Wednesday, June 29, 2011

peak oil...continued...

In the book I write about peak oil and its consequences.  I just met an executive of an oil company at a book reading I did for The Failure of Environmental Education in Crested Butte.  His strong position:  there is ALWAYS more very low quality oil to be extracted (which becomes economically tenable when the price of easily extractable oil goes up as it dries up), and there is a LOT of coal.  He sees NO shortage of carbon.  Yes, it's going to cost more.  Yes, it's going to be messy.  But we're not going to run out.  He also believes that we shouldn't burn it all because of the environmental consequences.  He said that oil people know all about climate change and that he was fully in support of carbon taxes.  He (like me) believe that cap-and-trade would just make people on Wall Street rich and that progressive carbon taxes (higher taxes for lower grade, more polluting oil/coal) would be a reasonable disincentive for carbon extraction and emission.  I think such a tax would stimulate the development of carbon alternatives.

The one thing that I didn't discuss with him was properly pricing the externalities associated with low-quality carbon production...which would make extraction of low quality carbon even MORE expensive.

Interesting conversation!

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