Free Markets, Free People

green agenda


The politics – and failure – of going “green”

“Going green” and “climate change” certainly are interlinked parts of a political agenda that have nothing to do with public opinion or will.  In fact:

Seventeen years of continuous surveys covering countries around the world show that people not only do not care about climate change today – understandably prioritising economic misery – they also did not care about climate change even back when times were good. The new information comes in a study released by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago – a large, long-standing and respected non-profit. The NORC spokespersons said that decades of climate alarmism have had basically no effect on people’s attitude around the world.

Part of that has to do with the fact that they’ve heard it all before.  Dire predictions about population growth that have come to naught.  Warnings about using up the earth’s resources which have proven to be false. Ozone holes. Melting icecaps. Yatta, yatta.

Climate change is just the latest among the apocalyptic prophesies and as the real science – not Al Gore “science” – comes out, fewer and fewer people are staying on the bandwagon.

Of course the promise was a “green economy” in which everyone would benefit.  How’s that worked out?  Well we know how it has worked out in Spain.  Germany is now finding out how mistaken they were to go in that direction.  In fact:

Energy, manufacturing and agriculture are playing a major role in the corridor states’ revival. The resurgence of fossil fuel–based energy, notably shale oil and natural gas, is especially important. Cheap U.S. natural gas has some envisioning the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge as an “American Ruhr.” Much of this growth, notes Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane Energy Institute, will be financed by German and other European firms that are reeling from electricity costs now three times higher than in places like Louisiana.

Interesting.  It is another reason why they’re also putting manufacturing plants in the US, mostly in Red States.  Skilled labor, right to work and cheap energy.  Obviously neither the “right to work” nor cheap energy are part of any Obama administration design.

And how is it going for green jobs more locally?  Well, the usual state can be consulted for an update on what such a move has wrought and demonstrate for all to see why “going green” is a foolish road to travel – at least in the near future.

It was supposed to be the next big thing. California built decades of broad-based prosperity from the Gold Rush, then Hollywood, then aerospace, and later Silicon Valley. At the turn of the century, “green jobs” were supposed to be the wave of the future. How is that going for them? According to the best numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 2,500 green jobs have been created in California since 2010.

Wow … bask in the success!  Government again demonstrates how poorly it does picking winners and losers.  Not that such failures ever hinder the central planners from using your dollars to try again.  What’s Einstein’s definition of insanity?

Meanwhile, the “success” of green energy has brought California to a point where it will have to fish or cut bait very soon:

California is weighing how to avoid a looming electricity crisis that could be brought on by its growing reliance on wind and solar power. At Tuesday’s meeting, experts cautioned that the state could begin seeing problems with reliability as soon as 2015.

Of course, had we heeded the experience of others, we likely wouldn’t see California going through this nonsense:

The former chancellor Lord Lawson has urged the Government to keep Britain’s coal-fired power stations working for as long as was needed to avoid any short-term power shortages. In a House of Lords debate on energy policy and electricity generation Lord Lawson also called on ministers to give “every encouragement  it can” to the quickest possible development of shale gas supplies. Lord Lawson urged energy and climate change minister Baroness Verma to assure the House that “if the need arises our coal-fired power stations will be kept open as long as is necessary, regardless of the European combustion plants directive”.

But our dauntless leaders never learn from others.  Just as with healthcare, they seem bound and determined to recreate the failure of others.

We have abundant fossile fuel resources.  They would generate both jobs and revenue for government.  Wind and solar, while great in theory, have in practice been shown to be woefully inadequate to our needs.  We even have communities wanting wind turbines taken down due to health concerns.

Yet our government and this administration continue to pursue an “energy policy” which is detrimental to the welfare of this nation despite a state that has done everything they want to do nationally and is a dismal failure because of it.  They are bound and determined to make all 50 states Californias.

~McQ


Why won’t this administration look at this revenue source?

Because of their false agenda, that’s why.   They’re still convinced that, despite 17 years of no warming (as recently admitted by the head of the IPCC), oil is bad and “green” is good and that they’re doing something to save the world.  Disregard the fact that green is still unviable.  Disregard the fact that everywhere it has or is being pushed, energy costs are skyrocketing.  Nevermind the fact that we are sitting on a sea of fossile fuel products that we only need to access.  Screw the fact that science can find no discernable warming.  Their minds are made up.

That said, there’s also the fiscal side of the house.  The debt.  The deficit.  And the demand by Democrats to raise more revenue.

Unfortunately, because of their agenda, they’re likely to completely screw up a golden opportunity to bring in much more revenue and drive energy prices down, because their agenda is against fossile fuel.  And we all know the party agenda comes before what is best for the country.

Enter the administration with a renewed plan to tax oil companies instead of opening access to the vast natural riches we enjoy.  The result?  Well this chart will help you comprehend the vast differences in the two policy choices (full size here):

So the either/or is “tax ‘em or open access”.  The difference:

According to a 2011 study by Wood Mackenzie, increased oil and natural gas activity underpro-access policies would generate an additional $800 billion in cumulative revenue for government by 2030. The chart puts into perspective the size of these accumulating revenues – enough to fund entire federal departments at various points along the timeline. By contrast, Wood Mackenize also found that hiking taxes on oil and natural gas companies would, by 2030, result in $223 billion in cumulative lost revenue to government.

It only proves the old saw -”If you want more of it, reward it and if you want less, tax it”.  Think about it – money to help run government and pay down the debt (not to mention the thousands, if not millions of jobs created) being passed up in the name of false science and agenda politics.

Meanwhile, we’ll be left in the cold and the dark, thanks to agenda driven policies with no foundation in reality.

~McQ


The government’s war against cheap fuel

Harold Hamm, CEO of the country’s 14th largest oil company, Continental Resources, is featured in the WSJ today.  He talks about oil, gas and his belief, given what he knows about our reserves, that we could be completely energy independent from OPEC if we’d exploit them.

Or, as the title of the piece says, North Dakota could be the Saudi Arabia of the 21st century.  He thinks our technology for recovery of oil and gas is at such a state now that we could economically extract gas and oil that was previously unrecoverable and do it at a very nominal price.

So Mr. Hamm goes to Washington and has a chance to meet President Obama.  He has a moment alone with him and tries to get the message across.

When it was Mr. Hamm’s turn to talk briefly with President Obama, "I told him of the revolution in the oil and gas industry and how we have the capacity to produce enough oil to enable America to replace OPEC. I wanted to make sure he knew about this."

The president’s reaction? "He turned to me and said, ‘Oil and gas will be important for the next few years. But we need to go on to green and alternative energy. [Energy] Secretary [Steven] Chu has assured me that within five years, we can have a battery developed that will make a car with the equivalent of 130 miles per gallon.’" Mr. Hamm holds his head in his hands and says, "Even if you believed that, why would you want to stop oil and gas development? It was pretty disappointing."

Disappointing?  It’s vesting our future in a myth (or at minimum a hope) while ignoring what we have in front of us upon which our economy runs.

Daniel Yergin hits the point:

With all the excitement over renewable energy, it might be reasonable to assume that fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas will go the way of the steam engine in the next 20 years.

Not so fast, says Daniel Yergin, author and one of the most influential voices in the world of energy.

"There is always the possibility that something big will happen very quickly, but probably not," Yergin said in an interview this week before delivering a lecture at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

"On a worldwide basis, about 80 percent of energy today is oil, gas, and coal. You say, What’s it going to be in 2030? Most studies say somewhere about 75 percent of the bigger pot."

Said another way, we should be doing everything we can at this moment to do two things – increase our oil and gas supplies and create jobs.  The oil and gas industry promise an abundance of both.

As for our alternate or green fuels – yeah, maybe some day as Yergin, who has spent years researching them, admits, but not anytime soon:

"I’m convinced there will be major changes," he said. "But given how massive the energy system is, how complex it is, things just don’t happen overnight."

Existing energy systems contain an enormous amount of embedded capital. New technologies have long lead times. Automobile fleets take a decade to turn over. And world energy demand is expected to grow 35 to 40 percent by 2030.

Wind turbines, after decades of development, are only now cost-competitive, he said. Photovoltaic cells, first used in spacecraft in 1958, still require subsidies.

"It’s not a light switch where you can go from one to another," he said.

Precisely.  It’s like trying to turn an aircraft carrier around that is going full speed … it not only requires miles and miles of ocean but a lot of time.  We’re not going to transition to any alternate or green energy source in the foreseeable future – gas and oil will continue to play a dominant role in our economy.   And it is high time we began to earnestly exploit our reserves.

Anyway, back to Harold Hamm.  Why is Mr. Hamm so excited about North Dakota?  Bakken shale:

How much oil does Bakken have? The official estimate of the U.S. Geological Survey a few years ago was between four and five billion barrels. Mr. Hamm disagrees: "No way. We estimate that the entire field, fully developed, in Bakken is 24 billion barrels."

If he’s right, that’ll double America’s proven oil reserves. "Bakken is almost twice as big as the oil reserve in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska," he continues. According to Department of Energy data, North Dakota is on pace to surpass California in oil production in the next few years. Mr. Hamm explains over lunch in Washington, D.C., that the more his company drills, the more oil it finds. Continental Resources has seen its "proved reserves" of oil and natural gas (mostly in North Dakota) skyrocket to 421 million barrels this summer from 118 million barrels in 2006.

"We expect our reserves and production to triple over the next five years." And for those who think this oil find is only making Mr. Hamm rich, he notes that today in America "there are 10 million royalty owners across the country" who receive payments for the oil drilled on their land. "The wealth is being widely shared."

The fact is that over the next few years, Bakken is going to provide huge employment opportunities, taxes, you name it – all of the positives that get an economy going again.

How much?  Well that’s still to be determined, but if our experience with the Barnett shale formation down Texas way is any example, lots.  Here are the results of a recent study of the impact of the exploitation of Barnett shale by the Perryman Group [pdf]:

More than 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas have been produced from the Barnett Shale.  Currently, 24 counties have producing wells, with permits issued for a 25th county.  

Although exploration activity slowed during the economic  downturn, production from the Barnett Shale continued to rise, topping 1.8 trillion cubic feet in 2010. 

More than 70 rigs are currently drilling in the Barnett Shale. 

The Perryman Group estimated the positive effect of Barnett Shale related activity on the regional and state economies.  This economic stimulus stems from (1) exploration, drilling, and related activity; (2) pipeline investments and related operations; and (3) royalties and lease bonuses.  In addition, the oil and gas companies involved donate millions to area charities and pay substantial ad valorem taxes. 

The Perryman Group estimated the 2011 total effect of Barnett Shale activity to include $11.1 billion in annual output and 100,268 jobs in the region.  While the majority of the stimulus comes from exploration and drilling, pipeline development and royalty and lease payments also contribute to the overall impact. 

For the state as a whole, Barnett Shale-related activity leads to estimated 2011 gains in output (gross product) of almost $13.7 billion as well as 119,216 jobs. 

The Perryman Group estimates that the cumulative economic benefits during the 2001-2011 period include $65.4 billion in output (gross product) and 596,648 person-years of employment in the region.  For the state as a whole (including the Barnett Shale region), the total benefits over the 2001-2011 period were found to include $80.7 billion in output (gross product) and 710,319 person years of employment.

Approximately 38.5% of the incremental growth in the economy of the region over the past decade has been the result of Barnett Shale activity.  Moreover, the overall economic contribution of this phenomenon now constitutes about 8.5% of the local business complex. 

Activity in the Barnett Shale is also an important source of tax revenues to local entities as well as the State.  The Perryman Group estimates that in 2011, counties, cities, and school districts in the region will receive some $730.6 million in additional fiscal revenues due to the Barnett Shale and related activity. 

The State will likely receive another $911.8 million, for a total gain in local and State taxes of an estimated $1.6 billion. 

Over the entire 2001-2011 period, The Perryman Group estimates that local taxing entities received an additional $5.3 billion in tax receipts, with another $5.8 billion to the State. 

It would seem to most reasonable and rational people that encouraging this would be the smartest and one of the most effective ways to help the economy recover.

But apparently that’s just not the priority – at least when it comes up against the political agenda pushing the myth of instant green energy if we’ll just pour more money into it.

So, instead we get this:

Washington keeps "sticking a regulatory boot at our necks and then turns around and asks: ‘Why aren’t you creating more jobs,’" he says. He roils at the Interior Department delays of months and sometimes years to get permits for drilling. "These delays kill projects," he says. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission is now tightening the screws on the oil industry, requiring companies like Continental to report their production and federal royalties on thousands of individual leases under the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting rules. "I could go to jail because a local operator misreported the production in the field," he says.

The White House proposal to raise $40 billion of taxes on oil and gas—by excluding those industries from credits that go to all domestic manufacturers—is also a major hindrance to exploration and drilling. "That just stops the drilling," Mr. Hamm believes. "I’ve seen these things come about before, like [Jimmy] Carter’s windfall profits tax." He says America’s rig count on active wells went from 4,500 to less than 55 in a matter of months. "That was a dumb idea. Thank God, Reagan got rid of that."

A few months ago the Obama Justice Department brought charges against Continental and six other oil companies in North Dakota for causing the death of 28 migratory birds, in violation of the Migratory Bird Act. Continental’s crime was killing one bird "the size of a sparrow" in its oil pits. The charges carry criminal penalties of up to six months in jail. "It’s not even a rare bird. There’re jillions of them," he explains. He says that "people in North Dakota are really outraged by these legal actions," which he views as "completely discriminatory" because the feds have rarely if ever prosecuted the Obama administration’s beloved wind industry, which kills hundreds of thousands of birds each year.

Continental pleaded not guilty to the charges last week in federal court. For Mr. Hamm the whole incident is tantamount to harassment. "This shouldn’t happen in America," he says. To him the case is further proof that Washington "is out to get us."

And everything we’ve seen seems to agree with Hamm’s assessment.   He’s completely right about the wind power point.  In fact, the California condor, which was finally removed from the endangered species list, is probably going to end up going back on because so many have been killed by wind mills.  Not a peep from the Feds.

The government floods green energy—a niche market that supplies 2.5% of our energy needs—with billions of dollars of subsidies a year. "Wind isn’t commercially feasible with natural gas prices below $6" per thousand cubic feet, notes Mr. Hamm. Right now its price is below $4. This may explain the administration’s hostility to the fossil-fuel renaissance.

This administration’s policies are simply absurd to say the least.

We have the means, the technology and the will to exploit these natural resources.  They will provide millions of jobs (both direct and indirect) – good, high paying jobs.  That also means increased revenue at all levels of government, not to mention more and more energy security.

Mr. Hamm calculates that if Washington would allow more drilling permits for oil and natural gas on federal lands and federal waters, "I truly believe the federal government could over time raise $18 trillion in royalties." That’s more than the U.S. national debt, I say. He smiles.

Even if that’s only half true, what’s not to like or want, especially now in our current economic situation?

I have no idea …. ask President Obama.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


If you’ve lost Redford …

Reality is definitely dealing President Obama a different plan than he and his supporters intended.   All glistening with “green” credentials and riding the hopes of environmental extremists into office, both expected to be able to push their agenda through while he occupied the Oval Office.

Then he’s faced with the reality of a recession, job losses and economic misery, all of which the agenda he backed would make worse.

Then there’s the added pressure of re-election looming and the fact he has to run on a record this time.  What’s a president to do?

Well set priorities apparently, and it seems the green agenda takes a backseat to re-election, much to the chagrin of his erstwhile supporters, such as Robert Redford:

One reason I supported President Obama is because he said we must protect clean air, water and lands. But what good is it to say the right thing unless you act on it?

Since early August, three administration decisions — on Arctic drilling, the Keystone XL pipeline and the ozone that causes smog — have all favored dirty industry over public health and a clean environment. Like so many others, I’m beginning to wonder just where the man stands.

Really, Mr. Redford?

He “stands” for re-election.  That’s why he’s in the midst of throwing your agenda under the bus along with much of the rest of the left.  He knows perfectly well you don’t have any place else to go. And, he also knows that he must do what he can to stimulate job growth before November of 2012, and that doesn’t include onerous and costly new regulations, further stifling the jobs possibilities associated with oil drilling or killing off those that the Keystone XL pipeline bring with it.

But he’s not worried … you’ll still be there for him in 2012.  My bet is you’ll show up with money in your hand to help him along again when he calls on you for it.  And all for more empty promises to be chucked out the window at the first sign of political trouble.  Real hope and change, huh Robert?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


An AGW update

More alarmist myths bite the dust.  The claim that rain forests would be damaged by warming:

The threat to tropical rainforests from climate change may have been exaggerated by environmentalists, according to a new study. Researchers have shown that the world’s tropical forests thrived in the far distant past when temperatures were 3 to 5C warmer than today. They believe that a wetter, warmer future may actually boost plants and animals living the tropics.

And:

There are many climactic models today suggesting that … if the temperature increases in the tropics by a couple of degrees, most of the forest is going to be extinct. What we found was the opposite to what we were expecting: we didn’t find any extinction event [in plants] associated with the increase in temperature, we didn’t find that the precipitation decreased.

Or the claim that melting glaciers would threaten 2 billion people:

The spectre of imminent thirst and/or starvation for billions by 2035 from melting glaciers would appear to have been confirmed as the worst kind of alarmist scaremongering.

Sea level increases and more violent hurricanes?

First, there is still no proof the Earth is experiencing “dangerous” warming. Temperatures have levelled off since 1998. Many measuring locations are also located in unsuitable areas. Furthermore, the methodologies of averaging temperature are inconsistent and full of problems. This is why “Global Warming” was replaced as a slogan by “Climate Change” (nobody denies that climate changes), and more recently by “Climate Disruption” (which is impossible define or prove).

Second, the increased temperature is supposed to increase sea level mainly by melting the ice-caps, which is impossible. Thermal expansion of the oceans seems to be of little consequence at present because the satellite measurements show the oceans are cooling. Le Mesurier gilds his picture with a few asides on “extreme climatic events” in general and hurricanes in particular. Recent studies, however, show no increase in hurricane activity in the last 40 years.

But remember, the "science is settled".

Then there’s the drive for “green jobs” , “green technologies” and how that’s faring:

MORE than $1 billion of taxpayers’ money was wasted on subsidies for household solar roof panels that favoured the rich and did little to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, a scathing review has found.

And:

Despite a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government, Solyndra, a maker of solar panels in the southeast San Francisco Bay Area city of Fremont, will close one of its manufacturing plants, lay off 40 permanent and 150 contract workers, delay expansion plans of a new plant largely financed with the government-guaranteed loan and scale back production capacity more than 50 percent. Despite the hype and tax money, Solyndra seems unable to compete with Chinese manufacturers, whose prices are lower. This is the latest bad news for the company touted by Mr. Schwarzenegger and President Barack Obama as one of the green industry’s supposed shining lights.

Because, you know, government’s do this stuff so much better than private markets.

Thought you’d want to know.

~McQ

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