Mr. President, You Owe America An Apology

“We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” President Obama told an audience four years ago at the University of Miami.

Like this year, it was an election year, and Obama was running for re-election.

Later in his speech, he added: “Anybody who tells you that we can drill our way out of this problem doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or just isn’t telling you the truth.” He scoffed at the Republicans for believing that drilling would result in $2 gasoline—remember, this was when prices at the pump, in many places, spiked to more than $4 a gallon. “You can bet that since it is an election year, they’re already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas. I’ll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill, step three is drill.”

Well, Mr. President, you owe America, and the Republicans, an apology. Your snarky comments were wrong. The Republicans’ supposed three-point plan, which you mocked, was correct.

Today, on the four-year anniversary of another of Obama’s inaccurate predictions, we have drilled our way to $2 gas—despite the fact that he has supported the anti-fossil-fuel movement’s efforts to impede and block oil production. In fact, due to American ingenuity and initiative that successfully combined horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, we are producing so much, it has resulted in a global glut of oil and a national average gasoline price of $1.70.

He bragged: “Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.” True, but not because of Obama’s support. A Congressional Research Service report released last year found that since fiscal year 2010, oil production on federal lands is down by 10 percent, while it is up 89 percent on state and private lands. Obama aligns himself with those who want to “keep it in the ground”—who count his “no” decision on the Keystone pipeline as their biggest victory to date.

He then launched into his requisite rhetoric on renewables: “The United States consumes more than a fifth of the world’s oil. But we only have 2% of the world’s oil reserves. That means we can’t just rely on fossil fuels from the last century. … Because of investments we’ve made, the use of clean renewable energy in this country has nearly doubled. … As long as I’m President, I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China.”

Wait! Wind and solar do not reduce our need for oil. Wind turbines and solar panels do produce electricity—albeit ineffectively, inefficiently and uneconomically. But we do not have an electricity shortage. We do not import electricity. Automobiles run on gasoline made from oil—for which the president’s new budget includes a $10 a barrel tax that translates to about 24 cents per gallon.

Four years ago, in Miami, he said: “…high gas prices are like a tax” straight out of everyone’s paycheck. Yet today, he wants to increase the nearly $.45 a gallon we currently pay in taxes to $.69.

Obama’s false, “We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices” prediction was made during an election year. This election year is a good time to be reminded that, without government “investment,” we did drill our way to lower gas prices. At the same time, taxpayer-supported renewable projects continue to go bankrupt and be shuttered—taking with them our money and the jobs they were supposed to create.

Yes, Mr. President, you owe America an apology.

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Campaign 2016: Nobody Cares About Climate Change (And That’s Good!)

On February 11, Politico released survey results from “a bipartisan panel of respondents” who it claims are “Republican and Democratic insiders”…“activists, strategists and operatives in the four early nominating states” who answered the questions anonymously. The results? As one Republican respondent from South Carolina (SC) put it: “Climate change is simply not a front burner issue to most people.” A Nevada Democrat agreed: “I don’t believe this is a critical issue for many voters when compared to the economy and national security.”

One SC Republican said that no “blue-collar swing voter” ever said: “I really like their jobs plan, but, boy, I don’t know about their position on climate change.” Overall, the Republicans don’t think that opposing public policy to address the perceived threats of climate change will hurt their candidates. The topic never came up in the recent SC Republican debate.

Democrat billionaire Tom Steyer, one of the country’s biggest individual political donors, sees that on the issue of climate change, “the two parties could not be further apart.” However, the “insider” survey found that Democrats were split on the issue. When asked if “disputing the notion of manmade climate change would be damaging in the general election,” some thought it would, but others “thought climate change isn’t a major issue for voters.”

While we are far from the days of “drill, baby drill,” when asked about increasing production, Republicans see that their pro-development policies are unaffected by “price fluctuations.” A SC Republican stated: “Most Republicans view this issue through a national security lens. Low prices might diminish the intensity, but GOP voters will still want America to be energy independent regardless of oil prices.”

On February 12, Politico held a gathering called “Caucus Energy South Carolina” that featured several of the SC “insiders” among whom the host said are “influential voices,” who offer “keen insight into what’s going on on the ground.”

There, Mike McKenna, who has consulted a wide variety of political clients and who has served as an external relations specialist at the U.S. Department of Energy, declared: “Energy is a second tier issue. Climate change is fifth tier. Nobody cares about it. It is always at the bottom.”

The climate change agenda has been the most expensive and extensive public relations campaign in the history of the world. Gallup has been polling on this issue for 25 years. Despite the herculean effort, fewer people are worried about climate change today than 25 years ago. Pew Research Center has repeatedly found that when given a list of concerns regarding the public’s policy priorities, respondents put jobs and the economy at the top of the list, with climate change at the bottom. Polling done just before the UN climate conference in Paris found that only 3% of Americans believe that climate change is the most important issue facing America.

Even Democrat Jane Kleeb, an outspoken opponent of the Keystone pipeline, acknowledged that climate change, as an issue, doesn’t move people to act.

David Wilkins, a former U.S. Ambassador to Canada who has worked on issues such as energy, national security, and the environment, said that voters are “not going to let the environment trump the economy.” He believes there will be a reapplication for the Keystone pipeline and that eventually, it will be built. Another insider, Democrat Inez Tenenbaum, disagreed, saying: “people don’t want to be energy dependent.” To which Wilkins quipped: “All the more reason to get oil from our friends.”

When it comes to energy, there are clearly differences between the parties; but strangely, both agree that climate change isn’t “a major issue for voters.”

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

‘Keep It In The Ground’ At Work In The Real World

“Keep it in the ground” is the new face of environmental fanaticism. The campaign is about all fossil fuels: oil, gas, and coal. Instead of an “all of the above” energy policy, when it comes to fossil fuels, they want “none of the above.”

While big news items fuel the fight, smaller, symbolic wins are part of the strategy. Introducing the plan late last year, The Hill states: “It stretches into local fights, over small drilling wells…”

Rio Rancho, New Mexico, is in Sandoval County—which currently has 600 oil-and-gas wells on tribal or federal lands. There, an Oklahoma company, SandRidge Energy Inc., is hoping to drill an exploratory well—which has already received approval from the state Oil and Conversation Division (OCD).

To begin drilling, SandRidge needs a zoning variance from the county. On December 10, the Planning and Zoning Committee held a contentious meeting to hear public comment on the SandRidge application. So many wanted to speak that there wasn’t time, nor space, to accommodate them. Another meeting, in a larger venue, was scheduled for January 28. There, dozens of people spewed generic talking points against fracking; speaking vaguely about pollution, earthquakes, and/or water contamination.

A few folks braved the hostile crowd and spoke in support of the project—only to be booed.

It was in this atmosphere that the Committee recommended that the County Commissioners deny the request. Essentially, they threw up their hands and acknowledged that they weren’t equipped to deal with the intricacies of the application—which is why such decisions are better made at the state levels, where there are engineers and geologists who understand the process.

The Sandoval County Commissioners may still approve the special use permit, as they are the final decision makers.

One day later, in California, another small band from the anti-fossil-fuel movement also celebrated an almost insignificant victory, but one that adds to the momentum.

On January 29, a settlement was reached in a lawsuit environmental groups filed two years against two federal agencies that they claim permitted offshore fracking and other forms of high-pressure well stimulation techniques. The settlement requires public notice for any future offshore applications for fracking and acidification. Additionally, the agencies have agreed to provide what’s termed “a programmatic” environmental assessment of the potential impacts of such techniques on the coastal environment.

Press releases from the environmental groups imply government agencies were letting the oil companies run amok. In fact, the companies who’ve applied for drilling permits followed a stringent application process—under which they were approved.

The settlement requires that “a programmatic” environmental assessment be completed by May 28—during which time “the agencies will withhold approval of drilling permits.” My sources explained that this was not a big deal. It is believed that once the assessment is complete, the existing requirements will be found to be appropriate, and permitting can move forward.

This “settlement” is an example of the “local fights” that motivate the “keep it in the ground” movement.

These two stories are a sampling of the battles being played out in county commissions and government agencies throughout America. As in these cases, a small handful of activists are shaping policy that affects all of us and impacts the economics of our communities by, potentially, cutting funding for education and public services.

“Keep it in the ground” is the new face of environmental activism. If those who understand the role energy plays in America and our freedoms don’t engage, don’t attend meetings and send statements, and don’t vote, the policy makers have almost no choice but to think that these vocal few represent the many.

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

The Electric Car Conundrum: If You Care About Emissions, Gasoline Is The Better Choice

While campaigning in 2008, President Obama called for 1 million plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles (EV) on the road by 2015. Since then, he’s supported the goal with executive orders and billions in funding. He included it in the 2011 State of the Union Address.

A February 2011 Scientific American analysis titled “Raising the Volt-Age: Is Obama’s Goal of 1 Million Electric Vehicles on U.S. Highways by 2015 Realistic?” states: “the Obama administration realizes that attaining such a goal will be impossible without help from the federal government.” It delineates the billions of dollars in federal spending aimed at reaching what it acknowledges “may still be just a pipe dream.”

2015 is now in the record books, and, after all the EV subsidies for consumers and industry, Reuters reports: “only about 400,000 electric cars have been sold. Last year, sales fell 6 percent over the previous year to about 115,000, despite the industry offering about 30 plug-in models, often at deep discounts.”

Regardless of the slow sales, Reuters says: “the industry continues to roll out new models in response to government mandates and its own desire to create brands known for environmental innovation.” And there is the crux of the EV effort: “environmental innovation”—there is a sense that EVs are the right thing for the environment. Green car advocates say: “EVs are a crucial part of the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

All of this, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and appear environmentally innovative and technologically forward, is missing the mark.

In December 2014, a study was released that claimed that electric cars actually produced “3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than those powered by gas.” Study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, says: “It is kind of hard to beat gasoline. …A lot of technologies that we think of as being clean are not better than gasoline.” In reality, these zero-emissions vehicles are generally fueled by coal.

According to Popular Mechanics, researchers “set out to study the effects on human health of various alternative ways to power a car.” Surprisingly, “Internal combustion vehicles running on corn ethanol and electric vehicles powered by electricity from coal were the real sinners.”

While EV advocates want to claim, as one did, that EVs are powered by wind and solar energy, the facts don’t support the fantasy.

In November, the Washington Post (WP) ran a major story: “Electric cars and the coal that runs them.” It points out: “Alongside the boom has come a surging demand for power to charge the vehicles, which can consume as much electricity in a single charge as the average refrigerator does in a month and a half.”

“Thanks to generous tax incentives, the share of electric vehicles has grown faster in the Netherlands than in nearly any other country in the world.”  How are they meeting the “surging demand for power?” With three new coal-fueled power plants.

The WP concludes: “But for all its efforts locally and nationally, the Netherlands will blow past its 2020 emissions targets, the result of the new coal-fired power plants.”

The results are similar in China, where EV sales have quadrupled. Last week, Reuters addressed a series of studies by Tsinghua University. The results? “Electric cars charged in China produce two to five times as much particulate matter and chemicals that contribute to smog versus petrol engine cars.”

It turns out that Obama’s 1 million EVs by 2015 was a “pipe dream” after all. Even the federal government didn’t buy the projected quantities. His ideals are not consistent with either consumer interest or technology.

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Ted And Trump Take Different Tracks On Ethanol

On Tuesday, January 19, at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, longtime Iowa Governor Terry Branstad jumped into the campaign fray by attempting to influence the outcome of the February 1 caucus: “I don’t think that Ted Cruz is the right one for Iowans to support in the caucus.”

Branstad slammed Cruz because, as he told reporters: “He’s opposed to the wind energy tax credit. He’s opposed to ethanol and biodiesel”—which are the very positions that make Cruz an attractive candidate to limited-government, free-market voters.

Cruz has long opposed energy subsidies. In his first year in office, Cruz co-sponsored legislation to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—which requires ever-increasing amounts of ethanol be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. In 2014, he took a different bite at the same issue and introduced a bill that would overhaul several energy policies, including phasing out the ethanol mandate in five years. Early in the campaign season, at the 2015 Ag Summit, Cruz was the only GOP candidate who didn’t support the RFS.

Since then, several GOP candidates have supported its phase-out. However, of all the presidential candidates from both parties, only Cruz and Rand Paul received a “bad” rating on the American Renewable Future’s (ARF) “Final presidential report card on the Renewable Fuel Standard”—which means they demonstrated consistent opposition to the RFS.

Trump, however, likely earned his ARF “good” rating because he does not have a history of opposition to burdening “working Americans with hidden taxes”—which is one of several derogatory phrases USA Today used to describe the RFS. In 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that Trump “has relied on tax breaks and federal funding to build his real estate empire.”

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Trump told hundreds of attendees at the January 19 Summit: “I am there with you 100%.” Trump also said he was opposed to changing any part of the RFS—which means, as The Hill heralded, “Trump calls for higher ethanol mandate.”

Trump’s ethanol position puts him at odds with most in his party—and even many Democrats and environmentalists—as, outside of Iowa, ethanol has few friends. Today, as U.S. News says, “the ethanol mandate makes no sense economically or environmentally.” The WSJ calls it: “one of America’s worst corporate-welfare cases.”

Cruz and Trump are making different political calculations. In a matter of days, we’ll know which one was wiser: Cruz, who stuck to his principles, believing that the people of Iowa “will respect his honesty,” or Trump, whose embrace of the “top-down government mandate,” as The Atlantic calls it, “speaks to just how much he wants to win Iowa.”

The Atlantic concludes: “If Cruz manages to win Iowa without siding with the state’s high-profile lawmakers and a powerful industry, it could send a message to future candidates that they don’t need to support the mandate to emerge victorious in Iowa.”

Regardless of who actually wins in Iowa, if Cruz comes out ahead of Trump, it could pave the way for a Republican president, whomever he or she might be, to finally repeal the outdated and unworkable RFS—which, oddly enough, could help Iowa’s corn producers. Refiners would still use ethanol. It has a place in the free market. As I’ve previously addressed, ethanol is the most cost-effective octane booster. But the RFS requires increasing unavailable advanced biofuels and reducing corn ethanol. When the Environmental Protection Agency announced the 2016 blending rule, it required higher advanced biofuel levels.

Soon, we will know if Iowa, like the rest of America, realizes that the RFS is ripe for repeal.

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.