American Elephants

Drill Now. Jobs, Energy, and Keeping the Cost of Energy Down. by The Elephant's Child

“Restrictions on oil and gas drilling will cost the U.S. economy $2.36 trillion through 2029, according to a study requested by state utility regulators and paid for in part by industry-sponsored groups.” So reads the first paragraph of a story by Bloomberg .

Drilling restrictions off the U.S.coastline and in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are blocking our access to around nine years worth of American oil and gas consumption.

President George W. Bush and Congress ended previous bans on drilling along the U.S. coastline.  The Interior Department has taken no action to open the newly available areas which include offshore Alaska and the outer U,S. Continental Shelf in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico.  Congress has kept the Arctic refuge off-limits.

The report, issued Feb. 15, said that opening the areas would produce an estimated 43 billion barrels of oil and 286 trillion cubic feet of gas.   In 2009, America used 22.8 trillion feet of gas and 5.2 billion barrels of oil.

O’Neal Hamilton, a former chairman of South Carolina”s Public Service Commission noted that “Our research allows policy makers to know the extent of the resource base and the effects that maintaining the restrictions would have on the country.”

According to the report annual average natural-gas prices will increase by 17% by 2030 and electricity prices will rise by 5% if policy-makers do not open access to these areas.  That would slash the gross domestic product by a cumulative $2.36 trillion through 2029 — a date that sounds remote but is only the end of the current decade.

The collapse pf alarmist global warming and the complete discrediting of the UN’s IPCC have yet to shift society.  The consequences are far-reaching.  Carbon dioxide will settle back into its traditional position as one of the necessary building blocks of life. Every law, regulation and mandate aimed at reducing CO2 will become, not only unnecessary, but a useless expenditure of scarce funds.  Governors who have signed on to efforts to reduce CO2 emissions in the illusion that they would show the way to be “green” will be excoriated for their waste of public money.

Neglecting the unintended consequences of laws and regulations also has consequences.

Just how far do Russia’s ambitions go? by The Elephant's Child

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed Tuesday that both Russian and Georgian troops will withdraw to their positions before the present conflict, in order to halt the fighting in South Ossetia.

“I have decided to end the operation to compel the Georgian authorities to peace. The aim has been achieved” Medvedev was quoted by Tass news agency as saying. Medvedev has also been reported to have ordered Russian forces to “eliminate the aggressor” in case Georgians resume military activity.

Uh huh. A military operation such as the Russians just demonstrated is a carefully planned and organized action. Vladimir Putin is pushing to reassert Russia’s authority in a former Soviet state. Putin is using the separatist issue in South Ossetia as an excuse, and if he is allowed to get away with it, all the former Soviet states are threatened. You don’t just round up two divisions, hundreds of tanks and bombers, and a squadron of of warships overnight. It takes a lot of planning and organizing.

Russian bombers have indiscriminately hit residential and industrial areas, and killed hundreds of civilians. Russian forces took the central city of Gori, just 40 miles from Tibilisi, the Georgian capital. Russian troops also invaded from Abkhazia and took the city of Zugdidi to the west.

Russian claims of Georgian ethnic cleansing seem to be well-rehearsed propaganda. This is the first Russian military offensive outside of Russia’s borders. But there has been a consistent pattern of threats and provocations against other Russian neighbors, such as shutting off oil or natural gas delivery to Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and even Lithuania, a NATO member. They launched a cyber-assault on Estonia, and have opposed two antimissile sites in Eastern NATO nations.

There is a message here for Europe from the Kremlin. It says very clearly: We can shut off the supply of Siberian gas any time we want, and we can turn off every spigot in the region any time we choose.

Europe, protected throughout the Cold War by an American military umbrella, has long wallowed in a dream of a world without conflict. But as the well-known adage from Flavius Vegetius Renatum, circa 375 AD, goes “Si vis pacem, para bellum” goes: If you want peace, prepare for war. It remains very good advice.

Dear Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid… by The Elephant's Child

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi

In the heat of a Washington summer, and the heat of debate, you may have forgotten something. I know how the deference of aides, the eagerness with which newsmen cluster around to hear your words, and the regal surroundings of the capitol can lead members of Congress to feel that they are something pretty special. It is easy to feel like something of a chosen elite; but you must remember that you are our servants, responsible to all of us, not just to the organizations who sent you the most campaign funds.

That alone may count for a good portion of your terrible approval rating, the worst approval rating that has ever been measured for any organization as long as Gallup has been measuring. 12%. Only half of that — 6% approve of Congress “a great deal”. Whew!

What you have forgotten is that all those public lands that Americans want opened to oil exploration don’t belong to you. They belong to American taxpayers. As does any oil that is found. 75% of Americans oppose the ban on offshore drilling.

Well, you’re off for a Fourth of July vacation. Have a nice time, enjoy the fireworks, and perhaps…listen to your constituents.

Here’s the voting record… by The Elephant's Child

The U.S, Congress

We posted this piece previously, but we have talked a lot about just where the blame lies for our current problems at the pump. The facts are worth revisiting.

For decades, the Democratic Party has put one source of petroleum after another off-limits to drilling, thus driving up the cost of petroleum and the price of gas at the pump. Oddly, people don’t seem to understand the connections, and have not put political pressure on Democrats in Congress. Nor do they seem to recognize how different the policies of the two parties are.

Congressman Roy Blunt put together these data to highlight the differences between House Republicans and House Democrats on energy policy. Power Line made them available for the rest of us:

ANWR Exploration
House Republicans: 91% Supported. House Democrats: 86% Opposed.

House Republicans: 90% supported. House Democrats: 78% Opposed.

Oil Shale Exploration
House Republicans: 90% Supported. House Democrats: 86% Opposed.

Outer Continental Shelf Exploration
House Republicans: 81% Supported. House Democrats: 83% Opposed.

Increased Refinery Capacity
House Republicans: 97% Supported. House Democrats: 96% Opposed.


91% of House Republicans have historically voted to increase the production of America’s own oil and gas.

86% of House Democrats have historically voted against increasing production of America’s own oil and gas.

Myth, confusion and consequences… by The Elephant's Child

Many politicians depend on uninformed voters. People are worried about gas prices and the accompanying rise in the cost of food. People who buy their own groceries and pay for their own gas at the pump have a slightly different outlook than those who live in San Francisco mansions and whose drivers take care of the petrol problem.

When people are deeply worried, politicians want to DO SOMETHING. If they do something promptly, people will know how much they care. People will then return them to office, because politicians care for the ‘little people’.

Poorly informed voters have been fed myths for years, that serve only to confuse the issue. Why do you think that almost every country in the world is drilling and buying leases in the search for oil? Brazil has just discovered vast oil fields off their coast. Our own oil companies are drilling all over the world.  But we cannot drill off our own coast. How did we get here? Here are some of the myths that have stood in the way.

1. Big Oil makes too much profit. Did you see how much profit Exxon Mobil made this year? The profits that Exxon Mobil earned, eight cents per gallon, are dwarfed by the amount the government takes in taxes per gallon. That, in turn, is vastly less than the profits earned by the huge foreign state-owned oil companies who control 94% of current oil production. Have you heard Congress demanding a tax on windfall taxes?

2. Oil is a pollutant. It is dirty. Petroleum, when it is burned, produces carbon dioxide. You, when you breathe out, produce carbon dioxide. CO2 is a colorless, harmless gas that is essential to life. It acts as a fertilizer to plant life which takes in CO2 and produces oxygen. This is good. CO2 is not a pollutant, and not a cause of global warming. Everything you eat, wear or use is transported by petroleum power. At present there are no viable alternatives.

3. We can’t drill our way out of this. Yes we can. The Thunder Horse platform in the Gulf of Mexico is pumping oil and natural gas again. The platform will eventually produce the 250,000 barrels per day that we have been begging our Saudi friends to increase pumping. When running at full tilt, Thunder Horse alone will increase U.S. oil and natural gas production by 3.6 percent. Way to go, Big Oil.

4. We need to shift to alternative renewable fuels. Biofuels, like ethanol, use land that is needed for crops and redirect it to our fuel tanks. The amount of land we have devoted to fuel is already causing food riots and hunger in the developing world. Let’s see, you take in windfall taxes, excessively high, and use the excess money to subsidize the production of ethanol which not only produces less energy per gallon than gasoline, but starves people as well, while raising the price of food. This is all too complicated for me.

5. Nuclear? Chernobyl killed millions. Well, no it didn’t. I think the accurate number was 49. Greenpeace disagrees. Greenpeace is the “environmental” organization that coined the term ‘frankenfood’ in an attempt to drive consumers away from genetically improved food, such as “golden rice” that will save millions of children from blindness and death. Patrick Moore described the group he helped to found as “anti-human, anti-technology and anti-science”, and “basically anti-civilization.” The last nuclear reactor in the U.S. was built in 1977. France generates 79% of its electricity from nuclear plants. Safely and cheaply.

6. Someone else is to blame. The left has been anxious to blame: oil company executives; Big Oil in general; oil industry profits; oil executive salaries; alleged links to President Bush or Dick Cheney; and unnamed speculators. Not to blame: congressional action to prevent drilling; post-Enron Sarbanes-Oxley overkill; price controls; windfall profits taxes; or regulatory attacks on business. Not to be mentioned: the laws of supply and demand.

7. Speculators are the culprit. Institutional investors have been urged by academic advisers to diversify into ‘hard assets’ which includes oil. A lot of institutional investors got involved in oil speculation. We don’t know how many or how much. Futures trading allows producers of commodities to even out their risk in perfectly legal transactions. Transparency should help, but the worry is over-regulation by congressional busy bodies, who are not known for wisdom when meddling in American business.

8. We are running out of oil. This is an old, old story. There is supposed to be a point — peak oil — when it is all gone. 76% of Americans believe that we are running out. Fortunately, they are wrong. There is plenty. We just have to recover our sanity.

9. We need to achieve energy independence. Well, not likely. But allowing the laws of supply and demand to work would help, and it would be nice if we were enriching ourselves instead of foreign conglomerates.

10. Energy firms are “sitting on 68 million acres of federal lands they’ve already leased”, or so says Nancy Pelosi, and they aren’t producing any oil. Well, they are drilling, exploring, building facilities and spending billions to do so, but before they can produce oil, they have to find just where in the 68 million acres it is. It may officially be classified as “nonproducing”, but it is hardly idle. 94% of federal onshore lands remain off limits and 97% of offshore lands are off-limits to exploration. Nothing is preventing Congress from opening those lands except sheer irresponsibility.

But do you remember that in 2001 President Bush had an energy plan? It involved new oil and gas drilling, building new nuclear plants and improving the pipelines and electricity grid. The administration published the report of an energy task force containing scores of proposals for finding new sources of power and encouraging a range of new technologies. It included proposals for vetting locations of plants, streamlining or eliminating environmental reviews to help industry find and produce more energy.

Do you remember what happened? The left attacked. The Energy Task Force was illegal, how dare Vice President Cheney consult with energy company executives to devise a plan for producing more energy? They should be required to give us the minutes of every meeting. What could be more suspect or conspiratorial than talking to people actually connected to Big Oil or Big Energy? Evil, Bad, Wrong.

So the oil can has been kicked 8 years further down the road.

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