American Elephants


The new fuel-efficiency standards will cost the auto industry $1.5 billion. by The Elephant's Child
March 28, 2009, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Progressivism | Tags: , , ,

The Transportation Department has released its requirements for the first increase in passenger car fuel efficiency in 25 years — the first step in what will be extensive reform for the nations truck and car fleets.  The standards for model year 2011 passenger cars will have to average 30.2 mpg, and light trucks 24.1 mpg for cars that will hit the showrooms in September of 2010.  Look for more increases to come.

The new fuel efficiency standards are estimated to cost the auto industry $1.5 billion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that price increases as a result will average $64 for passenger cars and $126 for light trucks. Passenger car buyers will be repaid in fuel savings in an average of 4.4 years, or in 7.7 years for pickups, SUVs or minivans.

Do you get the feeling that the right hand knows not what the left hand is doing? This is, I believe, the same auto industry that is receiving bailouts and needs more?

Representative John Dingell, D-Dearborn, said that Obama and his aides “recognize the auto industry is in a period of transition.” I guess you could call it a “transition.”

Representative Ed Markey,D-MA, chairman of the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence, praised the regulation.

With gas prices once again on the rise, I am pleased to see the Obama administration taking this historic first step towards reducing our dependence on foreign oil and helping revitalize the domestic auto industry. I look forward to working with the president to ensure that future standards are based on realistic assumptions and sound science.

I do not pretend to understand this.  I guess it all makes sense if you believe that global warming is a vast danger to the earth, that extracting petroleum from American earth is something akin to rape, and that charging the auto industry another billion and a half will fill their empty coffers.  But then I have no idea how to build a car.



Democrats will let the offshore drilling ban expire, or will they? by The Elephant's Child
September 23, 2008, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats will allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week.

Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey is telling reporters that language continuing the moratorium will be omitted this year from a spending bill to keep the government in operating funds after Congress recesses for the election.

Republicans have made lifting the ban a key campaign issue after gasoline prices soared beyond $4 a gallon this summer and public opinion turned in favor of more drilling.  President Bush lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling in July.

The Interior Department estimates there are 18 billion barrels of recoverable oil beneath coastal waters now off-limits.

This is good news, but there is still a long rocky road on the way to actually drilling for oil.

The real problem is that environmental groups seem to believe that “alternative energy” can replace fossil fuels if they just shut off access to oil and gas.  Wind and solar may never make a significant contribution to our energy needs.  Biofuels have already significantly raised the price of food, and caused food riots in the developing world.

There are many promising technologies on the horizon, but they are far, far from ready for the market.  The idea seems to be  — and I am just guessing here — that if they just force us to develop alternative energy by bringing us close to freezing and starving, then we will pay attention and do what they want. That’s why they talk about “Marshall Plans” and “Apollo Projects” without any understanding of the difference between those programs and our present situation.

Call it the “Energy Gap”. Environmental organizations see “Global Warming” as their best chance to bring about the Utopian vision that is their goal which has much more to do with “social justice” and who is in control than with clean air and water.

England is now facing the Energy Gap.  Their power structure is supposed to be shut down and replaced within the next 12 years, but the Greens are fighting any attempt to replace it, except with wind and solar.  The climate stopped warming about 10 years ago, and has actually been cooling for the past 7 years.  The sun has gone quiet, without sunspots for over a month.  Many scientists believe that we are in for 20 to 30 years of cooling, at least.

Colder weather means greater energy needs.  Colder weather means poorer agricultural yields. Far more people die from cold weather than from heat.  Prudence says that you do what you can to prepare for the worst.

But true believers are not about to let prudence interfere with the possibility of permanently getting rid of evil, dirty oil and gas.  It’s a strange mindset.

And if the whole basis of their argument is phony?  If CO2 is not responsible for climate change? If all the fuss is for nothing because climate change is a natural process that has been going on for centuries?  What if there is nothing that we can do that will actually affect climate?  What if it was all a lie?  What then?

According to Rasmussen Reports, 69% of voters support offshore oil drilling.  Clearly that means the Democrats have decided that they must be responsive to voters, right?  Well, never mind.

Nancy Pelosi is not going to miss a chance to mess things up some more.  She is trying to attach her “Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act” (a euphemism if there ever was one) to the massive end-of-the-fiscal-year “continuing resolution to sneak it into law.

In spite of the charming name, there is no consumer protection in it.  Instead it actually bans drilling in any places where we know there is oil or gas.  It prohibits drilling within 50 miles of the coast, and prohibits drilling off her own precious California coast.  Under the bill, legislatures would have to approve drilling off the state coast in legislation separate from acts of Congress.  No encouragement for nuclear.  And it will raise oil prices by taxing oil companies to the hilt.  More subsidies, of course, for “alternative energy”.  Sneaky doesn’t even begin to describe it.

If you want to get something done, you’re going to have to elect a different Congress.



A friendly word for Exxon-Mobil… by The Elephant's Child

Exxon-Mobil has received huge attention since it was announced that they posted a record profit of $11.68 billion in the second quarter. Media spokesmen have huffed and puffed, announced the P-R-O-F-I-T-S in sneering language as if oil company CEOs had personally lifted our wallets, emptied our bank accounts, and put us all in the poorhouse. Democrats were gleefully beside themselves in finding someone else to blame, and demanded a new windfall profits tax. That would fix them.

No one saw fit to mention that in the same quarter, Exxon Mobil paid almost 3 times that much in taxesmore than $32 billion. (A tax bill greater than the GDP of many countries). That doesn’t count the taxes you pay on every gallon that goes into your gas tank: 12% to the federal government and differing amounts to the states. Mine is one of the highest.

When we start talking in billions, most of us are not comfortable with the figures. (How many zeros is that?). Many more people than ever before are becoming millionaires, but the billionaires live in a rarefied atmosphere that most of us don’t understand very well. It’s easy to assume that there must be something wrong with a profit of $11 billion.

Politicians, especially in an election year, prey on voter’s ignorance of matters economic. When gas prices are over $4.00 a gallon and grocery prices are climbing, people are being hit in the pocketbook. $11 billion in profit seems unimaginable, obscene.

The government is taking a far larger amount, demanding more and refusing to open known oil fields that could be producing in about 3 years. The Democrats want “windfall profits”, they want to outlaw “price gouging”, they want to “stop the speculators”, they want to distract you from the idea of drilling for oil.

In the last 10 years the top 20 U.S. and Canadian oil companies invested 50% more than they earned in efforts to produce more oil. Production in existing oil fields in the U.S. is slowing and they are having to go far afield to drill.

American corporations are among the most heavily regulated entities on earth. A corporation is a legal fiction that allows a group of people to band together to do business in the hope of making a profit. Corporations can survive a year or so of losses, but in general, if they don’t make a profit, they go out of business.

It is fashionable to think of corporations as “evil”, but the reasons for that illusion aren’t attractive. Our intelligentsia, proud of their advanced degrees, are incensed at the salaries and bonuses of corporate CEOs whom they regard as a lesser species. They do not understand business or economics, and in general, want to stamp it out.

Gas prices are dropping, but Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid soldier on. Speaker Pelosi has suggested that maybe they could allow a little offshore drilling — but only on the East coast! Have a little sympathy for the oil companies. They are trying very hard to produce the petroleum you need, and they are investing (without orders from Pelosi and Reid) heavily in alternative energy. Their business is to produce the energy you need at a price you can afford. That’s how they stay in business. (No, unfortunately I’m not a stockholder).



They said they would, but no they won’t…. by The Elephant's Child

The War in Georgia

Russia agreed to pull out of South Ossetia, a cease-fire in the Georgian War, but, of course, they are doing no such thing. They are digging in a little deeper. In Poti, a port on the Black Sea, the Russians have sunk all Georgian naval and patrol vessels, and have been systematically destroying port facilities. They are far outside the borders of South Ossetia. The cease-fire deal calls for both Russian and Georgian forces to pull back to positions they held before fighting erupted on August 8.

The media seems to have accepted Russian propaganda, as usual.

The War in the House of Representatives

First she says she will and then she won’t. She will consider opening “portions”, but probably include little remedies that fit all her lies. Opening the Strategic Reserve, creating green jobs, curbs on non-existent speculation, all the loony leftist ideas. We need to increase the pressure on the Speaker of the House. She has created the worst record of any speaker in my lifetime, and with an approval rating of 9%, it can’t get much lower.

Do you suppose that Speaker Pelosi’s big investment in Boone Pickens’ big wind energy play “Clean Energy Fuels Corporation has anything to do with her insistence on subsidies for wind energy?



The Energy Gap, and what to do about it… by The Elephant's Child

Nancy Pelosi called plans to drill for more oil “a hoax.” She called for President Bush to release oil from the Strategic Reserve. She claimed that drilling wouldn’t help since it would take too long. She blamed high prices on speculators. She blamed oil companies. She said that the oil companies had 68 million acres that they weren’t drilling on. She demanded to sue OPEC. I’m sure I’ve missed several of her little stories. She now says she’ll allow a vote on drilling for more crude to come to the floor of the House. And I really believe her, don’t you?

To understand Nancy Pelosi and Harry “oil is dirty” Reid’s stubborn resistance to oil drilling, building new refineries, building nuclear energy plants, and their enthusiasm for ethanol, solar and wind, you have to understand from whence comes “progressive” money.

One thing that “Progressives” do especially well is to organize into groups. They have meetings and write grant proposals, organize more, do financial studies, negotiate, do focus groups, poll testing, and write more grant proposals. And they get huge amounts of money from liberal foundations.

“Progressives” come in many varieties, there are Environmental Progressives, Labor Progressives, Social Justice Progressives, Anti-Globalization Progressives, Anti-Corporate Progressives, Anti-Capitalist Progressives, Post-National Progressives, and Anti-War Progressives, and I’m sure there are other groupings.

Very high on the list for Environmental Progressives is ending our reliance on (they say addiction to ) fossil fuels. They believe that most of the pollution in the world comes from “dirty” oil and gas. They believe that “dirty” oil and gas is causing runaway global warming which may end life on earth. They want to stop all development, curb consumerism. reject modernism, and end industrialism and capitalism to start with. Does this sound loony? The more extreme want to reduce human population, and return to a “simpler” time.

The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund took out full-page ads in the Washington Post and other newspapers to blast Offshore drilling for oil as “George W. Bush’s Gasoline Price Elixir” that is “100% Snake Oil”. It urges visitors to their website to send a letter to their members of Congress that says “I am not buying the lie…that sacrificing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and America’s coastal waters to oil dilling would make a real difference in gas prices — either today or twenty years from today!” It adds “With just three percent of the world’s oil reserves, our nation doesn’t have enough oil to impact the global market or drill our way to lower prices at the pump.” Here you have the ideas that are reproduced in Harry and Nancy’s playbook.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has a long history of exaggeration, misrepresentation and lies. Remember the Alar scare, when all apples were removed from grocery stores? The scare made a bundle for NRDC, and cost the apple growers over $250 million for no reason at all as Alar proved to be perfectly safe. Then there was their swordfish scare.

This was too much for even the Washington Post. The United States has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves only when one is speaking of Known oil reserves, which were last measured before Congress imposed a moratorium on drilling in 1981. Technology and techniques have changed, and estimates have ballooned, but they have to be able to measure to compute today’s known reserves.

Only when pumping finally begins, is a lease classified as “producing”, which with a little twisting turns into the statement that “Oil companies aren’t using the leases they already have”. Environmental impact statements, sensitive resource development plans, oil spill recovery plans, reports filed, exploration begun, environmental lawsuits argued, infrastructure built simply don’t count.

Drilling is environmentally dangerous, they said. Between 1993 and 2007 there were 651 spills of all sizes at OCS sites, the equivalent of 1 barrel of oil spilled per 156,900 barrels produced. More oil is released from the ocean floor naturally.

The environmental progressives believe that they can just shut off the oil and gas, and the high prices will force the government to invest billions in “renewable” energy, for that fits their vision of “clean” energy. They want us to have another Apollo Project. If we can go to the moon, we can certainly shift to renewable energy.

Currently, renewable energy contributes just 6% of U.S. energy consumption. Hydropower contributes 44% of the minuscule renewable energy sector, and biomass/waste contributes 46.5%. This latter contribution is from factories that generate their own power from burning the waste from their processes. Both are not really approved by the environmental crowd. Wind contributes 2.3% (of the 6% renewable category), solar contributes 1%, and geothermal contributes 5.6%. This teeny-weeny bit is what they believe will power the American economy if we just fork over enough money.

Problem is, the Apollo Project was a straight engineering feat. Wind only blows part of the time and at the right speed, even in the windiest locations, and must be backed by electric power whenever it doesn’t blow. A solar array requires vast acreage. Biofuels produce less energy than must be used to produce them. And biofuels have already caused severe disruption in the world food supply by putting farmers’ crops in our gas tanks. We must stop trying to grow our fuel. The world population is expected to double by 2050, and we are not producing enough food now to feed them without cutting down forests and putting more land into farming. The most promising technology seems to be fuels produced from algae, which requires far less land, and re-grows quickly.

So what we have here is an Energy Gap. It’s the gap between reality and dreams, between fact and fiction, between the hard lessons of the marketplace and Utopian hope. Progressives are good at “hope”, but not too successful at math, economics and science.

What has been forgotten in most of the debate is that oil is a matter of national security, as the War in Georgia should remind us. Nations all over the world are drilling for oil and natural gas, building nuclear reactors and new refineries, acknowledging the realities of supply and demand. We are stuck with so-called “progressives” who put their political party ahead of their country.

Barack Obama’s “Oil SENSE Act,” introduced in January 2007, is kind of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that forbids exploration with modern seismic methods that are about as intrusive as photography on land. Deroy Murdock describes this as engineering a Space Shuttle mission with slide rules. The maps of 20-40 years ago led to 17 percent of offshore wells striking oil. With contemporary surveying, 70% of wells hit oil.

Not much sense here, in spite of clever names. But there’s always hope.



Lalalala, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you… by The Elephant's Child

In June 2001, seven years ago, President Bush said, in proposing his energy plan: “Energy has enormous implications for our economy, our environment and our national security.” “We cannot let another year go by without addressing these issues together in a comprehensive and balanced package.” The plan included, among other things:

♦ New drilling for oil and gas, and new refineries.

♦ Building nuclear power plants.

♦ Revamping the U.S. electricity grid.

♦$10 billion in tax breaks to push energy efficiency and alternative energy.

Just what economists, oil experts and energy experts say needs to be done to alleviate the current crisis. To devise the plan, Vice President Cheney met with industry executives to find out what was needed and what could be done. Mr. Cheney, as former CEO of an oilfield services company had some familiarity with the oil industry. And do you remember what happened?

Democrats in Congress had a hissy fit.

They demanded to know just who was invited to these meetings. They demanded minutes of the meetings. What was he doing meeting with oil executives? Outrage!

The administration gently pointed out the Constitutional separation of powers, the fact that the administration does not report to Congress, and that the powers of each branch of government are delineated in the Constitution to which they swore allegiance. And besides, it was none of their business. Many Democrats are still simmering over what they conceive, in their delusion, to be some vast conspiracy.

Energy bill didn’t pass.

Didn’t pass in 2001,

Didn’t pass in 2002, nor in 2003.

And Nancy Pelosi is trying to blame “a failed energy policy by the Bush/Cheney, two oilmen in the White House.” She called activities in Congress “the dance of the hand-maidens of the oil companies”. She said “Free our oil.” meaning open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve which contains a 33 day supply of oil in case of real national emergency.”

She said “But while we’re spending all of this time on a parliamentary tactic when nothing less is at stake than the planet, the air we breathe, our children breathe.”

Then she went on a book tour.



JAMES EARL OBAMA: 30 Years of Democrat Energy Obstruction by The Elephant's Child

April 18, 1977 • President Jimmy Carter made energy policy the centerpiece of his administration. He declared that achieving energy independence was the “Moral equivalent of war”. Later that year he signed the law creating the United States Department of Energy to manage America’s energy crisis.

1978 • The Iranian revolution caused a shortfall in oil exports and prices doubled over the next couple of years. Carter, wearing a sweater on national television, urged Americans to turn down their thermostats.

July 15, 1979 • “Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 — never”, Carter declared. He put solar panels on the White House and proposed a $142 billion energy plan which would achieve energy independence by 1990. This plan included a solar bank to achieve the goal of 20% of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000, created a $20 billion Synfuels program. And he even began to cut back on Richard Nixon’s price controls on oil.

January, 1981 • Ronald Reagan, on the day be became president ended the remaining federal regulations on domestic oil supplies and prices, allowing oil prices for the first time since 1971 to fall and rise with world market levels. He removed Carter’s solar panels and in December 1985, he dismantled the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corp. What happened when all the governmental attempts to manage the energy supply ended? Oil prices dropped from their peak at the time of $37 per barrel in 1981 to $14 per barrel in 1986.

1991 • President George H.W. Bush ‘s strategy was “reducing our dependence on foreign oil.” This included a U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium in cooperation with the Big Three automakers to develop a lightweight battery system for electric vehicles, with a fuel efficient prototype car by 2004.

1992 • President Bill Clinton proposed a BTU tax on fossil fuels, creating a tax on natural gas, coal and nuclear power and a two times higher tax on crude oil, which would have cost the average family between $300 – $400 a year, and a plan to produce a prototype car that was 3X more fuel efficient by 2004.

2001 • George W. Bush introduced a comprehensive energy plan that allowed more drilling for oil and gas, new refineries, building nuclear power plants, revamping the U.S. electricity grid, and asked for $10 billion in tax breaks to encourage energy efficiency and alternative energy. Perhaps you remember the outrage of the Democrats in Congress about Cheney’s Energy Committee because the Vice President met with oil company executives to talk about energy. Congress rejected the energy plan.

2002 • Rejected.

2003 • Rejected.

August 10, 2005 • The Onion does an article: “Bush Vows to Eliminate U.S. Dependence on Oil By 4920″

July 31, 2008 • Barack Obama advises Americans that they can improve their gas mileage by keeping their tires properly inflated: “We could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tune-ups.” PowerLine’s John Hinderaker ran the numbers and suggested it would take about 11,308 years of proper inflation to equal all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling.

August 1, 2008 • Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, claiming that “I’m trying to save the planet”, again blocked, not only a vote on offshore drilling, but any debate on offshore drilling. She knows that if the issue is brought to the floor, it would pass, for many Democrats have started to shift their views. She quickly gavelled the session to an end and shut the chamber down as the Democrats departed for a five week vacation. Republicans turned the lights back on, and proceeded to attack the Democrats for leaving town without doing anything about lowering gas prices.

Republicans got the sound system working, and invited tourists in to watch the debate. They had flip charts and ordered in pizza. The talk-in was spontaneous. Mike Pence, R-Ind, said that as the House’s regular session neared it’s end, he and Tom Price, R-Ga, were talking about staging more than 100 5-minute speeches, when Price said if the House adjourned, “We should Just stay.” So they did.

The gallery closed on schedule at 4:30, and Representative Price finally called an end to the demonstration and led the group in an a capella rendition of “God Bless America”.

In Chapter 2, I will explain the Democrats’ position. In the meantime, consider just who it is that has blocked increasing our domestic energy supply for over 30 years. Just as they continue to do to this very day:




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