Vail Daily letter: Energy Forum important | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Energy Forum important

Sarcasm can be fun, but in his good-bye to Don Rogers, Paul Kulas (Letters to the Editor, Saturday’s Vail Daily) took an unfair swipe of the Vail Global Energy Forum. It does tilt toward the drilling phenomenon that has yielded us cheap oil and natural gas. One of the primary enabling technologies is more powerful, multi-stage fracking.

It’s a big story, with many repercussions. One of them is the ability to shift production of electricity from coal to natural gas, as is occurring here in Colorado. This is helping us level off U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. We need to crank down on fugitive emissions of methane from the production and transmission of natural gas, and the new Environmental Protection Agency rules —based on those adopted in Colorado — propose to do so. We’re heading in the right direction.

We need to scoot quicker down this path of greenhouse gas reduction. George Shultz has spoken several times at the Vail Global Energy Forum. He was in the oil business amid his various cabinet-level positions in several presidential administrations. But he accepts the science of climate change and recognizes the risk, not just to the environment, but to U.S. security. Shultz advocates a carbon tax.

A carbon tax recognizes the risk of atmospheric pollution of carbon and other emissions. It’s not just oil. Our buildings are responsible for 40 percent of U.S. emissions. In assigning a cost to the risk caused by the pollution, a carbon tax gives the marketplace incentive to change in how we produce and consume energy. There are wonderful opportunities in this energy transition for entrepreneurs.

Shultz is on the advisory board for Climate Action Lobby, which advocates for a revenue-neutral carbon “fee.” In other words, the increased revenues can be rebated to taxpayers through reduced income or other taxes. British Colombia already has a carbon tax, and it has a thriving economy.

By the way, in 2003, Don Rogers commissioned a 16,000-word series about climate change that I researched and wrote for the Vail Daily. It was later reprinted in a number of ski town newspapers. The series was called Danger in Degrees, and it won the Wirth Award in 2005, named after former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth. My work there got me to thinking hard about energy.

The Vail Global Energy Forum, if not yet the Davos of Energy that its creators intended, is pretty interesting, what with the many faculty members from Stanford University presenting. The mystery is why the seats of the Vilar Center aren’t filled. Skiing is fun but not half as interesting as this giant energy pivot now underway.

Allen Best