CFR Presents

Energy, Security, and Climate

CFR experts examine the science and foreign policy surrounding climate change, energy, and nuclear security.

Posts by Author

Showing posts for "Michael Levi"

A Clean Energy Revolution is Tougher than You Think

by Michael Levi
Flickr(CC)/Hiroo Yamagata Flickr(CC)/Hiroo Yamagata

Had you asked most analysts a year ago what it would take to decarbonize the transportation system without aggressive new policy you’d have got an answer something like this: You need low-carbon technologies that can beat $100 oil on its own terms. And if you ask the same question today about electric power, you’ll usually hear that zero-carbon technologies need to come in at costs under the ever-rising cost of grid-distributed, fossil fuel generated electricity, a rather fat (and growing) target. Read more »

The Environmental and Climate Stakes in Arctic Oil Drilling

by Michael Levi
Oil Drilling Arctic Environment Climate

On Monday, the Obama administration gave Shell conditional permission to move forward with Arctic oil drilling. The New York Times captures a common sentiment well in identifying this as a “tricky intersection of Obama’s energy and climate legacies”. The reality, though, is that this intersection isn’t nearly a fraught as many assume: decisions about offshore drilling in Alaska are indeed difficult, given the local economic and environmental stakes involved, but climate isn’t a central factor. Read more »

Five Things I Learned About the Oil Price Crash

by Michael Levi
Oil Price Crash 2015

The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a symposium yesterday on the causes and consequences of the oil price crash. Our three panels tackled the reasons for the crash and the future of oil prices; the economic fallout from the crash in the United States and around the world; and the geopolitical consequences of the oil price crash, both to date and going forward. (These links will take you to video of each session.) I trust that everyone took distinct conclusions away from the day. Here are five things I learned or hadn’t properly appreciated before: Read more »

A Must Read New Book on Oil, Finance, and Economic History

by Michael Levi
Market Madness

In 1863, with the first American oil boom “at full tilt”, Andrew Carnegie had an epiphany: the world would soon run out of oil. He and a partner “decided to dig an enormous hole, capable of holding 100,000 barrels of oil”, where they would stockpile crude “until the worldwide oil shortage had struck”. When that happened, they’d be rich – to be precise, they’d be millionaires. Read more »

The Oil Lesson of 1986 is Wrong

by Michael Levi

When I was on the road promoting The Power Surge in 2013, I regularly said two things: First, oil prices could easily plunge for a year or two, though it was far from certain that that would happen. Second, we would not see a repeat of 1986, when the hangover from a price crash lasted for well over a decade before high prices finally returned. Read more »

One More Reason to Raise the Gas Tax Now

by Michael Levi
Gasoline price gas tax 2015 REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Three months ago gas taxes were untouchable. Now, with oil prices down, they’re having a moment. Public voices from Larry Summers to Charles Krauthammer are calling for hikes. (Summers argues for a carbon tax; Krauthammer says the tax should be raised “a lot”.) More important, serious lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have gotten in on the game. The general thrust of the arguments on offer is that with oil prices falling, it’s now possible to raise the gas tax and still leave consumers better off than they were half a year ago. That right, but I think there’s an even stronger argument to be made. Read more »

What Low Oil Prices Mean for the Keystone XL Pipeline

by Michael Levi
Keystone XL Pipeline Reuters/Andrew Cullen

The 114th Congress is in session and the Keystone XL pipeline is at the top of its docket. Senate Republicans have vowed to push the pipeline through and President Obama has threatened to veto any bill that does that. After five years of battle, this is mostly more of the same. But one thing about the world has changed radically since the Keystone XL pipeline became a top tier issue: oil prices have plunged. So what do lower oil prices mean for the costs and benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline? Read more »