Varun Sivaram

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

Will the Volcker Rule Crush American Energy?

by Michael Levi Thursday, March 29, 2012

A new study out yesterday claims that the Volcker rule, intended to push proprietary trading out of the banks, could end up slamming the U.S. energy sector, slashing two billion cubic feet a day off natural gas production and costing two hundred thousand jobs. The alarming report, commissioned by Morgan Stanley and written by the consultancy IHS, is making waves. I am, to put it mildly, not convinced. Read more »

Americans Don’t Seem to Want Lower Gas Prices

by Michael Levi Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It’s difficult to open a newspaper or turn on the TV without hearing that Americans are apoplectic about skyrocketing gas prices. If ever there was a moment to channel public anger toward policy progress, this would seem to be it. So I was intrigued to see a new poll from Hart Research Associates, commissioned by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, which tests a series of messages about gas prices and policy responses to see which ones would work best. Read more »

Natural Gas and Climate Change: It’s Policy that Matters

by Michael Levi Monday, March 19, 2012

Study after study seems to be reaching the same conclusion: abundant natural gas is no solution for climate change. Indeed some scientists, having looked at the numbers, have come to an even harsher conclusion: there is so much unconventional gas in the ground that our only hope for dealing with climate change is to leave it untouched. Read more »

Using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve: In for an Inch, In for a Mile

by Michael Levi Thursday, March 15, 2012

Oil prices are on the rise, and with them so are rumors of a possible release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. I’m ambivalent about the wisdom of a release later this year, on both economic and political grounds. In this post, though, I want to drill down on a separate point: the United States should only release oil from the SPR if it’s fully committed to further releases as the year goes on. Read more »

Did Natural Gas Save the Pennsylvania Economy?

by Michael Levi Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It’s become popular to point to record low unemployment in North Dakota in order to show how greater oil and gas production could transform the U.S. economy. I’ve argued on several occasions that the numbers simply don’t add up at the national level. Over the past couple days, Paul Krugman has gotten in on the game, hammering away at the fact that the North Dakota case simply doesn’t scale up. Read more »

From Tehran with Love

by Daniel P. Ahn Monday, March 12, 2012

As the Iranian oil embargo begins to bite, the widespread assumption is that this should hurt Iran’s oil revenues and government budgets, hopefully inflicting enough economic pain to bring them to the bargaining table. But rather counterintuitively, some basic economics suggest Iran may have cause to thank the United States, European Union, and embargo participants for helping raise their total oil revenue! Read more »

What Do High Gas Prices Mean for the 2012 Election?

by Michael Levi Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pundits love to talk about how gasoline prices might influence the upcoming presidential election. So it might surprise people to know that political scientists have spent precious little time investigating the relationship between oil and electoral outcomes. The first step in getting our arms around how pain at the pump might play at the ballot box is to pull together some good data. Trevor Houser has done us the favor of delivering just that. Read more »