15 thoughts on “Spill, Baby, Spill

  1. Joe Loveland says:

    I take about seven steps, in fuzzy slippers, to work in the morning. I use a renewable and clean energy source, though I confess it sometimes does leave nasty fuzz balls under my desk.

    Newt, you know that I’m not arguing that we should all boycott gasoline. I’m arguing that we subsidize cleaner, renewable alternatives to gasoline, because gasoline use is much more expensive to society than its pump price communicates.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Just to be clear, if you leave oil indirectly subsidized while making alternatives to oil unsubsidized, you are making a policy decision that you want polluting, non-renewable oil to continue to monopolize.

      That’s not an argument against subsidization. That’s an argument for one-sided subsidization.

      1. Newt says:

        Nothing should be subsidized. If the marketplace wants cleaner, cheaper sources of energy, it will drive resources in that direction.

        I’d like nothing more than to get off the grid and stop paying the jet-setters at Excel. I’m waiting for reasonably priced wind/solar/geothermal/biofuel options so I can sever ties from the utilities. It will happen if the prices climb. Government doesn’t need to to insert artificial incentives.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Re: “nothing should be subsidized”

        Then should the oil executives, rather than the taxpayers, be required to pay the trillions to clean up their own spills, clean the air and water pollution they cause, oversee public safety rules for their dangerous pipeline, tankers and refineries, fund the trillion dollar wars we fight to ensure the safe passage of their product to consumers, and any other taxpayer supported accomodations taxpayers currently bankroll for them?

        If you would be okay with removing those indirect petroleum industry subsidies, I’d be okay having alternative sources go subsidy free, because oil would either be prohibitively expensive or off the market. If not, you’re not being true to your free market “nothing should be subsidized” direction.

      1. Dennis Lang says:

        I understand for instance that nuclear facilities (evidently hydrogen has proven to be a successful alternative in France) require ten to fifteen years just to earn back the initial investment. Why won’t the dismal rate of return alone discourage private money and necessitate continued subsidization of alternative technologies?

      2. Mike Kennedy says:

        Strip away subsidies for all. Oil has been, is and will continue to be cheaper, all else being equal. It’s why we have used it for more than 100 years and it will be the dominant source of energy well into the next generation.

  2. Ah, but do we trust them to take care of their messes? If the oil companies had to pay the full price of a clean up, would they really shell out the billions (and occasionally trillions) of dollars it takes (or more accurately, would they pay for enough insurance to cover those risks?) Or, would they simply pull their chutes and walk away from the problem by throwing the company into Chapter 11 to let the creditors and investors slug it out?

    I think we need hostages. If we’re going to let the free market dictate environmental protection, I’m fine with that as long as it’s coupled with a requirement that any time BP blows a rig or Con Ed scrams a reactor, the top 20 executives of the company and their families are required to live on site until the clean-up is complete. I’m betting with some skin in the game – specifically theirs and their families’ – we might see some meaningful preventive actions and some quick mitigation.

    And, the rest of us might feel a little more charitable to the masters of the universe pulling down obscene paychecks knowing that they’re living the high life but doing so under the Sword of Damocles. This could ground some of the anger and resentment that seems to permeate our society these days. “Honey, it sucks that the bank is foreclosing on our house, but at least we’re not as bad off as the CEO of BP and his family; they’re still on that houseboat!”

    Hey, we could even create a revenue stream by doing reality shows around the wacky adventures of executives living in the midst of their company’s disasters. I’m seeing a “Real Executives of Bhopal” kind of thing.

    Or maybe fewer captains of industry would choose to have families, knowing of the potential risk they might face. I wouldn’t lose a lot of sleep if a few of them didn’t reproduce.

    Just a thought.

    – Austin

    1. john sherman says:

      I always thought the solution for nuclear waste storage was to bundle it up in bricks and send it out with the utility companies’ dividend checks; when that stuff started festering in the rich folks’ habitats, it would suddenly become a problem worth solving.

  3. Becky says:

    Jon’s and John’s comments just made my evening. John–can we apply that idea to the neverending supply of snail-mail (or email, if we can make the stuff virtual) solicitations one receives no matter how many times one opts out of the offending mailing list?

    1. john sherman says:

      I think we need to start more automatic accountability projects; I’m not sure how it would work with either catalogs and spam, but I’m open to suggestions. My next idea is that global warming deniers should have to live on Pacific island nations like Tavalu with the freeboard of a surfboard. If they’re right, they get to live in an island paradise; if they’re wrong, the get to swim several thousand miles to Australia.

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