American Elephants


Bret Stephens on The Coming Global Disorder by The Elephant's Child

Bret Stephens has been the foreign affairs columnist for The Wall Street Journal for nine years. This is a speech he delivered to the David Horowitz Freedom Center Texas Retreat, last June. A very thoughtful speech. It reflects much of the thinking expressed in his 2014 book America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder.

It’s perhaps a little long for a Wednesday night when tomorrow is a work day, but do save it to watch when you have time. You will be glad you did.



The Mystery and Magic of Ethanol and the Renewable Fuels Standard by The Elephant's Child

10020841+1ethanol092114Back in the dim reaches of the 20th Century, when scientists discovered the eternally expanding global warming grant proposal that gave them prestige; fun world conferences; better furnished departments; assistants and best of all they became Climate Scientists instead of just some PhD in an obscure part of the science building—the IPCC was founded, the EPA was founded and equipped with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, so someone or other decided it would be a good idea if we started adding large quantities of Iowa corn to our gas tanks as a biofuel called Ethanol.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the first Renewable Fuels Standard that required 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into gasoline by 2012. The idea was that it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as reducing reliance on imported oil.

Sounded like a good idea. But ethanol has also raised the cost of driving. It seems that the renewable fuel has cost drivers an extra $83 billion to fill their gas tanks while doing little if any good for the climate. 40 percent of the corn grown in the United states goes into ethanol.  Current ethanol blends produce fewer miles per gallon, so drivers pay more to go the same distance.

Ethanol adds more CO2 to the atmosphere than it eliminates by replacing fossil fuels. Beyond that it has led farmers to plow up more land to grow corn.  And thanks to shale gas and fracking, America no longer needs renewable fuels to reduce dependence on foreign oil. We are the richest oil producing state in the world. Farmers and ethanol producers were hoping to increase the amount of ethanol required in gasoline to 15% or more, but automobile engines cannot take that amount without damage.

If we replaced the 18 billion gallons of ethanol required under the EPA’s 2016 RFS, it would reduce the oil glut and improve the nation’s carbon footprint even more. Nevertheless, this is an issue in the campaign in Iowa. You will be hearing about corporate welfare.



The Keystone XL Pipeline Developer Sues the Obama Administration! by The Elephant's Child

Keystonepipeline
TransCanada Corporation has filed two major legal challenges to the Obama Administration. TransCanada is the company that has waited patiently while the Obama Administration played politics with the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The first lawsuit was filed in a Houston federal court stating that President Obama exceeded his authority in November when he blocked the pipeline’s construction.

The company separately filed an international petition under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) seeking to recover the $15 billion in costs and damages which it incurred in its attempts to build the cross border pipeline. What a colossal mess the Obama administration made of the U.S. end of that project.

I’m on TransCanada’s side in this one. I’ve been writing about it ever since the first proposal. It has always been a matter of politics. Obama’s green supporters are violently opposed to the pipeline, mostly because they don’t like petroleum and want it to stay in the ground. Their science is that deep. Also Hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer promised $100 million to the Democrats if they just continued to oppose global warming. (I don’t know if he gave them the money) The unions desperately want the 13,000 construction jobs promised by the project, and the 118,000 estimated spin-off jobs as well. Obama responds that the jobs are just temporary, but all construction jobs are temporary. Skills learned on one job make you more eligible for the next.

“TransCanada’s legal actions challenge the foundation of the U.S. administration’s decision to deny a presidential border crossing permit for the project,” the Calgary, Canada-based company said in a statement.

“In its decision, the U.S. State Department acknowledged the denial was not based on the merits of the project,” it continued. “Rather, it was a symbolic gesture based on speculation about the perceptions of the international community regarding the administration’s leadership on climate change and the president’s assertion of unprecedented, independent powers.”

Obama has asserted his power to decide the fate of the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline because it would have crossed an international border — an argument TransCanada said is not supported by the law, the Constitution or NAFTA.

The oil was always going to go to market. Obama’s denial meant that it would go by train, much more dangerous than supposed pipeline leaks, for rail is subject to derailment, as has happened too many times. The State Dept. approved it twice, then disapproved it. The route was changed slightly to allay worries from Nebraska, and from Indian tribes.

For the Obama Administration politics rules in all cases.  What is supposed to come first is the welfare of the American people. It’s really that simple.

Canadian and US Crude Oil Pipeline Proposals

 




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