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Category — Democrats

Jimmy Carter Was Better than This! (Why can’t Democrats embrace a free energy market?)

As a Democract, I have asked myself how it is that the current administration could be so consistently wrong on energy policy. There was a time in the days of Bob Kerr, Lyndon Johnson, Sam Rayburn, and Bennett Johnson that energy policy was bipartisan. In fact, those Democratic wheel horses from the great Southwest made sure that the policy–particularly as regarded oil and gas– was somewhat rational.

Carter Was Pro-Drilling Compared to Obama

The last Democratic President to acknowledge the need for exploration was Jimmy Carter, under whom I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Gas. Carter pushed both an offshore 5-year leasing plan and production from the Naval Petroleum Reserves. I know–I was in charge of both.

So despite the Windfall Profits Tax and much hyperbolic rhetoric, President Carter had a foot, or at least a few toes, in the pro-production camp. And it was none other than Carter who set up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for drilling (after adequate study) as one of his last acts in office.

The 39th President also initiated both the decontrol of gas dating from the 1950’s and the (phased) decontrol of crude oil and oil products that began with Richard Nixon in 1971 which Reagan simply accelerated with his famous decontrol executive order of January 1981.

Democrats vs. Drilling

But no more! Democrats today seem to want to fly in the face of reality by espousing phantom sources of energy and working at cross purposes with American interests:

Democrats today tend to:

  • Believe in Peak Oil and the imminent end of the hydrocarbon age
  • Accept Global Warming Alarmism unquestioningly
  • Exaggerate the decline in the state of the environment when it is actually improving
  • View hydrocarbons as a threat to modern civilization rather than its creator and preserver and to viscerally oppose oil and gas exploration
  • Exaggerate the environmental impact of oil drilling both on and offshore

All this leads Democrats to support and subsidize trendy new sources of power (e.g. switchgrass!) without acknowledging how limited or how environmentally damaging they are when implemented on a large scale.

This has only a little to do with “free market” ideology. I assert that a centrist–or if you like a moderate liberal–who believes in moderate government intervention (securities regulation, social security, Medicare, single payer health, etc.) can: [Read more →]

March 27, 2010   12 Comments

Joe (Romm), Where Art Thou? (my peak oil bet deserves an up or down)

In a post on his blog and then again on the Huffington Post, Joe Romm challenged me to a wager on oil prices, claiming prescience concerning the price rise in the past decade compared to my 1996 forecast of low prices for two decades.  He seems to be implying that that I have refused to wager him, having closed the webpage to any further comments.

I find myself taken aback, as my experience with the blogosphere is somewhat limited.  My experience is primarily as an academic, writing articles for refereed journals and books, as well as working papers, with an intention to make them carefully sourced and referenced.  A blog can consist of nothing more than a rant, and the comments appended to them often worse (and usually anonymous).  I will not however yield to the temptation to follow suit (even if our illustrious moderator would permit it, which he won’t).

Having put up approximately 20 posts on the subject of peak oil, it might be thought that Romm is an expert on the subject. But so far as I know, he has a grand total of one article on oil, his famed, “Mideast Oil Forever” Atlantic Monthly piece (co-authored with Charles Curtis), which is the source of his pride on the subject.

A careful reading of “Mideast Oil Forever” shows that his argument was not so much that prices would soar, but that global dependence on Middle East oil would soar, which has not happened.  My argument was that the forecast of rising Middle East market share was likely to be incorrect, and it was (see Figure), so that economic fundamentals would not imply ever rising prices.

Forecasts of OPEC Market Share from 1996/97

Which is a far cry from saying my forecast was wrong and Joe’s correct.  In my testimony, I specifically stated,

“The reality is that prices may go up in the future.  And Persian Gulf oil production and exports will rise.  However, the most likely scenario, given what we know about oil supply and demand and what we have learned about forecasting in the last 10 to 15 years, is that OPEC is going to be under continued pressure for at least the next 10 years, possibly for much longer, that they will be fighting with each other for market share.  And, it’s going to require some very substantial changes in the world to see prices rising.” (See my opening statement on pp. 127-128.)

Arguably, the price collapse leading to the rise of Hugo Chavez, the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Bush Administration’s decision to invade Iraq, are those ‘substantial changes’.  Certainly, not the soaring Middle East market share predicted by Romm.  (Since he downloaded the transcript of the hearing, it’s not clear how he missed this.) [Read more →]

March 5, 2010   1 Comment

Why is the Party in Power So Fearful of Copenhagen? (Is a 'death spiral' for climate alarmism ahead?)

[Editor note: Ken Green was a Working Group 1 expert reviewer for the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001]

For weeks now, we’ve been hearing an odd refrain from the Democrats who are pushing hardest for the Waxman-Markey climate bill. They are determined, it seems, not only to have such a bill drawn up before Copenhagen, but to have it signed into law. At the same time, the EPA is widely expected to issue its endangerment finding for greenhouse gases, triggering what will undoubtedly be a hotly disputed regulatory process.

President Obama, it is reported, wants to sign climate legislation before the critically important Copenhagen climate conference in December. And Senate Majority leader Harry Reid wants the President to sign a climate bill this fall as well.

They both have plenty of company in the “act first, think later” brigade.

A New York Times article shows the sense of urgency: [Read more →]

September 1, 2009   14 Comments

The 70s: Bad Music, Bad Hair, and Bad Energy Policy (What Obama can learn from Carter)

Many in the energy business, whether or not they support President Obama’s positions on energy and the environment, are likely to think, “Look, the US is a big ship. It cannot be turned around in a couple of years, and even if they tried, you can right the course at the ballot box.”

Actually, you can’t. The United States is still a nation of laws, and without strong political support, the acts of one administration cannot be easily reversed or undone by the next.

But there is more to the story than simple inertia and political head-counts. Each new administration enters with an agenda of positive goals. Spending time and political capital on your predecessor’s agenda can often find its way to the bottom of the to-do list. Moreover, a new president has only a limited circle of advisers. They cannot know everything about what the last guys did (Hayek’s revenge). [Read more →]

March 25, 2009   6 Comments

The Malthusian Wing of the Party in Power: When Will They Speak Up?

“The economic recession/depression is good, not bad. It lowers our carbon footprint in countless ways. It saves resources. It throttles back industrial society to sustainable levels that were exceeded long ago. Let the downturn continue to get us out of the growth mentality. Let rising expectations fall! Less is more!”

When will some prominent Left environmentalist slip and say something like this? No doubt the tongues are tied right now, but as time goes on it will be harder to keep the Malthusians muted.

Consider Paul Ehrlich’s advice for families, which can be extended to the economy as a whole:

Once a cooperative movement had gained momentum, it could also engage in an enormous campaign to re-educate other consumers and to change their buying habits. The pitch might be: ‘Try to live below your means! It will be good for your family’s economic situation, and may also help to save the world.’

- Paul Ehrlich and Richard Harriman, How To Be a Survivor (Rivercity, Mass: Rivercity Press, 1971, 1975), p. 149.

The literature is chock full of anti-growth, anti-industrial sentiment, including statements from John Holdren, Obama’s confirmed top science advisor, who said (with Ehrlich): [Read more →]

March 1, 2009   9 Comments

Too Optimistic about Obama Energy Policy?

While I’m quoted in the Houston Chronicle’s CERAweek column on an optimistic note, developments with the “stimulus” package make me less optimistic by the day. What I told Tom Fowler of the Chronicle, when discussing the anti-oil mentality of Representative Ed Markey, now chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, was [Read more →]

February 9, 2009   No Comments