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To tackle climate and oil, what we really need to do is reduce oil consumption.

Michael Levi - Business Insider

You can reduce consumption and increase production the same time. You balance with lower imports. When someone says expanded U. To get people to use more oil, the oil has to be cheaper.

Review: The Power Surge

We can also talk about the electricity world. Abundant natural gas makes the economics of renewables a bit more challenging. It is still cost and the question of government policy. But there are ways for renewable energy and natural gas to work together. Renewable energy is delivered inconsistently, while natural gas can be turned on and off rapidly to fill in those gaps. There are conflicts. But we are better off when we focus on the real tensions between different sources instead of imagined tensions.

What are the real tensions? The first big place is on local environmental concerns and squaring them with national goals. Whether it is hydraulic fracturing for natural gas or large solar arrays in the desert where people want to protect land, our local environmental desires run up against the developments that can benefit us nationally. We need an intelligent informed conversation about that. On oil production and consumption, in the near term reducing U.

You can square increased production with lower consumption. In the long run, if you want to tackle climate change, you will need lower-oil consumption, and that will affect U.

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On the renewable-energy front, natural gas is displacing coal rather than renewable power. It cuts emissions but does pose a risk to renewable-energy growth and the development of that technology.


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We talk about energy independence, but you make the case that oil is sold on a global market. Is energy independence anything more than just a slogan? It is rarely more than a slogan. People use the phrase energy independence as shorthand for producing as much oil as you consume. If in we could have produced as much oil as we consumed, the impact would have been enormous. Does that go for those in the renewable-energy community who make the same claim that we need to become energy independent?

Those who say we can become more energy secure by reducing demand for oil have a stronger platform. But it takes a long time to reduce demand. You can increase oil production faster than you can cut oil use in cars and trucks because the typical car stays on the road for 15 years or longer.

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It takes a long time to turn the fleet over. Where people are stuck in the s is the idea that wind or solar can get us off foreign oil. In the s we used a lot of oil in power plants. We often here about the national-security benefits of Canadian oil sands. Are those claims accurate? The security benefits of more Canadian oil production have been greatly overblown.

They are not zero. When Libya went haywire two years ago, Canadian oil went up more than Mideast oil did. But expanded Canadian production does help keep the price of oil down a little bit, and that helps the economy. There are real climate damages from Canadian oil, but the climate damage and the economic and security benefits are small. The real impacts are local, where the oil is produced in Alberta, and those are issues that Canadians struggle with all the time. The U. So how do we get these two sides of the energy debate working together?

But ultimately both sides can get more from an approach that capitalizes on developments across the board than in just trying to beat the other side down. They just disagree, often vehemently, about what matters most and the best way to deliver it. The book does a decent job of explaining the immensely complex global oil market and the US role within it, a topic whose surface can only be scratched by an entire graduate-level college course. Levi maintains a no nonsense, unbiased approach and readily calls out exaggerations made by groups on either side of a given issue.

API estimates 10 million employed, but that figure includes all the people working at nearly , gas stations across the country.

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The climate change discussion really excels, which makes sense as Levi is the David M. But no one is calling for Washington to issue a ban on turning on lights; the benefits of having light outweighs the damages. Tailpipe emissions are one of the largest US carbon footprint contributors and Levi provides detailed treatment of the new technologies transforming the US transport sector, from electric vehicles to high-efficiency internal combustion engines.


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Ultimately, he finds the move toward more efficient vehicles beneficial for the US economy, the environment and national security. Levi reaches the conclusion that there are two energy revolutions currently playing out in the US: A clean energy movement that helps combat the effects of climate change and a hydrocarbon production renaissance. We will never sell or share your information without your consent. See our privacy policy. Follow us No thanks We will never sell or share your information without your consent.