John Kerry is a liar and a tyrant, and Jim Inhofe does a nice job exposing him as such in this speech on the Senate floor debunking the global-warming hysteria Kerry backs in his nightmarish cap-and-trade bill now debuting in the Senate:
But that’s just a prologue to a discussion of the putrescence that is America’s 50-year self-immolation where it comes to energy.
I spent a day at the 2009 Energy Summit at LSU’s Center For Energy Studies today, and while it’s going to take a day or two for me to process all the information gleaned therein into a cogent analysis I could really put a stamp on, I can say that the gist of it basically amounts to the impression that if America had allowed her enemies to set our energy policy for the past 50 years we would have done little different and had no worse results.
Inhofe’s analysis in the speech above touches on much of the broader points of our policy failures and the risk we face from adapting this horrendous climate-change policy. But there is much more. The American people aren’t informed as to where our energy comes from – the fact is, 39 percent originates from crude oil, 23 percent from coal, 22 percent from natural gas, eight percent from nuclear energy and just seven percent from everywhere else. So there are four sources of energy which make a difference.
And what is our policy toward those four sources?
With respect to oil, our government has denied access to offshore production on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the eastern Gulf Of Mexico. We’re told the lie that there are no appreciable reserves in the Atlantic and Pacific, despite the fact that when the moratorium on drilling in those areas was put in place the estimated reserves there were seen as being around the same as in the Gulf. Estimated reserves as a result of testing and exploration in just the western half of the Gulf have increased exponentially, staggeringly. Meanwhile, the Chinese and Cubans uncovered as much as 20 billion barrels south of Key West, while the Brazilians have a find several times that size off their Atlantic coast. That as oil continues to seep into the Pacific off California naturally; there are an estimated 10 billion barrels within 50 miles of our west coast based on technology and exploration of 35 years ago.
That doesn’t even take into account the vast reserves in Alaska, whether from the new Chukchi Sea find, the Arctic plays coming to the forefront or the known reserves in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, opposition to which is as long-standing as it is insane.
It also doesn’t take into account the gigantic reserves tied up in shale in the Rockies which are a massive game-changer. We don’t currently possess the technology to efficiently convert that shale into a refinable product, but the main reason we don’t have it is that our government has blocked the development of the resource. There’s no point in researching and developing a process for conversion of that shale if they won’t let you touch it – just like you won’t get any seismic testing or exploration offshore in the Atlantic or Pacific if those areas are off-limits.
The result of this asinine policy is to turn the 20 percent share of our oil market which was imported during the 1970’s into a 70 percent share now. We transfer a half-trillion dollars per year to countries who in many cases mean us harm as a result – a sum which represents two-thirds of our trade deficit.
The question this raises is, cui bono? Who benefits? And who buys all these politicians in Washington who stand in the way of domestic oil production? I have no proof of causation, but it’s said all the time that Citgo (the American arm of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company) is a major player in Massachusetts politics and if you can find any Senator or Congressman on either side of the aisle who isn’t awash in Saudi bribes congratulations to you are in order.
Next, coal. Is coal an environmentally difficult energy source? Sure. But unlike the classic acid-rain scare stories told about coal power plants the current iteration puts out carbon dioxide and water vapor and pretty much nothing else as a by-product of its process. The Germans used coal to make diesel during World War II and powered their tanks and planes with it, while the South Africans run all their cars on gasoline made from coal today. It’s economical to do so at $55-57 per barrel, which is significantly lower than the $80 or so oil currently goes for.
Coal is also a cheap, reliable fuel for our power grid and has been so for 100 years. But without special-interest cutouts and payoffs included in the cap-and-trade disaster winding its way through the Senate the coal industry is going to die. Meanwhile, China builds two coal-fired power plants per week.
Under normal circumstances the recent Haynesville Shale and Marcellus plays would make American natural gas one of the boom industries in our economy. Both have the promise of bringing cheap gas to market and supplying a versatile, clean and inexpensive fuel into our mix in a volume which could help transform our economy. Natural gas makes a lot of sense as a transportation fuel, particularly where it comes to vehicles which go to a central fueling source like transit buses or school buses, or even 18-wheelers or taxis. Natural gas power plants also deserve a stronger look.
But nothing has been done to use natural gas for a larger share of our energy mix, and nothing in the current legislation promotes natural gas. Further, the issue of transmission of gas from the Marcellus play, which stretches from West Virginia to western Pennsylvania and southwestern New York, to the markets on the East Coast is almost an impossibility. Current gas pipelines going into those markets are at near capacity and it would almost make economic and logistical sense based on the regulatory nightmare of trying to build pipelines through Pennsylvania and New York to pipe Marcellus gas down to a Louisiana LNG terminal and put it on ships to the East Coast. That’s just how idiotic the attitudes are toward our energy infrastructure. And without the infrastructure in place to make full use of our natural gas resources, there is a consequent downward pressure on price making natural gas production uneconomical in many of the older fields.
Finally, nuclear energy. France powers 80 percent of its grid on nuclear energy, reprocesses its spent fuel, has achieved 95 percent efficiency therein and fits all the nuclear waste from 40 years of power production in one room at Le Havre. China has 50 nuclear power plants in their pipeline. And America, who invented nuclear power technology and has run its aircraft carriers and submarines on nuclear power since the 1960’s, hasn’t built a nuclear power plant in 30 years.
Our policy toward nuclear energy is beyond stupid; it’s criminal. Nuclear energy has been incredibly reliable, safe, clean and cheap from the get-go with one minor exception at Three Mile Island which was occasioned by human error. The regulatory issues are so horrendous with nuclear energy and the policy about reprocessing fuel so counterproductive that we have all but killed the industry. Meanwhile the French and Japanese have taken the leadership in nuclear science and technology away from America and we are all but dependent on foreign know-how and investment were we ever to reinvest in a proven, effective technology we invented in the first place. When we get knocked off in Olympic basketball it’s a national tragedy and we want heads to roll; shouldn’t this be seen as a little more important to our national pride?
Our current administration seems happy to disregard the four pillars of our energy production in favor of wind and solar energy which COMBINED produce less than one half of one percent of our current needs. Understand this – wind and solar power will NEVER supply a significant proportion of our energy mix. NEVER. They are simply not economical, they’re not reliable, they’re not abundant and the places where wind and solar energy can be had in significant amounts are in most cases hundreds of miles away from energy markets. And unlike coal or oil, which can be transported by trucks or rail, or natural gas or oil which can go to market via an underground pipeline, to move wind and solar power you need high-voltage transmission lines. Those are very expensive and they lay down a significant footprint on the landscape.
In short, the problems with those energy sources will keep them from ever being more than mere curiosities if the market is allowed to work properly. But if the government is allowed to pick winners – particularly if THIS government is allowed to do so – it’s a different story. After all, Nancy Pelosi has a huge position in T. Boone Pickens’ wind-energy company – and wind gets government swag by the truckload as a result of the current legislation. This transparent bribe to herself would put her in front of a media firing squad if the Speaker was a Republican; instead you’ll barely hear a word about corruption and greed so flagrant it makes Teapot Dome look like theft of copy paper and paper clips from the supply closet at the DMV.
And when Pelosi and others of her ilk spend their time decrying “Big Oil” after everything they’ve done to pervert our energy economy, it’s enough to question not just their judgement, but even their allegiance to the country or to their fellow Americans.
What it all comes down to is that America’s energy policy couldn’t be much worse. Both parties have had a hand in the awful mess our politicians have created, and by now it’s obvious they lack the moral, intellectual and strategic capacity to craft a worthwhile policy. And as such it’s long past time they just get the hell out of the way and let the people who can actually earn their living in that business do their jobs.
Crossposted at TheHayride.com