Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

R.I.P Environmental Capital

Posted by Danny Morris on January 19, 2010

I’m not so skilled at keeping up with the blogosphere over the weekend, so I missed the passing of one of the best enviro/econ blogs around. Environmental Capital has shuttered its doors, leaving a big hole in my Google Reader. I’m definitely going to miss the excellent and concise insight Keith Johnson and crew provided, like this bit from Keith’s last substantive post:

To take a single example: The price that American drivers pay at the pump, frightening as it is these days, does not reflect the cost of oil and gasoline. There are additional costs to the reliance on oil that simply don’t show up in the twirling numbers at the gas pump, whether they are the environmental costs of oil extraction, transport and combustion, or the cost of U.S. military engagement to protect oil supplies and keep vital sea lanes open.

For economists, all these hidden costs are called “externalities.” They’re as real as they are hard to spot, from the Fifth Fleet’s operating expenses to the pernicious health costs of a coal-fired electricity sector.

For policymakers, these externalities represent an opportunity as much as a headache. For all the worries that a bigger role for government in the energy business—from cap-and-trade schemes to solar-power subsidies—represents a retreat from free markets, that’s hardly the case. Energy markets aren’t “free” today, and the playing field is anything but level.

Not sure how I’m going to fill the informative-and-useful gap now. I could spend more time with the obviously-based-in-reality observations on Climate Depot. I could also bludgeon my head with a piece of rebar even morning for 20 minutes for similar effect.

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