Are The Three Stooges Running Our Energy Policy?

Gas is down to $1.65 a gallon here in South Carolina, and dropping.

It seems like only yesterday we feared industrial nations would need more oil than could be produced, and that we might even run out of oil.  The price of oil spiked upward, motivating scientists and entrepreneurs to search for new sources and methods for meeting the world’s growing need for affordable energy.

rusty-wind-turbinePressed by our federal government, and rewarded with huge taxpayer-funded subsidies, domestic energy providers tried wind power, but that was a bust.  It quickly became evident that windmill farms are horribly inefficient, difficult and expensive to maintain, and damaging to birds.  Not to mention they are an eyesore.  Now thousands of rusting, inoperative windmills blot the American landscape, and the ones that still work require ongoing federal cash infusions.

Solar power didn’t work either.  The cost per unit of power produced was even worse than wind, requiring financial support from taxpayers to bring it to market.  Solar panels take up too much real estate, are subject to weather, and could only provide a small part of our electrical needs even in the best of circumstances.  In the scramble for easy government money, corruption in the solar power industry was rampant.

The government even forced us to add ethanol to gasoline, despite estimates by scientists that corn ethanol production uses six times more energy than it produces.  The push toward ethanol threw a monkey wrench into the agricultural industry.

But while the federal government (like always) failed miserably to solve the problem, the free market (like always) came through with flying colors, finding a way to affordably meet our current and future energy demands.  Guess what?   It’s still oil and natural gas.  Thanks to new high-tech methods of finding and tapping oil and natural gas reserves with a small and ecologically benign footprint, we now have an overabundance of available energy.

So now we can get rid of the expensive, corrupt, and unproductive taxpayer subsidies for solar power, wind generators, electric cars and ethanol plants, right?

Sigh.

Today our congressmen and women are voting on yet another bloated omnibus spending bill which includes:

  • a five-year extension of the solar investment tax credit (ITC)
  • a five-year extension of the wind production tax credit (PTC)
  • an increased allocation to the Department of Energy, most of which gets used for subsidies and contracts to politically-connected cronies
  • a three-year extension of the land and water conservation fund (LWCF), which will result in even more government ownership of resource-rich land

The uber-rich will still get $7500 from taxpayers for each $100,000 Tesla electric car they buy.  The owner of Tesla will rake in millions more in subsidies.  Meanwhile your own ten-year old Chevy will die prematurely from burning 10% ethanol while the prohibitive price of The-Three-Stooges-1beef erases steaks and roasts from your grocery list.  And the pure gas you buy for your boat, which can’t use ethanol, costs 70 cents per gallon more than the stuff with ethanol added.  Huh?
I think I know who is in charge of our energy policy.  Larry, Curly, and Moe.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Hey Moe!  Hey Moe!
Well, nyuck nyuck nyuck nyuck!
La da dee, la da dee!
Woo! Woo! Woo! Woo!

The Curly Shuffle – Jump N’ the Saddle Band

 

 

Liquid Natural Gas – Good For Ecology and Economy

LNG tankWhat American product could . . .

The answer:  Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The USA holds the potential to be the world’s energy leader.  The shale-oil boom that resulted from new fracking (hydraulic fracturing) technology has created a very happy unforeseen consequence:  a seemingly endless supply of natural gas, perhaps the cleanest, safest and most efficient energy source available.

When cooled to a temperature of -260 degrees Fahrenheit, natural gas becomes liquefied, and its volume shrinks by 600 times.  Traditionally, natural gas has been transported by pipelines.   The new LNG technology makes the shipment of natural gas practical and affordable, even overseas to energy-starved regions.  The efficacy of LNG for the production of electricity and automotive transportation applications is breathtaking.

It’s great news, and not only for the US economy.  Many nations, including Japan and China (the world’s largest energy importer), are in dire need of affordable and reliable sources of energy.  We have what they need.  So what prevents the USA from moving ahead and taking advantage of this narrowing window of opportunity?

Sadly, it is politics.  Not exactly partisan politics, but politics nonetheless.

Environmental activists like the Sierra Club oppose the extraction of virtually any fossil fuel, including natural gas.  They claim that increased demand for natural gas would encourage fracking, a practice they abhor.  They label anyone who defends the remarkable environmental accomplishments of the United States (in sharp contrast to China and other Asian nations) a “science denier.”  Yet it is these same environmentalists who fight the development of clean-burning natural gas and its export to the world’s worst polluters.

The Obama administration has done a balancing act in recent years, at times offering support for increased exports of LNG, and at other times acquiescing to pressure from its liberal base.

A lingering question about the benefit of exporting liquefied natural gas is the contention by some, including big players Alcoa and Dow Chemical, that domestic natural gas prices would increase if exports increased.  Numerous studies say it’s not true, and lately the Obama administration and the DOE seem to agree.

As I reported back in January of 2013, advocates of the export of LNG have been pressing the federal government to remove the roadblocks and get after it, before Russia and others beat us to the market.  Both the Dept. of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have imposed delays on the approval of LNG exports, invoking restrictions attributed to “impacts on health and the environment” and “economic, security, and domestic supply considerations”.  Cynics say well-funded lobbyists are in control.

In January the US House passed, on mostly partisan Republican support, a bill to speed up the approval process for LNG exports.  A similar bill was passed last year.  The likelihood of getting such legislation through the Senate and signed by the president seems slim.

If there is one issue that should have bipartisan support, it is the need for a new American energy policy.  The benefits of energy development, especially LNG, to our economy, employment, the environment, and national security are unassailable, the Sierra Club notwithstanding.   Pandering news reports and crocodile tears about climate change and science denial are nothing more than transparent demagoguery in the face of such an opportunity to really improve the economy and the environment simultaneously.

When “Earth Day” is celebrated later this month, I hope somebody brings up the subject of LNG – a game-changing technology whose time has come.

This post, and many more outstanding current and topical articles can be seen in its entirety at Watchdog Arena.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

CLASSICAL GAS

My vote for the world’s greatest guitar player is Tommy Emmanual of Australia.  Watch this great video of him playing the timeless Mason Williams hit “Classical Gas”.

Here’s the video: