Free Markets, Free People

Energy Policy – “There Is No Productive Debate”

Here at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, we were able to hear from a very distinguished panel concerning the energy “debate”. I put the word “debate” in scare quotes because it seemed that the consensus of the panel was there really isn’t a productive debate going on.

Roger Ballentine of the Progressive Policy Institute says that the two sides are talking past each other with little real effort to engage in anything which would actually address strategic energy policy.

Sen Lisa Murkowski, addressed the audience by video and spoke of a “comprehensive” plan which would include all types of energy, obviously including oil and gas. She spoke of a “scarcity of will” on the part of Congress to aggressively go after our own natural resources and cited the Gulf of Mexico as an example. There, she said, lays 45 billion barrels of oil and 320 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that we seemingly refuse to tap.

Yet as API’s President and CEO, Jack Gerard pointed out, when polled 67% of the American public want the exploitation of the oil and gas assets to be found on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and that last week the Florida House passed a bill authorizing drilling off the coast of Florida by a 70-43 margin. That is a huge margin and speaks loudly about the public’s sea change in attitude concerning offshore drilling.

But it seems like no one in power in Washington is listening. And that brings us to the second point this panel made – it is necessary to engage the public/consumer and get them involved in this debate. It is they who will live with and pay for whatever Congress cobbles together regarding energy policy. So far, however, the only thing that has accomplished that level of public engagement is the price of gasoline at the pump. When it was at $4 a gallon, the public emphatically weighed in saying “this is unacceptable” and “do what it takes to fix it (to include drilling in the OCS). Since the price of gas has retreated, to be replaced by the economic recession, the public’s attention has been diverted elsewhere.

But we’re at a critical juncture right now. Legislation is being written and moved ahead within the Congress even while panelists in Houston on both sides of the political spectrum are saying the debate needs to begin in earnest, in a bi-partisan and productive way and the public needs to be engaged.

This was a wide ranging panel and I took 16 pages of notes. This particular post covers 2 of them at best. However this gives you a sense of the frustration to be found among those there representing government, industry and think tanks. Both sides of the broad political spectrum on the panel agreed that the bi-partisan “civil discourse” that would move this sort of policy forward in a positive way doesn’t at present exist even while the legislation outlining future policy is being written.

I’ll have much more to say about this as I wade through the pages of notes I took, but this suffices to give the general impression of where we are when it comes a well thought out and comprehensive strategic energy policy. In a word, nowhere. I’ll get into the “why” of that (“climate change” is the “cultural wedge” that is being used to muddy the energy debate), and the implications in another post.

Others writing about this are Gateway Pundit, Bearing Drift, Little Miss Atilla, the Heritage Foundation, Ecopolitology, Donklephant and others.

~McQ.

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15 Responses to Energy Policy – “There Is No Productive Debate”

  • Both sides of the broad political spectrum represented on the panel understood that the bi-partisan “civil discourse” that would move this sort of policy forward in a positive way doesn’t at present exist even while the legislation outlining future policy is being written.

    Then maybe aiming at ‘BiPartisan’ solutions isn’t the answer, but is in fact the problem.

  • I’m not too worried about the long term.  Yes, the idiot libs (sorry; redundant) seem hell-bent on making energy prohibitively expensive.  They will probably succeed in the short term.  This will arouse the ire of the American consumer, who won’t be too pleased with having to pay $6 / gallon for gas on top of increased heating / cooling bills and increased prices in everything else he buys due to increased production and transportation costs.  Net result: the people in power WILL listen… or they will be out of power after the next election.

    I’m just sorry that my fellow citizens seem too stupid / ignorant to see what it being cooked up in Washington or too apathetic to do anything about it.

    Hope ‘n’ change, hope ‘n’ change…

  • “I’ll have much more to say about this as I wade through the pages and pages of notes I took, but this suffices to give the general impression of where we are as concerns a well thought out and comprehensive strategic energy policy in a word, nowhere. I’ll get into the “why” of that (“climate change” is the “cultural wedge” that is being used to muddy the energy debate), and the implications in another post.”

    Educating the public (and getting them to believe it) on how badly we are being “Gored” by the politicians will probably do more to alleviate this problem than anything else. Politicians should be running from the “climate change” fiasco instead of embracing it. An informed angry public could cause that.

  • “…When it was at $4 a gallon, the public emphatically weighed in saying “this is unacceptable” and “do what it takes to fix it (to include drilling in the OCS). Since the price of gas has retreated, to be replaced by the economic recession, the public’s attention has been diverted elsewhere.”

    If the direction of energy prices lately (light-sweet is up $2.50/bbl today) is any indicator the public’s attention may soon be re-focused back on securing new oil and gas supplies.  Yes, this is mercenary and cynical but moving the body politic has always required a crisis.

  • Senator Murkowski is from Alaska.  Barbara Mikulski is from Maryland (I think).

  • If we can’t get them to listen on spending our country into bankruptcy, then the income from oil drilling off shore won’t impress them either.  Even if they were told the taxers from that oil could be used to create green energy, they wouldn’t bite.

  • GOP should be preparing their ads showing roughnecks working oil derricks and coal miners..

    “Energy made in America, not imported from the Middle East. High paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. A boost to our economy in troubled times.”

    Also, there is nothing incompatible with oil production and a carbon tax or cap & trade, though I think a carbon tax that applies to imports as well as domestic production would be the fairest, if we have to have theses taxes.

  • The “debate” about the environment is really about control and revenue.  Obama, Pelosi and Reid are control freaks with boundless ways to spend taxpayers’ money.  Nationalizing the banks gives them the power to decide who gets a loan and who does not.  Nationalizing health care gives them control over who is treated for what and how they are treated.  Preventing offshore drilling and taxing energy gives them control over the entire economy and the revenue to pay for it.

    I predict that cap and trade, if passed by this pack of thieves, will result in a political backlash that will reverse the majority in the House in 2010.  The narrative that only the rich will pay more taxes will collapse when people realize that cap & trade is a tax on everyone and everything.

  • Thanks Tom … I screwed that up. Fixed.

    Don’t feel bad. I missed it outright and based on Mikulski’s voting record was about ready to cut you off at the knees.  I smelled a fish and held back… now I’m glad I did.

  • Temple of Doom by Dr. James E. Hansen

    My frustration arises from the huge gap between words of governments, worldwide, and their actions or planned actions. It is easy to speak of a planet in peril. It is quite another to level with the public about what is needed, even if the actions are in everybody’s long-term interest. Instead governments are retreating to feckless “cap-and-trade”, a minor tweak to business-as-usual. Oil companies are so relieved to realize that they do not need to learn to be energy companies that they are decreasing their already trivial investments in renewable energy. They are using the money to buy greenwash advertisements. Perhaps if politicians and businesses paint each other green, it will not seem so bad when our forests burn. Cap-and-trade is the temple of doom. It would lock in disasters for our children and grandchildren. Why do people continue to worship a disastrous approach? Its fecklessness was proven by the Kyoto Protocol. It took a decade to implement the treaty, as countries extracted concessions that weakened even mild goals. Most countries that claim to have met their obligations actually increased their emissions. Others found that even modest reductions of emissions were inconvenient, and thus they simply ignored their goals. Why is this cap-and-trade temple of doom worshipped? The 648 page cap-and-trade monstrosity that is being foisted on the U.S. Congress provides the answer. Not a single Congressperson has read it. They don’t need to – they just need to add more paragraphs to support their own special interests. By the way, the Congress people do not write most of those paragraphs – they are “suggested” by people in alligator shoes. The only defense of this monstrous absurdity that I have heard is “well, you are right, it’s no good, but the train has left the station”. If the train has left, it had better be derailed soon or the planet, and all of us, will be in deep do-do. People with the gumption to parse the 648-pages come out with estimates of a price impact on petrol between 12 and 20 cents per gallon. It has to be kept small and ineffectual, because they want to claim that it does not affect energy prices! It seems they would not dream of being honest and admitting that an increased price for fossil fuels is essential to drive us to the world beyond fossil fuels. Of course, there are a huge number of industries and people who do not want us to move to the world beyond fossil fuels these are the biggest fans of cap-and-trade. Next are those who want the process mystified, so they can make millions trading, speculating, and gaming the system at public expense.

  • arch: I predict that cap and trade, if passed by this pack of thieves, will result in a political backlash that will reverse the majority in the House in 2010. The narrative that only the rich will pay more taxes will collapse when people realize that cap & trade is a tax on everyone and everything.

    My money is on the Democrats’ ability to successfully persuade a sufficient percentage of voters to blame the inevitable economic disaster on Big Oil, Big Coal, and Big GOP. Sub-prime mortgages, Social Security and Medicare are Democrat constructions, but how many voters blame them?
    Even if Democrats miscalculate their moves on this, why would you expect the voters who lined up to vote for an Obama nation, to see gutless, unprincipled Republicans as a fix?