The President will be touting natural gas in his State of the Union address tonight,according to sources. Nothing wrong with touting gas — if you also tout a rising carbon price, which the president once did but no longer does.
Way back in June 2009, I pointed out the value of gas in the context of a climate bill with a rising CO2 price — see “Why unconventional natural gas makes the 2020 Waxman-Markey target so damn easy and cheap to meet.” But the key point of that post was that you could put gas in existing, underutilized plants to replace existing coal power cheaply to meet the key 2020 target Obama.
Building lots of new gas plants doesn’t make much sense since we need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades if we’re to have any chance to avoid catastrophic global warming. We don’t want new gas plants to displace new renewables, like solar and wind, which are going to be the some of the biggest, sustainable job creating industries of the century.Late last year, some of the leading (center-right) economists in the country — Nicholas Z. Muller, Robert Mendelsohn, and William Nordhaus — concluded in a top economic journal that the total damages from natural gas generation exceed its value-added at a low-ball carbon price of $27 per ton! At a price of $65 a ton of carbon, the total damages from natural gas are more than double its value-added!
For the record, stabilizing at 550 ppm atmospheric concentrations of CO2, which would likely still be catastrophic for humanity, would require a price of $330 a metric ton of carbon in 2030, the International Energy Agency (IEA) noted back in 2008.
Read it at Climate Progress
By Joe Romm