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Category — Obama energy policy

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

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

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

Obama 2013–or Jimmy Carter 1977?

“Industrial development would have been greatly retarded if sixty or eighty years ago the warning of the [coal]conservationists had been heeded. . . . [T]he internal combustion engine would never have revolutionized transport if its use had been limited to the then known supplies of oil. . . . Though it is important that on all these matters the opinion of the experts about the physical facts should be heard, the result in most instances would have been very detrimental if they had had the power to enforce their views on policy.”

- F. A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960), pp. 369-70.

Government energy planning is a long tried, long failed exercise. The inner Obama in his Argonne speech last week surely channeled Jimmy Carter; and Carter circa 1977 foreshadowed the 44th president of the United States. And President Carter did not introduce the idea of federal energy planning either.

To make these points, consider the following ten quotations, four from Carter, four from Obama, and two from the U.S. Department of Interior in 1939. Can you tell which is which? (Answers at the end)

—————————- [Read more →]

March 19, 2013   2 Comments

Robber Barony: Obama Energy Policy By Another Name

Milton Friedman famously remarked: “Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.” But how can good intentions be squared with an Administration that plunders our taxes, energy resources, and the overall economy to satisfy select businesses (wind, solar, ethanol, battery) and an anti-industrial elite? They win, while we the 98 percent lose.

It is time for more Americans to learn about the real energy boom that the Obama Administration is trying to keep under wraps in major and countless minor ways. From this basis, baronyism and cronyism can be exposed and then expunged.

Our North American Energy Boom

An oil and natural gas boom is underway in the United States, born of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracing.” It has created tens of thousands of well-paying jobs directly, and hundreds of thousands more in hundreds of businesses that supply and support the industry and its workers.

In North Dakota, the unemployment rate is 2.4 percent, in large part because of a huge increase in natural gas and crude oil production from deep shale rocks that yielded nothing prior to fracing. The new technology is also driving job growth, higher incomes, and increased tax revenues for hard-pressed state and local governments in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Texas and other states.

Meanwhile, 350 miles north of Edmonton, Alberta, other innovators are producing billions of barrels from oil sands that stretch across an area the size of Utah. Shallow deposits are accessible via surface mining, while deeper lodes are tapped using in situ drilling and steam injection. As work is completed in an area, the land is restored to woodlands, grasslands, lakes and marshes, and the process moves on. [Read more →]

December 20, 2012   4 Comments

Environmental Battles Under Obama 2

“America can continue paying billions in subsidies annually to finance “green” technologies and agenda-driven science. Or we can generate hundreds of billions a year in royalties and taxes, create millions of jobs, and rejuvenate our economy by applying commonsense regulation to the Big Three consumer-chosen energies–oil, gas, and coal.”

The United States is now Balkanized into five distinct voting blocs, notes Joel Kotkin (two blue, two red, one blue?red). Other political analysts see the nation bifurcating along “makers” and “takers” lines, while still others say 50.6% of the popular vote is hardly a mandate.

In any event, when American voters reelected President Obama, they also returned his wide-ranging agenda at the EPA, Interior, Energy, and Justice departments for “fundamentally transforming” our nation from its limited-government roots. And not in the name of sound science and realistic tradeoffs between market failure and government failure. 

This won’t mean just ObamaCare, higher taxes on businesses and families, deficit spending, and tens-of-thousands of pages of new regulations. It will also bring more disputes over energy and environmental policies, the vanguard of Mr. Obama’s determined campaign to substitute so-called “green” energy for hydrocarbon energy.

Six-Front Interventionism

This conflict will be fought primarily on six battlegrounds.

1. Carbon taxes

Hurricane Sandy presented another pretext for regulating and taxing hydrocarbons. No respectable climatologist or meteorologist believes atmospheric carbon dioxide conjured up the destructive storm, but climate alarmism has always been about political science, not real science. [Read more →]

November 19, 2012   3 Comments

Peltier Corrects: EPA’s CO2 Rule of ‘Great Strategic Benefit’ to Obama Administration

[Editor Note: In "Speaking of Power" (October 2012), POWER editor-in-chief Robert Peltier takes issue with a recent analysis concluding that the EPA's new CO2 rule for powerplants was inconsequential. Since his editorial was published, it was reported that a second wave of CO2 powerplant regulations are in the works.]

Cato Institute senior fellows Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren suggest in a recent Forbes blog that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) carbon pollution standard for new coal-fired power plants (Standard) is a meaningless skirmish in President Obama’s “war on coal.” But while the Standard may have no tangible impact on the industry in the future, it has great strategic benefit to the administration.

Going from Facts …

The blog posting, “President Obama’s Alleged ‘War on Coal’—Climate Change Edition,” correctly assesses the situation: First, the EPA’s recently proposed Standard covers only new coal-fired power plants built 12 months after the Standard goes into effect, perhaps in 2014, probably in 2015. The Standard limits carbon emissions from new plants to those of a typical gas-fired combined cycle plant. Because any additional emissions must be captured and sequestered, building a new coal plant under the proposed Standard isn’t practical or economic. The result: There are no new coal-fired plants on the drawing board in the U.S. The EPA, as the authors correctly point out, counts perhaps 15 “transitional sources” (other sources list 22) that may still be constructed as “grandfathered” plants. Ironically, if no new coal plants are constructed, the Standard produces no CO2 reductions.

Second, the authors correctly note that the long-term price of natural gas is expected to remain low. As they say, the “futures price for natural gas in August 2012 (the farthest out that one can buy gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange) is $3.01 per million BTU.” Industry new construction has focused on gas-fired plants and wind turbines for the past few years. [Read more →]

November 6, 2012   3 Comments

Winning vs. Losing Energy Policy

“As the Democrats become more committed to, and defined by, a green agenda, and as they become dependent on money from high-tech venture capitalists and their lobbyists, it becomes harder to describe them as a party for the little guy — or liberalism as a philosophy of distributive justice.”

- Charles Lane, “Liberals Green-Energy Contradictions,” The Washington Post, October 15, 2012.

Governor Mitt Romney strongly supports North American energy independence as the foundation of renewed U.S. employment and prosperity. There is much needed to fill-in the blanks, but the challenger’s guiding philosophy promises real reform. Free-marketeers, playing defense for the last four years, and during a lot of the Bush Administration too, actually have a chance to play offense should Romney prevail.

President Obama is waging a three-front war on hydrocarbon fuels in the spirit of Thomas Malthus, while promoting a jobless recovery in the name of John Maynard Keynes.

Obama’s efforts are so counterproductive that old-school textbooks in Government and in Economics are under pressure to add a new term along side “market failure”–government failure. Long live James Buchanan and the Public Choice School of Economics.

Turnaround Needed

Romney/Ryan have some serious turnaround work to do. Careful analysis and due diligence brought Romney and Bain Capital notable winners like AMC Entertainment, Burger King, Burlington Coat Factory, Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts and Staples.

Compare that to Obama, whose focus on ideology, political calculation, cronyism, and campaign contributors has produced losers and scandals like Abound Solar, Crescent Dunes, Ener1, Fisker, Mountain Plaza, Solyndra, Tesla, and, most recently, battery-maker A123 Systems. And just think of the all the other “green” projects that would collapse if their taxpayer subsidies were cut off. [Read more →]

October 17, 2012   4 Comments

Energy Scorecard: Romney vs. Obama

Elections have consequences, and the upcoming one promises to have dramatic impacts for our energy-driven economic future.

Consider what each major contender has said regarding these key issues, with the incumbent promoting an “all of the above, but not too much fossil fuel” policy, and the major challenger promoting more of an “all of the best” energy policy.

Oil and Gas

The energy industry begins from the ground. The two candidates’ drilling policies are markedly different.

Obama: Last May, President Obama seemed to be expressing a drilling epiphany when he said: “we should increase safe and responsible oil production here at home.” There was his oil moment in Cushing, Oklahoma. Yet nearly two-thirds of federal lands are currently off-limits to drilling and mining, and leasing has slowed in recent years.

Oil production has been declining on federal lands, while booming on private and state lands. As America continues to dive deeper into debt and export industries and jobs overseas, the lifeblood oil and gas industries essential to fuel recovery are being constricted. Meanwhile, our neighbors, along with Russia and China, are aggressively pursuing offshore development adjacent to our borders.

Mexico is drilling a deepwater well only 22 miles from U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico; Cuba plans to drill 60 miles from Key West; the Bahamas are proceeding with leases not much farther away; Canada is actively drilling near the Maine coastline and in the Beaufort Sea just east of Alaska; and Russia is aggressively moving into the Arctic Ocean at Alaska’s western boundary.

At the same time, a massive Chinese-built semi-submersible oil rig has been dispatched from Singapore to a position off northwest Cuba, about 50 miles from Key West. Spanish oil giant Repsol YPF is leading a consortium that will operate the rig at depths more than a mile deeper than the Deepwater Horizon. [Read more →]

October 8, 2012   8 Comments

Energy Loserville: U.S. DOE Picks in an Artificial Industry

“When government undertakes tasks for which it is ill equipped it squanders the authority necessary for carrying out its core responsibilities. Pervasive rent-seeking, bad for our economy and worse for our republic, should be discouraged instead of rewarded. If government becomes integral to securing every advantage and assuaging every grievance, then governance becomes impossible.”

- Richard Voegeli, “Reclaiming Democratic Capitalism,” Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2012, p. 46.

Governments around the world are having buyers’ remorse with their bets that solar and wind could effectively diminish oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. So much cost, so little energy. So much cost, so little reliability, and so much need for backup power.

The story is the same for the U.S. Department of Energy. The Obama administration’s rocky road with green-energy boosterism is no secret. With big names like Solyndra and Solar Trust of America, it’s hard to lose sight of the administration’s funding failures.

But what may come as a surprise is the overall amount of money being thrown away on these green companies that the administration has championed. Of the $10.7 billion in green-energy commitments, detailed below, approximately $3.2 billion is to companies that are in bankruptcy, and another $7.1 billion is committed to teetering firms.

The good news is that private developers are postponing (and probably canceling) projects that even with government subsidies are uneconomic. General Electric Co. just last week halted construction of what would have been the largest solar-panel factory in the U.S. Some 335 workers can now find economic employment.

Here’s the breakdown of the “green” energy carnage to date: [Read more →]

July 9, 2012   9 Comments