Sunday, March 17, 2013

Energy in the News

The NYT has been talking about disadvantages a lot lately. Today's news features an article on ethanol, talking about how reduced consumption of gasoline has led to reduced consumption of ethanol, and how that in turn has led to ethanol factories being idled.

A few days ago was a piece on fracking. The authors, who are professors at Penn State and Michigan, note many of the problems that have arisen from fracking and argue that they can be addressed relatively easily. The key issue, they say, is whether natural gas displaces coal or whether it displaces investments in renewable energy. I'm not sure what they mean by that: if it drops the price of energy, it displaces both, no?

Finally, Joe Nocera has a piece on coal gasification. He likes it but he notes that it's really expensive. If it's too expensive, it doesn't sound like a great solution to me, since there are many, many alternatives for producing energy. Of course, hopefully more research can bring the costs down. Nocera also notes that Bill McKibben, a famous environmentalist, is opposed to the plant because it produces a material that saves money for oil producers. McKibben wants oil producers to face high costs. While understandable, if Nocera's really describing it accurately then it doesn't make too much sense. Does this one potential negative externality outweigh all the positive externalities associated with carbon capture? Doesn't seem likely.

And... that's the news on this Sunday morning. Have a good week!

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