Lock Them Up

The case against ExxonMobil | Financial Times

Years ago when managing a midwest farmland portfolio, I became intrigued by the concept of carbon sequestration. The accepted thinking at the time, and to some degree still today , was that if farmers could no-till farm, then they would be sequestering carbon in the ground and as such should be paid for said efforts by those that were emitting carbon into the atmosphere- Think of it as Environmental Karma. The price per acre for a no-till practice would be determined by what the carbon credits were trading for in the U.S., which at the time was an OTC market with hopes of developing into a mature, exchange traded market. As one would expect, the market failed to develop as the ability to effectively measure the amount of carbon sequestered was virtually impossible. This article in the FT made me think of this as the Attorney General of New York is attempting to sue Exxon Mobil for underestimating the “cost” of GHG emissions.  Implicit in this “cost” is the decline in the overall use of fossil fuels as well as the increased rent charged on these fuels such as emission credits, scrubbers, etc..  The point is that the AG is using the courts to ask Exxon to estimate the unknowable purely as part of an overt political attack.  This article did however make me thankful to see the Obama administration in the rear view mirror, as you can be sure that this lawsuit would not have taken place in Manhattan district court but rather at the Federal level with full backing of the Obama administration.

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