Earth Track Blog

Written by dkoplowPosted: May 14, 2018 - 9:16am

Definitional problems and data gaps in PJM capacity repricing proposal likely to bias adjustments against renewable energy

PJM Interconnection LLC (PJM) has been worried that certain state subsidies harm the competitiveness of capacity auctions within its territory.  PJM serves as the grid operator for all or parts of Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio,… Read More
US plans to lease most offshore areas for oil and gas Written by dkoplowPosted: April 11, 2018 - 1:33pm

Oil for (almost) nothing and gas for free

Natural resource giveaways to friends and family have long been a global concern, and there is an extensive literature documenting the problem.  This 1999 paper by the International Monetary Fund, for example, finds a link between the degree to which a nation or state is dependent on natural… Read More
Species at risk from drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge Written by dkoplowPosted: December 6, 2017 - 10:50am

Fossil love and other fun nuggets in the Senate tax reform bill

When the drinks are flowing at the open bar, it's not a big surprise that patrons swarm for their free pints.  Tax bills are the same, with amendments aplenty as the hours ticked on towards the Senate passage of a massive tax reform package last week.  Hey, when you are spending somebody else's… Read More
US Internal Revenue Service logo Written by dkoplowPosted: November 30, 2017 - 4:14pm

Tax reform and the energy sector: looking for winners and losers

The optimal position for your industry in any tax reform is to see general tax rates drop while also keeping all of your old subsidies.  The political lobbying on these bills is enormous, and given the scale of the energy sector in the US economy, and the need to transition towards lower carbon… Read More
First 37 of 565 privately held corporations involving President Trump; most will see sharply reduced taxes under tax reform plans Written by dkoplowPosted: November 20, 2017 - 12:05pm

Tax Reform dumps risks on individuals but not on corporations

Republican-led plans to reform our tax system have now been introduced in the Senate and passed in the House.  This is trillion dollar legislation (the extra deficits alone are estimated at $1.5 trillion between 2018 and 2027), and a feeding frenzy for lobbyists trying to get new perks in the bill… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: September 22, 2017 - 1:43pm

Nuclear Subsidy Briefs - September 22, 2017

These have been busy months in the world of subsidies to nuclear power. 1)  Reality continues to bite the nuclear renaissance.  Over the summer, Duke Energy moved to cancel its Lee nuclear project in North Carolina and its Levy project in Florida.  Duke is seeking reimbursement of $353 million in… Read More
NuSubsidies cover page Written by dkoplowPosted: August 2, 2017 - 10:41am

Endless Summer, Bikini Contests, and Other Developments in the Nuclear Renaissance

It's been a rough few months for nuclear power, with the bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the US nuclear arm of Toshiba; continued cost escalation at both US reactor projects and the UK's Hinkley C; and the decision on Monday to abandon two in-process reactors at the V.C. Summer site in South Carolina… Read More
Written by dkoplowPosted: July 20, 2017 - 3:37pm

Subsidies to suppliers in the PJM Interconnection go to fossil and nuclear, not just renewables

PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission operator (RTO) serving more than 60 million customers in 13 states and the District of Columbia.  The service region is centered in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Incumbent base load generators within PJM have complained that subsidies… Read More
Wolf Creek reactor hacked in 2017 Written by dkoplowPosted: July 18, 2017 - 3:57pm

Subsidy Briefs, July 18, 2017

1)  Windmills hacked by Russians.  In a worrying escalation of software attacks, Russian engineers penetrated control systems at a number of US windmills, causing erratic operating performance and increased bird kills.  Yeah, if only things could be that simple.  In another example that the "… Read More
Capital-intensive surface coal mining in Gillette, WY Written by dkoplowPosted: June 13, 2017 - 12:01pm

Coal sector employment: protecting workers and families, not specific jobs

Jobs matter.  For the job holder, this is obvious:  the wages support them and their family.  But jobs also matter to the country overall, as economic strength forms the basis for a strong foundation of political stability, prosperity, and growth.  Community relationships can turn ugly if lots of… Read More
Construction on Vogtle units 3 and 4, april 2017 Written by dkoplowPosted: May 31, 2017 - 5:31pm

Subsidy Briefs, May 31, 2017

1) Earth Track congressional testimony.  Read Earth Track's testimony to the Subcommittee on Energy of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives: Federal Energy-Related Tax Policy and its Effects on Markets, Prices, and Consumers.  2) New work on subsidies:  US public… Read More
New EPA administrator Scott Pruitt waving hands Written by dkoplowPosted: May 5, 2017 - 2:32pm

How EPA's Scott Pruitt deals with uncertainty: comparing his environmental portfolio to his financial portfolio

If newly minted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt managed environmental risks more similarly to the way he manages the financial risks in his own portfolio, we would be far better off.  He does not.  To the contrary, he leverages any hints of uncertainty on environmental damages as a justification to… Read More
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… 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
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