One definition of insanity is an ability to hold two opposing views at the same time. On that basis, numerous members of the Congress of the United States appear certifiable. A prime example is the response of liberals to high gasoline prices.
Whenever gas hits $3.00 a gallon or more – due to world market forces, inadequate domestic production, or actions by our own government – certain members of Congress emerge to denounce Big Oil for “profiteering” that hurts the common man. Calls for taxes on excess profits and investigations of oil companies for collusion and price-fixing are so predictable that you could almost set your watch by them. (Can’t these people get some new material?)
All this is politically cool, if you’re really a populist looking out for the little guy – or at least pretending to do so. But that’s not really true for most liberals, who tend also to be “green” – which means that they support the environmentalist agenda calling for diminished use of fossil-fuels and (lately) to wholesale conversion to electric cars.
In the past, the Greens’ prime villain was “dirty coal,” which produced smoke full of sulfur oxides, poisonous heavy metals, and soot. Coal was cheap, but environmental lobbies laid so much pollution-guilt on energy companies that many converted their plants to burn natural gas. Modern combustion technologies have scrubbed coal emissions, but power companies and central heating plants still won’t touch coal. We have 2,000 years’ supply of a cheap fuel we’re afraid to use.
Ditto for nuclear power. Environmentalists have so thoroughly spooked politicians, regulatory commissions, and the public about nuclear power’s “risks” that few new reactors have come on-line for the United States in the past thirty or forty years. Accurate data are hard to find, but we evidently built 270,000 MW of gas-fired power-plants from 1992 to 2005, while building only 14,000 MW of nuclear and coal-fired plants.
Nuclear power produces zero carbon-emissions, but its expanded use in the USA is dead, unless we can regain our sanity about it. Political and regulatory red tape and activist lawsuits have also blocked construction of most new oil-refineries in the United States over the last thirty-plus years. Citizens say they favor building reactors or refineries, but “not in my back yard” (NIMBY).
Nevertheless, shouldn’t we all be happy because clean-burning natural gas has become such a plenteous fuel because of fracking technology? Well… not exactly. Natural gas was OK in the 1970s and ‘80s, but 21st-century Greens now want a much smaller “carbon footprint” to fight climate-change, which Joe Biden calls an “existential threat” greater than terrorism or Russia. The Greens now demand radically reduced use of all carbon-fuels because they believe climate-change is being driven by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (Of all modern fuels, only hydrogen is not a hydrocarbon.)
But lower carbon usage can usually be achieved only by hiking prices. That means $3.00 gasoline is good, and $4.00 gasoline would be even better – right? Well, ah, actually no. Consumers don’t think so. Nor do populist politicians who denounce big oil for price-gouging. Ironically, many price-bashers are the same green liberals whose policies actually increase prices. (Do even they realize the contradiction?)
President Trump produced lower energy prices by opening up our domestic oil production to give us national energy-independence for the first time in our history. Gasoline prices had fallen below $2.00 a gallon in some locales. But Joe Biden and his green advisors quickly put a stop to that. Right after Good Old Joe took office, one of his first executive orders cancelled the Keystone Pipeline project, which was designed to carry upwards of 1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Canada to refineries in Texas and the Midwestern USA.
A significant aspect of liberals’ energy-schizophrenia involves opposition to developing the oil and gas resources we already have. Geologists estimate reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) oil-field at 10 billion barrels, with a potential production rate of 1.4 million barrels/day. But for decades Congress had fenced off the ANWR from developers, over concerns for the fragile arctic environment. After fifty unsuccessful attempts to reverse the longstanding ANWR-ban, a Republican-majority Congress finally succeeded in opening the region to drilling via legislation which Mr. Trump signed in 2017. But as soon as Mr. Biden took office he issued executive orders to block the ANWR drilling-leases.
Huge reserves also lie beneath the continental shelf of our east, west and Gulf coasts. Conservative estimates from the National Petroleum Council indicate potential reserves of 16.4 billion barrels of oil (bbo) and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (tcfng). In addition, an area touching the western states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas contains probable reserves of 2.7 bbo and 137 tcfng. Canada has also found 10 bbo and 50 tcfng off the coast of its maritime provinces.
Extraction of US continental shelf oil and gas had been blocked since 1998 by a Bill Clinton executive order. That ban opened the way for China to help Cuba drill for oil in international waters off Florida. Thus, not only was Greens’ blockage of continental shelf drilling undone, but the oil ended up going to other nations. (Your government at work.)
Mr. Trump undid the ban on continental shelf drilling soon after he took office. This was another factor in his achievement of energy independence for the USA, but it lasted only until Mr. Biden entered the White House. He immediately issued orders to stop all oil-drilling on federal-owned lands and on the continental shelf – thus effectively stopping 25% of our domestic oil-production. I can’t find data on how much tax-revenue was lost by shutting down that oil-production, but we can be pretty sure that it’s considerable. Good thinking by the Biden gang who plan to spend like drunken sailors. (No problemo – they’ll just print the money.)
Congress’s determination to booze up our gas tanks also deserves honorable mention in the contest for the Bonehead Trophy (awarded annually for the dumbest energy “solution”). Ethanol is costlier than gasoline, delivers reduced vehicular mileage, and produces only about 20% more energy than it takes to produce it. Hard-pressed consumers paying $50 or $60 to fill their tanks have been snookered into believing that ethanol is helping them. Instead, they are paying more for a fuel that’s less efficient than pure gasoline. Ethanol enriches only farmers. Some deal.
To add insult to injury, some politicians want to increase our vehicular use of ethanol to 15%, although we don’t (and won’t) have the production capacity to meet proposed targets. The ethanol craze has increased food-prices in Mexico, where corn is an important staple. (More “help” for poor Mexicans.) Lately, however, we haven’t heard much about ethanol. Turns out that it’s also a “hydrocarbon” fuel. (Oops.)
Of course, all this effort to scrap the internal combustion engine and stop using fossil fuels might make some sense if we really knew that CO2 was causing climate change. But we know no such thing. As more than one climate scientist has noted –
- Weather is always changing, but weather is not the same as climate;
- We don’t really know if the climate is changing because our time-sample is too small;
- If climate is changing, we don’t know why, or whether our activities are doing it;
- If climate is changing, we don’t know whether the change will be bad or good;
- Carbon dioxide promotes plant growth; it’s an important part of earth’s atmosphere, and it is not a “pollutant.”
Was it Will Rogers who said that the first hundred people listed in the telephone directory would do just fine as the United States Senate? Well, whoever said it was probably onto something. Whatever is going on in Congress and the White House is not brainpower and it isn’t wisdom – far from it. It’s not even common sense.
Remember, this is the gang that’s trying to convince you that granting amnesty to 25 million illegal immigrants will guarantee that no more illegals will try to sneak into the country. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“I don’t need writers. I just read the newspapers.” (Will Rogers)