Author Topic: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups  (Read 48786 times)

jzhawk

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #30 on: May 23, 2012, 01:53:43 PM »
Brian,

I think it is pretty clear that i agree with your general point about the role of alternative fuels in the debate.  However, efficiency is a much stickier thing.  I do think it would dangerously expand the topic to open to door to policies directed at retail energy consumers. (and I mean dangerous--nice people (not lobbyists) would suffer)  This is a whole world of policy options (from appliances to HVAC, etc.) that is enormous in scope, there are not great Neg arguments or cards, and the literature is lop-sided because of retail sales going on.  

I think focusing on energy policy on terms of fuels for electricity generation and/or transportation gets you the real core of the the policy discussion with the massive expanasion from opening up to ways to encourage consumer efficiency.  

Malgor

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #31 on: May 23, 2012, 02:48:27 PM »
if the topic only has the USFG increase fossil fuels, excluding alternative energy from the debate, we will successfully have created an entire community advocating that the government roll back energy policy 20 years.  still waiting for any sources outside of the lobbying and conservative think tank industries that actually believe this is the core question of US energy policy. 

I certainly do not want to get  in the way your willingness to make broad generalizations about people and professions you do not know or understand, but this argument is every bit as inaccurate as it is self-righteous.

The core question of energy policy is unquestionably where the US will derive its electricity and/or motor fuels from. This is something that people on both sides agree about, and the question is what the fuel mix should be, and how to induce transitions from one type of fuel to another. Now, if you read my posts I have actually been arguing that topic could focus on driving fuels away from the two largest sources of energy, coal and petroleum for the electricity and transportation sectors respectively.  Now, i suspect that Andrea and Dave have flipped that based on concerns about inherency and uniqueness (and Ana and Dylan took the same stance), of course, none of those  four people are lobbyists or work for conservative think tanks so i am not sure what your point was.

Perhaps you can set aside your obvious and poorly informed disdain and propose an energy policy wording that would better suit your concerns?

First of all, we both thrive on ideological generalizations-i just admit it.  But all that side, I think you are missing the actual focus of my questions-where is the evidence.  a question that has been out there for over a month now and never answered.  debate relies on evidence, and maybe i'm in the minority here (god help us if I am), but I don't feel comfortable with a topic area where, despite numerous requests, the advocates have been unable to produce any peer reviewed or academic evidence.  It has all some from industries explicitly arguing for their own self interests, lobbyists explicitly arguing for the self interests of said industries, or heavily biased think tanks. 

I would have the same problem if all the cards on renewable energy came from such sources-oh wait, they do!  the only reason I'm not concerned is because I know from the last two topics, and my own research, that there is a lot of academic and peer reviewed research on renewable development as a solution to the energy crisis.  So far virtually all of the evidence positing further fossil fuel production as a core energy policy has come from institutions that at one point or another (some of them still do) promoted climate denial in the face of an over 90% consensus in the scientific community. 

My point is that you are right, in washington DC they are very concerned with fossil fuel production.  My point is that is largely the product of a very successful economic investment that slants the debate in that favor.  You claimed that "no one seriously talks about cap and trade" in an earlier post.  I agree, no one in WASHINGTON seriously talks about cap and trade, because they are so disconnected from the academic community.  I don't want a topic that grants that convergence outright.  It's academically bankrupt, and further increases a form of insularity that is already well-represented in the debate community.

jzhawk

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #32 on: May 23, 2012, 03:23:46 PM »
I'm not sure why you are focused on answering an argument that I am, quite explicitly, not making.   I do not know how much clearer I could be that I think that the debate over the transition to alternative fuels is an essential, if not the essential, part of an energy policy debate.  As for ideological generalizations, please spare me.  I have not pretended to have any ability to opine on you or your ideologies.  I barely know you, and while I did spend a good deal of time coaching and in academia I would not pretend to be in a position to make a judgment about what you thrive on.  Similarly,  you have no idea what I thrive on (because the answer is BBQ, video games, and my son's youth hockey games).

Your entire premise of some sort of silencing wall between the academic and policy communities is both incorrect and irrelevant.  The notion that academic research is not influenced by the policy debate in WASHINGTON (capitalized so as to not marginalized your contempt in any manner) and the policy debate influenced by academic research is absurd.  I have spent the last decade engaged in this policy debate for a wide range of interests--including emerging and alternative fuels and technologies and am confident that I am familiar with the literature you refer to generally.  I spent the decade and a half prior to that in the academic world and coaching debate.  I do not know how you imagine that legislative and regulatory advocacy works, but when a significant study or analysis is produced or released it is part of my job to read, understand, and be able to use the arguments in such studies (maybe this process sounds familiar to policy debaters).  

Look, Ana and Dylan wrote the controversy paper.  They did so on their own time and own dimes.  It required a significant amount of time and energy.  They did not have any sort of agenda, nor were they pushed by people like me.  You may not like their choice of evidence, but there is nothing stopping you from posting any of the evidence that you refer to obliquely online.

As for cap and trade, The problem is that you are confusing enemy policy with emissions control policy.  Emissions control is a limited tool that does not allow one to acces the vast array of tools available to create real and effective transitions in the fuel mix.  Cap and trade is effectively a fall-back strategy because political realities have made actual energy policy debates unlikely to be productive.  It is what you are complaining about.  That is why I am encouraging college debate to embrace an opportunity to debate energy policy writ large, and not focus on emissions control which has been used a blunt, and largely ineffective tool for crafting a coherent energy policy because of political expediency.

I shall end by returning to the core question.  What is the wording you would like?
« Last Edit: May 23, 2012, 03:28:00 PM by jzhawk »

AbeCorrigan

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #33 on: May 23, 2012, 04:05:17 PM »
As an fyi for those who haven't really ventured into the topic literature and somewhat in response to malgor's post; there are a lot of 'fossil fuel/nuclear power' affs (including several not written or advocated for by top hat sporting oil barons). For example, the brooking's institute had this idea for a natural gas aff that would add 'natural gas' into the 'renewable fuel standard' (http://www.brookings.edu/research/testimony/2012/04/26-energy-greenstone). They also seem to meet the standard for "independent/peer reviewed."

Two additional (if somewhat contradictory) answers to what seems to be the 'fossil fuel propaganda' da. 1.) We are all already flunkies of the fossil fuel industry. Cars, plastics & a grip of other stuff we take for granted are all fossil fuel based and to pretend like any existing alternative energy technology could be found as an immediate replacement to everything fossil fuels are used for seems fairly unlikely. While some people will obviously err towards more conservative affs, I don't think a 'yes' fossil fuels topic requires the affirmative to unconditionally defend the oil lobby. An affirmative could just as easily generate more less the same set of pragmatic defenses of the fossil fuel industry the affirmative is always able to generate when forced to defend something objectionable to our liberal sensibilities; say that fast change is bad & the affirmative takes pragmatic steps in the right direction. These are not hard cards to find.

2.) There are good k aff's under a 'fossil fuels' exclusive topic. There are a number of potentially objectionable regulations that unfairly target 'the periphery,' there are a number of alternative process that could be incentivized that make traditional fossil fuels way nicer to various groups/the environment, & there are certainly things to be said about changing the ways we think about existing fossil fuels in ways similar to the critical evidence i've seen in more traditional energy k affs like solar power.

Basically, there's a debate to be had & the potential for a very interesting and nuanced look at energy policy beyond just the 'peak oil' and 'cap & trade' debates we've been through before.

andreareed

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #34 on: May 23, 2012, 04:52:26 PM »
Malgor (et al?)- just a quick question.  Are you advocating that there be no wording option on the ballot that contains an increase in fossil fuel production component or just that all (or a majority of) the options should not include it? 

I am curious from a topic writing process perspective.  Gordon can correct me if I'm wrong, but its my understanding that we moved from an "area paper" process to the "controversy paper" process because of the  several recent times where the community ended up with topics in the opposite direction that was proposed in the area paper (Indian Country and China).  Love it or hate it, the community voted for "increase domestic energy production/use" not "energy" generally.  Consequently, our proposed wording includes FF production because the controversy paper included it.

Ermo

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The replacement concept (jzhawk)
« Reply #35 on: May 23, 2012, 05:09:49 PM »
I think you might benefit from a focus on something like replacement or alternatives to coal/foreign oil (not sure oil fits well, honestly) for generation of electricity for residential, industrial, or commercial purposes in the U.S.  as it would focus discuss on the concept of replacement, which is the crux of the debate.

I am quite interested in feedback, here or by email (gmail: ermocito) about how others feel about the "replacement" concept - as pertains to coal, and also as pertains to oil importation. I suspect a resolution involving both would have a short stem and a LOT of clarification on each leg of the and/or.

A coal leg could be "an energy policy to (substantially) replace coal as (the primary) fuel for (thermal) power plant electricity generation" - it would have a huge 'substantial' built-in, since coal is over 40% of the mix, and natural gas is just under 25%. http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_1
If the scope of change makes the topic seem too narrow, we could retreat back to the more comfortable "substantially replace."
We could also have sectoral options - residential, commercial, industrial, transportation - although that allows smaller cases which reduce coal ONLY in one sector, not in all / on balance.

An oil leg could be "an energy policy to (substantially) replace imported oil as (the primary) fuel for transportation"

It would be possible under a replacement topic to specific replacement options - or to leave those open ended. It does generate a certain directionality (reduce coal / reduce imported oil) while retaining a certain bidirectionality (increasing nuclear could be topical, but topical affs could pick something else and replace BOTH coal and nuclear to some extent). If the replacement options (natural gas, nuclear, domestic oil, wind, biofuels), you might end up with a topic that had the "and/or" stem in the middle and the "one or more" replacement list at the end. Or, you could specific DIFFERENT replacements for oil than for coal, and get something that would compete with the Europe topic on length.

I view replacement as one of many possible angles on the mechanism, and I'm curious whether people (a) like the replacement concept and (b) would want to help group "B" either looking at it in more detail - or, heck, even finding better options to avoid a 'replacement' resolution!

tcram

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #36 on: May 23, 2012, 05:43:48 PM »
Re: Andrea- I am not concerned about a topic that has options to increase FF use/production. I would be comfortable if it appeared on every ballot option. I have great discomfort at ANY ballot option that excludes increased production/use of non-FF energy sources, for reasons Quigley points out- I didn't think I was ever voting for a 'FF/nukes only' topic.

Re: Ermo- I unfortunately cannot assist in the exploration, but is it possible that a mechanism that is sufficiently broad on the 'production' end access the replacement debate by virtue of an effect of a plan?  It seems that if an aff can topically bring natty gas or other electricity sources online, a fairly predictable outcome would be less coal usage.  Maybe those with more experience with the replacement lit can speak to whether that is sufficient or whether it really does require specified replacement mechanisms (I feel like 7 is a good number and lets anchor it on the word 'enact').

Malgor

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #37 on: May 23, 2012, 06:13:27 PM »
Look many things are being conflated.  And yes I understand i use general terms like 'fossil fuel lobby' and there are nuances, they can't all be 'evil' etc.  Not my point.  My point this entire time, which I have repeated more than once, is that the evidence presented in favor of that part of the topic only comes from those sources, and that is a bad literature base to construct what may be 1/2 or more of a topic over.  that's it.  I don't care if people want to argue conservative positions-there wouldn't be radical positions without those conservative ones to argue against.  I only mention the ideological leanings because the RESULT of those leanings is a lit base that is not ideal or optimal.

It's frustrating that i keep repeating this point, and then i get a lot of blowback, none of which addresses a question i will pose again:  how important is the "increase FF production (namely all the affs advocating a rollback of environmental restrictions)" in the academic debate over energy policy?  not the websites from the mining industry.  not energy lobbying groups.  if Zive's post is true, that washington and academia are much more interrelated than i believe, then it shouldn't be so hard to produce this.  But in the topic paper and now the first wording paper, there is a near universal absence of the high quality, peer reviewed, academic sources that we should base debate around.  I'm not even claiming that it doesn't exist, just that I have not been presented with it despite the fact that it's an area some have said the entire topic could be, while others say it would be at least half of a topic.   What is so unreasonable about this request?

That is my concern.  I don't sit in judgment of your job, i merely pointed out examples of how many organizations that work in lobbying have very slanted views on what constitutes sound research etc.  I would think the easiest way to end the conversation is to produce a some good peer reviewed sources that give us a starting bibliography.  Again, the only reason I don't find it necessary for the alternative energy side is bc of the recency of that being a focus of the topic.

Andrea, I am only against the construction of any resolutions on the ballot that do not include renewable energy.  I do think your interpretation of the committee might be off, but that is because there has been confusion over that before.  My understanding is they have leeway, but they prefer to stick to the controversy.  I think any wording option that makes the issue of new energy production a big part of the topic is fine.  others may think that it has to be a mechanism that 'directly mandates it' or whatever (topicality issues have already been mentioned on that note).

I definitely think the worst possible topic we could make would be one that only does one or the other, something dylan reiterated and that zive has said several times would not be as good as a topic that combines the two as a bridge fuel.  There are some pragmatic FF affs, but  lots of the cards are from lobbyists complaining about how pesky environmental regulations prevent them from accessing as much sweet sweet money as they would like.  In my experience, topic segments dominated by that style of evidence/argument are often best placed under the negative arsenal bc of conditionality and the block.

Let me get back to my diablo3...errr, vigorous environmental protesting.....




jzhawk

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #38 on: May 23, 2012, 08:22:11 PM »
I get what you are saying, and let me try to address it more clearly.  I don't think we are that far away from each other on substance.

First, I think your standard of academic and peer-reviewed literature in the context of the energy policy debate is not really reasonable for many key questions.  There is scientific, academic research on the impacts/harms debate, and on the limited technological feasibility debate.  However, many of the most important questions on larger fuels questions are not whether a particular fuel mix is feasible, but what is required to have a fuel adopted and what the ancillary costs associated with a transition might be. These are not academic questions and many of the purportedly peer-reviewed reports on these questions really just end up being wholly reliant on non peer-reviewed advocacy pieces created by one side of the policy debate or the other.

I do not think, however, that this is a genuine problem.  Arguments from one side of the debate or the other are not wrong because they were created by participant in the battle.  They can be subjected to the same process of testing, criticism, etc. as any other literature because ultimately it is the strength of their warrants that will make them work or not.  For example, there was and is a vigorous debate over whether the government is slow-walking off-shore permits in the GOM.  There is no "true" answer to this debate and sorting through both sides of the debate has a value and makes for good debates because both sides marshall facts, analysis, etc. for their arguments.  It isn't as simple as decrying environmental regulations writ large, but turns on distinctions regarding different types of drilling, risks, permitting, etc. that makes for good debates.   In my experience, having a deep reservoir of advocacy conducted on both sides is a good thing, and is preferable to relying on academic research strictly, as that research often side-steps the thorny implementation choices that are the essence of a policy debate.

Next, I partially agree with you.  I think a mix of fuels is essential.  I also do not think there is a vibrant literature basic for easing restrictions on things like coal production and use.  The debate on coal is really about whether it should be replaced in the fuel mix, and if so by what and at what pace.  Now, there is a debate about increasing domestic oil production (off-shore, for example) and domestic natural gas production (something that most environmental groups know is necessary to be able to clamp down on coal).  And, there is a big debate about how to increase production of fuels/power from other sources (nukes, wind, solar, etc.).  These are each very different policy debates and the reason I think an old-school energy policy type topic that requires an objective like replacement or something might be good because aff's could pick a focus on different types of replacement strategies.  For an example of this, compare something like the Pickens plan for natural gas to things like CES proposals such as the one recently pushed by Senator Bingaman.  The coal stuff, in the end, I think works best as negative strategy because that is really how the literature has been written.

I guess, in the end, you might just be fighting the same battle Harris fought (and lost with me for years), asking me to get get some cards.  Ultimately, I will leave the actual research to others, but I am comfortable knowing that there is great Aff literature on all of the replacement options to coal for electrcity and foreign oil for autos, and solid negative for both.  However,  I would recommend that if you want to see examples of the depth of the substantive debate on these issues it is a good idea to look at the regulatory docket for the EPA MATS rule, the NSPS rule for GHGs (comments will be submitted and public by the end of June) and the public debate over BOEMR's regulation of GOM drilling.  Oh, and the Fracking debate is evolving on a daily basis, which will keep that discussion vibrant.

I'll ask Ana to post some links to some examples of these things (she is also working a full time job, so we do the best we can).


kevin kuswa

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #39 on: May 24, 2012, 12:47:59 AM »


R: The USFG should establish an energy policy that substantially increases the percentage of energy production and generation from domestic energy sources.

kelly young

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #40 on: May 24, 2012, 07:48:58 AM »
In the belief that floors are good and ceilings are bad for a topic:

R: The USFG should establish a[n] [national] energy policy and it should include a substantial reduction in restrictions on and/or substantial increase in incentives for the domestic production and/or domestic use of one or more of the following: [oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear power].

Or,

R: The USFG should establish a[n] [national] energy policy and it should include a substantial increase in the percentage of energy production and generation of one or more of the following: [oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear power].

Notes/Questions: Perhaps based on Josh's comments, coal should not be on the list? Not sure if "national" needs to be included to modify "energy policy".

Advantage:
* Allows for efficiency standards, fuel replacement, natural gas transition into renewables and other solutions listed in many solvency articles people are concerned will be excluded while still maintaining a baseline action that provides predictable ground.
*broadens the topic to allow more affirmative flex

Disadvantage:
* affs can offset increases in FF with other elements of the energy policy
* Broadens the topic - not only for ground concerns, but perhaps moves too far from original topic (I don't think this is the case from Josh's discussion, but perhaps).

I'm not really wed to any of this - take it, leave it, change it. Just seems to combine one of the better parts of the constructive engagement topic - the floor - with this topic.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 07:50:33 AM by kelly young »
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jonahfeldman

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #41 on: May 24, 2012, 10:43:04 AM »


R: The USFG should establish an energy policy that substantially increases the percentage of energy production and generation from domestic energy sources.


Here are my concerns with the "establish an energy policy that" style of resolution:

1) Effects. 

Some of the core aff's that people seem interested in would have a hard time demonstrating that the result of their action would necessarily be an increase in production/generation.  Removing restrictions on offshore drilling, for example, could likely result in only a minimal increase in production, or even hypothetically no increase or a decrease.  That should be a solvency debate not a topicality debate because determining the plan's effect on production/generation by non-governmental actors is very difficult to establish in a decisive way that creates a predictably limited resolution.

The issue isn't so much whether the aff is a substantial increase or not, because that's difficult to establish on all topics, but whether the aff has guaranteed an increase at all.  Compare to the past two topics.  On immigration you could point to the number of visas available as a mandated increase even if nobody decided to apply for those visas.  Increasing democracy assistance meant increasing the amount of assistance offered even if the recipient refused or it did not increase democracy even a little bit.  What equivalent could you point to on an "establish an energy policy that" rez?

2) Mandates.

If an "establish an energy policy that" style of resolution is chosen I feel very confident saying that the T argument described above would decisively shape the direction the topic takes.  Consider the topicality arguments that dominated aff choice on the nukes topic and the constructive engagement topic.  This T argument is better than both of those.

That means that aff's will have to mandate a substantial increase in production/generation.  I believe that offers a choice of a) increasing USFG production/generation or b) requiring industry to increase production/generation.  That removes a lot of aff's that the topic paper wants us to debate about and leaves a limited and unsavory selection for the aff to choose from.

***quick preempt.  You may think that #2 takes out #1 because aff's could say that the topic would be crappy, for the reasons described in #2, if the aff had to mandate.  However, negatives would be successful in proving that the issues with effects would be way worse than the issues with mandates.  Judges are quite willing to chose a bad interpretation over a REALLY bad interpretation and almost all of the time an overlimited interpretation is selected over an underlimited interpretation.

My conclusion is that elegance is overrated (I know, I know, I'm usually so elegant, but....).  We shouldn't be choosing a topic because it looks pretty, we should be choosing a topic because it is the most likely to generate debate over the issues that we want to debate about.  We should word a resolution that speaks in specifics to what the USFG should be doing instead of crafting topics that speak to the result of the plan.  Energy policy is not in and of itself enough of a limiting phrase.  We need to present options that are the parts of energy policy we want the aff's to do. 

In a somewhat tangential rant I have no idea why people find the phrase "and/or" overly confusing.  It offers a choice: either or both.  What is so difficult about that?

We should include renewables.


PHayes

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #42 on: May 24, 2012, 11:33:38 AM »
Setting aside the question of which energy sources to include and focusing on potential solvency mechanisms, I believe we should focus on wordings that achieve the intent of the topic paper while excluding affirmatives that are BOTH problematic and outside of the paper's intended scope.  This means the first question, in my mind, is whether there are any such affirmatives (i.e., what cases are we trying to limit out with terms like "increase incentives" "reduce regulations" "substitution" "development" "percentage", etc. (if any), and are these cases actually problematic?)

In addressing this question, I think it's helpful to consider from an economic perspective the types of actions affirmatives would be allowed to mandate under a broad, unfettered "increase production and/or use" topic, and then work our way backwards towards a topic wording.  I see 6 general categories:

1.  Removing barriers or impediments to competition by the favored energy source (mostly supply side)

This includes anything that removes legal and regulatory barriers and impediments to competition, which would create new incentives to enter
particular markets and result in substitution in the fuel mix.  This is allowed by the "reduce regulations" language, although from an economic perspective "reduce regulations" seems redundant with "increase incentives,"  as removing a barrier to entry is by definition creating an increased incentive to enter.

 2.  Subsidizing supply (supply side)

This includes actions that lower the cost of production/subsidize production, such as plans to increase producer revenue (grants) and plans subsidizing production by decreasing capital costs (interest rate subsidies), investment risk (loan guarantees), tax burdens (tax credits), etc.  From an economic perspective, these all involve a wealth transfer from the USFG to the favored producers, and they all increase incentives for production and use, and therefore result in substitution, by lowering the cost of production of the favored energy source.

3.  Subsidizing demand by subsidizing use of the favored energy source (demand side).

This includes actions that would seek to alter consumer behavior via demand side subsidies promoting the favored energy source (tax credits for putting a solar panel on your roof, etc.).

My impression is that these first three categories are clearly within the scope of the topic paper, and that it's the next three categories
that contain cases that are potentially outside the scope and that should be addressed with limiting language IF we find them problematic
from a competitive standpoint.

4.  Impeding competition by alternatives to the favored energy source (supply or demand side)

A tax on oil imports is a good example, as it would create the same incentive to purchase domestic energy as a subsidy, a price differential, and would result in substitution for the same reason. Other examples include Renewable Portfolio Standards (which effectively exclude certain types of energy from competing to meet a portion of demand), cap and trade, a carbon tax (which creates an incentive/produces substitution by creating a price differential) feed in tariffs and more.

I haven't seen any discussion on this front, but in my view some of these actions (like a tax on oil imports), seem outside of the intended topic area while others seem within (RPS).  In addition, some of these case areas open up new topic directions by making the topic bidirectional as an economic matter (For example, a tax on oil imports would create incentives for the substitution of domestic oil for foreign oil, and therefore would be topical under most wordings.  But it would also increase overall domestic prices for both foreign AND domestic oil, decrease overall oil use and promote efficiency, etc., all of which is counter to the economic direction of the other case areas listed above, as well as those described in the topic paper.  See, e.g., http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/6078642/oil-import-tax ("The article emphasizes the benefits of imposing tax on U.S. oil imports. A tariff on imported oil could increase the price of energy in the U.S. while reducing the price of oil in the world markets.")

5.  The production and/or use of energy by the USFG (mostly demand side, but potentially supply side as well).

For example, the DOD could increase its purchases of domestic energy, solar energy, etc., which would provide the most direct incentive to produce   a particular form of energy, a direct cash incentive paid to producers.  I feel that, as a general matter, some of these cases are outside of the scope of the topic paper, and some are the source of the "small case" fears some have voiced (e.g., have the USFG build toasters).  But others go to the heart of the topic as the USFG is the country's largest energy consumer and arguably has the power to move the market in some areas.  (And at the same time, no one wants a topic that limits Affs to this category of cases.)

6.  Increasing demand by promoting private economic activity unrelated to the production of energy

I think we can all agree this is outside of the topic's intended scope.  But I don't see how this is excluded by "incentives" language given that every case is going to be effects topical in any case, and increased need is a core economic incentive, although the "substitution" and "national energy policy" language may reach here.

Personally, I'm okay with a broad topic.  But if the community wants to limit beyond simply stating "a policy intended to increase production and/or use," I think we should identify what cases we're worried about and make sure our wordings track those concerns.  I also think we should stay away from terms that don't draw the intended limits and/or establish a percentage requirement that is either meaningless or has a meaning that isn't based in the literature.

Specifically, if we identify problematic case areas, I suggest we consider wordings that limit out these cases  by focusing on the underlying economics rather than somewhat arbitrary categories and percentages.  For example, if we found some of the case areas in the above-mentioned categories 4, 5 and 6 problematic, we might address the issue by wording the topic as follows:

“R: The USFG should increase the production and/or use of _____________ by enacting a policy to decrease the cost of producing and/or using _____________.”

A wording like this would allow affirmatives to remove substantial barriers to entry because increasing supply is the same from an economic perspective as decreasing price, it would allow them to provide substantial supply side subsidies and decrease the cost of production, and it would allow them to provide substantial demand-side subsidies by subsidizing the favored energy because this also decreases the cost of use.

Plans that increase incentives to use a favored energy source by impeding a competing energy source, however, would be debatable.  For example a tax on oil imports would clearly increase the cost of use without directly impacting the cost of production.  RPS in the short term may increase prices (or it wouldn't be necessary to mandate substitution because the market would be doing it already), but there are arguments that RPS would decrease costs in the long run by supporting economies of scale, shifting to an energy source free from price spikes, etc.  Cap and trade, carbon tax, feed in tariffs etc all fall along this same spectrum.

Also, I think this approach would help exclude cases that have the USFG engage in small scale energy production/use projects because such projects wouldn't affect the cost of production and would actually increase the cost of use a microscopic amount by increasing demand.  But at the same time it would allow action through the USFG that's significant enough to bring down costs (i.e., if the USFG consumed enough of a particular type of energy to ramp up economies of scale and decrease the long term cost of production, or if the USFG produced enough of a type of energy to decrease the market price, etc.)

Again, I have no idea whether I'm directing my comments to the cases that people are seeking the exclude.  The above is just an example.  Bottom line, I would ask anyone who wants to add a limitation to a straightforward "increase" topic to begin by explaining what cases they want to exclude with language like "incentives," etc. (maybe the answer is none), and why they think these cases are problematic. And if there is a body of problematic cases, I would suggest we consider crafting limitations like the above, i.e. limits that focus on the underlying economics of the problematic cases.  "Decrease cost" is just one example, there are a number of ways this could be done.

jzhawk

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #43 on: May 24, 2012, 01:09:00 PM »


 


Here are my concerns with the "establish an energy policy that" style of resolution:

1) Effects. 





I understand this argument, but I think the effects argument actually is relatively easy to deal with in practice.  First, it can be solved grammatically by substantially "to" for "that"  This makes the resolution a question of intent. Aff's would have to be able to explain how their policy is designed to accomplish the specified ends, giving the negative predictable ground, and would not be able to no-link or link-turn arguments premised on accomplishing that end.  Further, in aspirational resolutions I have never seen a problem with affs becoming effects non-topical as a result of losing arguments as a debate progresses.

I also think there is value in the community returning to a debate over the word policy.   There is extensive literature about what an energy policy is, whether the US has actually had an energy policy in the past three decades, and distinguishing energy policy from specific acts of policy that are related to energy. 

Maybe this is just the old T debater in me, but the debate over what constitute a policy is  T debate that has value, a literature base, and gives teams he ability to argue for limits on the resolution without placing a straight-jacket ont he resolution that removes options for affirmative creativity. 

I guess in the end I struggle with the notion of just listing the specific policies you want to debate.  Seems like to do this would require an exhaustive knowledge of what is in the literature and an ability to predict where the literature could go in coming months.  If mistakes are made they would be irreparable.  However, a policy based resolution could build in flexibility and allow the contours of the resolution to be debated and adjusted in practice.  This is my memory of how the trade topic went down back when I was pup, and I do not remember it being an unpleasant experience.  T debates grounded in topic literature can be very good things.

jonahfeldman

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Re: Energy Production and Use Topic - Topic Committee Working Groups
« Reply #44 on: May 24, 2012, 02:40:53 PM »
Josh, let me say first how much I appreciate your involvement in the topic creation process.  I think it is super healthy for all-star debate alumni, like yourself, to stay connected to the community and share with us the expertise you've garnered outside of debate.  Thanks for caring and for being a part of this.

However, there are some things you've said that I don't agree with or understand:

"the effects argument actually is relatively easy to deal with in practice.  First, it can be solved grammatically by substantially "to" for "that"  This makes the resolution a question of intent."

Making the resolution a question of intent amplifies all the problems I listed in the previous post because it's impossible to prove what someones intent is.  My intent in this post is to attract the eye of a music producer to fund my aspiring hip-hop career.  How would you prove that it isn't?  I'm not sure how the neg wins any T debate if the aff just has to say that their intent is to increase production/generation.  I'm having difficulty conceptualizing what evidence would look like that proves the intent of a policy and I'm not sure how someone could possibly take a look at an intent based resolution and figure out what is and isn't topical in any kind of predictable manner.

"Further, in aspirational resolutions I have never seen a problem with affs becoming effects non-topical as a result of losing arguments as a debate progresses."

Dude, I'm gonna be honest, I do not know what an aspirational resolution is.  I don't think we've had one in a while.  Does the aff have to aspire to do something?  If so, that sounds terrible.  

You cite the trade topic as an example of a topic that was broad but didn't have T problems.  Was that the topic from 1990 - 1991?

RESOLVED: That the United States should substantially change its trade policy toward one or more of the following: China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan.

If that resolution were adopted today it would make everyone in the debate communities head explode simultaneously.  Debate has changed in the past 20 years and as a result T debate has changed.  The size of information available to debaters today and the speed at which that information can be accessed is a game changer.  As a result there needs to be very specifically crafted resolutions or else there will be a) a billion different aff's that are unintended and unexpected causing lop sided debates and a push towards more generic strategies and b) overreactive T violations which force the topic into unintended and unwanted directions.

The last little b) is perhaps the most important.  Despite the best intentions of the topic committee we have to understand that the topic we want is not always the topic we get.  There needs to be an awareness of how topicality debates will go down at tournaments.  You need to trust me that at this moment in time in debate the effects argument will be a monster if we choose an intent/aspirational topic and it will make the topic not as good as it should be.


"I also think there is value in the community returning to a debate over the word policy.   There is extensive literature about what an energy policy is, whether the US has actually had an energy policy in the past three decades, and distinguishing energy policy from specific acts of policy that are related to energy."

I think this is your best argument and a very reasonable claim.  Let me be very clear, I am not opposed to the use of the term energy policy.  I am opposed to a resolutional wording in which "energy policy" is the only limiting term in an intent based topic.  I have two concerns about using energy policy to limit an intent statement:

1) I am skeptical about the quality of debate that can occur over what is and isn't energy policy.  You say that there is a lot of literature about what is and isn't energy policy, and I am happy to defer to your expertise on that subject, but I would like to look at the ev and see if it would match up with the mechanics of modern day T debate.  I would love to look at any evidence you could provide.  My guess is that it will be just as difficult as defining other terms of art like "democracy assistance" or "constructive engagement."

2) This doesn't prevent the effects T argument.  It just means that neg's will say that topical aff's have to be energy policy that mandates an increase, which bring us back to square one.

"Maybe this is just the old T debater in me, but the debate over what constitute a policy is  T debate that has value, a literature base, and  gives teams he ability to argue for limits on the resolution without placing a straight-jacket on the resolution that removes options for affirmative creativity."


There can be a middle ground.  I'm more concerned with having the resolution define USFG action than I am with spelling out every single detail of what the aff has to do.  If the resolution were to say things like "Substantially increase tax credits for the production/generation of natural gas" it would clearly define the mechanism and course of action but leave some aff creativity.  I think we should pick and choose some primary categories of incentives and regulations and list those.

There's all different kinds of aff creativity.  The treaties topic only had 5 cases but there was lots of different aff's and I don't think people felt too restricted.  When you have a huge area like energy there can be creativity in advantages and nuance of implementation even if there is not creativity in mechanism.

It's true that we don't have absolute knowledge of the literature at this moment but that's as much a DA against your topic ideas as it is against mine.  You cannot at this moment predict all the different directions that people can go with the term "energy policy."  We take the information we have available to us, harness the impressive research power of the debate community before the topic meeting, and do our best to figure out what the best means are for increasing the production/generation of fossil fuels and renewables.  I bet we will be pretty close.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 03:07:38 PM by jonahfeldman »