CFR Presents

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

Freeport LNG Export Terminal Approved; What Does it Mean?

by Michael Levi Friday, May 17, 2013

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced this afternoon that it had conditionally approved the application of Freeport LNG Expansion LP and FLNG Liquefaction LLC to export up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries with which the United States does not have special free trade agreements. I’ve written at some length before about the potential consequences of LNG exports in general. But what might the exports from this particular facility mean? Read more »

Another Way to Think About Short-Lived Greenhouse Gases

by Michael Levi Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Climate discussions of late have focused a lot of so-called short-lived forcers. These are substances such as methane and black carbon that don’t stay in the atmosphere for all that long but trap a lot of heat while they’re there. Analysts use global warming potentials (GWPs) as shorthand to compare these gases with carbon dioxide. For example, over a 20-year period, methane traps 72 times as much heat as carbon dioxide, giving methane a 20-year GWP of 72. Read more »

Cap-and-Trade is Faltering in Europe, But the Problem Isn’t What You Think It Is

by Michael Levi Monday, May 6, 2013

The last couple weeks have seen a steady stream of news articles heralding the near-death of Europe’s cap-and-trade system. The basic story is straightforward. After the European Parliament declined to effectively tighten the emissions cap in the continent’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), prices for emissions permits plunged. Since high permit prices are required to drive serious energy-system transformation, many people have concluded that the ETS – and by association cap-and-trade more broadly – is bust. Read more »

Energy and Climate Issues Awaiting Mike Froman at USTR

by Michael Levi Thursday, May 2, 2013

With Mike Froman nominated to become U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), change in how the White House handles international energy is sure to follow. But Froman won’t be able to leave energy or climate behind as he moves across the street. I see at least five areas in the offing where the USTR is going to be drawn into energy and climate. Read more »

Book Happenings

by Michael Levi Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My book The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future will be published next Thursday. Below you’ll find a current listing of public events for the book. But first a request: I know that many readers of this blog have bought or received early copies of the book. If you liked it, and think others would too, I urge you to post a review on Amazon. It turns out that those matter a lot; I’ll be most grateful to anyone who takes a few minutes to do that. And now on to the events (all links below are to events pages with further information)… Read more »

Could Cheap Natural Gas Undermine a Carbon Price?

by Michael Levi Monday, April 22, 2013

Cheap natural gas has split the climate debate into two camps. One celebrates the development, emphasizing that natural gas cuts emissions when it replaces coal, and arguing that abundant gas reduces emissions as a result. The other bemoans the news, noting that inexpensive natural gas makes it tougher for zero-carbon energy to compete and arguing that this will ultimately result in higher, not lower, emissions. Read more »

Is This What Energy Independence Looks Like?

by Michael Levi Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is out with a partial release of its Annual Energy Outlook (AEO), a modeling exercise that looks at what the next twenty-five years or so might hold. One of the most interesting elements is a case where the United States achieves (by the mid-2030s) what some call “energy independence” – a state where its net import of liquid fuels drop to zero. To create this case, the EIA modelers pump up pretty much every assumption they can, trying to close the gap between U.S. supply and demand. Here’s what it takes: Read more »

How David Stockman Explains Irrational Hatred of Clean Energy Spending

by Michael Levi Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Skeptics of government spending on clean energy have reasonable grounds to question whether Washington is capable of effectively investing in efforts to commercialize new technologies. The last few weeks, though, have reinforced a far deeper and more problematic hostility toward government spending on clean energy innovation that makes pragmatic compromise all but impossible. Read more »

Is the Ethanol Mandate Pumping Up Gas Prices?

by Michael Levi Monday, April 1, 2013

An esoteric fight of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2), which mandates that the United States use an increasing volume of ethanol each year, has become a bit more prominent in recent weeks, with some accusing the mandate of contributing to rising gasoline prices in new and troubling ways. I remain perplexed as to what exactly is going on – more on that a bit further down – but I do find the defense from the Renewable Fuels Association, published last week in the form of a white paper commissioned from Informa Economics, hugely unpersuasive. Read more »