Guest post by Alec Rawls
“President no longer worried about CO2!” That’s what the headlines should have read last week after Obama presented an elaborate argument that alternative energy is the only viable response to high energy prices without ever once mentioning CO2, global warming or climate change. Instead, he presented the need to lessen our reliance on oil purely as an economic imperative.
Back when he thought that global warming was a winning concern Obama used to acknowledge that his anti-CO2 policies were going to cause high energy prices (forcing them to “necessarily skyrocket“). Now he is trying to use the high energy prices that he intentionally caused as a reason to get away from fossil energy. But if we are no longer worried about climate, how about just undoing the anti-fossil-fuel policies that drove prices up in the first place?
Obama’s silence on climate is a testament to how thoroughly the alarmists have lost the climate debate in the eyes of the voting public. Obama can’t even mention climate change (never mind global warming), even in a speech about his own climate-driven policies.
To make his economic argument, Obama puts forward two glaring lies. Let’s take these whoppers one at a time.
The lie that we are already aggressively developing our fossil resources
From the President’s March 15th energy policy speech at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland:
Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. (Applause.) Any time. That’s a fact. That’s a fact. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs to a record high. I want everybody to listen to that — we have more oil rigs operating now than ever. That’s a fact. We’ve approved dozens of new pipelines to move oil across the country. We announced our support for a new one in Oklahoma that will help get more oil down to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Over the last three years, my administration has opened millions of acres of land in 23 different states for oil and gas exploration. (Applause.) Offshore, I’ve directed my administration to open up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources. That includes an area in the Gulf of Mexico we opened up a few months ago that could produce more than 400 million barrels of oil.
So do not tell me that we’re not drilling. (Applause.) We’re drilling all over this country.
Everyone knows about the big anti-oil moves from Obama and the Democrats, like rejecting the Keystone pipeline and continuing to block drilling in ANWR, but if you want a picture of how systematic and extreme their anti-fossil-energy policies have been, take a look at the list compiled by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. As soon as they got in the Obamatons started revoking all the permits that were in the pipeline: for exploration, for mining, for drilling, for building power plants. Everything was shut down to almost nothing, and that is the way it has stayed.
Speaker John Bohner put a few of the highlights onto a timeline along with gas prices. Cause and effect:
What about that record amount of oil production? From Tina Korbe:
Energy experts say the president’s rhetoric isn’t exactly forthright. It’s unfair for the president to take credit for record high oil production. Not only does it take oil three to five years to come online, which means the previous administration was responsible for approving the exploration and drilling permits that led to increased production, but oil production on federal lands actually declined from 2010 to 2011. Oil production on private lands is responsible for the increase.
She quotes CNS for the specifics:
As CNSNews.com has reported, oil production on federal lands declined in fiscal year 2011 from fiscal year 2010 by 11 percent, and natural gas production on federal lands dropped by 6 percent during the same timeframe.
In contrast, oil production on private and state lands accounted for the entire increase, reported the IER, as production was up 14 percent from 2010 to 2011. Natural gas also was up 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.
The energy boom from advances in fracking technology are so massive that Obama has not been able to suppress them entirely, but he sure is trying, and we know why. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu was up-front about this as recently as two weeks ago when he testified before the House Appropriations committee:
“Is the overall goal to get our price [of gasoline] down,” Nunnelee began. “No,” interrupted Chu, “the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy.”
Chu’s goal is less oil consumption, which of course requires higher prices, “to strengthen our economy.” (Note that Chu is a physicist, not an economist.) Chu has been saying for years that:
Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.
That’s $7 to $9 per gallon. Under duress he recanted last week and said that he no longer wants higher prices, but that just stripped away his last remaining virtue, which was his honesty.
Lie number 2: that America is energy poor, so there is not much we can gain by drilling anyway
Someone who knows absolute nothing about anything might find this Obama riff compelling:
There’s a problem with a strategy that only relies on drilling and that is, America uses more than 20 percent of the world’s oil. If we drilled every square inch of this country — so we went to your house and we went to the National Mall and we put up those rigs everywhere — we’d still have only 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves. Let’s say we miss something — maybe it’s 3 percent instead of 2. We’re using 20; we have 2.
Now, you don’t need to be getting an excellent education at Prince George’s Community College to know that we’ve got a math problem here. (Laughter and applause.) I help out Sasha occasionally with her math homework and I know that if you’ve got 2 and you’ve got 20, there’s a gap. (Laughter.) There’s a gap, right? …
We will not fully be in control of our energy future if our strategy is only to drill for the 2 percent but we still have to buy the 20 percent.
Obama’s 2% figure refers to “proven reserves,” and the smallness of this particular number is actually a measure, not of our resources, but of how little they have been developed. Investors Business Daily explains:
The U.S. has 22.3 billion barrels of proved reserves, a little less than 2% of the entire world’s proved reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. But as the EIA explains, proved reserves “are a small subset of recoverable resources,” because they only count oil that companies are currently drilling for in existing fields.
We have very little “proved reserves” because we have developed only a small fraction of our resources into active fields. The relevant number to look at is the amount of oil we could produce if it were allowed, and here we are proverbial thousand pound gorilla. Again, from IDB:
We actually have the world’s largest fossil energy resources, and the “recoverable” part is rapidly expanding as the technology for extracting it advances. Estimates for technically recoverable shale gas reserves increased 134% in 2010, and we’ve hardly begun on shale oil. Then there are methane hydrates, which according to the Department of Energy contain “more energy potential … than all other fossil energy resources combined.”
In short, the United States, and the entire world, have only been tapping the planet’s most easily accessible fossil energy supplies, and even those are far from running out, while vastly larger resources wait in store. Obama’s claims about the impossibility of relying on fossil energy are a fairy tale for childish green adults who want to see themselves as saving the planet. They dream of going “forward” to windmills and absorbing solar radiation like a snake on a rock, yet none of them have enough confidence in the saving-the-planet part to even mention it anymore.
The war on CO2 is over! Tell the EPA!
Obama’s lies about fossil resources are just supporting lies. His big lie is his pretense that his anti-CO2 policies are not about CO2. So take him at face value. He has apparently surrendered his claim that CO2 is dangerous. From his energy-policy speech, it seems that global warming is no longer a motivating concern.
THAT is a big story. Quick, tell the EPA. With this change in the administration’s position there should be no more regulation of CO2 and Obama should rescind his promise to bankrupt the coal industry:
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.
At some point—long before we run out of fossil energy—a cheaper source of energy will be developed and fossil fuels will go by the wayside. The only reason to interdict that natural progression and try to go backwards to wind and solar is a belief that fossil fuels imperil the planet. For that to be true, human effects on climate would have to dominate natural effects, a hypothesis that has already been falsified by 15 years of no warming. The only people who believe it at this point are the paid shills of our lavishly funded climate-alarm industry and their anti-capitalist allies. It has actually become unmentionable, which really does warrant some mention.