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Energy, Security, and Climate

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

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Showing posts for "oil"

FiveThirtyEight’s Data Problem

by Michael Levi
Current_Account_Balances

Nate Silver’s new FiveThirtyEight has been catching a lot of flak since it launched last week. Perhaps the harshest has been directed at the site’s retention of the often-contrarian climate analyst Roger Pielke Jr., with everyone from Paul Krugman to the Center for American Progresspiling on. The onslaught is disturbing. I’ve disagreed with Roger often, but he is genuinely well intentioned. People who care about getting good policy should want more thoughtful voices, not fewer, proposing options – and organized campaigns to run heterodox thinkers out of town are awfully ugly. Read more »

Could Tight Oil Mean the End of Big Oil Price Spikes?

by Michael Levi
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The current Economist has an article on U.S. oil and gas that repeats an increasingly common view: tight oil will make “future oil shocks less severe” since “frackers can sink wells and start pumping within weeks”. (Here’s a variant from The Atlantic last August.) That speedy response means that “if the oil price spikes, [drillers will] drill more wells”, quickly spurring new production, and taming any price spike. Read more »

The Most Important Part of the Keystone XL Environmental Impact Statement

by Michael Levi

The State Department has released its long-awaited final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline. The headline is straightforward: the pipeline is “unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands” and, as a result, world greenhouse gas emissions. This is essentially a status quo conclusion, reaffirming the essence of the draft EIS (released last year). It also allows President Obama to judge that the pipeline meets his requirement that the project “not significantly exacerbate the problem of climate pollution”. The report does, however, carve out one substantial exception. That’s worth drilling down into, because it’s what the President will likely lean on if he decides to say no. Read more »

Energy Independence Isn’t What’s Straining the U.S.-Saudi Relationship

by Michael Levi
saudi

The newest boom sparked by rising U.S. oil and gas production appears to be in articles about the troubled U.S.-Saudi relationship. The latest installment, provoked by the Iran nuclear deal over the weekend, ran today on A1 in the New York Times. “When you look at our differing views of the Arab Spring, on how to deal with Iran, on changing energy markets that make gulf oil less central,” Greg Gause tells the Times, “these things have altered the basis of U.S.-Saudi relations.” “New sources of oil,” the Times informs us, “have made the Saudis less essential.” Read more »

The “Oil Abundance” Narrative is Wrong

by Michael Levi
A mixture of oil, diesel fuel, water and mud sprays as roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside Watford, North Dakota, October 20, 2012. Picture taken October 20, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart A mixture of oil, diesel fuel, water and mud sprays as roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside Watford, North Dakota, October 20, 2012. Picture taken October 20, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

America has moved from oil scarcity to oil abundance, and our attitudes need to change in order to keep up. If the stream of headlines and panels is any indication, you’d have to be an idiot to disagree with that claim. Read more »

Two New Looks at Energy and Security

by Michael Levi

Three years ago, convinced that U.S. thinking about energy security was stuck in the past, my colleagues and I launched a new CFR effort on energy and national security. Today, forty years after the first oil crisis, CFR is publishing two new products of that effort. These follow earlier publications on energy market transparency, the pivotal role of spare capacity, Iran-related oil market contingencies, transformations in U.S. energy, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and cyber security for oil and gas, among others. Expect to see more work published in the coming months. Read more »

Keystone, Science, and Politics

by Michael Levi

Jeff Tollefson has an excellent new piece in Nature exploring the debate within the scientific community over Keystone XL. It makes two things pretty clear. As a matter of substance, there’s pretty much no one beyond Jim Hansen willing to come close to endorsing the “game over” claim. Yet there’s still a ton division among scientists – it’s over political tactics instead. Ken Caldeira captures the situation well: “I don’t believe that whether the pipeline is built or not will have any detectable climate effect,” he tells Nature. Nonetheless, here’s his bottom line: “The Obama administration needs to signal whether we are going to move toward zero-emission energy systems or whether we are going to move forward with last century’s energy system”. That sort of sentiment is political– and there’s nothing wrong with it – but, as the Nature article nicely shows, it’s distinct from any scientific debate. Read more »

Energy, Industry, and the Countryside

by Michael Levi

I’ve argued frequently that shale gas and tight oil development can be done safely, given the right practices and the right rules to ensure that those are followed. Over the past month, as I’ve traveled and talked to people about The Power Surge, I’ve heard one powerful countervailing sentiment several times: Even if fracking is done right, aren’t we talking about the industrialization of the countryside? And is that really something we should accept? Read more »