Gas Prices: How Your Driving Behavior Impacts Costs at The Pump

On Thursday, the national average retail price for regular gasoline surged to another record high, hitting $4.41 per gallon.

While you may not be able to control the prices at the pump, you can control how you drive. Certain driving behaviors can actually help consumers save significantly when it comes to filling up at the pump, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, told FOX Business.

It’s the “easiest” thing to do when trying to combat those rising fuel costs, he said. Keep your tachometer as low as possible. De Haan says drivers should keep feet light on the gas when accelerating. The heavier you are on the accelerator, the more fuel your engine is using, he said.

The tachometer should be used as a gauge for drivers to see how much fuel they’re actually using, according to De Haan.  The tachometer measures the working speed of an engine in RPMs, or rotations per minute. It is located next to the speedometer on a vehicle’s instrument panel.

“The higher the needle goes, the more gas your engine is guzzling,” De Haan said.  The objective is to keep your tachometer as low as possible and not to “bash on the pedal,” De Haan added.

Cars crowding the turn lane into Murphy Express at Beal Parkway and Racetrack Road as gas lines started popping up at numerous gas stations around the Fort Walton Beach area in Florida. (USA Today Network via Reuters Connect / Reuters Photos)

It’s also important to keep the speed of the car under control because speeding increases fuel consumption. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gas mileage will decrease “rapidly at speeds above 50 MPH.”

The best way to control speed is using cruise control. Although cruise control may not be useful in some congested parts of the country, like New York or Chicago. However, the feature can be “more effective and efficient than a human trying to maintain the same pressure on the gas pedal,” according to De Haan.

Maintenance: Make sure your check engine light is not on If you have a check engine light on, especially if it’s flashing, it should be checked as soon as possible. A lot of sensors on cars are critically important, but the check engine light is the “most critical,” according to De Haan. When the light is flashing, “it’s basically telling you that it’s in distress,” De Haan said.

The car essentially goes into “limp mode,” which means “the car has lost some critical sensor or something is critically wrong and … is basically using up to twice as much fuel to protect itself from catastrophic damage,” De Haan added. Another thing motorists should be checking is tire pressure.

A man checks gas prices at a gas station in Buffalo Grove, Ill., March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh / AP Newsroom). When a tire loses air pressure, there is more friction between the tire and the road. That increase in friction will lower a car’s fuel efficiency, according to De Haan.

Removing access weight

Leaving heavy objects in the back seat or truck of a car can also hurt fuel efficiency. In fact, every hundred pounds will reduce fuel efficiency by one to two miles per gallon, according to De Haan.

Racks that sit on the roof of cars, typically in the summer or winter months, are also working against drivers. Those racks will “absolutely destroy the aerodynamics of your vehicle” and drive down fuel efficiency by 25 to 35%, De Haan said.

“They’re just like a mattress on your roof,” he said. “Your car is working harder to offset that object on the top of your car.”

Keep an eye on your AC this summer

When the air conditioning is running in your car, “you’re generally putting more of a load on your engine. You’ll burn a lot less fuel if you crack a window instead, according to GasBuddy. 

MYTH: It takes more gas to restart your car

That may have been true 30 years ago, “but that’s why vehicles have adopted that start stop technology,” according to De Haan. In fact, if you’re going to be sitting in traffic more than 10 seconds, it makes more sense to shut the vehicle off.

Source: Gas prices: How your driving behavior impacts costs at the pump | Fox Business

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Here’s How Much Major Energy Companies Are Losing By Exiting Russia

Major oil and gas companies, which scrambled to abandon operations in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine in late February, are now warning that doing so will result in billions of dollars of losses.

Shell disclosed Thursday that its suspension of operations in Russia could lead it to book as much as a $5 billion loss in its approaching quarterly earnings.

Like many other major energy companies, Shell closed its operations in Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, exiting joint ventures with Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom and ending its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline project.

Shell rival BP, which is exiting a nearly 20% stake in Russian oil producer Rosneft, has warned that potential losses could amount to as much as $25 billion.

American energy giant Exxon Mobil also ceased operations in Russia, abandoning holdings estimated to be worth around $4 billion at the end of 2021, while Norwegian oil and gas giant Equinor, meanwhile, is leaving some $1.2 billion in Russian investments on the table.

Wall Street analysts and investors are still assessing the impact of Western companies cutting ties with Russia under heavy sanctions, with President Joe Biden set to sign a ban on Russian energy, which was passed by the Senate on Thursday.

But in the short run those losses will be cushioned by high oil and gas prices, with the resurgent sector becoming a new favorite of legendary investor Warren Buffett and his investing conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway.

The S&P 500 energy sector has surged nearly 40% this year, far outperforming the broader benchmark index, which is down roughly 6% in 2022. Shares of BP are up more than 11% this year, with Shell rising 26%, ExxonMobil 37% and Equinor 46%.

Major energy companies will provide more details on potential losses from exiting Russia in quarterly earnings reports next month. Despite the impact of lost business there, most are expecting to report strong first-quarter earnings, in large part thanks to surging oil and gas prices.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has slammed energy markets, causing the price of oil to surge to as much as $130 per barrel last month, though they have since moderated somewhat. After weeks of volatile trading, the price of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate now sits at $98 per barrel, while global benchmark Brent crude is trading at around $103 per barrel.

I am a senior reporter at Forbes covering markets and business news. Previously, I worked on the wealth team at Forbes covering billionaires and their

Source: Here’s How Much Major Energy Companies Are Losing By Exiting Russia

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Critics:

Competitor BP will sell its 19.75% stake in Rosneft, which it has held since 2013. Its Russian assets totaled about $14 billion last year.

“The decisions we have taken as a board are not only the right thing to do, but are also in the long-term interests of BP,” said chief executive Bernard Looney. He and former BP executive Bob Dudley resigned their seats from Rosneft’s board Sunday. The company said it could be charged as much as $25 billion for ending its Russian investments.

“Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an act of aggression which is having tragic consequences across the region. BP has operated in Russia for over 30 years, working with brilliant Russian colleagues,” chairman Helge Lund said in a statement. “However, this military action represents a fundamental change. It has led the BP board to conclude, after a thorough process, that our involvement with Rosneft, a state-owned enterprise, simply cannot continue.”

The British government pressured both firms to cut ties with Russia. Shell recently relocated from the Netherlands to London.

“There is now a strong moral imperative on British companies to isolate Russia,” tweeted Kwasi Kwarteng, Britain’s business and energy secretary. He said he called van Beurden and supported Shell’s decision.

Western energy companies flocked to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2020, it was the world’s third-largest oil producer, behind the United States and Saudi Arabia. Its 10.5 million barrels per day accounts for 11% of the world’s oil production.

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Is This Stock A Better Pick Over Schlumberger?

The shares of Baker Hughes (NASDAQ: BKR) currently trade 50% above pre-Covid levels observed in January 2020 while the shares of its competitor Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB) are up by just 3%. Does that make SLB stock a better pick over BKR? Both companies provide oil field services including drilling & completion and production solutions to upstream oil & gas companies in the U.S. and abroad. Due to lower benchmark price expectations in the long term, SLB and BKR incurred sizable impairment charges in 2020.

However, the recent uptick in the oil benchmark due to strong demand, supply constraints by the OPEC, and economic sanctions on Russia, have increased demand for oil rigs across the world. Given Baker Hughes’s lower financial leverage, comparable topline to Schlumberger, and a low valuation multiple, Trefis believes that the stock is a good pick to realize more gains.

We compare a slew of factors such as historical revenue growth, returns, and valuation multiple in an interactive dashboard analysis, Baker Hughes vs. Schlumberger: With Return Forecast Of 109%, Baker Hughes Is A Better Bet

1. Revenue Growth

Baker Hughes has observed a lower decline in revenues in recent years as compared to Schlumberger. Baker Hughes revenues observed an annual decline of 4% from $22.8 billion in 2018 to $20.5 billion in 2021, whereas Schlumberger reported an annual decline of 11% from $32.8 billion in 2018 to $22.9 billion in 2021. Top line contraction has largely been due to a decline in rig count figures and capital control measures implemented by upstream companies.

  • Schlumberger’s four operating segments, Digital & Integration, Reservoir Performance, Well Construction, and Production Systems contribute 12%, 28%, 36%, and 24% of total revenues, respectively. The uncertain demand environment had persuaded upstream companies to limit capital expenses in the last two years. However, the surge in benchmark prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war has rekindled demand for oil field services – taking worldwide rig count figures from 1,521 in December 2021 to 1,850 at present. Moreover, the company’s digital solutions business is likely to assist margin expansion in the coming years.
  • Baker Hughes’ four operating segments, Oilfield Services, Oilfield Equipment, Turbomachinery & Process Solutions, and Digital Solutions contribute 47%, 12%, 31%, and 10% of total revenues, respectively. The company’s international operations have been assisting the top line in recent times, which observed a 10% contraction from pre-pandemic levels and contributes 80% of total revenues.
  • After reporting relatively flat revenues for FY2021, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger are expected to observe strong growth in FY2022. (related: How Does Schlumberger Make Money?)

2.Returns (Profits)

As both companies incurred sizable impairment charges leading to 25% contraction of the balance sheet, we compare their cash generation capabilities. In 2021, Schlumberger generated $4.6 billion of operating cash from $22.9 billion in total revenues – implying an operating cash flow margin of 20%. Whereas Baker Hughes reported $20.5 billion in total revenues and $2.3 billion of operating cash flow – resulting in a margin of 11%.

  • Schlumberger’s cash generation capabilities have been stronger than Baker Hughes which has resulted in a sizable difference in the P/S ratio. In 2021, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes’ P/S multiple was 1.5 and 1.2 respectively. Historically, it has been observed that there is a difference of 0.5 units between Schlumberger and Baker Hughes.
  • However, the difference between Schlumberger’s non-cash depreciation charges and capital expenditures was higher than Baker Hughes – affecting the operating cash flow margin figures.
  • Before the pandemic, Schlumberger returned 50% of operating cash to shareholders as dividends and invested 30% in property, plant & equipment as capital expenses.
  • Whereas, Baker Hughes had been investing its operating cash in capital assets.
  • Both companies implemented cash control measures and limited capital expenses as well as dividend payouts due to the pandemic. Given Schlumberger’s higher cash generation capabilities and historical dividend trends, it is a good pick to earn consistent dividend income.

3.Risk

Per annual filings, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes reported $13 billion and $6.7 billion of long-term debt, respectively. While a shrinking asset base due to impairment charges is a drag on shareholder returns, Baker Hughes’ lower financial leverage is a boon during uncertain times.

  • Higher financial leverage coupled with continued revenue growth augments equity returns. However, interest expenses weigh on finances as revenues decline – limiting dividend payouts and capital expenses.
  • Schlumberger’s higher financial leverage compared to Baker Hughes, despite similar revenues and a comparable balance sheet size, makes SLB stock a riskier bet.
  • In 2021, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes’ total assets were $41 billion and $35 billion, respectively.

What if you’re looking for a more balanced portfolio instead? Here’s a high-quality portfolio that’s beaten the market consistently since the end of 2016.

Led by MIT engineers and Wall Street analysts, Trefis (through its dashboards platform dashboards.trefis.com) helps you understand how a company’s products.

Source: Is This Stock A Better Pick Over Schlumberger?

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Critics:

U.S. oil field services company Baker Hughes said Saturday that it was suspending new investments for its Russia operations, a day after similar moves were announced by rivals Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger.

The steps from the Houston, Texas-based businesses come as they respond to U.S. sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In its statement, Baker Hughes, which also has headquarters in London, said the company is complying with applicable laws and sanctions as it fulfills current contractual obligations. It said the announcement follows an internal decision made with its board and shared with its top leadership team.

“The crisis in Ukraine is of grave concern, and we strongly support a diplomatic solution,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, chairman and CEO of Baker Hughes. Halliburton announced Friday that it suspended future business in Russia. Halliburton said it halted all shipments of specific sanctioned parts and products to Russia several weeks ago and that it will prioritize safety and reliability as it winds down its remaining operations in the country.

Schlumberger said that it had suspended investment and technology deployment to its Russia operations. “Safety and security are at the core of who we are as a company, and we urge a cessation of the conflict and a restoration of safety and security in the region,” Schlumberger CEO Olivier Le Peuch said in a statement.

Oil companies ExxonMobil, Shell, and BP, along with some major tech companies like Dell and Facebook, were among the first to announce their withdrawal or suspension of operations. Many others, including McDonald’s, Starbucks and Estee Lauder, followed. Roughly 30 companies remain.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday asked Congress to press U.S. businesses still operating in Russia to leave, saying the Russian market is “flooded with our blood.”

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Which Came First, The Electric Pickup or The Charging Station?

How rural communities will fare in the battle for electric vehicles funds comes down to a sort of chicken and egg scenario, officials said.

Without acceptance of electric vehicles (EVs) in rural areas, federal funding for charging stations will go elsewhere. But without the charging stations, fewer rural residents will buy electric vehicles.

David Adkins, executive director and CEO of the Council of State Governments, an organization that provides states with research focusing on public policy issues, said if his family in rural Kansas is any indication, electric vehicles are gaining traction in rural communities.

“I’m confident that rural America will increasingly prioritize the need for EV charging stations once the electrified Ford F 150 becomes the truck of choice for farmers and ranchers,” he said. “And Ford will only be able to sell those trucks if charging capacity is ubiquitous.”

Ford and startup Rivian are already selling electric pickups, and several manufacturers have plans to join the market. Cost will make deployment of charging options in urban centers happen first, but without a nationwide network it will be hard to get commercial EVs in widespread use, he said.

EV charging networks will be necessary for tomorrow’s rural America, he said.

“EV charging stations are the next chapter in rural connectivity,” he said. “Right now the focus is on broadband access which primarily benefits those living and working in rural America. Charging stations on the other hand benefit both local residents and those traveling through rural America.”

Recently, the Biden Administration released “Charging Forward: A Toolkit for Planning and Funding Rural Electric Mobility Infrastructure,” a guide for rural areas to get the most out of the federal funding for the electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Getting those charging stations into rural areas is important for widespread adoption of EVs, the administration said.

“In rural parts of the country—home to 20 % of Americans and almost 70 % of America’s road miles—EVs can be an especially attractive alternative to conventional vehicles,” the administration wrote in its toolkit. “Rural residents drive more than their urban counterparts, spend more on vehicle fuel and maintenance, and often have fewer alternatives to driving to meet their transportation needs. Over the long run, EVs will help residents of rural areas reduce those costs and minimize the environmental impact of transportation in their communities.”

Ensuring that those charging stations go to rural areas will be a challenge, said U.S. Representative David Scott (D-Georgia), chair of the House Agriculture Committee.

“We are witnessing a point of major research, investment, and adoption of electric vehicles across the country and the world, driven in large part in an effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” Scott said at a hearing in January. “As with so many other technological advancements like electrification, broadband, or telephone service, I want to see what can be done to make sure that rural America is not left behind. And to that point, I want to also ensure that the needs of agriculture and rural residents are being considered with these important developments.”

The U.S. DOT said priority in the electric-vehicle charging network will be given to federally designated alternative fuel corridors, primarily located along interstate highways. Nominated by state and local governments, the corridors are highway segments with the infrastructure to support electric-vehicle charging stations, as well as other alternative fuels. The program requires charging stations at 50-mile intervals.

Some states in the American West have expressed concerns about that requirement.

“Western states face a suite of challenges related to planning and siting EV infrastructure, including the unique needs of both underserved and rural communities, vast distances between communities, limited electric grid infrastructure in sparsely populated areas, and a patchwork of federal, state, and private lands ownership boundaries,” the Western Governors Association, comprised of 19 states in the region, wrote in a policy resolution submitted to federal transportation officials in December.

“A number of western states have experienced challenges in meeting these defined metrics due to lacking electric infrastructure and suitable charging locations in sparsely populated areas.”

Part of the same fuel corridor goes through Appalachia, said Janiene Bohannon, director of communications with the Appalachian Regional Council, in an interview with the Daily Yonder. A map of the Electric Vehicle Charging State Location shows all the current electric vehicle charging stations across the country plus the current and proposed charging station corridors.

The number of EV charging stations in Appalachia is growing, she said. More charging stations means more connectivity for Appalachian residents and visitors.

“Bringing EV charging stations to the Appalachian Region will help to reduce its isolation and promote economic growth,” Bohannon said. “Additional electric vehicle charging stations could encourage a greater population that would visit Appalachia.”

Rural communities will have to deal with other larger challenges in installing EV charging stations, Adkins said.

“Another challenge states face in making the conversion to EV vehicles is the way surface transportation is funded,” he said. “The gas tax is currently a primary source of federal and state funding for streets and highways. States will need to update these revenue formulas in order to have funds to pay for infrastructure.”

Picking a technology to install is another obstacle. Tesla, for instance, has a proprietary charger, creating a “VHS v. Betamax-like market-based obstacle,” Adkins said.

“Like with solar, I believe significant subsidies will need to be provided to private sector players in order to build out initial EV charging networks,” he said. “It will be fun to watch how innovation occurs as the number of electric vehicles grows in the next decade.”

Source: Which Came First, the Electric Pickup or the Charging Station? | The Daily Yonder

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The Controversial Plan To Vacuum Carbon Out Of The Atmosphere

In its 2018 report, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that our current efforts just to lower carbon emissions aren’t enough. To prevent the worst of climate change, the world needs to remove carbon from the atmosphere in large quantities.

The idea of removing it from the air at any kind of scale requires the proper technology, money, political cooperation, all of which pose unique—and seemingly insurmountable—challenges.

On Friday’s episode of What Next: TBD, I spoke with Clive Thompson, journalist and author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World, about the race to suck carbon out of the air. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Lizzie O’Leary: You recently wrote a story, which ran in Mother Jones, about direct air carbon capture, a new technology that might be helpful in addressing the climate crisis. What is DAC?

Clive Thompson: Direct air carbon capture is basically the art and science of extracting CO2 from the air. You create a machine that uses a chemical process to bind CO2 and turn it into something that you can then store somewhere. Maybe you shove it really deep in the ground so it’s gone, maybe you turn it into something else that you can use.

Who is actually making the DAC technology?

So at the high end, you have a company like Carbon Engineering, which is up in Canada. And the way it works is that they have a big machine that’s the size of a building, with a huge fan on top of it that sucks air in and blows it down into a pool of liquid sorbent.

Then it reacts. Once there’s lots of CO2 in the sorbent, they use a process that requires temperatures of hundreds and hundreds of degrees to turn it into CO2 that can be stored as a pressurized gas. The downside is that a lot of energy is needed to run that machine. That’s one model.

What’s the other model?

The other model is to have much smaller machines that you could tuck anywhere that use a lot less energy, which is great, but they also don’t suck quite as much CO2 out of the air. Klaus Lackner [a professor at Arizona State University] created a tree of these discs that stands 30 feet high, and the wind just blows air past it.

That reacts with the sorbent inside these discs, and then once every hour or so when the discs are full of CO2, it collapses down almost like an umbrella, and squeezes it out with a little bit of heat. They’re so low-energy that he imagines you might need tens of millions of them, but you could put them literally anywhere.

Direct air capture sounds very sci-fi. When we’re thinking about it in the public policy arena, it seems like there are two big questions: What would it take scientifically to do this at scale, and what would it take practically and politically?

What you’d need to really do this is an almost wartime mobilization of resources. And, there are lots and lots of choke points. You’d need tons of that sorbent chemical. You’d need to figure out a lot of issues: Where do you put all that carbon? What do you do with that stuff? But could you get it out of the sky, could you do that at scale? Yes. I think you could.

On a practical level, even saying there was the global will for this, it seems like there are three big structural hurdles: cost, transportation and storage. How much does it cost to do this?

The estimate that I most often heard is that right now the cheapest they can do is about $500 per ton of CO2. Everyone who looks at this field basically says that that is way too much. That is way too expensive to be able to do what we need to do. Because the IPCC was talking about removing 10 gigatons a year, which is billions of tons. So at 500 per ton, you’re talking about trillions and trillions of dollars.

So, what price does it need to get to? No one really knows. But if it were around $100 per ton, then there starts to be a more of a market for this stuff. If you got it down to $50 or $10 a ton, then you’re really talking.

There’s another issue besides cost. How can you move the carbon dioxide once you’ve got it?

These machines could be anywhere. They could be in Boston, they could be out in the desert in Arizona, they could be all over the place, and you need to have a pipeline. And piping CO2 is really not easy because it is a highly pressurized gas.

If you have a leak, it’s really bad stuff. It erupts with high pressure, it is an asphyxiating gas so it would kill people, and worse of all it hangs low to the ground. It’s heavier than air if it’s in a dense quantity.

You’re not really selling direct air capture to me here.

Let me make it a little bit worse by pointing out that traditionally pipelines get run through Indigenous lands. So yeah, am I selling it? No. My goal with this story was to paint a very realistic picture of the enormous opportunity but the enormous challenge here.

I’m not saying it would be impossible to do that, and if it became like “we have no other option,” then I guess we would bite the bullet and figure it out. But it’s something you’d want to really think hard and plan for if you’re going to do it, which is a good reason to think about the problems now.

The other level of this story that takes it to another bananas head-scratching place is that it seems from your reporting that the only players who could afford to do this, who have a really vested interest in doing this, are Big Oil companies.

Yeah.
This is the issue that really alarms a lot of environmentalists about direct air capture. Nearly all of the projects that I’ve been telling you about here are all being developed hand in glove with oil and gas companies, fossil fuel companies. Why is that? Well, the people who understand how to build things at scale that have to do with energy and how to move gases around are the oil and gas companies. They’ve got decades of experience in this. So they’re the first obvious partners.

What do you do with that CO2 when you’ve captured it? We talked about shoving it in the ground to get rid of it. The problem is that in the short run—and by the short run I mean a decade or more—there’s really no one who’s planning to shove that in the ground. What all of these projects are doing is working with oil and gas companies to do something that creates a market for the reuse of that CO2.

There is a market right now for CO2, but it’s niche. There’s a company in Texas, for example, that uses it to get the last drops of oil and gas out of nearly empty wells.  It’s something other companies might adopt. And that brings us back to this question of environmentalists having to work with or rely on oil companies. Are some environmentalists able to say, “OK, this involves a deal with the devil but it gets us there”? Or is it just like, “No, that’s a nonstarter”?

Environmentalists are divided on this. Many of the environmentalists, I would say the majority of them, said to me, “We think this is a costly distraction. We think that all the money being put into developing direct air capture should just be put into scaling out renewables dramatically right now.

Innovating on that front. That is how we decarbonize. We do it by just rapidly throwing everything we can at this. And we seal the oil and gas companies out of this process because they are just bad news.” These environmentalists argue that oil and gas companies just want this tech to exist as a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Because it helps them reduce their net emissions?

Yeah. It would become this way of saying, “Hey, we’re net neutral! We’re creating lots more emissions by selling lots of oil and gas, but we’re also shoving it in the ground.” Or even worse, they’ll develop this technology a little bit, but never get serious enough about it. This is what’s known as the moral hazard argument.

If you start developing the technology, it takes the pressure off of society to decarbonize its energy production. If you think that there is a magic solution coming 10 or 20 years from now, then yeah, maybe it’s OK to keep burning oil and gas and maybe we don’t need to aggressively roll out solar and renewables.

The thing about direct air capture that is so fascinating is how complicated it is. Not in terms of the tech, but in terms of the moral and ethical equations around it.

Among other things, direct air capture would allow for a certain level of environmental and economic justice insofar as we’re now in a situation where parts of the Global South are rapidly trying to expand their economies, and to do that you need lots and lots of cheap energy right now.

Those societies want to do what we did, which is to burn lots of oil and gas to get themselves as prosperous as possible as quickly as possible. So the progressive argument is that maybe it’s up to the developed countries that made this mess to work on direct air capture and clean up the problem for the countries that we have trod all over in the last 50 or 100 years.

Would doing direct air capture on a global scale be an admission of defeat?

Yeah, absolutely. It would be a complete admission of defeat insofar as it would be us saying to ourselves, “We couldn’t change the way we lived.” For decades we were unwilling to do that. We knew in the ’90s that we needed to work on decarbonizing the economy as rapidly as possible and rolling out renewables and we didn’t do it.

We didn’t push for it. To the extent that a lot of citizens did push hard for it, they faced ferocious opposition from oil and gas companies and from many politicians who were absolutely in their pockets.

What do we know about how the oil companies are approaching these projects?

Several people said to me that one of the reasons why they are dubious of the motives of oil and gas companies is that none of them are really reorienting their spending habits around it. They’ve got R&D projects, but things only really change when you see what they do with their annual budgets. And with their annual budgets they’re still just drilling for oil.

Some people have said that the only way that we’re going to roll out million and millions of direct air capture machines and make it really cheap is if for the next 10 or 20 years we actually turn the CO2 back into liquid fuel and burn it again. When I say to them, “That sounds circular. Isn’t the point to get it out of the air and into the ground?” They’re like, “Well yes, but think of it this way.

What we’d be doing is decarbonizing the internal combustion engine.” So, the idea is we can keep on using all these trucks and all these planes and cars that have internal combustion engines, but we would actually have net zero emissions or as low as possible emissions. But, it’s a leap of faith.

Do you have any faith that this is going anywhere?

The only faith I have is the faith that comes from seeing things like solar succeed. One of the reasons why solar got so good is governments gave some subsidies and that took leadership, and that was good. And then that incentivized a marketplace of solar creators to go, “Hey, we can make money with this!”

I definitely feel gloomy all the time because of the lack of political urgency amongst the folks who run things. I also know that sometimes things can be working better than we imagine in different pockets of innovation and marketplaces and policies. But I don’t hold out great hope.

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By: Lizzie O’Leary

Lizzie O’Leary is the host of What Next: TBD, Slate’s show about technology, power, and the future. Previously, she created and hosted Marketplace Weekend. She has reported for CNN, Bloomberg News, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She is also a contributing writer at the Atlantic.

Source: Can carbon capture solve the climate crisis?

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