American Elephants

The Obama Team Has an Energy Strangulation Strategy! by The Elephant's Child
December 1, 2010, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Junk Science | Tags: , ,

I have been writing (perhaps too much) about energy, in all its forms.  The rest of the world is busy drilling for oil.  The industry is moving full speed ahead in the Mediterranean, the Turkish Black Sea, the Gulf of Guinea.  In Brazil, state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, began production last month in one of the largest oil fields discovered in the Western Hemisphere in 30 years.  A field nearby, recently discovered, could contain the equivalent of 15 billion barrels of oil, Brazilian regulators say, equal to almost two-thirds of the total proven deposits of crude in the United States.

The president’s decision that the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts will not be part of the governments 2012—2017 Outer Continental Shelf program effectively bans drilling in those areas for the next seven years. That decision canceled four lease sales in Alaska.

Offshore drilling for oil and gas would create high paying jobs and increase energy supplies without cost to the taxpayer, as opposed to the vast subsidies going to useless wind farms.  It would create revenues for financially strapped state governments and increase revenue to the federal government.

A simple cost-benefit analysis would make the decision a no-brainer.  Yet other actions make the aims of the administration apparent.  Just last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unveiled the Obama administration’s “Smart from the Start” initiative to speed up the permitting process.  No, not permits for offshore oil drilling, but permits for wind farms off the East Coast. Salazar said:

To fully harness the economic and energy benefits of our nation’s vast Atlantic wind potential, we need to implement a smart permitting process that is efficient, thorough, and unburdened by needless red tape.

Rather than rely on science or economics, the Obama team has an energy strangulation strategy.  It’s simple.  They just plan to make other sources of energy unavailable.  The pattern is obvious.

  • To make coal too expensive to burn, the EPA has suspended permits for mountaintop mining of coal, and denied permits in other states where unemployment is already high.
  • The extensively studied Yucca Mountain repository for nuclear waste has been defunded.  This ensures that nuclear power will not expand.
  • New bans on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as the Alaskan coast cut deeply into the potential for new discoveries. But though the moratorium has been “lifted” off Louisiana and Texas, new permits just aren’t happening.
  • Hydropower dams are the source of the most effective renewable and clean energy, but are opposed by environmentalists as interfering with the free flow of rivers that should remain “wild.” More dams are being torn out than are being built.

Wind and solar are being subsidized, but cannot provide the power claimed for them at the present, let alone the increases in the percentage of our national energy needs that they expect to appear as if by magic.  All the wind farms and solar arrays and strangulating of other more valuable sources of energy won’t do one thing to alleviate any potential climate change, nor will it decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That’s not how the science works.

Other countries have gone down the path of wind and solar.  We could learn from their experience, but we choose to learn only from their hype.  Germany is in the throes of a windpower boondoggle in their first pilot offshore wind farm — “Alpha Ventus” in the North Sea.  All six of the newly installed wind turbines were completely idle due to gearbox damage.  Two turbines must be replaced entirely, the other four repaired.  The cost of the idleness runs around $6.500 a day per turbine.  The turbines are 280 feet tall and weigh 2.2 million pounds.  The tripod base rises 100 feet from the sea floor.  Going to disassemble and rebuild these things in winter seas?

Europe’s energy consumers must pay 20¢ per kWh generated plus another 5¢ per kWh for transmission costs regardless of whether they need the electricity at the moment, and despite the fact that a kWh of wind electricity is worth less than 3¢ on the Leipzig Power Exchange, due to the intermittent and highly variable nature of wind. There’s even more, but Germans have to prepare for significantly higher electricity costs, and more frequent blackouts.  If all German wind power projects are realized as planned, the country will incur economic losses well over 100 billion Euros by 2030.  You could call the project suicidal.  That’s what they have in store for us.

The administration talks to environmental activists, and renewable energy lobbyists, and venture capitalists hoping to capitalize on government subsidies.  They listen to the enthusiasm of corporations who find rent-seeking  more profitable than having to work to improve the bottom line.  But they don’t seem to talk to geologists and engineers or listen to the experience of other countries.  They listened to Spain when the Spanish were full of enthusiasm about what their green investments were going to do, but when economist Dr. Gabriel Calzada showed that for every “green job” created by wind and solar investments, 2.2 jobs were lost in the regular economy — they ignored him and went to talk to the Danes.

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