Paul Baer

Former climate economist

Paul Baer is a climate economist and internationally recognized expert on issues of equity and climate change, and the economics of climate and energy policy.

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Too Good to be True? New WSPA Report on Oil Industry Highlights the Good, Omits the Bad

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) recently released a report that tries to sell the oil and gas industry in California as a big — ­really, really big ­— benefit to the state. The report, sponsored by WSPA and written by economists at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), tallies up jobs associated with the oil and gas industry, the industry’s share of state GDP, and the taxes paid by oil and gas consumers and producers, with the clear implication that the larger the numbers, the better. A closer look tells a different story. Read more >

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Half the Oil, Not Crude-by-Rail: Lynchburg Oil-Train Accident is Fifth in Ten Months

The CSX train carrying crude oil that derailed and burned in Lynchburg, Virginia on April 30 was the fifth major oil-train accident in the last ten months. At the same time that the world’s leading climate scientists are warning that we need to leave the vast majority of fossil fuels reserves in the ground, the shale oil boom has dramatically boosted shipments of crude oil by rail, most of it from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to faraway pipelines and refineries. While 9,500 tank cars of crude were carried by North American railways in 2008, that number jumped to nearly 234,000 in 2012 and an estimated 400,000 in 2013. This increase went relatively unnoticed until July of last year, when a catastrophic accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec killed more than forty people. Read more >

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If Climate Science Were Your Doctor, You’d Quit Burning Fossil Fuels Immediately

The Third National Climate Assessment was released on Tuesday. The headline messages were not actually news: the climate is changing, average temperatures are increasing, sea levels are rising, humans are primarily responsible for changes over the last 50 years, and all of these trends are projected to continue. Read more >

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