Earth Track Blog

Written by dkoplowPosted: December 7, 2015 - 1:46pm

Subsidy Briefs - December 7, 2015

1)  Solar parity and my cousin Jeff.  Congrats to Jeff Koplow, an energy researcher at Sandia National Labs, for being named the inaugural recipient of the Innovator in Residence Fellowship awarded by DOE's SunShot Initiative.  He'll lead a multi-disciplinary team in attacking key limits in current… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: November 30, 2015 - 2:46pm

Climate Meeting Subsidy Resources

Here's hoping that 21 will be the magic number, and there will be real progress on a global agreement to constrain greenhouse gas emissions at COP21 meetings now underway in Paris.  Removing subsidies to fossil fuels are now well recognized as a central element to getting energy prices right, and… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: November 4, 2015 - 3:08pm

The Iran Nuke Deal: Still Waiting for the Warm Fuzzies

The promised progress from the Iranian nuclear deal appears still to be far from materializing.  The deal, or more formally, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was signed on July 14, 2015.  On September 10th, the last attempt to block the deal in the US Congress failed.  Almost immediately, a… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: October 2, 2015 - 11:55am

OECD's newest fossil fuel subsidy inventory is a big success on many fronts

I'll say right up front that I am not an unbiased observer of this particular effort by OECD to tabulate support measures to fossil fuels.  I've collaborated with Ron Steenblik, one of the project supervisors, for decades at this point; and with project manager Jehan Sauvage since his early days of… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: July 29, 2015 - 2:20pm

Nuclear Subsidy Briefs, July 29, 2015

Lot's happening with nuclear around the world -- mostly associated with continued problems with market-competitive delivery, seeking alms from taxpayers, and attempts by taxpayer groups and trading partners to block the largest of the subsidies. 1)  Prefab reactors not so cheap.  The Wall Street… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: June 23, 2015 - 4:45pm

Mining's little messes and the trouble with self-bonding

For many decades, natural resource industries would work their land, sell their minerals, and abandon their sites for somebody else to deal with.  There are tens of thousands of such sites around the US, associated with both energy and non-energy minerals; here's a sampling, compiled by the… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: June 1, 2015 - 3:40pm

Subsidy Briefs, June 1, 2015

Another roundup of interesting tidbits from the world of government subsidies.1)  Nuclear:  A new age of nuclear energy is about to dawn?  Optimism is a good thing, and Michael Brush of the Fiscal Times certainly exudes it.  But optimism probably shouldn't lead you to invest your 401(k) in a bunch… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: May 15, 2015 - 2:25pm

MLPs and the continuing growth of corporate tax avoidance in the energy sector

It's been almost two years since Earth Track and Oil Change International released a detailed review of oil and gas subsidies to Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs).  The paper documented the favored exemptions that MLPs receive from standard corporate tax rules and how they primarily benefitted oil… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: May 6, 2015 - 1:58pm

The simple reasons nuclear will lose the battle for our energy future to companies like Tesla

Two straightforward concepts drive the inevitable marketplace defeat of nuclear power in most power markets:  incremental innovation and lot size.  People are quite clever in making many things, but we also frequently screw up.  We learn by educated trial and error, and we get better bit-by-bit… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: April 29, 2015 - 9:50am

Nuclear Subsidy Briefs, April 29, 2015

1)  Reuters attributes sunk costs of German nuclear capacity to renewables.  Michael Marriotte of NIRS flagged this one.  In a recent post, he pointed out that $75 billion Reuters implied was associated with Germany's transition away from nuclear was actually "for decommissioning Germany's reactors… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: April 10, 2015 - 12:57pm

Iranian comments on nuclear deal indicate little chance agreement will delay bomb development

1) Official fact sheet on agreement suggests many business-as-usual policies will remain.  Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Belfer Center translated a Farsi fact sheet on the agreement that was released by the Iranian Foreign  Ministry.  There appears to be a fair bit of wiggle room here. … Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: April 2, 2015 - 12:06pm

Privacy rights, Iranian style: nuclear non-proliferation and the suspension of disbelief

The word out of Switzerland yesterday was that "Iran and and six world powers had agreed on the outlines of an understanding that would open the path to a final phase of nuclear negotiations but are in a dispute over how much to make public."  What exactly is the dispute over?  The AP noted that… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: April 1, 2015 - 1:13pm

Subsidy Briefs, April 1, 2015

1)  Corporate happy talk 1:  Hamming it up with frack water and earthquakesTracking and quantifying the side-effects of particular energy fuel cycles is always challenging.  If you do it wrong, or ignore the external costs entirely, particular fuels get a free ride.  Other forms of energy, most… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: March 26, 2015 - 4:24pm

Earth Track co-authors World Bank working paper on fossil fuel subsidy measurement approaches and valuation

I'm happy to announce the release of Fossil Fuel Subsidies:  Approaches and Valuation, a paper I wrote with Masami Kojima at the Bank.  Masami has written about fossil fuels for many years, often focusing on the functioning of the price mechanism in oil markets. The working paper takes a deep dive… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: March 4, 2015 - 3:04pm

Boosting nuclear market share: the trouble when your product isn't like toothpaste

Conventional industries have it easy. Make a good product; invest in technology and engineering to make it better and keep costs in line; then crank up the output and sell it wherever you can.  Unit costs drop.  Word of mouth bolsters your smart advertising campaign to millenials, creating feedback… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: March 3, 2015 - 12:47pm

Use of non-transparent private emails on key government business: the case of DOE's subsidized nuclear loans

Hillary Clinton's use of her personal email account for official government business has been all over the news lately.  The concern is that the approach escapes the normal channels of accountability regarding official government business, and makes it much more difficult to protect government… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: February 17, 2015 - 4:53pm

Energy subsidies and energy poverty

A lack of access to modern energy services continues to be a major contributing factor to poverty and human suffering throughout the world.  The International Energy Agency estimates 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity, most of whom are located in rural areas.  Roughly 2.6 billion… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: January 23, 2015 - 2:49pm

The Economist on Scrapping Subsidies: Some Thoughts

More than most mainstream publications, The Economist has regularly covered energy subsidies and consistently called for their elimination.  Too many newspapers pick and choose which subsidies they care about.  The Wall Street Journal, for example, rails on subsidies to renewables -- particularly… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: July 23, 2014 - 10:35am

Transocean continues to innovate to avoid taxes everywhere; forming tax-favored Master Limited Partnership

Transocean owns operates complex offshore oil rigs, including the one that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2012, killing 11 workers and despoiling the Gulf of Mexico.  There do not appear to be any similar lapses in its continued effort to push its taxes down as close to zero as possible,… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: July 16, 2014 - 11:23am

Balanced scenarios on the future of nuclear power: thoughts from IEA expert meetings

The IEA is producing two detailed assessments on nuclear energy in the coming months.  The first, a chapter in their vaunted World Energy Outlook, will examine in detail the prospects and challenges to nuclear energy going forward.  The second, produced jointly with NEA, will update their… Read More