American Elephants

Plentiful Energy? Not On Obama’s Watch! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s hopes that his energy revolution will create something new and wonderful for the 21st Century. (It’s always the 21st Century). The problem is that most of the technologies aren’t new at all.  Windmills are centuries old, the sun has always been a diffuse source. Electric cars have been promising miracles since around the turn of the last century (1900) if only, and as soon as… The engineers say that they have exhausted the periodic tables and known physics. Wind is too intermittent, solar energy is too diffuse (and the sun goes down at night).

But the U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution. A gusher of natural gas from shale formations has the potential to transform energy production, and supply the country with energy for centuries. About ten years ago, Texas oil engineers hit upon the idea of combining two established technologies to release the natural gas trapped in shale formations. Horizontal drilling— in which wells turn sideways after reaching a certain depth — and a 50 year-old technique called hydraulic fracking — in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into a well at high pressure, to loosen the shale and release gas and increasingly — oil.

The Bakken formation, along the Montana North Dakota border, is thought to contain four billion barrels of oil — the biggest proven estimate outside of Alaska. The drilling boom is responsible for  North Dakota’s unemployment rate of only 3.2% — the lowest in the country. Keep that in mind when the Obama administration remains bewildered about how to create jobs.

Well, we can’t have plentiful oil and gas making the President’s release of 60 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve look unimportant. Environmental organizations have challenged everything about fracking claiming that oil shale production techniques were unproven, dangerous, water supply, royalties too low, etc. etc. etc. Earthjustice filed two big lawsuits on behalf of 13 environmental groups to block, well, everything.

Ken Salazar said the administration was taking a “fresh look” at the rules. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the appointment of a seven-member panel to come up with new fracking rules and safety standards. This duo has demonstrated their cooperation with the environmental lobby in the Gulf, in spite of a contempt of court order by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman.  The new panel will feature such energy enthusiasts as former Al Gore aide Kathleen McGinty and Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

I did mention that the fracking technique had been around — safely— for around 60 years. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 prevents the EPA from explicitly regulating fracking wells under the Safe Water Drinking Act.  Both the EPA and the Ground Water Protection Council have published studies determining that no documented evidence of fracking-sourced groundwater pollution has been found. But the EPA is now looking at possible contamination. The real threat of fracking is to the Obama administration’s promotion of clean energy renewables. Access to abundant, inexpensive energy instead of expensive, job-killing renewable energy, would just be too helpful for the economy.  Can’t have that!

Rep. Mike Kelly for President! Listen to This Rousing Rant! by The Elephant's Child

Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) serves on the Education and the Workforce Committee, Oversight and Government Reform committee., and Foreign Affairs. I can’t tell you how nice it is to hear someone who really gets it — tell it like it is!

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)

President Obama Has Never Held a Private-Sector Job, But Picks the “Winners and Losers” for the Economy. by The Elephant's Child

It was just a little over a week ago that President Obama was explaining in an interview that one of the reasons the unemployment rate remained so high was that business had gotten more efficient, and had replaced workers with machines. When you went to the bank you used an ATM and didn’t go to a teller.  (ATMs aren’t that recent).  Many jokes made about this gaffe.

So the president followed this up on Saturday with a trip to Pittsburgh, PA to visit and praise RedZone, a new high-tech company that manufactures robots to inspect  water and sewage pipes from the inside. So having blamed the high rate of unemployment on machines replacing human workers — now he’s boosting a company that makes robots.  Oh ha, ha, ha.

“This company is just one example of how advanced manufacturing can help spur job-creation and economies across the country. That’s why this week, we launched what we’re calling an Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. It’s a partnership that brings our federal government together with some of America’s most brilliant minds and American’s most innovative companies and manufacturers.”

But at RedZone Robotics, “they’re not just solving problems, they’re working with unions to create jobs operating the robots, and they’re saving cities millions of dollars in infrastructure costs.” Oh, RedZone is not creating jobs, they’re trying to get municipal unions (government workers) to hire more union employees to operate the robots. More government jobs, more government unions, with all the pension and collective bargaining problems that entails.

The Washington Post notes that “with trips that began two months after he took office, President Obama has devoted more than half of his out-of-town private-business visits to promoting a single industry: clean technology, which the president says will lead the nation back to economic prosperity. He’s made 19 trips to 22 clean technology companies, ranging from solar cells to electric car batteries to windows and new lighting. In the 2008 campaign, he promised $150 billion for innovative energy projects. and investors such as those with National Venture Capital Associates have been generous with their support for the Obama campaign, and have gotten jobs r advisory positions with the administration.

Unfortunately most of these start-up companies employ only modest numbers of people: nothing that would compare with the thousands of high paying jobs provided by the petroleum industry when they are not being blocked by administration policies refusing permits, shutting down coal-fired power plants, closing off oil-bearing lands from drilling.

The administration is picking clean-tech “winners and losers” by pouring “government money” into a sector best determined by the free-market.  “Government money” was the WaPo phrase. Is it necessary to remind them that the government has no money of its own? Governments, particularly an administration that has fewer people who have ever worked in the private sector than any administration in American history, don’t know squat about picking successful technologies or skilled management.

David Axlerod, Obama’s campaign guru, said admiringly a few days ago that Obama was absolutely consistent. Richard Epstein, who knew him at University of Chicago, described the same quality a little differently. He said Obama is very dogmatic in terms of substantive positions. His ideas are set in concrete, and he does not change his mind. Sounds like he does not learn from the evidence, or from the experience of others — but I have never met the man.

Congress is asking questions about some of the political connections of some companies that have received federal help. The most attention has focused on Solyndra, a Silicon Valley solar company that had received a $535 million federal loan guarantee. Obama visited the company’s factory in May 2010, only weeks after independent auditors had questioned whether the company could remain a “going concern.”

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations said he is “concerned that there was a hurry to get this money out of the door and that companies and individuals that supported the president were among the beneficiaries.

A month after Obama’s visit, the company withdrew its public offering plans. In November Solyndra announced that it would close its older factory and reduce its workforce by 127 people. Company officials said they never intended to hire 1,000 additional workers, but thought they could create that many jobs in the related supply chain. Analysts don’t think their product is viable.

Solyndra is not alone in profiting from government largess. There are many others, and evidence of crony capitalism, big campaign donations, and successful companies that have the misfortune to exist in Republican strongholds. No Obama visits for them.

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