It's been a while, #energytwitter, but it's time for another nerd rant. This time on the difference between being pro-market and pro-business, and how that has distorted US energy policy. Thread:
1/ First, an observation that is too often over-looked. NO ONE comes to Washington to advocate for economic efficiency. That is a problem, and a massive opportunity.
2/ By economic efficiency, I mean the stuff you learned in the 1st chapter of freshman econ which was stipulated to be true for the math in the rest of the book to hold up. No barriers to entry / exit. Transparency of information. etc.
3/ But no one comes to DC and says "Hey, can you make the world safer for my competitors?" Which is fine... but for the fact that policies that are expressly designed to be pro-business are often pitched in pro-market language. Those terms are not always (rarely?) synonymous.
4/ This holds us back, but is also an enormous opportunity. The incentives that created all those anti-market policies also mean that we have enormous opportunities to make our markets more efficient by removing existing, regulated distortions.
5/ And furthermore, even those who would benefit from the removal of those distortions rarely make that ask; they ask for incentives to counter the headwind rather than ask us to get rid of the conditions WE CREATED that made their progress so hard.
6/ It's why I said that the top priority of the Biden administration should be eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.
7/ And for what it's worth, Adam Smith made this point more pithily 200+ years ago:
8/ But as Smith understood, the opportunity that exists to create more market-friendly conditions is precisely what makes it so hard. We pay lip service to competitive markets, but the incentives of "civil government" as constituted in the US don't push that way.
9/ That is why the US subsidizes the fossil fuel sector to the tune of $650 billion / year.…
10/ And why when the COVID-driven downturn came last spring, one of the first things the Trump administration did was inject tax payer $ to try and prop up the oil industry.…
11/ And why today the @USOCC is seeking to compel banks to invest in the fossil sector, regardless of market fundamentals.
12/ (As an aside on that last one, when China directs their banks to invest in low-return belt & road initiatives we rightly bash it as anti-market. This is no different, and folks at the @USOCC deserve the same criticism.)
13/ On my end, we will continue to push for pro-market policies and will call out those who use the language of markets to support anti-market, crony-capitalism.
14/ Meanwhile, to my friends in the clean energy industry, a request: get organized. Push for barrier / subsidy removal as hard or harder than you push for more incentives. Otherwise we're just putting ever bigger engines in a car that still has the emergency brake on.
15/ And as you succeed... as you remove those market distortions so that your inherently economically-superior products can thrive... don't lose sight of how you got there. Competition is hard. I get it. It is our collective obligation to fight for it. /fin

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More from @SeanCasten

15 Nov
The Trump era is coming to a close. Whether the @GOP is able to recover it's soul depends substantially on whether elected GOP officials stand up for democracy and the peaceful transfer of power right now or cower before the base Trump has radicalized. Thread:
1. First, understand what is happening. The elections on 11/3 saw a surge of first time votes by white men without a college degree. That substantially explains why the @GOP did better than anticipated (bc first time voters are hard to poll)
2. But with no one in senior @GOP leadership who is capable of leading, they are afraid of what might happen to their party if that base doesn't stay mobilized (see: Georgia special elections).
Read 13 tweets
14 Oct
This week's #energytwitter nerd thread: an overview of the Tradeable Performance Standard (GHG pricing) bill I released yesterday. It's the best GHG pricing bill ever. Read on to find out why! Thread:
1/ First for those who just want to read the text, here's the bill:…
2/ I've been working on this for a LONG time. Started based on conversations with @kacolburn when RGGI was being developed in the early 2000s. Later sketched out an overview for Grist in 2008:…
Read 24 tweets
11 Oct
In our recent debate, my opponent raised the "Great Barrington Declaration". It is a massively dangerous and deadly idea that will lead to millions of dead Americans. We need to shut it down. Now. Thread:
1/ First, I am not going to link to it or give it any oxygen. You can find the discussion in the video here if you want:…
2/ It is a heaping, stinking pile of junk science, advocating that we isolate the sick and the elderly and pretend that COVID doesn't affect young healthy people in the name of "restarting" the economy and herd immunity.
Read 20 tweets
9 Oct
In the words of the inestimable Jim Anchower, it's been a while since I rapped at ya, #energytwitter. Today's thread: capital budgeting in the industrial sector and what that means for the (in)efficiency of energy investments in that space.
1/ First, as many of you know, I spent 16 years before coming to Congress running companies that built, owned and/or operated energy assets in the industrial sector. I built 80 projects. I failed to close an order of magnitude more.
2/ One of the disconnects you find in that industry is that at every trade show you meet people selling boiler economizers, more efficient heat exchangers, better insulation or any number of other efficiency technologies with the same sad story:
Read 22 tweets
29 Sep
There is a very dangerous conversation going on suggesting that the path to beating COVID is through herd immunity. This is massively dangerous, and will lead to the death of millions of Americans. Facts matter. Here are the ones you need (thread):
1/ First, if you're not already following @gregggonsalves you should. He is an epidemiologist, spend decades studying AIDS and knows this stuff. See his thread on herd immunity here:
2/ The idea that we can choose to kill people or grow our economy is also wrong. Sweden, famously has tried to pursue herd immunity and only managed to kill more Swedes and hurt their economy.…
Read 20 tweets
28 Sep
For those still thinking about voting for Donald Trump in November, a few questions to consider:
1/ If Donald Trump offered you the opportunity to invest in his next private business, would you take it?
2/ If Donald Trump offered to deliver an envelope of your cash to the bank on your behalf, would you trust him?
Read 9 tweets

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