A detailed conversation with energy experts Jesse Jenkins & Leah Stokes about what is in the climate/energy portion of the Inflation Reduction Act, what's been taken out, and the overall impact of the bill. Don't miss this one.
In between bouts of straining to grasp at any possible way I can remotely impact Kyrsten Sinema to support this bill, I want to thank you David for helping us all keep our eyes on the prize in this struggle. You have consistently reminded us of the big picture for the last several years and helped the climate movement come close to achieving a remarkable feat. In my little corner of the climate movement organizing docs and health professionals I've found incalculable value in your insights and the insights of guests you bring on this show. On behalf of myself, my young kids, and my patients, thanks Dave.
This podcast pleases me on a number of fronts. While I admit that sometimes the numbers has my head spinning, overall it makes me smile to hear of the opportunities the present bill offers our government to seed our economic engine for the transition away from fossil fuels.
(It also makes me smile to hear David Roberts sound happy and optimistic. Hope you are feeling better David!)
Regarding the leasing of Federal lands for oil/gas exploration discussed about 48 minutes in...I think the impact of what some call a “poison pill” in order to get the bill passed is less than what most people think.
The oil/gas leases in question is payment by the industry to the Federal government in exchange for exclusive rights to drill on the leased property. As pointed out in the podcast, the drilling does not always takes place. And if the lease is drilled, there is no guarantee oil/gas is produced. There are two basic reasons why.
One is the well may be a dry hole — meaning no oil/gas is found. As of 2008, the EIA reports this happens about 7% of the time for wells drilled to develop an existing field and about 31% of the time when the well is drilled to explore for a new field.* (I would expect these numbers to be less today knowing the trend over time with better technology.)
The other reason is the well just simply is not profitable to produce. In simplistic terms, the owner of the well must decide if the cost to get the oil/gas to market is less than what the oil/gas is selling for. If solar/wind electricity and the needed auxiliary technology (e.g. energy storage) continues their favorable economic direction, then we can expect the demand for oil/gas in transportation, heating, and electricity generation to go down. Given the known and proven oil/gas reserves already on the industry’s books and the forthcoming decline in oil/gas consumption, the question then begs itself, “Why spend money drilling new wells?”
So the bottom line is, just like economics is closing down unprofitable coal plants, it is economics that will render this “poison pill” a moot point.
p.s. Now let’s get a speedier process for the needed transmission lines in place!
I think one of the biggest lessons to learn, and hopefully the Dems can learn it, is to go for big, problem solving bills. Be ambitious, since ambition does occasionally get rewarded.
I also hope that the Dems can pick up at least one seat, so we’re never again on the tip of the whip being wielded by a prima donna like Manchin. He enjoyed being the pivot point for the bill a bit too much for my taste.
Wow, what an amazing conversation. I was particularly moved by the last 15 minutes of the podcast. I am just your average citizen in the climate education and advocacy trenches. So it is SO encouraging to hear from you as tenacious, focused professionals explain the provisions of this bill, how it came together, and the impact it will have for decades to come. I will call my reps in Congress today as you have urged. I am so grateful for the work of all three of you.
I am pretty thrilled this has passed step one. Now so long as it passes the house and then passes the conference and gets signed. I’ll still be holding my breath for a while on it til it get through the remaining less daunting legislative gauntlets.
Then the local zoning fights to block parts of this bill will begin in earnest. The nimby climate battles have only been skirmishes so far, all out nimby war will be the next battlefront in climate.
Then in four or five years from now when the first baby steps from the IRA are implemented I will be hoping democrats can hold onto enough power so that everything in the bill can be implemented. At a minimum I hope democrats hold onto enough power that something/anything from the bill gets implemented, but since it won’t have any effect for half a decade I remain pretty nervous.
Still this bill is more reason to hope than we have had in a long time, and that’s something to celebrate.
I am so excited to see this bill pass the Senate, now onto the House! Thanks Leah for always including a call to action in your statements. It's wonderful to hear this all-star group express so much well-founded optimism!
Now I'd like to see some avowedly pro-climate billionaires (Bloomberg and Steyer, looking at you) buy up all those oil+gas leases and sit on them. Is that so much to ask?
Great all-star cast on the pod!
I think much more CCS and nuclear will be developed than projected by Dr. Jenkins. In the rural areas where renewables are located in the models, the locals have developed a deep loathing of wind and solar, and are well along the road to "short circuiting policy," to harass, slow or stop any particular renewable project. At the same time, they are mapping CO2 injection hubs, domestic uranium plans, etc.
In the last few months nearby, some county commissioners overruled their own P&Z to shoot down an 80 MW solar farm. The Southern Utes endorsed a CCS gas powerplant and my state senator and county commissioners proposed a nuclear plant to replace a large coal plant nearby. This in an area with 100s of thousands of empty acres which could house solar, and near Wyoming's wind. The boosters in these areas will be shovel-ready for CCS and nuclear, and counting their 10% extra ITC for "energy justice," while solar and wind developers are tied in knots by interconnection and permitting delays and domestic content problems.
I know fracked wells only last several years, so more will be needed for a while to supply the gas needed as a backup and heating fuel. But as a resident of Gasfield County CO (13,000 wells and counting) the minimum O&G lease areas are troubling. In the next county, some barely trammeled aspen forest is in play for O&G above the organic orchards of nearby Paonia. (The BLM runs the O&G leases on USFS land.) The law calls for 2M onshore acres per year to be "offered." This may be less than average "offered" in the past decade, but that average seems to have been inflated by some very large areas offered but not leased in Alaska. An average of 1M acres per year were actually leased, so if the offered areas are remotely desirable, leasing will go up or stay level.
I do hope that this re-invigorates solar and especially onshore wind. Maybe I'll even get a few bucks for the remaining electrification and efficiency projects at home.
Presuming that this bill gets passed, I'm curious to find out what it will do in a state like Tennessee, which is really behind the curve. HVAC contractors discourage heat pumps because they "don't work well and freeze up when it gets cold." And solar contractors try to sell you natural gas generators instead, because the local power company doesn't do net metering and actually charges you a monthly fee to generate your own power. When at the same time they ask you to reduce your usage when it gets too hot and not to use the oven. (But I digress)
One comment, Leah Stokes said that with the incentives and increased production, there would be more rooftop and municipal solar. In California the largest use of solar is with solar farms, which are more than double the rooftop solar energy usage. Solar farms are either privately owned or utility owned. I think that each state makes the decision on how much renewable energy must increase each year, but I am wondering if this climate bill has this authority to say there must be a certain % increase of solar power installed each year.
This NPR investigation highlights what happens when promising technologies aren't supported, funded and KEPT in the US. https://www.npr.org/2022/08/03/1114964240/new-battery-technology-china-vanadium
HEARTBREAKING! I hope with this funding for promising energy producing and climate change mitigating technologies with stay in the US to benefit us and the rest of the world
Given that this spending is to be over 10 years, what do you feel is the probability that it would just be repealed if Republicans gain power in November?