Dominion Energy Joins Consortium Demanding Climate Change Legislation

Image credit: Power for the People VA

I am not making this up.  Yesterday, Dominion Energy joined a newly launched coalition of more than a dozen major corporations and environmental groups – CEO Climate Dialog.  This organization will urge Congress to pass climate change legislation.  Example members of the group include BP – an oil and gas company, Citibank, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Exelon – a power company and The Nature Conservancy, an environmental organization.

Six principles. The coalition published its six guiding principles on its website.  My summary:

  1. Make the US “demonstrably a leader on global efforts to effectively limit climate change” by reducing greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050.
  2. Focus on emission reduction outcomes rather than specific resources or technologies.
  3. Use an “economy-wide price on carbon” to encourage markets to “spur innovation, and create and preserve quality jobs in a growing low-carbon economy.”
  4. Create policies that are durable and responsive over time and across political cycles.
  5.  Ensure that policies “support the competitiveness of the U.S. economy”.
  6. Policies must promote equality, and invest in American workers and disadvantaged communities.

Is Dominion reading Bacons Rebellion? The CEO Climate Change Dialog launched yesterday, May 15.  On May 14 I posted an article on this blog titled, “Anthropogenic Global Warming is Real.  Now What?” That article defined four principles and a call to action for Trump supporters. For the sake of brevity and to emphasize that the ideas posted in my blog entry are mine and not necessarily those of Bacons Rebellion I will use the term “Rippert Framework” when referring to those ideas. At the high level of “principles” the CEO Climate Dialog and “Rippert Framework” have much in common. Speaking with moral authority = demonstrating global leadership. Focus on outcomes. Establishing an economy-wide price on carbon = externality charges. Crossing political cycles = appealing to Trump supporters. However, there are important differences. To wit:

  1. The “externality charges” under the Rippert Framework would be rebated to the people rather than kept (and almost certainly wasted) by the government. The principles of the CEO Dialog on Climate are silent on the use of the money raised through the proposed “economy-wide price on carbon”.
  2. There is no reference to “disadvantaged communities” in the Rippert Framework. The method of rebate in the Rippert Framework would benefit lower income people more than higher income people but I saw no need for politically correct virtue signaling. Commingling multiple agendas under the banner of “climate change” is one big reason that conservatives and libertarians question the real motivations of climate change believers.

Commentary – Can Dominion be believed? In a word, no. Dominion has had ample opportunity to catalyze and accelerate clean energy in Virginia. They have been dragged kicking and screaming into the minimal clean energy efforts they have taken to date. The US Department of Energy ranks Virginia as #37 of the fifty U.S. States in percentage of renewable energy production by state. North Carolina is #23, Maryland is #26 and Tennessee is #20. All three of these states border Virginia and are in our “geographic neighborhood.” Given the extent to which Dominion has bought and paid for our state government there is no reason our state wouldn’t rank considerably higher as a renewable energy producer if Dominion were serious about clean energy. In fairness, the other members of the CEO Climate Dialog may be quite sincere in their goal of combating anthropogenic climate change.

— Don Rippert

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54 responses to “Dominion Energy Joins Consortium Demanding Climate Change Legislation

  1. Remember that Dominion does nothing without permission from the SCC. Until recently, the SCC used the most restrictive payback analysis to evaluate initiatives from Dominion. (no, I am not a Dominion employee, but have been involved with efficiency programs in VA, NC, MD, and DC). A lot of initiatives that were successful in other states were not allowed in VA by the SCC.

    I agree we should have done better. We may be late to the party, but it is not a Dominion only decision.

    • The SCC has used the law written by Dominion as the basis of its decisions. Dominion told the General Assembly what it wanted, got it, and the SCC is simply applying what it was given. The SCC is not the source of Virginia’s lagging. Our utilities have not wanted to be ahead on renewables or energy efficiency. They have done everything possible to make our law unappealing and to keep the utility centered model – utility dominance. Our business community claims it can’t compete in a global market where our environmental laws are stricter than those in developing countries. These are the true reasons that Virginia is lagging.

      • I see the same thing. So, what are the odds of being able to put some focus and visibility on this in the upcoming elections? I think that if more people knew the shenanigans that Dominion and our politicians are pulling they would be favorably disposed to candidates who take the “no Dominion money pledge” and / or who promise to introduce and support legislation that would limit Dominion’s ability to make contributions.

    • The problem I have with that point of view is that Dominion is well known to be a massive campaign contributor to Virginia politicians from both parties. Those politicians write laws that the SCC enforces and elects the SCC. If Dominion wanted to go on a clean energy track I can’t believe Virginia’s politicians or the SCC would have stopped them.

      Alabama, Nebraska, Oregon and Virginia are the only four states which allow unlimited campaign contributions from corporations to state government candidates. 20 states prohibit corporations from making contributions altogether.

      I mentioned Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee as doing better than Virginia in the category of renewable energy production. Here are their campaign contribution limits (for corporations):

      Maryland – $6,000 per candidate with a $24,000 limit for all candidates across a 4 year election cycle.

      North Carolina – prohibited

      Tennessee – complicated … a corporation that donates more than $250 in aggregate must register as a PAC and then donations fall under the PAC limits. PAC limits – $11,800 for statewide candidates, $11,800 for Senate candidates, $7,800 for other candidates. However, No more than 50% of a statewide candidate’s or $118,100 of a legislative candidate’s total contributions may come from PACs. All amounts are per election.

      Of these three states Tennessee has the loosest campaign contribution laws. In the Virginia election cycle of 2016 – 2019 Dominion would have been in violations of Tennessee’s limits (as I understand them) for:

      1. Dick Saslaw
      2. Ralph NOrtham
      3. Ed Gillespie
      4. Frank Wagner
      5. Mark Herring
      6. Tommy Norment
      7. Terry Kilgore
      8. Kirk Cox
      9. Tom Hugo
      10. Chris Jones
      11. Ryan McDougle
      12. Charniele Herring
      13. Mark Sickles
      14. Maime Locke
      15. Louise Lucas

      In addition, Dominion funded numerous PACs which, in turn, made donations to candidates that would have exceeded Tennessee’s limits.

      Dominion acts in its own corporate best interests and within the laws of Virginia. I get that. However, to say that the SCC or the General Assembly somehow stifled Dominion’s clean energy goals seems unlikely to me. They did just what Dominion wanted, as usual.

  2. How can folks who say that GW is a fraud – support companies who want to fight GW by taxing folks for carbon? You’d think the skeptics would be up in arms over this,no?

    Do I trust Dominion? Nope. They are up to something no doubt and I’ll not be surprised at all if they go to the SCC and ask for a rate adjustment with guaranteed ROI… to add to their already lucrative revenue stream.

  3. If you are a utility, electrification is what the environmentalists are demanding America rapidly shifts to, so it is not all that bad as a future prospect.

  4. I disagree entirely with Don. This group actually has competence, and is comprised of serious people, who have long records of success. For example, the fact that Department of Energy ranks Virginia as #37 of the 50 U.S. States in percentage of renewable energy production by state is a great complement to Dominion and the energy generation system in Virginia, given the skyrocketing cost and inefficiencies in states the “lead the nation in renewable energy production. Image if Virginia had imitated the California. It would be broke, with the worst electric power grid in America.

    • Virginia is also something like 37th lowest carbon emissions, whereas 50 is the lowest.

      • TBill:

        Not sure I see that. Here is the source I usually consult. Since this is a discussion about Dominion I use state energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

        Virginia is #17 with the 12th biggest population. I assume this is because of the amount of nuclear power used to generate electricity in Virginia. The question of whether nuclear power should be considered “clean” energy is a good one. There are good points on both sides of that argument.

          • Don- Your data source above is good. So what I am looking at is Virginia’s ranking on per capita CO2 footprint (Table 6) and I was talking the year 2014. Looks like we slipped a few notches since 2014 but we are still 35 of 50 states whereas 50 is the lowest state CO2 footprint (Wash DC is lowest “state”).

        • Don- I will see if I can find my reference. I am talking about actual total carbon released within our state boundaries. Your numbers are probably talking about electric gen, which gets impacted by our choice of heat pump vs. home heat etc . So for example, NJ uses a lot of nat gas/oil to their houses, which is probably not counted in the study you are showing.

          That’s why Steve and me are saying RGGI is potentially unfair to Va. becuase our siutation different.

        • “The question of whether nuclear power should be considered “clean” energy is a good one. There are good points on both sides of that argument.”

          No, Nuclear is the only reliable solution, the base on which all other solutions must rest and depend on, for success in the quest of lowering carbons in sufficient amounts that reduce any threat they pose to acceptable levels.

          Gas is the solution to keeping renewable generation working reliably enough to have any real chance to grow to have any real and reliable impact at all on the problem, instead of in fact creating far more problems than it fixes.

          • I know you are enamored of nuclear as the best option. But who is going to pay the exorbitantly higher price for it?

            North Anna 3, a 1470 MW unit, was last estimated to cost $19 billion. This unit was to be the first of its kind built in the U.S. (a recipe for cost overruns) and the estimate was produced 15 years before the unit was expected operate. No wonder an analyst considered it to be the most expensive generating unit in the United States.

            Dominion spent $600 million on a plant that will not generate any energy. The ratepayers paid $300 million of it in the rate-freeze bamboozle. That is an infinitely high cost per kWh.

            The 1,600 MW Greensville combined cycle unit that began operation last year cost just $1.3 billion.

            Proponents have always mentioned that fuel costs are lower for nuclear units, but fuel comprises 34% of the cost of energy for nuclear units, when the cost of spent fuel disposal is included. And nuclear fuel is still selling below its cost of production, a situation that could change at any time.

            Fuel for combined cycle plants are probably about 35% – 45% of total energy costs.

            Dominion said it needed a subsidy to operate its Millstone nuclear plant in Connecticut. The Wall Street Journal said this was the most profitable nuclear plant in the U.S. How are new nuclear units expected to compete in the wholesale market, even with a carbon tax?

            We already have all of the gas-fired plants we need in PJM to back-up any variations in renewable output for the next decade, at least.

            Building more gas-fired units, based on a false notion that they are clean, only adds to our energy costs.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            I am amazed at those so concerned about the high price of nuclear when renewable generation is by far the most expensive in the marketplace and has been for decades, driving costs sky high with little but negative result, despite what its proponents say.

            Indeed, now yet again it is environmentalists who are piling those costs ever higher with the carbon tax that punishes everyday folks for the gross mistakes of environmentalists who policies have thwarted thwarted nuclear for forty years. But for the environmentalists, and those in the renewable business purely for money, there would be no need or rationale for a carbon tax at all. Nuclear long ago would have solved the problem.

            All that renewable power pushed by environmentalists has done at enormous cost and waste (including land and view-shed) is get in the way of the only proper and effective solution to carbon – nuclear power.

            In practical effect, renewables and their proponents are the biggest obstacles to real solutions.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            In short, absent a miracle, renewable generation will insure our failure to solve the carbon problem, if any, while at the very same time taking us on a wild goose chase to no-where but bankruptcy amid oceans of spinning steel blades, and solar panels across the land to the horizon. Meanwhile, a few among us, will get very rich and powerful, at everyone else’s expense and regret.

    • I didn’t criticize the group – only Dominion. The last sentence of the piece is explicit in that regard.

      Actually, the #1 state for renewable power generation is Idaho – a very conservative and Republican state. California is #25.

  5. Don is right. Further, Virginia is holding on for dear life to a utility system/law/regulations that supports the horse and buggy. We are holding on to the past, not adapting toward the future. Virginia didn’t need to imitate California, but we still need to adapt to the changes, leave fossil fuels behind as quickly as possible, start measuring health impacts and escaping methane, and develop an effective distributed generation system. Historically, we’ve done well but we are currently totally off the tracks to the future, seeking to extend the life of a system/law/regulations that will not meet our future needs.

    • California, despite all the rhetoric, is #25 by Dept of Energy’s calculations in power generated by renewables. We don’t need to imitate California but what about Tennessee or North Carolina? We should be able to get into the top 20 if we wanted to.

      • That seems misleading, so lets check. I mean we were just a week ago were walking on the Hoover Dam in Nevada/Arizona so I am sure they are Number 1 but to be honest Ca gets most all the electrons and water. New York, OR, WA, even VA and New England (via Canada) also have wonderful water resources.

        • The issue of carbon release from power generation is complicated by out-of-state generators. The Department of Energy views the carbon release as part of the generating state’s footprint regardless of where the electricity is used. This is the only practical approach since consortia like PJM may supply different states at different times with different amounts of electricity.

          California buys from Nevada/Arizona generators. However, that electricity is generated in Nevada / Arizona.

          • I know, but you seem to be using the ranking to suggest Ca. has not been a leader in new renewable capacity, which they have been (for solar) anyways.

  6. Find a way to deliver electricity at a price that is lower than what is charged to generate the same amount of electricity using fossil fuels. If so, people will want to change the sources of their power. You wouldn’t need a carbon tax. There must be pressure on all power generators to lower prices with renewables. If, on the other hand, electricity generated by renewable sources is more expensive, a carbon tax will simply harm the economy by transferring more income to inefficient products and government coffers.

    Any carbon tax proceeds will be used by politicians to spend on whatever they think will get them reelected and praised by the mindless MSM. Average Virginians are going to get screwed and screwed worse than Dominion is screwing them today.

    The Bible says that love of money is the root of all evil. I’d say it’s the love of other people’s money coveted by lawmakers and crony capitalists.

    • Either you believe in anthropogenic climate change / global warming or you don’t. If you don’t then the prices being charged for fossil fuel generated energy include the full costs (and company profit). If you do believe in anthropogenic climate change / global warming then the costs of fossil fuel based power generation are not fully captured and the prices are erroneous. I believe that global warming is real. Based on that there is an ecological subsidy for fossil fuel based power generation because the costs of that generation are not accounted for. If electricity was priced to include the true costs of generation renewable based generation might look a whole more economical. In any regard, there would be a lot of pressure to move to clean energy if you believe in global warming and electricity prices reflected that reality.

      “Any carbon tax proceeds will be used by politicians to spend on whatever they think will get them reelected and praised by the mindless MSM. Average Virginians are going to get screwed and screwed worse than Dominion is screwing them today.”

      That’s the biggest issue. The only way to stop this is to somehow rebate the monies collected to the people. For all its problems, Social Security has been perceived as money paid by the people that should be available to the people when they retire. It’s our money, not the government’s money. That belief has been what has made Social Security the “third rail” of American politics. Too dangerous for politicians to monkey with it. How do you lockbox the proceeds of the externality charge and everybody to see that money as their money and not the government’s? An alternate education / retirement saving account – maintained for each person with a balance they can see?

      • One can believe anthropogenic climate change and still believe most of the practioners are crooks. Most of the temperature measurements are not measurements but taken from adjusted modeling. I don’t know how much temperatures have increased because the data have been manipulated for personal gain. That doesn’t mean temperatures have not increased due to carbon emissions. That doesn’t mean that Dominion is telling the truth. Let’s look at the data and the data adjustments. If other scientific disciplines have significant levels of cheaters, why do we close our eyes to cheating in climate science?

        And why should people pay higher taxes when we will not do anything about the people owning property in areas likely to be flooded? We are allowing people to increase, rather than mitigate damages. We will have a huge transfer of wealth from working class America to those more wealthy.

        My problem is that we don’t discuss facts or test theories because climate change is religion. What kind of public policy decisions do we think we will get when we don’t deal with facts?

        And one more time, politicians are not going to rebate the money. Don’t be surprised when some one running for the Democratic nomination for President says carbon taxes can be used to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves or people whose ancestors didn’t get to come to the United States due to the immigration laws of 1872 or something else of that ilk.

        If government is as corrupt as you say (and it probably is), why would you want Congress or the GA messing with carbon taxes?

        • “One can believe anthropogenic climate change and still believe most of the practioners are crooks.”

          While I might quibble with “most” I could certainly agree with “too many”.

    • “Find a way to deliver electricity at a price that is lower than what is charged to generate the same amount of electricity using fossil fuels.”

      That is what many of us have been proposing. At this time, the lowest cost way of doing that is with solar (other than energy efficiency).

      But it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t hurt the utilities. We haven’t made that change yet, which is why Dominion wants to control most of the solar, to benefit its shareholders.

      But customers will pay more for solar built by Dominion compared to solar provided by an independent producer via a PPA, according to testimony from the Deputy Director of the SCC.

      It is hard to implement market-based policies when a monopoly power has a stranglehold on the legislative process.

      If only the utilities would recognize that a modern system would be good for them too. Then the economy of Virginia could boom with innovative solutions, lower energy costs and many new jobs.

  7. Today we have a grid with a range of generation resources — old coal and nuclear units, some oil-fired units, but most of the newer ones are intermittent solar or wind units, and fast-cycling natural gas fired units that can run whenever the sun or wind isn’t available.

    Dominion has made a play to build (or buy from others) natural gas and solar units in Virginia. Dominion’s generation arm owns nuclear as well; Dominion recently negotiated subsidies from the State of Connecticut to keep its Millstone nuclear unit in operation. And Dominion owns a large pumped storage unit which operates like a giant battery to absorb excess solar generation output by day and give it back after dark.

    A carbon tax will help make all of that portfolio of generation more valuable relative to other electric generating companies selling into the competitive wholesale markets of the Eastern Interconnection. Dominion, which has already pulled off ratepayer financing for all its own generation in the PJM “Dominion” Zone, would get to operate these units for greater profit in the PJM energy market if a carbon tax were applied to both Dominion and all its competitors in that market; it wouldn’t surprise me if the additional profit would way more than pay for their estimate of any carbon tax they would have to pay.

    Who can blame them for acting in their own competitive self interest, and a carbon tax is in Dominion’s self interest. Not to mention, there’s a public relations benefit here for appearing to support something deemed anti-utility “because it’s right.”

  8. Don and others on this blog should have been around in the early 1970’s. They would have loved Henry “Keep the Big Boys Honest” Howell.

    • I was around in the early 70s – living in Virginia. I remember Howlin’ Henry Howell as my Dad would call him (Dad was not a fan). I turned 18 in 1977 and voted in the November election – although I’m pretty sure that I voted for Dalton over Howell. I was a staunch Republican back in those days. At that young age I hadn’t yet come to realize what a cesspool of corruption we have for a state or I would have given ole Howlin’ Henry my vote.

      Paraphrasing a line from the opening song to “All in the Family” …

      Mister we could use a man like Henry Howell again.

      The only guy I see as being closed to the populist bent of Howell is Chap Petersen. He did try to make political donations from Dominion illegal.

  9. The main principles espoused by the coalition are as follows:

    1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Using more gas instead of coal does not reduce GHGs, just CO2.

    2. Focus on outcomes not specific technologies

    Putting a tax on carbon that artificially promotes gas over other choices favors a specific technology that does not achieve the stated goals of the coalition – reducing greenhouse gases.

    3. Economy-wide carbon tax

    Again, this should be focused on GHGs not just carbon. The subsidy proposed by the coalition would give the energy industry decades more of expanding fossil fuel use (more gas) under the guise of helping with global warming.

    Look at the members of this coalition. They are the nation’s leading energy companies that have built their wealth using fossil fuels. They want to shift primarily to using one fossil fuel – gas, to continue their dominant position in controlling our energy system.

    Nature Conservancy was duped into supporting this proposal based on its acceptance of the “best-practices” that the energy companies said they would use to develop fossil resources. The best-practices that Nature Conservancy was told would be used to build gas pipelines have not been implemented by the MVP or the ACP. The MVP was recently fined over $250,000 for violations in West Virginia. Over 300 violations by MVP are under review by the Virginia DEQ. The EPA is considering criminal penalties. Best practices, indeed.

    The same inadequate practices are occurring on the ACP in West Virginia. Even the “best-practices” that gained Nature Conservancy’s support are not sufficient to protect against landslides and severe erosion on the steep slopes in West Virginia and Virginia. Numerous landslides have been documented related to new pipeline construction in this area. FERC inspectors are aware of the problem, but no action has been taken.

    This is yet another corporate PR campaign to convince policy-makers and the public to “listen to what we are saying but don’t look at what we are doing.”

    4. Durable policies

    This sounds like a desire to keep policy control in the hands of industry, and immune from shifts in public opinion and changes in administration.

    5. Policies should support the U.S. economy

    I read this as a manifesto to increase LNG exports. That will only help Wall Street and the energy companies unless our distorted policies create a temporary surplus of gas (it’s happening now) that will lower domestic prices for a time.

    The best way to support the U.S. economy is to keep our energy use about the same, even as we increase our population and economic activity. New conventional power plants increase our energy costs. Modern energy solutions provided by innovative new companies increase employment and decrease our energy costs.

    Solar installer and energy efficiency worker are the fastest growing job categories in the U.S. These are long-term jobs that last for decades, not the few months of work provided by pipeline projects and power plants.

    We could transform our transportation sector and reduce its carbon footprint by moving to EVs without a substantial increase in our electricity production, if we do it right.

    So many opportunities exist to create jobs, lower energy costs, and make U.S. industry more competitive, but Dominion’s coalition wants to maintain the status quo and retain their control over energy policy at the expense of American citizens. These companies can prosper too, but in a way that benefits the rest of us.

    6. Promote equality and disadvantaged communities

    If Dominion really believes this principle, they would have behaved differently and should reconsider their proposal to impose a huge compressor station on the Union Hill community.

    There is no reason the compressor station is located in the midst of several hundred Virginians, mostly of African American descent. It was more convenient to purchase one parcel of property instead of several. But telling FERC and the Virginia Air Quality Review Board that a community of nearly 200 people does not exist, because it would have triggered an Environmental Justice review, fails to promote “equality.”

    This coalition appears all about talking the talk not walking the walk.

    • Yep….Sorry, I missed the discussion by attending….an energy conference! Which continues this morning and I have to hit the road soon…This statement, much like the one Cuccinelli recently issued, is more politics than energy policy.

      • Politics? Yes. But political awareness is like turning on the lights in a kitchen overrun with cockroaches. The light doesn’t kill the roaches but it illuminates the problem. Hopefully, the “hide in plain sight” politicians for life in the General Assembly will start to get that uncomfortable sense of suddenly being watched.

  10. The business case has always been available for anyone to read and understand. Politics and ignorance have trumped public policy and that’s why we have not made the necessary changes.

  11. A carbon tax will cause an economic disaster in the United States.

    And if we are required to believe climate scientists, what about economists? And meanwhile none of the greenies are calling to stop building and rebuilding in floodplains.

    How do you implement a carbon or GHG tax without creating a massive system of income transfers? And the size of the bureaucracy needed to implement this will be much larger than the current IRS.

    • “A carbon tax will cause an economic disaster in the United States.”

      You are right, TMT. In addition, will not a carbon tax drive us in the wrong direction given today’s mindless attack on gas and nuclear, and our gross failure to understand and appreciate the severe limitations on renewable energies ability to effectively solve the problem at all, absent gas and nuclear? And, also our gross failure to understand the “all in cost” of renewable power after this is over and done with, leaving us no better off than before?

  12. That article is not saying carbon tax is a disaster.
    You can consider gasoline tax as a carbon tax. Pennsylvania in recent years enacted a very large gasoline tax increase. Pa. did not experience economic disaster. Pa. probably did not transfer the wealth very well, but maybe they did something, not sure.

    Also Ca. has enacted a carbon cap-and-trade tax, so companies like gasoline marketers have to pay up extra. Not saying I like cap-and-trade, I hate it. Ca. does give some money back to needy and gives electric vehicle drivers money back to defray their costs. Just saying Pa. and Ca. have not died in the face of a carbon tax.

    • If a carbon or greenhouse gas tax is passed along to consumers and set at a level that includes the cost of all externalities, as argued for herein, the tax would likely be set at a very high level and increase the price of energy and all goods and services substantially. I submit that such a tax would create a substantial burden on many people that, in some cases, would push them over the economic edge.

      Unless the additional taxes are returned to the payers dollar for dollar, there will be a transfer of wealth. Who pays? Who receives? What about the transaction costs? How much will the government and crony capitalists be able to skim off the top?

      Tell me what government program produces the projected results at the projected costs. From $600 toilet seats in the military to Obamacare saving the average family more than $2000 annually while they get to keep their family doctor, government is inefficient and often ineffective. And no one in office or running for office will stand up to owners of property in floodplains by requiring them to pay the full cost of flood insurance and taxes to cover local mitigation, as well as restricting their right to build or rebuild in a floodplain. No rational policy addressing the effects of climate change can ignore our current use of shorelines and be considered to be anything but a plan to fleece the public.

      If you look at the records, most of what flooded in Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy was located on land reclaimed from the sea. Much of San Francisco, especially the Financial District, is built on reclaimed land. Much of Washington, D.C. was swamp and flooded but reclaimed. If people had built just on land not reclaimed from the water, the amount of mitigation needed to address climate change would be less. Why should energy users pay for this? Shouldn’t these landowners pay for this externality?

      • Maybe all sources of energy should pay tax, because we should focus more on energy generation as an issue, no matter how it is done. In the case of carbon tax, my view is fossil fuels are a limited resource which should not be squandered….future generations may need some. Also there is some pollution associated with all forms of energy. So it makes some rational sense to conserve natural resources. This potentially also applies to electrification via renewables, but there is some merit to encouraging alternate energy, in part because rapid world growth of energy demand simply cannot be met by fossil fuels alone.

        • Agree in a need to prevent exhaustion of fossil fuels. But if a massive movement (probably not complete) to renewable energy sources is so much in the public interest and if the forward-looking costs/prices of renewable energy are less than the forward-looking costs/prices of fossil fuel energy, shouldn’t the market (at least in theory) itself move over time to a phaseout of most fossil fuels to the use of mostly renewable sources of power? Why can’t we use a carrot instead of a giant club?

          I agree we need to deal with Dominion. But instead of screaming for higher taxes/prices for energy, why are the greens (and the fricking business community) attacking Dominion’s approach and making Thomas Ferrell the moral equivalent of Al Capone? Are the greens in bed with Farrell? I know the business community is. If 3rd-party producers can deliver green power at retail prices that undercut Dominion’s retail commodity prices, why aren’t Virginians being hit with this information multiple times per day? Why aren’t they told Thomas Farrell and his Company are the roadblock to cheaper, renewable energy? There is clearly something rotten in the state of Denmark.

          I think the call for carbon taxes is scheme not so much intended for reducing GHG but to find another source of people’s money to squander.

          • Dominion has fairly effectively co-opted the media. Their PR juggernaut floods the media with a message that serves their purpose. Most organizations do this nowadays, but Dominion is very good at getting heard. I only wish they would stick to the facts. Once a false narrative gets well established, it is hard to root out.

            Two things make it hard for market forces to be the sole actor in Virginia:
            1) Dominion successfully gets laws passed that are favorable to its interest that obstruct open market competition with technologies that it feels harms their interest. It is easy to demonstrate that third-party providers can develop solar at a lower cost than utility solar in the rate base, so Dominion gets a law passed that limits this and empowers it to control most of the solar in the state.

            2) by getting approval to build more gas infrastructure (power plants and pipelines), Dominion has locked in 35-40 years of guaranteed profits, even if the facilities are not used to the extent expected. This forecloses opportunities for cleaner, less expensive technologies.

            They appear willing to co-opt the carbon tax structure in order to encourage more gas usage and give a revenue boost to their nuclear facilities, which they intend the public to pay for in full even if the energy from them is uneconomic.

  13. I get the connection between carbon emissions and temperature changes even though I believe much data is being manipulated. But I didn’t see a lick of proof in Grantham’s article that higher temperatures are causing specific weather events. Where is the proof that there are more extreme weather events now than earlier? And one must get around the fact that instant media record everything now and we likely have lots of events from the past that were not recorded. Let’s see the evidence.

    What we really have is a likely core of truth, the earth is warming and some of the warming is likely caused by the emission of GHG by humans. But layered to the truth is a lot of fraud designed to let individuals profit from climate change and a general ignorance of climate science probably from 99.9999% of the population. Climate change is a money train and many people are trying to get on board. 200 years from now, historians may poke at humanity for going too slow on reducing GHGs but will also point out that climate science, cheating and fear-mongering resulted in one of the biggest and most fraudulent transfer of wealth from the working and middle classes to the elites in human history.

    • TMT, well said! Many of the Climate Change folks have so exaggerated the Impending Doom, so damaged their own credibility and pursued their own unrelated agendas so aggressively, pushing remedial schemes that are wildly unrealistic, that I remained a skeptic of the evidence of warming itself for a long time. I still don’t trust the folks who say the weather is going to become so bad it’s tantamount to “the sky is falling.” The warming that is demonstrably taking place is going to change the climate for sure, not destroy it. For certain crops and activities there will be big winners. Scientific American had a feature a while back on the exact locations where certain wine growing regions would likely spread into northern Europe and North America, for example.

      The one thing we can say with certainty is that the sea level will rise fairly fast in this century — even if we dial back the GHGs to prevent further increases. The glaciers and ice caps are already melting rapidly in (historically) unprecedented ways. Pay attention to those sea level rise estimates and to the coastal flood maps put out there by USGS and FEMA, showing what a 6 foot rise in the standard high tide would do, a 20 foot rise, 50 foot rise, etc., etc. And since much of the world’s population lives in low-lying coastal plains (usually, areas that are flat precisely because they were under the sea in prehistoric times), there is going to be a lot of third world population displacement, and there will be a lot of local decisions even in the U.S. to be made whether to abandon a place or try to stem the rising tides.

      Rising sea level is insidious: it doesn’t simply mean a house will become surrounded by water one morning. Instead a normally dry neighborhood begins to suffer flooding in storms and unusually high tides more frequently, insurance claims become bigger, recovery to normal after events becomes slower, barriers cease to prove adequate, floodwaters that make it past the barriers cease to drain fast enough, or at all, and require faster and bigger pumps. At some point abandonment and relocation of the people there would make sense but who will decide that, who will enforce that, who will pay for it, who will insure those who remain? It’s easy for me to say, that’s the next generation’s problem.

      At the very least Virginia should be clamping down ASAP on new construction in our coastal marshes and vulnerable floodplains (and on the eligibility for FEMA insurance that makes that construction possible).

  14. That article goes down in the Hall of Fame of blaming everyting on climate change. Severe top soil loss forcing famers to use exotic preticides which has killed 75% of all insects, due to climate change? I thought that was due to corn ethanol.

    • I guess Barron’s, the insecure little brother, is kicking back at its big brother WSJ, who finally got itself able to sort out fact from hype and fiction after sending it all back to the Washington Post.

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