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Posts from — July 2011

Jimmy Carter’s ‘Malaise Speech’ of July 15, 1979: An Energy Moment to Remember

[Editor Note: Carter's April 1977 energy speech was also reproduced and commented upon at MasterResource.]

Thirty-two years ago today, President Carter and his energy advisor James Schlesinger got it all wrong in an emergency television address to the nation. Their neo-Malthusian, government-as-engineer moment should never be forgotten but stand as timeless warning about the anti-market, anti-energy mentality.

In the summer of 1979, many Americans were stuck in the gasoline lines. There was a lot of lost time and nervousness. There was fighting and worse. The market as a buffer of civility was gone. Americans were not used to such a predicament and had the common sense to know that something was very abnormal and not to be tolerated. They were mad.

Here is the background of his energy speech, considered as the most important speech of his presidency:

On June 30, 1979, a weary Jimmy Carter was looking forward to a few days’ vacation in Hawaii, as Air Force One sped him away from a grueling economic summit in Tokyo. He had earned it. Two weeks earlier, Carter had successfully concluded the SALT II arms control negotiations with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev in Vienna, the latest in a series of foreign policy achievements since the dramatic Camp David summit the previous September.

Aboard the plane, the phone rang. It was Carter’s pollster, Patrick Caddell. “I remember getting on the phone and saying, ‘You people have got to come home now,’” Caddell recalls. “We were all saying the same thing: ‘You have no idea how bad it is here.’”

The so-called malaise speech and crisis of confidence speech, Carter’s fifth address on energy to the nation, was different from the rest. As explained in the Wikipedia entry on Carter:

When the energy market exploded — an occurrence Carter tried to avoid during his term — he was planning on delivering his fifth major speech on energy; however, he felt that the American people were no longer listening. Carter left for the presidential retreat of Camp David.

For more than a week, a veil of secrecy enveloped the proceedings. Dozens of prominent Democratic Party leaders—members of Congress, governors, labor leaders, academics and clergy—were summoned to the mountaintop retreat to confer with the beleaguered president. His pollster, Pat Caddell, told him that the American people simply faced a crisis of confidence because of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Vietnam War; and Watergate.

Where was Milton Friedman or just about any economist worth his or her salt? The gasoline shortages of early 1974 and the natural gas shortages in the winters of 1971/72 and 1976/77 came from the same cause: federal price and allocation controls that did not let supply and demand mesh.

—————————THE SPEECH————————–

Good evening. This is a special night for me. Exactly three years ago, on July 15, 1976, I accepted the nomination of my party to run for president of the United States. [Read more →]

July 15, 2011   4 Comments

Wind Costs: Connecting Some Dots

There has not been much published on wind costs, except, generally speaking to give the impression that they are reasonable and manageable. Unfortunately, at the level of wind implementation being contemplated, particularly in the Western world, the costs are an unsupportable amount of national wealth.

On the other hand, there has been a considerable amount published on the impact of introducing large amounts of wind into electricity systems, most of it again claiming manageable considerations. Those that cite Denmark should review this series of posts. I am not aware of any conclusive analyses supporting wind integration, as most are superficial at worst, or limited in some considerable way at best.

I expect in time, based on a proper analysis, or through further real, and unhappy, experience, that none of the claims for wind will be confirmed. I expect that such will show that wind is much more problematic, and risky to our supply of electricity than is generally believed. It also represents a substantial risk to our financial systems. [Read more →]

July 14, 2011   12 Comments

Jimmy Carter’s Energy Speech of April 1977 (Is President Obama going Carter’s way?)

The oil and natural gas that we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are simply running out.… World oil production can probably keep going up for another 6 or 8 years. But sometime in the 1980′s, it can’t go up any more. Demand will overtake production. We have no choice about that.”

“To some degree, the sacrifices will be painful—but so is any meaningful sacrifice. It will lead to some higher costs and to some greater inconvenience for everyone. But the sacrifices can be gradual, realistic, and they are necessary.”

“We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and our grandchildren.”

- Jimmy Carter, Energy Address to the Nation, April 18, 1977

Will Obama and his ilk learn the lessons of history?

One such lesson is don’t count conventional energy out. In the 1970s, oil and gas shortages experienced in many parts of the U.S. were erroneously blamed on resource exhaustion rather than government price and allocation controls.

These shortages can be traced back to two presidents who made damning decisions that cost their country plenty. President Eisenhower fathered the natural gas crises of the 1970s when he unexpectedly vetoed a natural gas wellhead decontrol bill in 1956 (1); President Richard Nixon fathered the oil crisis with his wage and price control order of August 1971.

Peak oil, peak gas? The speech below is just another data point of warning against those who are wed to the fixity/depletion view of minerals rather than open-ended resourceship.

——————————————THE SPEECH————————————–

Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem that is unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge that our country will face during our lifetime.

The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly. It’s a problem that we will not be able to solve in the next few years, and it’s likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century. [Read more →]

July 13, 2011   5 Comments

Overplaying Heat, Underplaying Adaptation (Part II)

[Editor's note: This is Part II (Part I here) of a two-part analysis examining projections of increasing human mortality to accompany projections of increases in temperature resulting from greenhouse gas emissions produced from burning fossil fuels to produce energy. Such studies typically give short shrift to the effectiveness of rather simple adaptations and the power of cheap, and reliable electricity.]

In my post yesterday, I discussed the seemingly incongruent fact: the more frequent heat waves, the fewer the number of people who die from them. This results from adaptive measures that the people who live in hot places incorporate into their lifestyles. These adaptations include access to air-conditioning which is facilitated by the availability of cheap, reliable, and abundant electricity.

Today, I’ll look more in detail at a new paper which projects a rapid rise in human mortality across Europe to accompany projections of rising temperatures there—contrary to observations.

Promulgating the Myth

Underplaying our adaptive power and our innate desire not to want to die is essential in order to support such a finding, and this way of thinking (along with some misapplied statistics) is on display in the just-published paper by Joan Ballester and colleagues which appears in the new journal Nature Communications. And just in case this idea is not readily apparent in the actual article, the Associated Press’ Seth Borenstein—not one to let a good global-warming-is-going-to-be-bad-for-you story pass by—played up the negative and played down the positives in his widely distributed coverage “Heat will kill more than cold in Europe, eventually.” The ‘independent’ expert on Seth’s go-to list on heat-related mortality, Jonathan Patz, is happy to oblige Seth’s want of confirmation of the study’s conclusions that rising temperatures are going lead to rising temperature-related mortality and goes on to add that this new study “is really an essential paper in the field of climate change and health.”

Had Seth interviewed me, he would have gotten a completely different take. [Read more →]

July 12, 2011   5 Comments

Alaska Energy: The Battle Continues (but we cannot grow weary)

It is indisputable that for the last two-and-a-half years the Federal government has undertaken a campaign of economic sabotage against Alaska.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) is 2/3 empty and declining at a 6% annual rate while billions of barrels of oil lie untapped on federal lands nearby, causing America to import hundreds of billions of dollars worth of oil while exporting tens of thousands of American jobs to foreign jurisdictions.

The Obama Administration will have killed Alaska’s economy and set back America’s economic recovery if TAPS ceases operation for lack of readily available but off-limits federal oil.

Normal Americans throughout Alaska and the entire country have responded again and again to repeated salvos of regulatory ordinance calculated to descimate Alaska’s if not the entire country’s economy. It appears to be a conscious attempt to bring chaos, unemployment and poverty to a great nation and the state with resources that could be resurrecting the entire U.S. economy.

The attacks are well coordinated offenses led by federal agencies, accompanied by the happy warriors of the extreme environmental and social left. Every week or two we hear of a new ‘opportunity to comment’ on a new initiative that could pound another nail into the chest of a gasping economy. We have “commented” so many times that our fellow citizens are now saying, “Geeze, I don’t have time to do this every week; they’re wearing me down.”

For over two years we have exposed this ‘death by a thousand cuts’ to America’s economy, the cumulative effect on a great nation of continuous barrages of regulatory schrapnel that are descimating natural resource industries and hundreds of thousands of current and potential jobs: delaying and outright blocking projects. The delays and blocking of projects often violate established ‘due process’ causing ‘harmed’ states or companies to sue for relief — years away and too late if it comes at all.  Alaska’s Governor Sean Parnell has sued the federal government for overreaching its authority.

Examples of the federal onslaught include:

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July 11, 2011   5 Comments

Overplaying Heat, Underplaying Adaptation (Part I)

[Editor's Note: This is Part I of a two-part analysis examining projections of increasing human mortality to accompany projections of increases in temperature resulting from greenhouse gas emissions produced from burning fossil fuels to produce energy. Such studies typically give short shrift to the effectiveness of rather simple adaptations and the power of cheap, and reliable electricity.]

Increased use of air-conditioning, made possible by access to affordable, reliable electricity, goes a long way towards counteracting the acute effects of excessive heat events, a.k.a. heat waves, on human mortality and morbidity. Projections of rapidly rising human heat-related mortality under a warming climate, such as those made in a recent paper published by Joan Ballester and colleagues, fail to acknowledge the power and reality that this and other (even simpler) adaptations can have at protecting human life.

When it comes to energy and climate policy, one cannot make an ‘other things equal’ assumption. More climate policy means less energy, period.

As an increasing frequency, intensity, and duration of heat waves is anticipated as the climate warms from the combination of a build-up of atmospheric greenhouse gases and growing urban and suburban environments, expanding the availability of affordable, abundant, and dependable energy should be one of our highest high priorities. Instead, there is a deluge of proposals (in part fuelled by results like those of Ballester et al.) aimed at limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases produced from the combustion of fossil fuels—actions which threaten the quality and quantity of our energy supply, and thus run counter to the practices which best allow adaptation to climate and climate changes.

Thankfully, of the many proposals which have been, well, proposed, only one with any teeth has really stuck (thus far)—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now has the ability to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases, an ability which was predicated by its finding that such emissions “threaten” our “health and welfare.”

From where I sit, our health and welfare is more under threat by regulations, laws, and/or treaties which (would) act to hold one hand behind our back as we try to best protect ourselves from the vagaries of climate (and to a far lesser degree, climate change). And the justifications for doing so ring hollow, as virtually all analyses of the impacts of such proposals show them to be ineffective at producing any meaningful mitigation to projected climate changes—that is, without the bulk of the work being done by developing countries such as China and India. Of course, developing countries realize that the positives from expanding the availability of affordable and reliable electricity, including the adaptive power that they afford us, outweigh the negatives from climate changes that any resultant greenhouse gas emissions may produce. Therefore, electricity from fossil fuels continues to lead the way into the future. [Read more →]

July 11, 2011   6 Comments

MasterResource: 2Q-2011 Activity Report

MasterResource, a premier free-market energy blog, is two-and-a-half years old. Since beginning in late 2008, we have published approximately eight hundred posts from 100 authors. Our total views will exceed the magical one million mark in the current quarter. Comments from our loyal, sophisticated readership add substance to many of the in-depth posts.

This site has covered a variety of energy issues on the state, national, and even international level. But our most active area has been the growing backlash against industrial wind turbines. MasterResource is pleased to have become a leading voice for citizens, environmentalists, and small-government  advocates who have united against this intrusive, wildly uneconomic, and government-enabled energy form.

Our concept is different from most blogs. With one in-depth post per day, we have created an open book of mini-chapters, creating a scholarly resource and a historical record for the energy and energy/environmental debates. We now have more than 300 categories–the index of our ever expanding book. And we have achieved critical mass. Just Google an energy policy term and MasterResource–I bet something will come up!

Our content is for the future, not only the present. We are not shrill and are wed to energy reality, not energy postmodernism (this it, think it and it will happen). Future scholars will undoubtedly review MasterResource to understand the intellectual arguments and political discourse of the great energy debates of our time.

Major Themes

MasterResource has become the ‘go-to’ blog in a number of key areas: [Read more →]

July 8, 2011   No Comments

Cato Institute: Zeroing Out the Department of Energy

“All Americans are involved in making energy policy. When individual choices are made with a maximum of personal understanding and a minimum of government restraints, the result is the most appropriate energy policy.”

- Reagan Administration Energy Plan (1981)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) oversees nuclear weapons sites and subsidizes conventional and alternative fuels. The department has a history of fiscal and environmental mismanagement. Further, misguided energy regulations have caused large loses to consumers and the economy over the decades.

DOE will spend about $45 billion in 2011, or about $380 per U.S. household. It employs about 17,000 workers directly and oversees 100,000 contract workers at 21 national laboratories and other facilities across the nation. The department operates 37 different subsidy programs.

Spending Cuts

Department of Energy research activities should be terminated. The private sector is entirely capable of funding its own research into coal, natural gas, nuclear power, solar power, and other forms of energy. Businesses will fund new technologies when there is a reasonable chance of commercial success, as they do in other private industries.

Federal energy subsidies impose a burden on taxpayers, and they can be counterproductive if they steer the marketplace away from the most efficient energy solutions. Furthermore, federal energy research has a track record of poor management, cost overruns, and wasteful boondoggles.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the Power Marketing Administrations should be privatized. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should be terminated. Ending all these activities would save taxpayers about $18 billion annually, as shown in the table.

The bulk of the Department of Energy’s activities are defense-related. Those activities, which total about $19 billion annually, should be moved to the Department of Defense. That would allow for a more transparent presentation of defense costs in the budget, and it would allow the Department of Energy to be abolished.

Click here for a list of proposed spending cuts to the department to save taxpayers about $18 billion annually. [Read more →]

July 7, 2011   3 Comments

Wind Energy: A Review of Human Health & Safety Concerns

This is a more detailed examination of the wind energy situation in North Carolina that I previously outlined, which is part of an ongoing investigation of the state’s process of getting wind energy permits. All this came about as North Carolina’s first industrial wind project (Desert Wind) is now in the pipeline.

As a part of my research, I had a productive conversation with North Carolina’s Health Director. My question to him was: what state agency will be assuring that NC citizens are protected regarding health and safety matters resulting from this industrial development?

He agreed that there should be such an assessment, but concurred with other North Carolina agency people that I had already contacted: there currently is no provision in the state’s rules and regulations that requires a comprehensive human health assessment for such a project.

We subsequently had several good correspondences, and below is a composite. I’m sharing this as I’m sure similar situations exist in other states and provinces, so the sample Health & Safety references should be helpful.



Per our recent phone conversation, I would like to supplement your industrial wind energy knowledge by recommending that you read the conclusions of some independent experts about some of the known human health impacts of wind turbines. This will put some scientific balance into the situation, so the state won’t be just looking at what the developer says. I don’t want to overload you, so below are just some samples. If you want more, please let me know.

The most pressing matter is that a comprehensive, objective assessment of the possible human health effects of the proposed Desert Wind project (Iberdrola/Atlantic Wind: Elizabeth City) needs to be authorized.

Additionally it would be much appreciated if you would use your connections as the NC State Health Director to see that a NC Health agency is an automatic participant in all future NC industrial wind project permitting approvals. As we discussed, that is not the case now.

In our conversation you raised a good point: what are the human health and safety effects of wind projects compared to those resulting from a coal facility?

This is a classic case of comparing apples to oranges, as these sources of electrical power are profoundly different, and are not interchangeable. [Read more →]

July 6, 2011   6 Comments

Is Al Gore Bad for Big Environmentalism? (A shriller gone sour)

“‘I think Al Gore’s done more to hurt this cause than he has to help it…. There are a lot of Democrats who don’t want to get within 10 miles of Al Gore on climate policy, because he’s seen by a lot of Americans as being on a crusade, and he doesn’t mind turning the economy upside-down because of sort of a religious zeal he has.”

- Lindsey Graham (R-SC), quoted in Jean Chemnick, “Graham says Gore to Blame, not Obama, for Congress’ Antipathy toward Climate Bill,” E&E News (sub. req.) June 23, 2011.

Al Gore in his most recent pronouncements on the climate-change issue (“Climate of Denial,” Rolling Stone, June 22, 2011) went so far as to pin blame on President Obama for the failure to excite the electorate on energy sacrifice in the name of averting catastrophic climate change. “In spite of [his climate-change related] achievements,’ Gore opined, “President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change.” Gore explained:

After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates — including one Republican — felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that “drill, baby, drill” is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil.

But even the Left has questioned Gore’s complaint. And more politicos than not see what perhaps Mr. Gore himself refuses to see: climate alarmism fatigue and Al-Gore fatigue.

“Thank you for existing and speaking on this issue,” I hear Gore’s critics saying. And remember what happened to Jimmy Carter when he went the oil-and-gas alarmism/self-sacrifice route back in the 1970s (see here and here)?

Still Alarmist–and Energy Postmodernist

Gore also goes alarmist. “What we are doing is functionally insane,” Gore penned in his 7,000-word essay. “If we do not change this pattern, we will condemn our children and all future generations to struggle with ecological curses for several millennia to come.” [Read more →]

July 5, 2011   11 Comments