe? It certainly looks that way. Perhaps this is why, in spite of the fact that he lives in a city in which getting around by car is ridiculously slow, and there’s great public transportation, and cars are a major source of pollution and global warming, and New York City will be accessible only to scuba divers before too long because of sea-level rise, he not only travels 12 miles in an SUV to work out, but reproduces anachronistic, car-centric politics. His priorities lie elsewhere, with those of real estate developers, and the “business class” generally. This is why de Blasio can’t stop shutting down community gardens.

Grown on lots of land leased from the city, these gardens are being taken away from the communities that cultivated them, and that they enrich, and handed over to de Blasio’s real estate developer allies. Transferring vital resources to the wealthy, so that the wealthy can enjoy even more than they need, while the rest of us manage with ever less (no different from efforts to take away Social Security), is, of course, how this system works – and has worked here since the Dutch colonized the region in the 17th century. It doesn’t matter that the planet is growing hotter, and that trees and gardens ameliorate this – cleaning and cooling the carcinogenic air. The system has rules of its own, it must “efficiently exploit” the land and everything on it – i.e., generate profit. Necessities must be subordinated to luxuries. Obstacles to this effort will be plowed under.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Can nuclear power extend the economic expansion?

Can nuclear power extend the economic expansion?

Richard Rhodes’ new book Energy: A Human History does an excellent job of describing the scientific and technological hurdles that had to be cleared in the development of, for example, an internal combustion engine which can convert refined petroleum into forward motion.

But he gives short shrift to the social and political forces that have been equally important in determining how technological advances shape our world. That internal combustion engine might be a wonder of ingenuity, but was there any scientific reason we should make multi-tonne vehicles the primary mode of transportation for single passengers in cities, drastically reconfiguring urban landscapes in the process? When assiduous research resulted in more efficient engines, did science also dictate that we should use those engines to drive bigger and heavier SUV’s, and then four-wheel-drive, four-door pick-up trucks, to our suburban grocery superstores?

Unfortunately, Rhodes presents the benefits of modern science as if they are all inextricably wrapped up in our current high-energy-consumption economy, implying that human prosperity must end unless we find ways to maintain this high-energy system.

In this second part of a look at Energy (first installment here), we’ll delve into these questions as they relate to Rhodes’ strident defense of nuclear power.

To set the context, Rhodes argues that the only realistic – and the most ethical – way forward is a gradual progression on the path we are already taking, and that means an “all energy sources except coal and oil” strategy:

“Every energy system has its advantages and disadvantages …. And given the scale of global warming and human development, we will need them all if we are to finish the centuries-long process of decarbonizing our energy supply – wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, natural gas.”1

Three key points here: First, Rhodes recognizes the severity and urgency of the climate problem.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“End Of Oil” Narratives Are Misleading

“End Of Oil” Narratives Are Misleading

Oil

The world isn’t reinventing the wheel. But we are changing how it turns, who it carries and where it’s going.

Over the next few decades we’ll be plugging in more cars, hailing and sharing them, and reminiscing about the good ol’ days of the steering wheel.

To be sure, these looming mobility changes are all exciting and impactful. But none of these nascent trends extrapolate easily into a narrative about “the end of oil,” a disruptive displacement of the fuel everyone loves to hate.

Contrary to armchair calculus, more electric vehicle (EV) sales do not equate to the world using less oil anytime soon.

In fact, whichever way you cut the spreadsheets, the numbers are pointing in the opposite direction. By 2030, less than 15 years from now, I expect around 400 million more internal combustion engines will accumulate into the global fleet of passenger cars – even after assuming that EV market penetration is accelerated with the heavy-handed help of governments around the world.

Here is an indication of the scale of vehicle accumulation: So far this year, to the end of September, over 70 million vehicles with internal combustion engines have been sold worldwide. Every new vehicle that’s sold lingers in the fleet.

Simplistic assumptions and analogies abound. A petroleum-powered vehicle is not like a cheap DVD or videocassette that gets pitched out the minute you buy a Netflix subscription. A car already on the road is an expensive asset –most often financed with debt – that’s put to work for as long as possible by a string of owners. What’s under-appreciated is that most oil-burning vehicles will resist going to the scrap yard, due to their stubborn and improving reliability (see my column Old Pistons Die Hard from October 16th.)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Just How Big Is The Oil Market?

Just How Big Is The Oil Market?

Cushing

Big Oil

The Oil Market Is Bigger Than All Metal Markets Combined

Ever since the invention of the internal combustion engine, oil has been one of the most crucial commodities on Earth. Without it, modern transportation as we know it would not be possible. Industries such as aviation, aerospace, automobiles, shipping, and the military would look nothing like they do today.

Of course, as we now know, this has all come with some extreme drawbacks from an environmental perspective. And while new green technology and the lithium revolution will aid in eventually reducing the role of oil in transportation, the fact is we still use 94 million barrels per day of crude worldwide.

Ever since the invention of the internal combustion engine, oil has been one of the most crucial commodities on Earth. Without it, modern transportation as we know it would not be possible. Industries such as aviation, aerospace, automobiles, shipping, and the military would look nothing like they do today.

Of course, as we now know, this has all come with some extreme drawbacks from an environmental perspective. And while new green technology and the lithium revolution will aid in eventually reducing the role of oil in transportation, the fact is we still use 94 million barrels per day of crude worldwide.

As a result, the energy industry continues to have huge amounts of influence on our lives. Special interest groups with a focus on energy have influence on a domestic level. Meanwhile, from a foreign policy angle, countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia wield additional geopolitical and economic power because of their natural resources. It’s even arguable that everything from the Gulf War to the more recent Middle East interventions in Libya, Syria, and Iraq have been at least partially to do with oil.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Volkswagen scandal: say goodbye to the internal combustion engine!

The Volkswagen scandal: say goodbye to the internal combustion engine!

By now, I guess that everyone in the world has heard of how Volkswagen cheated consumers by falsifying the results of the emission tests from their diesel engines. It is a true witch hunt unleashed against Volkswagen. Maybe there are good reasons for it, but I think it is also something that should be taken with caution. A lot of it.

I have been a consultant for the automotive industry for some 20 years and I think that I know the way they operate. And I can tell you that they are not equipped for “cheating”, intended as willingly ignoring or breaking the law. They just don’t do that, they understand very well that the result could be something like what’s happening to Volkswagen nowadays; something that could lead to their end as a car manufacturer. On the contrary, carmakers tend to be extremely legalistic and apply to the letter the current laws and regulations.

This said, it is also clear that car makers are there to make a profit and their managers are supposed to “get results”. So, if the laws and the regulations are not clear, or do not explicitly say that something is forbidden; then, if that something is supposed to provide some advantage to the company, it may be done.

This is, I think, what happened in this case. It is very well known that the results of the pollution tests made in the lab are always much better than those made on the road. And it is very well known that the performances of cars as measured in standardized tests are always much better than those of real cars. It is all very well known and documented: look for instance here and here. (h/t G.Meneghello).
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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