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Category — Policy Issues

Energy Postmodernism: Obama Today, Amory Lovins Yesterday (645-page powerplant rule to nirvana)

All good things to all people. That is how the Obama/EPA Power Plant Rule is being sold this week in the U.S. and around the world.

Lower prices, more jobs, greater security, accelerated innovation. New for old, cleaner for dirtier. Better air and less ailment.  Take the disadvantages of rationing carbon dioxide in U.S. power plants and assert just the opposite. Get others to echo for a ‘shared narrative.’ Think energy postmodernism of wish, want competitive intermittent renewable energy.

Say it is a free lunch. Better yet, say it is a lunch that we are paid to eat.

And all this for a better future. “This is something that is important for all of us,” Obama stated in regard to the proposal. “As parents, as grandparents, as citizens, as folks who care about the health of our families and also want to make sure that future generations are able to enjoy this beautiful blue ball in the middle of space that we’re a part of.” Save the Planet!

Never mind the infinitesimal climate effect of incremental emission reductions. (Do some simple math here assuming that power plant emissions are 38 percent of the U.S. total. I get a year-2050 temperature reduction of .005 degrees centigrade, and a year-2100 averted warming of .009.)

Never mind that the proposal flunks any sort of a cost/benefit comparison. And what about the Rule’s ‘government failure’ costs–the costs of devising, implementing, revising, and lobbying even if it were done by angels?

Back To Lovins?

The master of deceit and misdirection brings to mind the wonderful road of ‘soft energy” by the father of today’s conjure, Amory Lovins. Some 37 years ago, he presented his case in romantic, something-for-everyone packaging.

As he told a congressional subcommittee in 1977: [Read more →]

June 4, 2014   2 Comments

Carter-Obama Energy Policy: From Gasoline Lines to Pipeline Obstructionism

“The Nobels assert that, ‘The myth that tar sands development is inevitable and will find its way to market by rail if not pipeline is a red herring.’ But alternate delivery via rail is not a myth; it’s a massive and growing reality. Maybe before writing to Secy. Kerry, the Nobels should read the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) on the KXL, especially Chapter 4: Market Analysis.”

It is the common tale of two presidents who both declared war on fossil fuels. In the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter’s petroleum price and allocation regulations, premised on the belief that we were running out of supply, put America in the gasoline lines. Thirty-five years later, depletion fears refuted, Carter champions a letter to President Obama urging rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline segment (the last of four legs) on easily refutable arguments, discussed below. And Obama obliged.

Obama’s Easter (non) Surprise

Last week the Obama administration again punted a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. On April 18, the State Department, the agency responsible for determining whether the pipeline is the U.S. national interest, said it would wait until the Nebraska Supreme Court reviews a lower court decision that struck down a law expediting approval of a new route for the pipeline through the State. The Court is not expected to decide the case until after the November elections.

How convenient for the waffler-in-chief! Even the Washington Post editorial board let him have it. [Read more →]

April 25, 2014   2 Comments

Obama’s ‘Quadrennial Energy Review’: Old Vinegar in New Bottles (remember Jimmy Carter and FDR)

“The only good national energy strategy is one premised on private property rights, voluntary exchange, and the rule of law. Not a central, government plan, but a decentralized we-the-people ‘plan’.”

Energy studies, energy plans. They are not new. We saw them in 1938, 1977, yesterday—and in years between.

Now, the smartest-guys-in-the-government-room  will, once again, pontificate and propose more regulation and intervention on top of the tens of thousands of pages of directives that have built up in the last 40+ years. (The modern era of U.S. energy regulation began with Nixon’s wage-and-price-control order of August 1971.)

Usually, such studies come out with recommendations, which then turn into legislative proposals for a Congressional debate and a vote before reaching the President’s desk. But with President Obama legislating via Executive Order, expect the worst.

Obama’s Quadrennial Energy Review might be the last gasp of climate alarmism and the green-energy agenda that is now, increasingly,  in intellectual, empirical, and political trouble. As a recent investigative report on 60 Minutes indicated, even the mainstream press is getting Cleantech fatigue.

Despite that, compare what Obama said yesterday with FDR’s call to energy action in his second term and with Jimmy Carter’s National Energy Plan—and let history caution against government energy planning in thought and action. [Read more →]

January 10, 2014   No Comments

Keystone XL: Safe and Prepared (TransCanada)

“For more than 60 years, TransCanada has been a leader in the safe and reliable operation of North American energy infrastructure, including a vast array of natural gas and oil pipelines, along with natural gas storage facilities and nuclear, wind, hydro and solar power-generation facilities”  (TransCanada).

“It’s our commitment to you that the Keystone XL pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever built.

It’s good to have reality on your side. The Keystone XL pipeline has a ready builder and ready customers. It employs state-of-the-art technology. It integrates North America. It transports a precious energy. It is modern transportation to make modern petroleum products for an energy hungry world.

Like the Shell commercial says, Let’s Go!

TransCanada in its series, Just the Facts, recently presented this analysis regarding three key issues: spill response, emergency response, and pipeline integrity.

Oil Spill Response

The fact of the matter is – pipelines are the safest, most reliable, economical and environmentally favorable way to transport oil, petroleum products and other energy liquids.  Nearly every gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel used in Nebraska is transported through pipelines. In addition to demands for petroleum for transportation, petroleum hydrocarbons are used by many other industries to produce valuable materials, including drugs and pharmaceuticals, plastics, chemicals and construction materials. [Read more →]

October 3, 2013   No Comments

McCrory Cronyism: Republican Governor Saves Renewables Mandate

“What Governor McCrory has now acknowledged to an audience of advocates for forced utilization of wind and solar power is that, behind the scenes, he was using his influence with Republican lawmakers to block this reversal of one of the most egregious forms of crony capitalism on the books in North Carolina.”

Gov. Pat McCrory, speaking recently to the Appalachian Energy Summit in Boone, North Carolina, subtly and without fanfare dropped what has to be considered a bombshell. According to the Watauga Democrat, “McCrory drew applause from summit attendees when he said he stepped in to stop a legislative effort this year to end state subsidies for renewable energy development.”

McCrory is referring to legislation that was introduced early in the session to repeal substantial portions of 2007’s Senate Bill 3, which mandates that at least 7.5 percent of the electricity used by North Carolinians must come from renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. Another 5 percent can come from reductions in energy usage, falsely referred to as energy efficiency. The mandates are a massive subsidy to these industries.

Under a regime of free choice in energy, without these mandates and other subsidies, the solar and wind power industries would be completely unsustainable.

So why should this be considered “bombshell” news? Until this speech, McCrory had not even taken a position on these mandates. During the debate on their repeal, at least in terms of public comment, the governor was silent. [Read more →]

August 2, 2013   3 Comments

Offshore Alaska Drilling: Private Effort versus Regulatory Constraints

Royal Dutch Shell has spent billions of dollars over six years preparing to drill for new oil in Alaska. The hidden treasure is an estimated 20–25 billion barrels of oil beneath the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Not surprisingly, drilling for oil in Alaska is complicated and expensive (See map of proposed offshore exploration and drilling in Alaska). Part of the complexity is the distant Arctic location and short summer exploration and drilling window, and part is caused by drifty U.S. federal regulations.

Oil exploration and production is never easy (as in “the ‘easy oil’ has been found”), and new frontiers, technological and geographical, are always the challenge. And in this case, federal regulation from an anti-oil administration is at work.

Shell’s Coming Restart

on Shell’s suspended Arctic drilling operations for 2013, the company hasn’t given up. Shell just needs time to repair its ships. U.S. government agencies will continue review and regulation while Shell ships are repaired. As reported in the New York Times: “The Interior Department, the Coast Guard and the Justice Department are reviewing Shell’s operations, which have included groundings, environmental and safety violations, weather delays, the collapse of its spill-containment equipment and other failures.”

The NYT article also reports: [Read more →]

July 17, 2013   1 Comment

Ecological Oil Drilling: Addressing Oil Seepage in California

“How much oil seeps out from the ocean floor — and into the environment — around the Santa Barbara area? SOS California identifies offshore Santa Barbara as having “the second largest marine oil seeps in the world.” Centered around an area referred to as Coal Oil Point, some 10,000 gallons of crude oil seep from approximately 1,200 fissures in the ocean floor in any given 24-hour period.”

- Sylvia Cochran, “Natural Oil Seeps Harm Birds off California Coast, March 8, 2012.

This April 25, 2013 Wall Street Journal article, “Chilly North Sea Comes Back to Life: New Technology Is Set to Liberate Natural Gas That for 25 Years Was Trapped Beneath Sea Floor,” tells the story of significant advances in deep sea drilling technologies.

If companies can discover, drill, and deliver oil from stormy North Sea locations, why can’t firms similarly find and drill oil from Santa Barbara and other offshore California oil fields?

But environmentalists, as well as average citizens, fear offshore oil spills and oil-drenched sea birds–and that gets back to the Santa Barbara oil spill (1969), the third largest in history after the Deepwater Horizon (2010) and Exxon Valdez (1989) spills.

Natural Oil Seeps

Yes, it is a tragedy when seabirds and other animals are caught in manmade oil spills. But what about natural oil seeps? [Read more →]

June 13, 2013   4 Comments

Keystone XL Deserves a Presidential “Yes” (consumers, citizens, labor all in support)

“The pipeline would be a $7 billion stimulus package unto itself, without costing taxpayers a dime and requiring no act of Congress to get under way.”

In recent weeks President Obama has talked about the need for investment in new infrastructure to drive U.S. economic growth. “There are few more important things we can do to create jobs right now and strengthen our economy over the long haul than rebuilding the infrastructure that powers our businesses and our economy,” he said:

As President, my top priority is to make sure we are doing everything we can to reignite the true engine of our economic growth – and that is a rising, thriving middle class.  A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that’s got to be our true North.  That’s what has to guide our efforts every single day.

In that same speech not too long ago, the president noted the plight of the nation’s construction workers during the recession – and the lift infrastructure projects would give to thousands of working men and women. On both points the president is absolutely right.

Leadership is about actions and accomplishments, not rhetoric. For going on five years, President Obama has had one of the largest shovel-ready projects ready to go – needing only his approval to increase demand for thousands of components and subcomponents to help put America back to work: the Keystone XL pipeline. [Read more →]

May 29, 2013   1 Comment

Keystone XL and Climate Change: Much Ado About 0.00001°C/yr. (May 7th Testimony before Congress)

“No matter whose carbon dioxide emissions estimate is used, the climate impact of the oil transported by the pipeline is too small to measure or carry any physical significance. In deciding the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline, it is important not to let symbolism cloud these facts.” [1]

Climate change results from a variety of factors, both human and natural. The primary concern raised over the pipeline involves the carbon dioxide emissions that will result from the production and use of the oil that the pipeline will carry. It is the potential climate change from these emissions that will be the focus of my testimony.

In its Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the State Department finds, and I think that there is broad agreement on this point, that a barrel of oil produced from the Canadian tar sands carries about a 17 percent carbon dioxide emissions premium compared to the average barrel of oil finding its way into the U.S. market.

Disagreement: EPA vs. State Department

The disagreement between the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and several environmental groups, involves how many new carbon dioxide emissions this 17 percent premium results in when considering the 830,000 barrels of oil that the pipeline will carry each day when operating at full capacity. [Read more →]

May 8, 2013   2 Comments

U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement: A Rare Victory for Oil and Gas in the Obama Era

“The energy and economic welfare of the United States and Mexico are intertwined by our shared geography, geology, and peoples. The Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement will help to tie our countries together and grow our economies.”

- Daniel Simmons, Testimony before House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, “U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement and Steps Needed for Implementation,” April 25, 2013.

Mexico is America’s third largest trading partner and has been one of the largest sources of oil exports to the United States. Mexico is the largest recipient of U.S. gasoline exports and the second largest recipient of our natural gas exports.

The energy trade between the United States and Mexico is growing, especially for America’s finished petroleum and natural gas exports. Mexico’s heavy oil production is falling, but that means more spare refining capacity on the Gulf Coast if Canadian oil sands can be transported to the Gulf Coast.

The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most prolific hydrocarbon-producing areas for both the United States and Mexico. Oil production, especially in deepwater on the U.S. side of the border, has moved closer to the U.S.-Mexico maritime border in recent years. Until last year, however, there was no agreement on how to divide resources between the United States and Mexico for resources that straddle the border.

The Agreement

A Fact Sheet released by the U.S. Department of State on February 20th announced and described the Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement. [Read more →]

April 30, 2013   No Comments