Energy

A Dozen Strategies for the Struggle With Big Oil

Big Oil will fight against energy transformation. How do we fight back?

The oil industry is enormous – something like 2-3% of global GDP. Individuals firms like ExxonMobil earn tens of billions of dollars each quarter. Controlling climate change will mean drastic curtailment in the coming decades of the industry’s major products. There’s no way that the industry will accept this lying down, and it’s a formidable …

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The Risks of Promising the Improbable

Candidates’ climate proposals are starkly unrealistic. That’s a problem.

As I wrote in a post last Thursday, there’s little prospect that anything like a Green New Deal could pass the Senate even assuming the filibuster is eliminated.  In the best case scenario, Democrats would have a one or two vote margin in the Senate. That’s a very slim margin for passing a trillion dollar …

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2020 in the Courts: A Preview

Some major new cases will be filed; older ones will result in major decisions.

There are going to be some significant environmental cases over the next year. In addition, some important new cases will be filed now or in the near future, which may have produced some interesting rulings. It will probably take more than a year, however, for some of the big new cases down the turnpike to …

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“If Present Trends Continue….”

To paraphrase Socrates, “the unexplained projection is not worth giving.”

You often see forecasts like this: “If present trends continue, electric vehicles will be X% of the auto fleet by 2035.”  But this doesn’t mean much without explanation: what “trends” and “continued” in what way?  The Energy Information Agency is a major culprit in that respect — they provide lots of projections but don’t unpack …

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Lights Out, Everybody’s Home

Protecting California’s Most Vulnerable from Climate Effects

Today, rather than walking to campus, I’m home learning the features of Zoom Conference to conduct meetings and classes remotely: UC Berkeley’s campus is shut for its second day in a row, as Pacific Gas and Electric seeks to minimize risk of a wildfire (and associated liability) in the present high wind conditions. Even as …

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Planned Outages, Planning for Resilience, and Reducing Emissions

The power shutoffs begun yesterday by Pacific Gas & Electric across swaths of Northern California, cutting electricity for hundreds of thousands of Californians, are many things: a serious risk for vulnerable and immobilized populations; an economic hit for local businesses; a tremendous inconvenience for everyone; both an outrage and industry best practice, according to Governor …

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Going Nuclear?

Nuclear has some serious problems, but it may be worth hedging our technology bets.

Nuclear power has been an important source of zero-carbon energy, though it has been plagued by other problems.  Does it have a future in our effort to decarbonize the grid? According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a third of U.S. nuclear plants, or about twenty percent of the nation’s total nuclear capacity, are …

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Another Court Loss for the Trump EPA

D.C. Circuit enforces deadlines for air pollution compliance

On Friday, the D.C. Circuit issued a brief order in a case called New York v. EPA.  In some respects, the order was a foregone conclusion, given the same court’s September ruling in a case called Wisconsin v. EPA.  But it’s nonetheless noteworthy. Both the New York and the Wisconsin case involved a section in …

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Climate Politics Down Under

Australia is leaping from the frying pan into the fire.

Australian climate politics has been strange if not chaotic.  And in terms of climate policy, things seems to be going from bad to worse. This is partly a function of general political upheaval. In an enlightening 2018 paper, three University of Melbourne law professors (Baxter. Milligan, and McRae) traced the developments from 2007 to 2016. …

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Launching the California-China Climate Institute

Welcoming a famous new faculty member and a critical new initiative.

I have two exciting announcements to make.  The first is that Jerry Brown has accepted an appointment as visiting professor at the law school and the College of Natural Resources (CNR) at Berkeley.  That appointment would be exciting enough. But it goes hand in hand with my other news: the public launch of the California-China …

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