Earth Track Blog

Rex Tillerson at Senate confirmation hearings Written by dkoplowPosted: January 12, 2017 - 9:50am

Rex Tillerson: Oil and gas gets no subsidies

In yesterday's confirmation hearings for Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO stated that I'm not aware of anything the fossil fuel industry gets that I would characterize as a subsidy... Rather it is just the way the tax code applies to this particular industry. You can review the relevant… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: January 9, 2017 - 1:59pm

Subsidy dependency and carbon abetment: almost half of pending US production relies on subsidies to hit minimum investable returns

Most fossil fuel subsidy assessments tabulate aggregate support to a particular fuel at the national or international level.  Our new paper, Effect of government subsidies for upstream oil infrastructure on U.S. oil production and global CO2 emissions, just released by the Stockholm Environment… Read More
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Desmond Llewelyn, Bond's Q Written by dkoplowPosted: August 5, 2016 - 12:20pm

The Trouble with Q: Why the US should not be subsidizing carbon capture and sequestration

The mysterious Q Division in the James Bond movie franchise was always on hand with inane, though coldly effective, inventions that would save Bond and defeat even the most diabolical enemy.  In the magic of the movies, a bit of public money directed towards the R&D staff of the British Secret… Read More
Black Thunder Coal Mine aerial view Written by dkoplowPosted: August 4, 2016 - 3:31pm

Taking the Paris commitments seriously: implications for federal coal leasing

It turns out that if the US takes its commitments under the Paris climate agreement seriously -- the ones where we pledge to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees centigrade so as not to fry the planet -- there is too much coal.  Standard markets rationalize capacity based on price signals… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: July 15, 2016 - 2:50pm

Michael Mariotte: some thoughts

In years past, when my project work would divert me from posting about energy subsidies on the Earth Track blog, I'd get an incoming email from Michael Mariotte at NIRS.  This wasn't an intrusive inquiry.  Rather, he'd merely be checking in to be sure everything was okay, saying he'd noticed I hadn… Read More
Nuclear security summit 2016 Written by dkoplowPosted: March 31, 2016 - 1:05pm

Good times ahead: accelerating climate change and dirty bombs

Two important, though not particularly cheerful, goings-on to mention.  The first is a new paper that suggests climate change is likely to occur much more quickly, and to be more severe, than previously predicted.  This finding underscores a central limitation of so many efforts to analyze highly… Read More
Fukushima power plant after explosions, March 2011 Written by dkoplowPosted: March 11, 2016 - 10:06am

Fukushima and nuclear power, five years on

It was pure coincidence that the release event for my detailed review of US subsidies to nuclear power -- a document a couple of years in the making -- was on March 11, 2011, the day of the Fukushima accident.  I was in DC for the launch, traveling in a cab to the event with David Lochbaum of the… Read More
Natural gas extraction Written by dkoplowPosted: February 19, 2016 - 12:16pm

No really, shouldn't you subsidize fossil fuel development sometimes?

My many years of criticizing fossil fuel subsidies aside, I still get asked fairly regularly whether there might just be some good times and good places where fossil fuel subsidies would make sense.  It is not useful to dismiss the question, as it often comes from serious and well-intentioned… Read More
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