If, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis claimed, states are the laboratories of democracy, then Mary Nichols is the Thomas Edison of environmentalism. Head of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), she has been a fierce champion of cutting-edge technology that is changing her state, a nation and the world.
This is actually Mary’s third turn at CARB. She served twice under then governor Jerry Brown, who held office from 1975 to 1982. She came back to CARB in 2007, preceding Brown’s return to the statehouse by four years. Prior to her most recent CARB stint, Mary worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Ed Morse, Citigroup’s top energy economist, has taken a fresh swipe at companies and countries that rely on the global petroleum edifice. With a typically vivid title—“The End is Nigh”—Morse argues in a new report that permanent changes in the ways we produce and consume energy are hollowing out oil demand, with head-spinning ramifications.
The nub of the March 26 report: If the market transformation resembles that which occurred after the 1979 Iranian Revolution (which Morse regards as a possibility), global oil demand would plummet by 18%, to around 74 million barrels a day from the current 90 million. Such a plunge would trigger political and economic havoc in petroleum export-reliant Russia and OPEC. It would shake out the oil industry. And it would happen regardless of what steps the major players took.
Re “Cost of fuel standard too high” (Letters, March 12): The American Lung Association in California is invested in the success of California’s clean fuels standard as a part of our mission to save lives and improve lung health. Californians face some of the harshest air pollution in America, largely because we are still hooked on oil.
Our kids, seniors and other vulnerable populations deal with ongoing challenges of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other chronic illnesses made worse by dirty air. Air pollution costs people healthy days, takes kids out of school and sports, and costs our state billions in health care and lost productivity costs.
The California Energy Commissionannounced yesterday, March 20, 2013, that it has approved $5,580,773 for clean-energy transportation projects in California. The projects include biofuels production and those related to reducing emissions from trucks.
If the projects are successful, they should help reduce transportation sector emissions which are the largest component of air pollution in Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley. Those emissions significantly contribute to the area having some of the worst air quality in the United States.
For close to a year, the companies that provide California with gasoline and diesel have warned that the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard is infeasible. A failure to recognize the implications of this warning risks potential fuel shortages and market disruptions in a few short years.
In response to these concerns, supporters of the standard argue the only thing making this regulation infeasible is the refusal of oil companies to invest sufficient dollars in the emerging fuels and technologies needed to make it work. This view was expressed with great clarity recently by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla who, perhaps inadvertently offered a compelling explanation why the low carbon standard cannot succeed.
In the ongoing debate of how to best reduce dependence on foreign oil, a number of misconceptions have gotten in the way of curing our national addiction. These popular “myths” can solidify into opposing views that prevent us from arriving at a reasonable consensus. Here we provide contrary perspectives on some of the most common myths, in order to find a common ground where all Americans can work together to replace foreign oil with cheaper, cleaner American-made fuels.