Thursday, March 17, 2016

The climate version of the Buckley Rule

David Roberts has an interesting piece up on Oregon's decision to eliminate coal power and increase renewable power to 50% by 2040 (on top of the existing large amount of hydropower). Quark Soup also covered it.

Roberts discusses whether the out-of-state coal power currently bought by Oregon will now just be sold to another state - he says California's experience shows that won't happen. I'm not quite as confident, but I do think it creates problems for coal power - no business wants to be shut out of a market where competitors have easy access.

I'm not clear about this but the EPA Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions could also play a role, if it survives Republican shutdown attempts. I think the emissions would count against the state utility that buys the power, not against the state where the power's produced, but maybe I'm wrong.

The other relevant point is where Roberts says the Oregon law worked by shutting out Oregon Republicans, who did everything they could to stop it but also had no control over it. This relates to the question of whether you should compromise/weaken your proposal in order to get a winning coalition.

In Oregon, they didn't need to include Republicans, but the state has Democratic majorities in both houses and a Democratic governor. For the 25 years I've followed the state, it's been Democratic-dominated, so they could do something that most states can't.

The Buckley Rule for conservatives said, more or less, that they should support the most conservative candidate who can actually win. A similar rule for climate policy should support the strongest policy that can actually pass. In Oregon they didn't need to weaken the proposal to get Republican votes, and it still won. That sounds like a great approach when that situation allows it to happen.


magmacc said...

"A similar rule for climate policy should support the strongest policy that can actually pass."

Combine this with the Overton window, the slippery slope and the thin edge of the wedge and maybe we'll be getting somewhere.

David B. Benson said...

All the coal burners upon which Oregon depends are due for retirement by the date set. The question is what generators will be the replacements.

Russell Seitz said...

I recall the Buckley Rule somewhat differently

Hank Roberts said...

Relevant, I think, to the Buckley Rule discussion:

as followed up in a more recent post there:

"... the world’s major oil companies, like ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron, are investing tens of billions in a bold attempt to create a global LNG and gas market over the next decades that they believe will be an essential part of the future low-carbon energy system. (Earlier this week, on 21 March, the $54 billion Gorgon LNG project in western Australia, built by these three companies, saw its first shipment of LNG depart for Japan.)

The problem is that natural gas is still a fossil fuel. So could something be done about that? According to Alex Gilbert, co-founder of US-based energy research platform Spark Library, the answer is yes.

Gilbert writes that carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is usually associated with coal-fired power plants, actually makes a lot more sense with natural gas facilities. It is much more efficient to use it with gas than with coal, says Gilbert.

Unfortunately, though, almost nobody is doing this...."


Apropos that generally, do have a look at Project Hieroglyph

and consider signing up -- and check the book out at your local library.

The science fiction about hopeful futures is amusing, a few bits are inspiring.
The links to their engineering discussions of the ideas in the stories are worth a serious look.

This fits one of the observations coming out of research on how people think -- that having a good story is far more powerful than having a collection of facts.