American Elephants

The Day of Reckoning Approaches: Drowning In Energy Subsidies by The Elephant's Child

Back in 2008, then candidate Barack Obama claimed in a speech in Golden Colorado, that his planned investments in “green” energy would create “five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced, ” Robert Bryce notes in the Wall Street Journal.  It was all bunk.

President Obama not only does not change his mind, he doesn’t learn from what is going on in the world. In his State of the Union speech, the president claimed credit for his “all of the above” energy policy, not mentioning that he has fought tooth and nail — every bit of energy production except wind and solar. He has attempted through the EPA to shut down the coal industry which provides nearly half of our electricity.

Increasing amounts of natural gas come from fracking by private investors on private land, which is fortunate, for Obama has opposed any drilling on public lands. He is still talking about “carbon pollution”— whatever he thinks that is — carbon dioxide is a natural fertilizer for plants, and as our climate cools will help crops to avoid damage from the cold.

In December, the Center for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based think tank, reported that European steelmakers are paying twice as much for electricity and four times as much for natural gas as their U.S. competitors. In Denmark, the wind-energy capital of Europe, residential electricity now costs about 41 cents per kilowatt-hour, more than three times the U.S. average rate. Robert Bryce notes:

Proof came last month when both the European Union and the German government announced separately that they were both rolling back aggressive subsidies and mandates for renewable energy. The reason: staggering costs. Spain has racked up some $35 billion in debt—known as the “tariff deficit”—thanks to excessive renewable-energy subsidies. In Germany, renewable-energy subsidies are now costing German consumers and industry about $32 billion a year. The costs have become so onerous that on Jan. 21 Germany’s economy and energy minister Sigmar Gabriel told energy conference attendees in Berlin that his country is risking “dramatic deindustrialization” if it doesn’t reduce energy costs.

It may take 20 years or more for Europe to recover from the waste of their investments in wind and solar.

The American energy landscape has undergone a big change — not thanks to, but in despite the actions of the U.S. government.  U.S. net imports of petroleum have declined from 12.5 million barrels per day in 2005 to 8.6 mbd in 2011. Dependence on imports has dropped from its 60 percent peak in 2005 to 45 percent the level it was back in 1995. This 30 percent reduction in just seven years is equivalent to three times the number of barrels nominally imported from Saudi Arabia. Some of the drop is related to the recession-induced drop in consumption, some to the blend with ethanol. Since 2008, technologies like deep-water drilling, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have increased crude oil output by 18 percent.

The idea of “energy independence” has been way oversold. Oil is a commodity. Assume all of the petroleum in the world goes into one big storage tank. Producers pour oil in, consumers take it out. Everybody pays essentially the same price, and the international oil companies determine what happens to the oil once it enters the global market. When the Arab oil-producing countries declared an embargo of the U.S. and selected European countries way back in 1973, there was no real shortage in the U.S. The long gas lines and price hikes had more to do with panicked consumer behavior and the complete bungling of the Federal energy bureaucracy. The Soviet Union has threatened boycotts of European countries, which has been one of the reasons for the ramp-up of wind and solar in the European Union. There has been talk about a crisis that might be caused by a blockage of the Straits of Hormuz. But America is not dependent on the Persian Gulf for its oil supply. Most of U.S. oil imports come from North America. When there is a supply disruption somewhere in the world, it affects everyone.

A huge calculating error in official U.S. government climate data shows beyond a doubt that climate scientists unjustifiably added on a whole degree of phantom warning to the official “raw” temperature record. Skeptics believe the discovery may trigger a real climate scandal in Congress and sound the death knell on American climate policy. Independent data analyst Steven Goddard released his study of the official adjusted U.S. temperature records relied upon by NASA, NOAA, USHCN and scientists around the world to “prove” that our climate has been dangerously warming. Goddard found a startling disparity between the “raw” thermometer readings, as reported by measuring stations, and the “adjusted” temperatures. The adjustments, in effect, turn a 90 year cooling trend into a warming trend.

Patrick Michaels asks in Forbes if the Overselling of Global Warming will lead to a new Scientific Dark Age? We have relied too much on computers to answer questions for which they have no real answer. We have constructed models of the climate which contain way too many assumptions and guesses, and people are beginning to recognize that it is politics that is driving the issue rather than science, that wind and solar aren’t really free, but make expensive energy that is no longer on offer when the subsidies are removed.

Why Do They Want Us To Spend Trillions on a Non-Existent Problem? by The Elephant's Child
July 6, 2009, 7:58 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy | Tags: , ,


Do you have storms in your area that damage power lines and cause a widespread loss of power?  Then you are familiar with trying to stay warm, cooking on the barbecue, using candles for light, or perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who has a generator.  Nevertheless, you appreciate your electricity.  But do you know where it comes from?

Surprisingly, no one in congress or the administration does.  At least they must not, for their math simply does not add up.  If you cannot read this lovely pie chart, 48.9 % of our electricity comes from coal, 20% from natural gas, 19.3 % comes from nuclear, 7.1 % from hydroelectric plants, 1.6 % from petroleum and the little pinky-peach wedge represents wind, solar and geothermal.

The Waxman-Markey climate bill will punitively tax the energy sources that contribute 90 percent of our current American electricity in order to bet our future on the wedge that is able to produce only 2.4 percent of our electricity.  But we can do it. The conventional phrase is “if we can send a man to the moon we can…..

We have eleven whole years in which to build, install, and connect to the grid at least 180,000 turbines.  Each one of which requires a backup of conventional energy for the times when the wind does not blow, which is often.

And as for solar, not only is it far more expensive, suitable only in the Southwest, but perhaps you have noticed that the sun sinks beneath the horizon  at night, just when we need lighting.

This energy policy is built on a lie, or more accurately a whole bunch of lies.  The whole thing is conceived of as a way to stop the globe from warming, but it stopped warming in 2002.

It’s necessary to remove the CO2 that is causing global warming isn’t it?  CO2 is not the cause of global warming or climate change.  Reducing it is unnecessary and will cost trillions.

There are not, as yet, any large-scale, practical and cost-competitive replacements for fossil fuels.  If you punish fossil fuel use with either taxes or by capping how much energy is allowed to be used, you punish the economy.

When a country institutes cap-and-trade legislation unilaterally, it makes that country less competitive in the global economy.  Imports and trade deficits increase as prices at home rise, while companies or whole industries close and move abroad to countries where they can be more competitive.

And it is the citizen, the consumer, who pays for all of this, either in the form of higher prices or less availability, or less economic growth.  This shouldn’t be rocket science, but consequences are not of much interest to Democrats.  It’s still worth trying to figure out what the consequences will be.

American Innovation Once Again Rides to the Rescue! by The Elephant's Child

All is not, after all, lost!  Government mandates spur innovation. “Incandescent Bulbs Return to the Cutting Edge” says the headline in the New York Times. When Congress passed a (silly) law setting tough efficiency standards that no traditional incandescent bulb could meet, it looked like our standard light bulbs were doomed.

It seemed that our light bulbs were to be imported from China, as another two American industries were destroyed — the incandescent bulb industry and their suppliers, and the lighting fixture industry and their suppliers.

Researchers across the country have been racing to breathe new life into Thomas Edison’s light bulb, a pursuit that accelerated with the new legislation. Amid that footrace, one company is already marketing limited quantities of incandescent bulbs that meet the 2012 standard, and researchers are promising a wave of innovative products in the next few years.

Indeed, the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation.

“There’s a massive misperception that incandescents are going away quickly,” said Chris Calwell, a researcher with Ecos Consulting who studies the bulb market. “There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.”

The first of the new bulbs are 30 percent more efficient than older incandescents, but they are also more expensive at $5 each and more. Phillips says that a 70 watt bulb gives off the same amount of light as a 100 watt bulb and lasts about three times as long.

We have ranted extensively about this government mandate, which we resent.  We don’t think the government has any business messing about with our light bulbs, and have searched for the line in the Constitution that says they do.  See here, here, and here.

The whole bit about “saving energy” is misplaced.  We are energy independent when it comes to electricity, and could easily be more so.  The usual rationale is “getting off of foreign oil.” But at present, and for the foreseeable future, oil powers our transportation, not our lights.  But that kind of good sense seldom engenders government mandates.


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