Romney’s Historic Opportunity: Low-Cost Energy Fuels Economic Recovery

Editorial by Dr. Fred Singer

Romney can clinch the election by detailing an energy policy that restores jobs, prosperity, and American economic leadership. “To be credible, a reform agenda must have some reform substance.”
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Energy, the life-blood of the economy, is the Achilles heel of President Barack Obama. Mitt Romney can win the November election if he concentrates his campaign on a sensible energy policy.

Mr. Romney will have to make a case not merely against Mr. Obama’s failings but also for why he has the better plan to restore prosperity.” [WSJ 4-26-12] “…optimistic conservative vision that can inspire the party faithful, appeal to swing voters and set out a governing agenda should he win in November …”  source NYT

As a presumed candidate for the US presidency, Romney should spell out now a coherent policy of low-cost and secure energy that would boost the US economy, ensure jobs and prosperity, and raise people up from poverty. Fundamentally, he and his surrogates must educate and inspire the public. 

He should pledge specific goals: Lower gasoline prices; cheaper household electricity; cheaper fertilizer for farmers and lower food prices for everybody; cheaper transport fuels for aviation and for the trucking industry; lower raw material costs for the chemical industry. He should also indicate the kind of people who would be part of his team, who would fill the crucial posts and carry out these policies. His running-mate should have a record of endorsing these goals.

Obama has made it easy for Romney

It’s a winning situation for Romney; Obama has already provided him most of the ammunition:

**Under Obama, the price of gasoline has more than doubled, from $1.80 (US average), and is approaching $5 a gallon. His Secretary of Energy, Dr. Chu, wanted the price to rise to “European levels of $8 to $10.” It is really hurting the middle class, particularly the two-car couples who must commute to work. Yet everything Obama has done or is doing is making the situation worse.

**He has vetoed the Keystone pipeline, which would have brought increasing amounts of oil from Canada to Gulf-Coast refineries, created ‘shovel-ready’ jobs, and improved energy security.

** He has kept much federal land off limits for oil and gas production — particularly in Alaska and offshore. The Alaska pipeline is in danger of running dry. Even where exploration is permitted, drilling permits are hard to obtain because of bureaucratic opposition.

** To Obama, oil is a “fuel of the past;” not so to millions of drivers. He’s looking to put algae in their gas tanks – the latest bio-fuel scheme! In his 2008 campaign, Obama promised that under his regime electricity prices would “skyrocket.” He seems to have kept his promise — with help from the misguided ‘Renewable Electricity Standard,’ which mandates utilities to buy costly ‘Green’ energy from solar/wind projects and effectively become tax-collectors.

**He also promised that potential builders of coal-fired power plants would go “bankrupt.” That too would happen, thanks to extreme, onerous EPA regulation. The latest EPA plan would stop the construction of new coal-fired power plants by setting impossible-to-obtain emission limits for carbon dioxide. True, EPA has made exceptions if the power plant can capture and sequester the emitted CO2; but the technology to do this is not available and its cost would be prohibitive.

**It seems likely that, if Obama is re-elected, his EPA will use the CO2 excuse to also close down existing coal-fired plants — and may not permit the construction of any fossil-fueled power plants, including even those fired by natural gas, which emits only about half as much CO2 as coal. The Calif PUC has already banned gas plants (on April 19, 2012) in order to reach their unrealistic goal of 33% Green electricity.

**One can see the signs of impending EPA efforts to stop the exploitation of shale gas by horizontal drilling, using the claim that ‘fracking’ causes water pollution.

The only explanation for this irrational behavior: The Obama administration, from top to bottom, seems possessed by pathological fear of catastrophic global warming and obsessed with the idea that no matter what happens to the economy or jobs, it must stop the emission of CO2.

The starkest illustration of this came in his [Obama’s] answers to questions about climate change in which he promised to make this article of faith for the left a central issue in the coming campaign. This may play well for the readers of Rolling Stone. But given the growing skepticism among ordinary Americans about the ideological cant on the issue that has spewed forth from the mainstream media and the White House, it may not help Obama with independents and the working class voters he needs as badly in November as the educated elites who bludgeoned him into halting the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. This conflict illustrates the contradiction at the core of the president’s campaign

Source Commentary Magazine

The situation is tailor-made for Romney to launch an aggressive campaign to counter current energy policy — and the even worse one that is likely to be put in place if Obama is re-elected.

What Romney must do to win the November election

Romney has to make it quite clear to potential voters why low-cost energy is absolutely essential for economic recovery, for producing jobs, and for increasing average income– especially for the middle-class family, which is now spending too much of its budget on energy essentials. Romney should hold out the entirely realistic prospect of US energy independence – often promised but never before achieved – or even of the US becoming an energy exporter.

**Romney can confidently promise to reduce the price of gasoline to $2.50 a gallon or less, with a gracious tip of the hat to Newt Gingrich, who had proposed such a goal in one of his campaign speeches. To accomplish this, the world price of oil would have to fall below $60 a barrel from its present price of $110.

**But this bright energy promise is entirely possible due to the low price of natural gas, which has fallen to $2 from its 2008 peak of $13 per mcf (1000 cubic feet) — and is still trending downward. All that Romney has to do is to remove to the largest extent possible existing regulatory roadblocks.

It is essential to recognize three important economic facts:

**Since many of the newly drilled wells also produce high-value oil and NGL (natural gas liquids), natural gas becomes a by-product that can be profitably sold at even lower prices.

**Natural gas currently sells for less than 15% of the average price of crude oil, on an energy/BTU basis. This means that it pays to replace oil-based fuels, such as diesel and gasoline, with either liquefied natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG). This may be the most economical and quickest replacement for heavy road-vehicles, earth movers. diesel-electric trains, buses, and fleet vehicles.

**It also becomes profitable to convert natural gas directly to gasoline or diesel by chemical processing in plants that are very similar to refineries. Forget about methanol, hydrogen, and other exotics. Such direct conversion would use the existing infrastructure; it is commercially feasible, the technology is proven, and the profit potential is evident — even

if the conversion efficiency is only modest, say 50%.

Thanks to cheap natural gas, Romney’s promise for lower gasoline prices is easily fulfilled: With reduced demand and increased supply globally, the world price of oil will decline and so will the price of transportation fuel. So by satisfying transportation needs for fuel, it should be possible to reduce, rather quickly, oil imports from overseas; at present, 60% of all imports (in $) are for oil. At the same time, oil production can be increased domestically and throughout North America. The US is on its way to become not only energy-independent but also an exporter of motor fuels – with a huge improvement in its balance of payments.

Billionaire oilman Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources and discoverer of the prolific Bakken fields of the northern Great Plains, complains about current energy policy that’s holding back development. “President Obama is riding the wrong horse on energy,” he adds in an interview with Stephen Moore. We can’t come anywhere near the scale of energy production to achieve energy independence by pouring tax dollars into “green energy” sources like wind and solar. It has to come from oil and gas. Hamm is an energy advisor to Romney. Similarly, Governor Bob McDonnell, intent on making Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast by developing offshore oil and gas, complains, in a WSJ op-ed, that Obama’s words are “worlds apart from his actions.”

Another promise Romney can confidently make is that he will cut the price of electricity in half — or even lower. This promise can be fulfilled not only by the low price of natural gas but also by the much higher efficiency of gas-fired power plants that can easily reach 60% or more, compared to the present 35-40% for nuclear or coal-fired plants. Higher efficiencies reduce not only the cost of fuel (per kilowatt-hour) but effectively lower the capital cost (per kilowatt).

Efficiencies can be raised even higher with ‘distributed’ electric generation, if such gas-fired power plants are located in urban centers where co-generation becomes an attractive possibility. This would use the low-temperature heat that is normally discharged into the environment (and wasted) to provide hot water for space heating and many other applications of an urban area: snow and ice removal, laundry, and even cooling and water desalination. Again, this is proven technology and the economics may be very favorable. Distributed generation also improves security (against terrorism) and simplifies the disposal of waste heat.

Low-cost natural gas can also provide the basic raw material for cheap fertilizer for farmers, thus lowering food prices, and feedstock for chemical plants for cheaper plastics and other basic materials. Industries can now return to the United States and provide jobs locally — instead of operating offshore where natural gas has been cheap.

With the exploitation of the enormous gas-hydrate resource in the offing, once the technology is developed, the future never looked brighter. Somehow, Romney must convey this optimistic outlook to the voting public.

“Natural gas is a feedstock in basically every industrial process,” and the price of gas in the U.S. is a fraction of what it is in Europe or Asia. “This country has an incredible advantage headed its way as Asian labor costs rise, as the cost to transport goods from Asia to the U.S. rises, as oil prices rise, as American labor costs have stagnated or gone down in the last 10 years. We have a really wonderful opportunity to kick off an industrial renaissance in the U.S.” [Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, WSJ 4-26-12]

Slaying the ‘Green Dragon’

Romney should speak out on the “hoax” (to use Senator Inhofe’s term) of climate catastrophes from rising CO2 levels. He should also make it clear that there is no need for large-scale wind energy or solar electricity — and even the construction of nuclear plants can be postponed. Many environmentalists will be relieved to avoid covering the landscape with solar mirrors, windmills and – yes — hundreds of miles of electric transmission lines and towers.

In his book Throw Them All Out Peter Schweizer reports that 80% of the Department of Energy’s multi-billion Green loans, loan guarantees, and grants went to Obama backers. Romney should proclaim that there will be no more Solyndras or other boondoggles, and no need for government subsidies for ‘Green energy’ or for crony capitalism. The marketplace would decide the future of novel technologies, such as electric cars, solar devices, etc. Many Washington lobbyists will lose their cushy jobs.

There’s absolutely no need for bio-fuels either. Yes, that includes algae as well as ethanol, which is now consuming some 40% of the US corn crop. The world price of corn has tripled in the past five years – even as EPA plans to increase the ethanol percentage of motor fuels from 10 to 15%! True environmentalists are well aware of the many drawbacks of bio-fuels, the damage they do to crop lands and forests in the US and overseas, and to the vast areas they require that could be devoted to natural habitats.

Finally, Romney should make it clear that if elected he would appoint a secretary of energy, secretary of interior, administrator of NOAA and administrator of EPA who share his convictions about energy. Above all, he should recruit a White House staff, including a Science Advisor, who will bring the promise of low-cost, secure energy to the American economy.

Perhaps the WSJ (April 27) said it all: Did you like the past four years? Good, you can get four more”

S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project.  His specialty is atmospheric and space physics.   An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the US National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere. He is a Senior Fellow of the Heartland Institute and the Independent Institute. Though a physicist, he has taught economics to engineers and written a monograph on the world price of oil. He has also held several government positions and served as an adviser to Treasury Secretary Wm. Simon. He co-authored NY Times best-seller “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 years.” In 2007, he founded and has chaired the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), which has released several scientific reports [See www.NIPCC.org]. For recent writings see http://www.americanthinker.com/s_fred_singer/ and also Google Scholar.

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philjourdan

While I would love to be thought of as a Rocket Scientist (my Cousin actually is), Economics is not rocket Science. However, that does not mean that everyone knows economics.
And Obama does not know economics.
Very well stated Dr. Singer.

sailboarder

Way way too complex. Rommney needs to keep it simple.. support every effort to grow the USAs advantages in energy, and create jobs doing it, instead of exporting jobs. His competitor, Obama, has failed to get Congress to shut down our energy industry, and is now doing it through the back door, using the EPA. If you want to cause a depression in the USA, vote Obama.

Leo Morgan

The word “Hoax” is electoral suicide. Like “Denier”, it’s an insult that creates sympathy for the insulted.
The average onlooker can judge our debating even if they can’t judge the science. They recognise that however wrong-headed the alarmists may be, they are genergally sincere in their claims.
The average “I suppose it must be right” person can be won to our point of view by the facts- but if we call them “Hoaxers” they will see that we’re wrong about the only thing they know for certain, their own motives.
The accusation “Denier” has cost the alarmists the high moral ground for a decade now. That fact has swayed the opinion of more of the public than anything else has. Lets not join them in the raxe to the bottom.

Gary

The headwinds to this sensible course of action are the perceived and real problems that the voters have with “Big Oil” — collusion/corruption (ENRON-type fallout), disregard for the environment (belching smokestack images), and mega-accidents (Exxon Valdiz and BP spills). These are strong memes that the opposition is sure to exploit. Unless there are strong rebuttals, not platitudes, the argument loses much of it’s force. Dr. Singer makes the economic case; somebody needs to make the political case that safeguards will be in place.

Bravo, Fred Singer! Now let’s get together and get this to the Romney campaign!
Four years ago I sent a letter to Gov. Romney, suggesting he take the lead in denouncing the myth of anthropogenic global warming and in arguing for exactly the renaissance in industrialization based on plentiful, cheap fossil fuel that Dr. Singer advocates. But I never received even an acknowledgement from a staffer.
When he was Governor of Massachusetts, and later during his first primary run for President, Gov. Romney was content to go along with the AGW ‘consensus’. Maybe this year will be different. But someone has to get to him and convince him. Does Professor Lindzen have enough clout to get a meeting?
I’m going to copy Dr. Singer’s post and send it to the Romney campaign. I hope many of you will, as well.
/Mr Lynn

bruce

I would add authorize a new refinery or two in US for first time in quarter century. Not much can be done about Brent but significant cost add-ons due to pipeline refinery capacity is within the scope of control from POV of the President. Most important element will be negation of the EPA CO2 regs.

Bravo, Dr. Singer, I nominate you as the new president’s science advisor.

Stephanie Clague

First kill the EPA and redistribute its core responsibilities and duties to each state to approve or repeal as needed on a local level, if an individual state wishes to try and run its energy grid on green fantasies and make believe then that is their choice isnt it?
Then kill the department of energy, kill it stone dead and create a fully free open market in energy supply, a total free market in energy provision would see energy prices fall off a cliff. Open up all federal land to fossil fuel exploitation as a matter of national urgency/survival and the USA would thrive.

SocialBlunder

From an economic perspective, the cheap natural gas is forcing consolidation in the natural gas industry. Once consolidation is complete, prices will rise. Increasing demand on natural gas will also force prices to rise. While many of the benefits described in the above article are true at current natural gas prices, they will not be true as natural gas prices rise.

Michael Palmer

This concise outline by Dr. Singer makes it startlingly clear just how much economic damage is being done by blind, ideological environmentalism. Excellent.

Rather than forcing coal-generated electricity out of existence, the Direct Carbon Fuel Cell (DCFC) promises dramatic improvements for making electricity generated from coal and natural gas more environmentally friendly: http://www.llnl.gov/str/June01/Cooper.html. The DCFC allows for the generation of electricity from coal without burning it, and the CO2 it produces can be easily captured and used with water and heat (maybe waste heat from nuclear plants) to produce synthetic liquid transportaion fuels to reduce our dependence on imported oil. This ease with which CO2 can be captured using this technology would eliminate one more excuse the climate alarmists have for trying to phase out fossil fuels through government regulations.
My bottom line here is to fight the good (CAGW) fight with technological advances as well as with sound science.

“Why is energy such a high-level issue this year?,” said Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Resources and chairman of Romney’s energy policy advisory team, on Thursday. “It is pretty simple: because of the failure of Obama’s energy policy.”
He said Obama’s policies aimed at developing renewable energy are based on a false notion of oil and natural-gas “scarcity” that has been overtaken by the U.S. production boom.
“Romney has a policy of abundance; the other one is one of scarcity,” Hamm said.
POLICY OF ABUNDANCE

I sent the URL for this to my Member of Parliament here in Canada. Our Conservative government is doing this sort of thing, but they wont make it official policy.

pat

Yup.

There is a video of Obama promising that electric rates would necessarily skyrocket if his energy plan was enacted….make that clip your number one commercial and make sure every American is exposed to it at least 10 times….and then as it ends remind Americans gasoline prices were $1.84 when he took office….do those two things and you will have a Romney landslide.

Mailman

Sadly the democrats and their compliant MFM will merely spread the meme of republicans = anti-science.
The problem for Romney is that anything he does will be spun as a race attack. So while everything said the the article seems like common sense to you to the clowns running Romneys campaign they will bend over backwards not to highlight anything about Barry’s presidency that was a failure (pretty much everything).
Mailman

Dr Singer makes a common error in suggesting that the “waste heat” from local power generators could be used outside of the plant.
While technically feasible, doing so necessarily reduces the cycle efficiency of the generating plant at it “sees” a hotter cold sink in such circumstances.

sailboarder

“My bottom line here is to fight the good (CAGW) fight with technological advances as well as with sound science.”
OK, lets start with you showing ANY empirical evidence of CAGW. Only then would I accept your suggestion.

Chuck L

As President John F. Kennedy testified at a Senate hearing in 1961, after the Soviet Union successfully sent Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin to orbit the Earth , “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” Governor Romney should declare here and now that if he is elected, before this decade is out, the United States will be energy independent. The number of jobs and energy/technology breakthoughs that will be created through this declaration and breadth of its execution will help catapult the United States back to being the shining light and world leader that it once was.

There are MANY reasons to hope for a change. I have talked to many adults who are disenchanted [ hate ] Mr Obamas’ appointees and their actions – [ Lisa Jackson – Chu – Holder – Kathleen Sebelius, etc ]. The things about energy will help but I think Mr Romney should also target these people and their bureaucracies UNDER Mr Obama.
In a recent post at WUWT their was some kid [? Personally, I don’t believe it was a kid ] in despair over CAGW climate claims….
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/29/a-student-in-despair-over-romms-11f-by-2050-article-if-this-comment-was-reversed-it-would-be-called-a-death-threat/
Well…I’m in despair, as well. Only my fear is based on tangible realities of the last few years of governance…. under the present administration.

navytech

What would be the direct annual $ value to the Federal Government from leases, warrants, and taxes of FF resources under Federal lands and off shore? Let alone from the general lift in overall economic activity?
Canada, Russia, Brazil, Argentina -seemingly everybody but us is drilling for all they’re worth. As it is now with our current federal policy, any new supply of FF will need to be imported.

Alan Clark of Dirty Oil-berta

Dr. Singer could not be more correct! Labour costs in Asia are not the problem that effects our competitiveness. Asia (China in particular) subsidizes energy. The result is that steel and plastic are cheaper because the major cost of producing both is the energy required in their manufacture. The advent of horizontal drilling and multi-stage fraccing has returned North America’s historical advantage that precipitated our initial industrial prowess – cheap, plentiful energy. If you have a plastics manufacturing facility that uses 200,000 boe/day as raw material, your cost of labour (even unionized) is a fraction of your raw material cost. Here in North America we now have the capability to keep the price of natural gas below $3.00 for a generation or longer! With such surety, plastics manufacturers, agricultural products, steel mills, heavy industries of many varieties would again find N. America to be the preeminent location for millions of good paying jobs. Let’s get it on!

Bruce Cobb

Very true. Give people a reason to vote for you, not just reasons to vote against Obama. Stay away from emotion-laden terms like “hoax”, though, which would give Obama the chance to say something like “My oponent, despite the overwhelming majority of whom say otherwise, thinks that climate change is a hoax”. Call it bad science, unsupported by the facts.

J. Felton

Excellent editorial, Professor Singer. Let’s hope Romney reads it!

Jud

I don’t see this happening.
Ambitious politicians inhabit a bubble where utterings like this are akin to treason.
Things need to get a lot worse – as they likely will with another 4 years of the current administration – before a credible alternative will emerge.
My bet is we will see policy proposals like this being openly proposed in 2016 – but not in 2012.

Jeremy

Sadly it is the media and the powerful people who control the media which determines US Citizen’s thoughts and ultimately who will be the next President. Democracy only exists in name. Elections are simply bought with money and graft. Unless the collective population suddenly wakes up from “dreamville” there is no way that the rational sensible approach proposed by Dr Singer will ever fly. The Fossil fuel industry have been painted as evil for such a long time that Romney would be attacked as an industry puppet if he took such an agenda to the public.
The only way for Romney to win is to raise more money and make more promises to those in power than Obama does.
Sadly, it wasn’t ever going to be an election decided upon platforms and policy. It never is.
Sadly, it is all and only about Money.

Ed_B says:
“OK, lets start with you showing ANY empirical evidence of CAGW. Only then would I accept your suggestion.”
You misunderstand what I was saying, and it is probably my fault. I accept that there is no sound scientific evidence for CAGW. What I meant to say and should have said was that we should develop and use technological advances as well as sound science to undermine CAGW alarmism. DCFCs consume coal for electricty generation far more efficiently than burning it, so we would get significantly more electrical power out of a ton of coal with DCFCs. They are worthwhile for that reason alone even if we don’t capture the CO2 from them (and I have no problem with not capturing it, although I think it would be wasteful not to do so if we can use the CO2 for synthetic liquid transportation fuel production).

David L.

One interesting thing that I’ve observed about gasoline prices is that most of my liberal friends that overpaid for their hybrid cars a few years ago are actually praying for higher gasoline prices. It was the fear of high gasoline prices that lured them into selling their perfectly good cars for pennies on the dollar to buy expensive hybrids. They did the calculations and convinced themselves it was a sound finanial decision. Well, it turs out that it’s only a sound decision if gas prices are way over $5 a gallon. So to prove to themselves that they had made a good decision, they are cheering-on gasoline price hikes! They say to me “They higher it goes, the more I save”!

Doug Proctor

Hi, Fred,
With respect to natural gas: the “abundant, cheap” gas from shale gas needs to be checked closely. See Arthur Berman, Dorothy Rogers and others.
There is a mass of technical detail about well performance that tells you that the “resource” potential (a bogus fraud of a term, in that it makes you think you have more than a dream) of shale gas is 1/5 of what is claimed. This is very significant as future energy availability in the President’s mind is propped up by false ideas of where energy is coming from in the future. Beyond that is the actual costs: the drilling, completion, infrastructure and facilities costs push shale gas PRICES into the next level.
Forget the operating costs, forget the “total reserve potential” numbers. Look to the amount of gas to be retrieved in under 10 years. That is where the benefit lies. And that is where the costs plus profit are retrieved. This is what will be used to say how much the American consumer (or the Euro-Brit) will be paying.
Last year the USGS quietly dropped Barnett shale recoverable reserves by 70%. Shale gas plays are like any other play: a core exists which pays for the facilities etc. that the outer portions use, while the fringe areas increase total production numbers but are cost centers, not profit centers. The fringe areas make companies look good only because the loss is covered up by the profits elsewhere, and the total costs are rolled into the price consumers pay. If the consumers wanted only the lower cost “cheap” gas, the producers would have to shut in a lot of their field.
This is a new problem in the world. “Resource” plays are now what companies boast about, saying that technology and prices will make the non-economic portions economic in the future. Two troubles: first, nuclear weapons won’t release a great deal because the rock mechanics forbid it, even thought there is gas trapped inside, and second, the PRICES that justify it would horrify the consumer if he understood what the future will bring.
The Austin Chalk play was the first I remember. Coalbed methane was the first one I spent a lot of time on (: my company claimed a 56% recovery factor when, in fact, the recovery factor was (on their lands) < 3%. They could be forgiven, though, as the government geo survey said 26%. In the established US fields, the central portions are in the 3-9% range). The tar sands are similar in that the non-produced oil that is there is deeper, in more difficult terrain, and of lower quality. Which is why the focus is where it is! Easier, cheaper, better. Shale gas is just the latest.
Shale gas: not a national game changer, not an energy savior, not cheap. While oil and gas in the ground may be astonishingly large, oil and gas in the pipeline is going to be much less.
That which sounds to good to be true, once again is.

pokerguy

Leo Morgan wrote:The word “Hoax” is electoral suicide. Like “Denier”, it’s an insult that creates sympathy for the insulted.
The average onlooker can judge our debating even if they can’t judge the science. They recognise that however wrong-headed the alarmists may be, they are genergally sincere in their claims.
The average “I suppose it must be right” person can be won to our point of view by the facts- but if we call them “Hoaxers” they will see that we’re wrong about the only thing they know for certain, their own motives.
The accusation “Denier” has cost the alarmists the high moral ground for a decade now. That fact has swayed the opinion of more of the public than anything else has. Lets not join them in the raxe to the bottom.”
This is exactly right in my opinion. We must resist the all too human urge to climb down into the mud. I hold us skeptics, especially leaders like Anthony Watts, to a higher standard. Name calling, taunting, inflammatory rhetoric concerning Leftist plots to take over the world which I see much too much of, are to be avoided. That was so well said Leo…”The average onlooker can judge our debating even if they can’t judge the science.” In fact, that’s partly what changed me from a believer to a full on skeptic several years ago.

Here is another way to save a lot of fossil fuel.

Brian H

The only explanation for this irrational behavior: The Obama administration, from top to bottom, seems possessed by pathological fear of catastrophic global warming and obsessed with the idea that no matter what happens to the economy or jobs, it must stop the emission of CO2.

Not so. The “fear of catastrophic global warming” is just cover for rampant statism, a one-size-fits-all justification for suppression of production and productivity and centralization of power.
If Romney promises: 1) cheaper energy (fuel and electricity); 2) surging economic growth; and 3) decentralization and devolution of federal power — he will be a shoo-in. Mentioning the deep-sixing of the likes of Holder, Geithner, Napolitano, Holdren, and Chu wouldn’t hurt, either.

Ed_B says:
“OK, lets start with you showing ANY empirical evidence of CAGW. Only then would I accept your suggestion.”
Continuing… What I am saying here Ed is that we should use techno advances to eliminate what the climate alarmists perceive to be a problem (or pretend to) without caving in to their demands that we shut down our coal plants. Would it not be far more preferable to incorporate DCFCs into our coal plants to make them consume coal in a cleaner and more efficient manner rather than shutting them down? The alarmists might point to the incorporation of DCFCs with carbon capture as proof that they were right all along, but using the captured CO2 for synthetic liquid transportation fuel production to reduce our oil import dependence would (I believe) counter that argument.
There is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. DCFCs show the anti-fossil fuel alarmists the right way.

paddylol

Now is the time to make Romney commit to a rational, long range energy policy based primarily upon hydrocarbon sources
While doing so he must permanently and publicly shed himself of John Holdren, Gina McCarthy, Douglas Foy and their ilk. Holdren and McCarthy are currently advisors of Obama. Foy was Romney’s man that represented Massachusetts on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative directorate. Foy is also a principal author of the Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan. The three of them are uber-radical climate alarmists and true believers.
When Romney cleanses himself of his past energy sins, I will begin to fully trust him.

Brian H

CD (@CD153) says:
May 30, 2012 at 9:30 am
Rather than forcing coal-generated electricity out of existence, the Direct Carbon Fuel Cell (DCFC) promises dramatic improvements for making electricity generated from coal and natural gas more environmentally friendly: http://www.llnl.gov/str/June01/Cooper.html.

Interesting — but the article is dated June 2001!! What’s taken 11 years to move it forward? Livermore hasn’t made a peep about this recently that I’ve heard.

Re: US energy independence.
This goal is not in the US’ national interest.
Another world war with imported oil cutoff will require the US to produce domestic oil. It is foolish to waste that oil now when others are willing to sell it to us. Every President since Truman has known this, even Obama.
See the second half of:
http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/speech-on-peak-oil-and-us-energy-policy.html

Bernd Felsche:
At May 30, 2012 at 9:43 am you say

Dr Singer makes a common error in suggesting that the “waste heat” from local power generators could be used outside of the plant.
While technically feasible, doing so necessarily reduces the cycle efficiency of the generating plant at it “sees” a hotter cold sink in such circumstances.

Sorry, but you are wrong.
Waste heat can be efficiently used in many ways and has been for more than a century.
1.
In most cases the cycle efficiency is not affected because the waste heat utilisation is ‘seen’ by the generating plant as being part of the cooling of heat exchange fluid.
2.
In other cases the loss of generating efficiency is more than overcome by the energy saving provided by use of the waste heat.
I don’t like citing wicki, but in this case it does provide a useful overview; see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogeneration
Conventional large scale cogeneration systems would be difficult to apply in the US for cultural reasons, but – as Fred Singer says – distributed generation with associated cogeneration would significantly reduce US energy usage.
And the American cultural opposition to large scale cogeneration would not be a problem for adoption of the very small systems for individual home use that are now available; see
http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Electrical-Electronics/combined-heat-power
It is not wise to challenge technical comments made by Fred. He really is a rocket scientist.
Richard

Brian H

CD (@CD153) says:
May 30, 2012 at 9:30 am
Rather than forcing coal-generated electricity out of existence, the Direct Carbon Fuel Cell (DCFC) promises dramatic improvements for making electricity generated from coal and natural gas more environmentally friendly: http://www.llnl.gov/str/June01/Cooper.html.

Interesting — but the article is dated June 2001!! What’s taken 11 years to move it forward? Livermore hasn’t made a peep about this recently that I’ve heard.
___
Further reading indicates that preparation of the carbon particulates, and keeping them from clumping up during processing, are unresolved issues. The net cost of capital plus pre-processing pushes net costs into the same ballpark as current generation systems. Hence no real incentive to invest in much R&D.

Gail Combs

CD (@CD153) says: @ May 30, 2012 at 9:30 am
Fine, if it is such a great idea get funding and build a proof of design plant, then come back to me with the numbers that show it is economically viable. Do not use political hysteria to get your invention funded.

Bruckner8

Romney’s already on record as believing in Man-made Global Warming. Prolly for the wrong reason (big biz), but he is nonetheless.

MarkW

CD (@CD153) says:
May 30, 2012 at 9:30 am
If it’s economically feasible, you won’t need to coerce anyone to use it.
If it isn’t economically feasible, then it is immoral to coerce anyone to use it.

Brian H:
At May 30, 2012 at 11:58 am you discuss the technical problems with DCFC technology.
But technical capability is a lesser problem than ‘novelty risk’ as an inhibition to commercial adoption of novel coal-fired power generation technologies.
There is an alphabet of such technologies which all have greater efficiency than conventional PF coal-fired power plants, produce cheaper electricity. and are very clean. CFBC, PFBC, ABGC, IGCC, and SCPF are the most significant. Only SCPF is likely to be adopted because novelty risk severely inhibits adoption of the others.
Circulating fluidised bed combustion (CFBC) was much used to upgrade dirty power plants in Eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall. This was the only affordable option for the upgrades so novelty risk was irrelevant: the plants needed immediate upgrade or they would be shut.
Pressurised fluidised bed combustion (PFBC) has been used as a commercial power plant in Cottbus, Germany, for decades but the method will not be commercially proven until that plant has operated commercially for at least 30 years. And then the ‘proof’ will have only been one example in one place.
The British Coal air blown gasification combined cycle (ABGC) is the most efficient of these new technologies. We tested all components of it at full scale and thus obtained data for a computer model of a full scale plant. However, the closure of British Coal prevented construction of a demonstration plant at full scale. The computer model indicates an ABGC power station would use 20% less fuel than conventional PF to generate each unit of electricity. Also, ABGC plants gain no benefits from size so small ABGC plants (e.g. 300 MWe) could be used for distributed generation of the kind Fred Singer suggests.
IGCC uses an oxygen-fed gasifier to gasify the coal then burns the resulting gas in a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant. The use of oxygen (not air) to gasify the coal means the resulting flue gases do not need processing and/or separation before capture for carbon capture and storage (CCS) if that is needed.
But supercritical pulverised fuel (SCPF) is the only one of these technologies likely to be adopted in the foreseeable future because of novelty risk. SCPF uses supercritical steam to increase the efficiency of conventional coal-fired pulverised (or powdered) fuel (PF) power generation.
An investor in a new power station obtains return on investment over the 30+ years of the plant’s life. There is little return over the first ~15 years because the capital is being recovered, but there are good returns after that. Indeed, this is one of the main reasons for building gas-fired CCGT despite the volatility of gas prices: return is relatively high in the short-term because the capital cost of a CCGT plant is low relative to that of a nuclear or a coal-fired PF plant.
The investor needs certainty that the plant will provide the good return after the plant has recovered its capital cost. A coal-fired plant has risk that future environmental constraints (e.g. such as the proposed Hg emission constraints in the US) may close it before it obtains good return on the investment.
Importantly, a novel generating technology has very high risk that the novel plant may fail before the end of its expected life. A provider of the capital ‘insures’ against this novelty risk by placing a high interest rate on the loan. And this high interest rate usually makes it unfeasible to use a novel generating technology for a commercial power station.
Coal-fired PF technology has been used for more than a century. Hundreds of PF plants have operated commercially for their complete operational lives in many places. So, they provide no novelty risk. SCPF is a development of PF. It is perceived as having very little novelty risk because it could be downgraded to conventional PF if an unforeseeable problem arose.
In summation, there is no need for additional novel technologies for coal fired power generation because several such technologies exist but their novelty risk means that only SCPF is likely to be adopted.
Richard

Follow the Money

“Romney should spell out now a coherent policy of low-cost and secure energy ”
How is it that lower-cost anything produced is a “conservative” goal in American politics? Republicans believe in magical markets, not government working for the people’s general interest.
And Romney? Mr. Cap and Trade himself? He’s there to make his buddies and factions richer, just as Obama and Dems. Two corporatist parties, both parties for the rich.

David G

This editorial is wrong about so many things it’s an embarrassment. Romney has zero chance of`winning this election, Obama and Congress bought it long ago and besides that the guy has no core principles and no one likes him. Obama has been a failure as president but the Republicans have failed to find a good candidate. The fact that he mouths the global warming nonsense shows how out of touch he is even among his Republican peers.. My own idea for a major energy fix would be to convert the entire American fleet of vehicles to diesel from gasoline over a 10 year time frame. The savings and innovations that would come from this would be enormous. Gasoline refining is a dirty and dangerous job and this would make it unnecessary. The savings in rubber and plastic parts would also be huge as diesel fuel is far friendlier to them than gas as well. With a major effort to push for cleaner diesel and liquified coal solutions we could be assured of plenty of energy for the next 300 years and maybe many more beyond that. And we’d be creating a lot of good jobs also. Where’s the courage for an obvious move like this that no one has suggested but me?

Curiousgeorge

Since this is patently political, I’ll be obvious and point out that there are many more ( and larger) issues in play than just energy ( translate that to electricity and transport fuels ), and/or climate. I won’t list them, since they’re on the nightly news every nite since 2008 at least.
Let’s cut thru all the crap.
First; we’ve got 2 choices for political leadership. Nobody at this point in time is going to change their mind. Nobody. Romney is an unknown quality, Obama is a narcissistic idiot. Pick one.
Second; there will be a series of small wars continuously for the foreseeable future, which one or the other (above) will have to deal with.
Thirdly; the economy is not going to get better – deal with it.
Fourthly; Rinse and repeat.
Anthony, will all do respect I have some itches I’d like scratched, as below.
I will point out that this blog (and others) tends to get down in the weeds far too much and too deeply on climate stuff. Too be brutally frank, climate ( and closely related topics ) is getting really boring. The same people, redux the same tired rhetoric over and over. Variety is the spice of life.
The header would leave one to believe that a wider variety of issues would receive equal time.
I think that you have gotten into a comfortable rut that you ought to break out of.
I hope you take this in the spirit of constructive criticism, as it is intended.
However since this is your blog, you can do whatever you want, I’ll still post and visit.

clipe

Roger Sowell says:
May 30, 2012 at 11:42 am
Re: US energy independence.
“This goal is not in the US’ national interest.
Another world war with imported oil cutoff will require the US to produce domestic oil. It is foolish to waste that oil now when others are willing to sell it to us.”
The idea is not to shun imports, but that when push comes to shove, you don’t have to rely on them.
Americans are going to continue to buy energy from Canada. AKA cross-border shopping.

@clipe: May 30, at 1:56 pm
We have maintained domestic production at around 6 million barrels per day so that we can easily and quickly ramp up production if the need arises. I make this point in my Peak Oil speech.
Canada is a good neighbor and supplier of oil.
That can change, as history has shown repeatedly.

rogerknights

Here’s something that was posted on Tips & Notes:

Brian H says:
May 26, 2012 at 8:02 am
Zero-water, zero-chemical frac process:
http://www.gasfrac.com/
Greatly reduces costs, improves yields, eliminates environmental objections.

rogerknights

If Romney wants to win, he needs to get out of his rut and do something visionary–and put Obama on the defensive.

Rhoda R

Getting into a shooting war is a he$$ of a time to start trying to develop your energy sources.

tonyb

From this side of the pond I am astonished and disappointed that the US has a choice of electing one of two lightweights. Leaders of the Western World-only in name.
tonyb