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  • Oil Subsidies Distort Energy Economics

    In an ideal world, our nation’s energy markets would be unbiased—no one would get subsidies or tax breaks, and prices on air pollution would make sure that health and environmental costs were not externalized onto the public.

    But that is not the world we live in today. Giveaways for oil and other fossil fuels, estimated to be on the order of $4 billion per year or more, distort the economics of how we power our homes, businesses and cars, often in ways that are not beneficial to the American public.

  • Fundamentally problematic economics

    The BP disaster was a stark reminder of the risks involved in accessing America’s oil reserves. One year later, too little action has been taken by the government to prevent a similar incident.

    While incorporating a “safety case” methodology into the laws and regulations governing offshore drilling may be helpful, a regulatory scheme that grants permission to drill too soon is fundamentally problematic. Even if an oil company were to identify all the risks of a drilling operation and implement safety plans to address them, the relatively less developed safety technology available today coupled with the more advanced (and more risky) drilling technology keeps the potential for disaster higher than necessary.

  • The option value of not drilling

    NYU Law School’s Institute for Policy Integrity has an important paper out today, explaining that the US is using a crazy system to determine whether to allow offshore oil drilling.

    Under something known as the Revised Program Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program 2007-2012, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement does a very basic cost-benefit calculation when deciding whether or not to allow drilling in a certain spot: it looks at the costs, and then at the benefits, and then if the benefits outweigh the costs, it gives the go-ahead.

  • Extreme Weather Helps Drive Food Prices to New Highs

    This food price news comes on the heels of new data on the cost of oil, which closed at more than $90 a barrel earlier this week. “The last time we had a spike in food prices, it was related to increased oil prices, and that’s because oil is an input into food for the production price,” said Michael Livermore, executive director of the Institute for Policy Integrity.

  • Oil Habit: How Can Cars Get Clean?

    Fuel economy standards and promoting electric cars are piecemeal policies that cost too much and gain too little. If fiddling around the edges of greenhouse gas restrictions is all we can hope for in the current contentious political environment, so be it, but for the biggest impact at the lowest cost, what is needed is a wholesale cap-and-trade on motor vehicle fuels.

  • Senator blocks budget director nominee over offshore drilling ban

    Yesterday, the White House lambasted Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) for her hold on their nominee to head up the Office of Management and Budget. Her goal: to force the president to lift the offshore drilling moratorium put in place in the wake of the largest oil spill in U.S. history so that the regulations governing offshore drilling could be examined and overhauled.

  • Safety regulators caught in revolving doors

    “It’s as though the nation is walking into a casino and spinning the roulette wheel every day,” says Michael Liver­more, a government regulation specialist and executive director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University law school. “It’s only a matter of time before we’re going to come up with snake eyes and have another disaster.”

  • Cleaning Up: President Obama must begin to lead the nation beyond oil

    Despite the loud cries to the contrary, there is an international consensus that the greenhouse gases that spur climate change have the potential to wreak havoc if aggressive action is not taken. A survey of 289 top economists released by New York University’s Institute for Policy Integrity in November found that most believe it would be cheaper to act now to prevent the worst potential effects of climate change than to deal with them later.

  • Revesz on waiting to drill offshore until the risks are lower and the benefits are higher

    With thousands of barrels of crude still pouring into the sea after BP’s disastrous oil spill April 20, the downsides of offshore oil drilling have become all too clear.

    That doesn’t mean that we should never extract the natural resources under our oceans. But it does mean we should wait until we can extract the highest possible price at the lowest costs to make sure Americans are being compensated for the enormous risks we take on when we allow drilling.

  • Revesz on waiting to drill offshore

    The choice of whether or not to drill is not a one-time decision; if we decide not to drill today, that does not mean we can’t drill in the future. Only the choice to drill is irreversible—once we use up a non-renewable resource, that’s it. The reserves of oil and gas offshore can be thought of as an option, one that has considerable value that we need to take into account.