Politico: Obama to Propose $10-a-Barrel Oil Tax

President Barack Obama is about to unveil an ambitious plan for a “21st century clean transportation system.” And he hopes to fund it with a tax on oil.

Obama aides told Politico that when he releases his final budget request next week, the president will propose more than $300 billion worth of investments over the next decade in mass transit, high-speed rail, self-driving cars, and other transportation approaches designed to reduce carbon emissions and congestion. To pay for it all, Obama will call for a $10 “fee” on every barrel of oil, a surcharge that would be paid by oil companies but would presumably be passed along to consumers.

New York Times: Morris A. Adelman Dies at 96; Saw Oil as Inexhaustible

Morris A. Adelman, an energy economist who marshaled free-market principles and hard data in arguing that the world’s oil supply was not running out, died May 8 at his home in Newton, Mass. He was 96. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught and researched for 65 years, announced the death on May 15.

Dr. Adelman emerged at the center of national energy debates when petroleum prices shot up after the Arab oil embargo of 1973. In 1974, the 13-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries raised the price of a barrel of oil to $7 from $2. (Adjusted for inflation, $7 in 1974 would be more than $30 today. On Friday, crude oil was selling for $102 a barrel in the commodities market.)

Washington Post: Democrats Block Energy Bill Over Flint Aid

Senate Democrats blocked a major energy policy bill Thursday after failing to convince Republicans to attach an aid package addressing the drinking-water crisis in Flint, Mich. It is the latest sign that the public health disaster there has moved to the center of the national Democratic agenda.

Michigan’s Democratic senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, proposed last week that Congress authorize up to $600 million in emergency aid to Flint. Most of that would be used to replace lead pipes that corroded because of a state-level decision to switch water sources; the rest would fund a center to monitor and treat the health of victims of lead poisoning.

Climate Central: The Southwest May Have Entered a ‘Drier Climate State’

The Southwest is already the most arid part of the U.S. Now new research indicates it’s becoming even more dry as wet weather patterns, quite literally, dry up.

The change could herald a pattern shift and raises the specter of megadrought in the region. “We see a very intense trend in the Southwest,” Andreas Prein, a postdoctoral researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said. “The Southwest might already have drifted into a drier climate state.”

Houston Press: Texas Regulators Won't Fix a $50 Million Mistake

Hot weather and blasted A/C might be two factors influencing your utility bill. But since utility prices in Texas are ultimately decided by a computer, not humans, consumers may have something else to worry about: computers making errors based on wrong information, which can cause your utility bill to shoot up for no reason.

That's what happened at least twice last year. The worst spike was in May. An electricity provider predicted that some power lines in west Texas would be overwhelmed, that a shortage would ensue and, as on the stock exchange, higher demand would lead to higher prices for consumers. It provided this information to the computer system, operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Little problem: That prediction turned out flatly incorrect.