Draining the Swamp: Office of Science and Technology Policy Edition

Guest swamp analysis by David Middleton

By JACQUELINE ALEMANY CBS NEWS November 21, 2017, 5:00 AM

Donald Trump’s science office is a ghost town

In its 41-year-old history as the White House hub of innovation, the Office of Science and Technology Policy has never gone this long without a leader or official mandate. The science office, which takes up half of the fourth floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, has a fleet of empty desks.

The OSTP, as administration staffers refer to it, has hosted two events since President Trump took office: One on drones and another on “American Leadership in Emerging Technology” that prominently featured the high powered tech executives in attendance like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

But nine months into his administration, there’s no clear indication that the president is close to naming a science adviser who will inform his policymaking, though that’s the mission that the OSTP has played since its founding in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. From climate change to space to education, the office has served as an in-house incubator for research, data, and crisis management that drove policy under seven presidents.

[…]

Under Mr. Trump, the OSTP staff has dropped to 45 staffers, a substantial decline from President Obama’s OSTP, which had a staff of 135 people.

[…]

“It was clear that [Obama] understood how and why science and technology matter to virtually every facet of the national agenda and that he would understand and run with good ideas presented to him,” said Dr. John Holdren, the former OSTP Director and senior science adviser to Mr. Obama. “Trump is a science and technology talent repellent.”

[…]

“In previous administrations, OSTP was central to disaster mitigation efforts, including hurricanes — but when Hurricane Irma, Harvey and Maria struck the U.S., OSTP lacked key leaders,” the letter [from seven Democratic senators] read . “Scientific and technical input would also have contributed to decisions around climate change, the Iran nuclear deal and North Korea’s nuclear program — areas where key decisions have been made over the past nine months in absence of a science adviser and other officials.”

[…]

“The first and only contact that OSTP leadership had with any member of the Trump team about the transition at OSTP did not take place until a week before the inauguration, was with an individual with no particular background in science, technology, or science and technology policy, and lasted exactly one hour,” Holdren told CBS News. “We handed over our 100+ chapter transition book and never heard a peep back. I have no idea whether anybody read it.”

[…]

The federal budget process, too, is feeling the effects of the OSTP staffing shortage.

Historically, OSTP participates in the budget-writing process with the Office of Management and Budget, to recommend research and development priorities for federal agencies. But the 2018 budget — which saw a 20 percent decrease in research and development funding — was crafted without input from OSTP’s Assistant Director of Federal Research and Development. That role has gone unfilled in the Trump White House.

The research cuts were, in the words of one Obama administration OSTP staffer, “unprecedented and dramatic” reductions that would have otherwise funded the NIH, the Department of Energy and NASA.

[…]

CBS News

Reasons given for maintaining the Office of Science and Technology Policy:

  1. Climate change
  2. Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria
  3. Clean energy
  4. Climate change
  5. Iran nuclear deal
  6. Climate change
  7. North Korea nuclear program
  8. Climate change
  9. Artificial intelligence
  10. Climate change

Where’s that Tim Allen clip?  Oh, here it is…

Aeuhhh????

“Scientific and technical input would also have contributed to decisions around climate change, the Iran nuclear deal and North Korea’s nuclear program — areas where key decisions have been made over the past nine months in absence of a science adviser and other officials.”

IF OSTP’s scientific and technical input contributed to the Obama maladministration’s decisions regarding climate change, the Iran nuclear deal and North Korea’s nuclear program, as a part-time resident of Houston, I am thrilled that it was not “central to disaster mitigation efforts, including hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria.”  Houston was back up and open for business a week after Harvey… without any help from OSTP.

Based on the above, I’m A-OK with tackling North Korea and future hurricanes without any input from OSTP.

OSTP 2009-2016 RIP

“It was clear that [Obama] understood how and why science and technology matter to virtually every facet of the national agenda and that he would understand and run with good ideas presented to him. Trump is a science and technology talent repellent.”

“The first and only contact that OSTP leadership had with any member of the Trump team about the transition at OSTP did not take place until a week before the inauguration, was with an individual with no particular background in science, technology, or science and technology policy, and lasted exactly one hour.  We handed over our 100+ chapter transition book and never heard a peep back. I have no idea whether anybody read it.”

–Dr. John P. Holdren, former OSTP Director and senior science adviser to Pres. Obama

Dr. Holdren, we can only hope that the Trump transition team took your 100+ chapter transition book and promptly sent it here:

If the OSTP is an unnecessary element of the swamp, Dr. Holdren is the poster child for unnecessary bureaucrats masquerading as scientists.

Likely Obama Appointee Includes Climate Change Alarmist John Holdren

Christopher C. Horner • December 18, 2008

On the heels of creating a new position for the scandal-plagued and therefore, presumably, unconfirmable Carol Browner to lord over Senate-confirmed cabinet officials in pursuit of the global-warming agenda, the former employer of leading global warming alarmist Dr. John Holdren reports that he “appears to be President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for science adviser.”

[…]

Although touted as a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, Holdren was admitted through a back door called the “temporary nominating group”, a process which appears designed and has certainly been exercised to gain entry for large numbers of environmental alarmists who, it is fair to presume from this exception, would not gain election through the normal channel.

Also typically styled as a professor at Harvard, Holdren is primarily employed by the Woods Hole Research Center (an environmental advocacy group, not to be confused with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution which is a research organization…

[…]

The vocal Holdren predicted in the mid-1980s that climate-related catastrophes might kill as many as one billion people before the year 2020 but now brushes off inquiries about such failed catastrophism while continuing to sound a similar alarm. He is a longtime collaborator with none other than failed prognosticator of doom Paul Ehrlich, with whom he collaborated to hold a “Cassandra Conference” in 1988 (Cassandra is the lass from Greek mythology whose prophecies were always true and always ignored).

[…]

CEI

Oh! But CEI is biased!!!  Okay, how about this?

Flawed Science Advice for Obama?

December 19, 2008 4:15 pm

Does being spectacularly wrong about a major issue in your field of expertise hurt your chances of becoming the presidential science advisor? Apparently not, judging by reports from DotEarth and ScienceInsider that Barack Obama will name John P. Holdren as his science advisor on Saturday. [UPDATE: Mr. Obama did indeed pick Dr. Holdren.]

Dr. Holdren, now a physicist at Harvard, was one of the experts in natural resources whom Paul Ehrlich enlisted in his famous bet against the economist Julian Simon during the “energy crisis” of the 1980s. Dr. Simon, who disagreed with environmentalists’ predictions of a new “age of scarcity” of natural resources, offered to bet that any natural resource would be cheaper at any date in the future. Dr. Ehrlich accepted the challenge and asked Dr. Holdren, then the co-director of the graduate program in energy and
resources at the University of California, Berkeley, and another Berkeley professor, John Harte, for help in choosing which resources would become scarce.

In 1980 Dr. Holdren helped select five metals — chrome, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten — and joined Dr. Ehrlich and Dr. Harte in betting $1,000 that those metals would be more expensive ten years later. They turned out to be wrong on all five metals, and had to pay up when the bet came due in 1990.

Now, you could argue that anyone’s entitled to a mistake, and that mistakes can be valuable if people learn to become open to ideas that conflict with their preconceptions and ideology. That could be a useful skill in an advisor who’s supposed to be presenting the president with a wide range of views. Someone who’d seen how wrong environmentalists had been in ridiculing Dr. Simon’s predictions could, in theory, become more open to dissent from today’s environmentalist orthodoxy. But I haven’t seen much evidence of such open-mindedness in Dr. Holdren.

Consider what happened when a successor to Dr. Simon, Bjorn Lomborg, published “The Skeptical Environmentalist” in 2001. Dr. Holdren joined in an an extraordinary attack on the book in Scientific American — an attack that I thought did far more harm to the magazine’s reputation than to Dr. Lomborg’s. The Economistcalled the critique “strong on contempt and sneering, but weak on substance”; Dr. Lomborg’s defenders said the critics made more mistakes in 11 pages than they were able to find in his 540-page book. (You can read Dr. Lomborg’s rebuttal here.)

[…]

New York Times

Prior to becoming Pres. Obama’s science adviser Holdren’s claim-to-fame was as Paul Ehrlich’s science adviser in his wager with Julian Simon.  Ehrlich lost… badly.

Holdren and OSTP on Swine Flu

Holdren wasted no time in topping the failed science advice provided to Ehrlich…

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Dire Swine Flu Warnings from White House

Written by Alex Newman

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued a dire warning Monday about the spread of the swine flu virus later this year, titled “On US Preparations for 2009-H1N1 Influenza.” It claimed that a “plausible scenario” would be “infection of 30–50 percent of the U.S. population this fall and winter, with symptoms in approximately 20–40 percent of the population (60–120 million people), more than half of whom would seek medical attention.”

While acknowledging that the true impact is impossible to predict, the report said the H1N1 virus could result in up to 1.8 million hospital admissions with as many as 300,000 requiring hospitalization in intensive care units. This would place “enormous stress” on intensive care units, with between 50 to 100 percent of beds occupied.

On an even more ominous note, the report warned of the possibility of between 30,000 and 90,000 deaths attributable to the virus — mostly among children and young adults. But to put that in perspective, the regular seasonal flu is usually responsible for between 30,000 to 40,000 deaths per year.

[…]

The New American

The CDC quickly refuted Holdren’s alarmist nonsense…

Agency Urges Caution on Estimates of Swine Flu

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. AUG. 25, 2009

ATLANTA — Up to 90,000 deaths from swine flu in the United States, mostly among children and young people?

[…]

[O]fficials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency with the most expertise on influenza pandemics, suggested that the projections should be regarded with caution.

“We don’t necessarily see this as a likely scenario,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

A press officer for the disease centers, speaking carefully to avoid a feud with the White House press office, said, “Look, if the virus keeps behaving the way it is now, I don’t think anyone here expects anything like 90,000 deaths.”

[…]

New York Times

The Obama maladministration, while pushing the Obamacare agenda through Congress, chose to take Holdren’s advice rather than the CDC’s and declared a swine flu national emergency.

The 2009-2010 flu season led to a bit less than 1.8 million hospitalizations and 90,000 deaths:

Cases Defined by
Hospitalizations
Deaths
Influenza Laboratory-Tests** 41,821 2,117

CDC

But the faux crisis did help Pres. Obama barely nudge Obamacare through a Congress with near-super majorities of Democrats in both houses.

John P. Holdren: A Malthusian’s Malthusian

One has to wonder what Dr. Holdren’s CV might contain…

Holdren for Halloween (Obama’s eight-year science advisor about to go knocking on doors)

By Robert Bradley Jr. — October 31, 2016

 “Some form of ecocatastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the [twentieth] century.”

– John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich[1]

Doom and gloom—and subsequent real-world falsification—hallmark the long career of John P. Holdren, neo-Malthusian and President Obama’s beginning-to-end science advisor.

Halloween Holdren has been quiet about the outlandish in recent years because he does not want to embarrass his boss. But his many statements, beginning in the early 1970s, never disowned, remain for the record.

Today is a good time to refresh our memories of the man who just might be the scariest presidential advisor in U.S. history!

Read—but don’t be frightened. The sky-is-falling gloom of Holdren, his mentor Paul Ehrlich, and others is in intellectual and empirical trouble. From Julian Simon to Bjorn Lomborg to Indur Goklany to Matt Ridley to Marlo Lewis to Alex Epstein, the technological optimists have the upper hand in a debate that continues to rage.

After all, who could have predicted the mineral-resource boom with energy that has the other side now saying ‘leave it in the ground’? Who could have predicted how little global warming has occurred since the late 1990s (and wait until 2017 before declaring ‘the pause‘ over). And the incredible story of declining air pollution with increasing fossil-fuel usage continues.

And, despite the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident, the increasing safety of the oil industry?

Increasing supply. Decreasing pollution. Global lukewarming. Increasing safety. Decreasing ‘energy insecurity’…. Halloween not with fossil fuels!

Billion Deaths Possible!

“As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.”[2]

[…]

Economic Decline Coming!

[…]

Economic Decline Required!

[…]

Optimist Not!

[…]

Occupy Wall Street!

[…]

Do I Have to Prove It?

[…]

Just Kidding!?

“We have been warned by our more cautious colleagues that those who discuss threats of sociological and ecological disaster run the risk of being ‘discredited’ if those threats fail to materialize on schedule.”[9]

 

In-depth Holdren analysis can be found in these posts:

John Holdren on Global Cooling (Part I in a Series on Obama’s new science advisor, ‘Dr. Doom’) (December 30, 2008)

John Holdren on Global Warming (Part II in a series on Obama’s new science advisor) (December 31, 2010)

John Holdren on Mineral/Energy Depletion (Part III in a series on Obama’s new science advisor) (January 2, 2009)

John Holdren and Anti-Growth Malthusianism (Part IV in a series on Obama’s new science advisor) (January 5, 2009)

John Holdren on Renewable Energy Problems (Part V in a series on Obama’s New Science Advisor) (January 10, 2009)

John Holdren Describes Energy as “Indispensable,” “Reliable,” “Affordable” (Part VI in a series on Obama’s new science advisor)(January 14, 2009)

John Holdren and “The Argument from Authority” (Part VII in a Series on Obama’s New Science Advisor) (January 22, 2009)

John Holdren in Retrospect (Part VIII on Obama’s New Science Advisor) (February 2, 2009)

Also see:

John Holdren Told ‘Not to Make News’ at Confirmation Hearing(February 12, 2010)

Halloween Hangover: Ehrlich, Holdren, Hansen Unretracted(November 1, 2010)

[…]

Master Resource

I suppose, Dr. Holdren’s CV could be summed up as:

Wrong about everything… But, hey! At least I’m consistent!

Office of Science and Technology Policy 1976-2016: Good Riddance!

While the OSTP may not be dead, it clearly appears that President Trump has wisely chosen to allow it to wither on the vine and there is at least some visible evidence of drainage in one small corner of the swamp… Do swamps have corners?

 

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108 thoughts on “Draining the Swamp: Office of Science and Technology Policy Edition

      • The National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana closed and shipped off their library. This included many reports, including my own, that are probably mostly not available on line. Lafayette is part of the Cajun center of the universe, and a Cajun scientist just told me this was not well received, apparently a bureaucratic decision from the swamp. Watch your pencils.

    • It’s more a case of a dormant virus waiting to spring back into full blown policy infection and ill effects on its host economy and investment risk appetite.

  1. “substantial decline from President Obama’s OSTP, which had a staff of 135” ….. activists?

    • Exactly.

      Holdren taught at Harvard for 13 years and at the University of California, Berkeley for more than two decades.[1] His work has focused on the causes and consequences of global environmental change, population control, energy technologies and policies, ways to reduce the dangers from nuclear weapons and materials, and science and technology policy.[1][8] He has also taken measures to contextualize the United State’s current energy challenge, noting the role that nuclear energy could play

      Holdren has never had a job in the real world. The last real science he did was his dissertation, since then he has been an activist and politician. During his time leading the OSTP, there has been no movement on developing nuclear power. It’s time for new leadership, one that will funnel money into getting GenIV reactors built in this nation and defund the climastrology gravy train.

      • Can someone enumerate the accomplishments of this group except to attend conferences and waste taxpayers money, pushing failed alternative energy projects funded by taxpayer dollars including failed concepts like CCS in Chicago ended by Bush but reactivated by Obama probably to reward one of his bundelers. Similarly for the DOE which has spent or given away billions over the years, can anyone tell me what new commercial energy source we enjoy from this expenditure. Meanwhile the private sector has made us very close to energy independent with fracking oil and gas and the Obama Administration did every thing legal and illegal to try to stop this accomplishment.
        Do these government Agencies contribute anything?

    • “So exactly where were all of those “investigative reporters” who claim to expose the incompetence and corruption in govt?”

      They have fallen victim to one of the more virulent “diseases” that appear to have proliferated and become pandemic:

      dog·ma·tist (dôg′mə-tĭst, dŏg′-)
      n.
      1. An arrogantly assertive person.
      2. One who expresses or sets forth dogma

      • ThomasJK. As well as a liberal education in Marxist Sociology, Psychology, Environmental Science, well, in all of the social sciences, and many watered- down physical sciences. As a result we have some Universities that would be better off closed and most others that should be reorganized based on the US Constitution and the role of Capitalism and competition in the rise of prosperity.
        Instead of being a 4th Estate responsible for keeping the government honest, they have become a part of the Democrat Party and the tool of leftists and big socialist government.

  2. “He is a longtime collaborator with none other than failed prognosticator of doom Paul Ehrlich, with whom he collaborated to hold a “Cassandra Conference” in 1988 (Cassandra is the lass from Greek mythology whose prophecies were always true and always ignored).”

    This makes me think that the current crop of environmentalist activist “scientists” are the anti-Cassandras. Their prophecies never turn out to be true, but they are fated always to be believed.

  3. While I am vindictive enough to wish for Trump to appoint a science advisor who is the mirror image of Holdren, just apparently ignoring the position is a vast improvement.

    • Tom Halla

      It begs the question, how many other departments could successfully be ignored?

      Especially in the UK.

  4. When you read something such as “As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.” you have to remember that is what Holdren wants to happen.

    • Well he has devoted his entire career to harping about the disaster of human propagation on this planet, he might look stupid if the exact opposite happens, and to a quack like Holdren it is worse to look stupid than to witness a global famine.

      • I have come to understand that babies always win.
        Over ten thousand years of recorded human history, and the assumption is likely correct for the prerecorded version as well, the population has continually increased and, coincidently, the living conditions as well.
        Consider the efforts such as bayoneting the babies of enemies, slavery of the vanquished, the Chinese one baby rule, the full on total abortion assault, and any myriad of imaginable and unimaginable atrocities/catastrophies both man-made and natural to restrain the population.
        All to no, or limited, effect.
        ,Those little guys just keep on keeping on.

    • The other side of the swamp…

      BOARD OF DIRECTORS/ FACULTY
      John P. Holdren

      Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy
      Co-Director, Science, Technology and Public Policy Program
      Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
      President Obama’s Science Advisor and Director of the White Office of Science and Technology Policy (January 2009 – January 2017)

      Expertise: Environment & Climate Change Climate change policy Energy Innovation policy Science & Technology Policy Nuclear Issues

      Biography

      John P. Holdren is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government; Co-Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy in the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; and Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. He is also Senior Advisor to the Director at the independent, nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center.

      https://www.belfercenter.org/person/john-p-holdren

      …academia.

      • “…John P. Holdren is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government…”

        Teresa Heinz being the widow of H. John Heinz III and current wife of John Kerry.

  5. How did the world survive before 1976, when the president of the United States did not have a science advisor? Very well, thank you. NASA was putting men on the moon and developing state of the art technology, pushing the frontiers of science. The motivation of NASA was science and exploration, for the sack of science and exploration. Unlike today, politics and NASA were not referenced in the same story.

    Science and technology in most fields was advancing very quickly, for the betterment of mankind.

    The role of the science advisor to the president, inherently brings more politics into the scientific community, retarding the whole process of science. Initially, I was hoping Trump would appoint a science advisor more inline with my viewpoints, but I now believe that science and society might very well be better off if the office was just eliminated!

      • No “pretty” about it, ……. you are absolutely correct,

        When the US Department of Education, with its horrendous “yearly budget”, began giving out “million$ of FREE money” to every State and County School District in America, ……. all said School Districts became DEPENDENT on said “free money” …….. and thus subservient to whatever the US DoE wanted or instructed them to do.

        The US now has like three (3) generations, past and present, of Public School students that have been both misnurtured by their parent(s) and/or guardians ……. and severely miseducated by the Public Schools,

  6. What (if any) is the historical relationship between the Office of Technology Assessment and the Office of Science and Technology Policy?

    Is the latter the replacement of the former? The former was created to advise Congress on what the impacts of implications were for their technology choices, and how to optimise or at least make more efficient their use of public funds.

    I was given some explanation of the OTA’s functions by Cecil E Cook Jr who was involved in creating it, as I recall. He also got the National Center for Appropriate Technology off the ground (NCAT in Butte) and funded. They had complementary aims: reducing waste and making selections that were more sustainable as well as delivering a triple bottom line: a positive social, environment and economic impact.

    I know the OTA is dead, I am just wondering whether the OSTP is its doppleganger or its zombie.

  7. “areas where key decisions have been made over the past nine months in absence of a science adviser and other officials.” So the data on climate change — which is settled — and North Korea are nine months’ old? How much has changed in nine months?

  8. You could’ve made the same argument for the EPA. Leave it vacant. No Scott Pruitt at EPA was by far the better choice, than to let Obama’s minions run amok, unsupervised.

    So the better approach is to put the adults back in charge at OSTP and actively prune the vines back to nubs rather than let let go on their own without supervision. They might wither or they might do something behind your back, because after all, some (but not all probably) do slither and ooze slime an malodorous slime trail.

    What needs to happen is someone to get in at OSTP who will work with the NSF and DOE granting authorities to bring some balance back to grant study groups where the grant application scoring is done.

    • ‘I don’t want it to look like EPA used our own social media accounts to reach our support goal’ – EPA Director of Web Communications

      (Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch obtained 900-pages of documents from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which reveal the agency’s use of the mass-sharing Thunderclap social media platform to covertly promote its policies in violation of federal law.

    • If I understand, there’s a difference between the two: EPA makes policies and sues people, OSTP just gives advice which can be ignored. Thus, EPA needs adult supervision, while OSTP can wither on the vine.

  9. 67% (or so) drop in creatures inhabiting one corner of the DC swamp…. one can only dream the same would happen (Hmmm, or is happening) in other corners. And a typical tactic of a smart CEO. No need to fire anyone or eliminate a department altogether. Both, “costly” things to do be it in government or at a company. Much better (sometimes) to let natural attrition and/or monotony and/or reassignment do the work for you.

  10. Forget all the numbers and the stats, John Holdren was (is) a political hack and was in charge of official activist direction of politicized science. Get over it.

    • Are you suggesting all of Holdren’s absurd predictions should be ignored because they no longer matter?

      I suggest his absurd predictions should be repeated loudly in order to inform the public that they have been fed lies. Many believe the claim of a global warming threat just because of such lies. The true-believers may not be dissuaded but there are many people who occupy middle ground who consent to CO2 mitigation policies only because they haven’t heard the other side of the argument (i.e. – the facts).

      SR

  11. No need to staff this office. Energy policy is drill, frack, and build pipelines. Warming policy is withdraw from Paris, eliminate CPP, and revise endangerment finding. Done.

    • and dig coal too.
      also to coordinate the re-balancing of research grant funding towards atmospheric physics and away from climate sciences at the NSF and DOE granting authorities. NASA needs to get out of Earth climate modeling completely. NOAA’s climate modeling needs to be re-foused on policy relevant time frames of less than 30 years. The DOE’s NIF fusion needs to be wound down. DOE’s needs more money for nuclear weapons stockpile modernization, transportation security enhancements, and reliability modeling.

      An OSTP advisor can quarterback all this if he/she has the President’s backing.

    • Mr. Rudd Istvan – Spot on. Terse, to the point, and easily accomplished. Inexpensive, relatively easily-accessed Energy resources for all. Cut the rhetoric, the sci-fi like BS. Full speed ahead!

  12. We have fracking because the federal government continued research in this area in the early 80s, when the private sector had abandoned it.

    • Nonsense. We have fracking because the economics and technology development favor it. The extent to which it was not developed in the early 80’s might be better attributed to the crash in prices at the time. The industry will always “abandoned” a technology when the economics are against it. Not a lot of deepwater rigs being built right now, but that doesn’t mean the deepwater technology has been abandoned.

    • The private sector never abandoned fracking. It’s been a standard well completion technique since at least the 1940’s.

      The only role that government played was in experimenting with fracking shale. The DOE and Gas Research Institute demonstrated that gas could be released from shale through fracking in 1979.

      George Mitchell began fracking shale in North Texas (Barnett Shale) and East Texas (Bossier Shale) in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s. But it wasn’t until Mitchell Energy accidentally discovered the “slick water” process, which made fracking shale economically viable.

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorensteffy/2013/10/31/how-much-did-the-feds-really-help-with-fracking/#3a5778073edf

      https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/breakthrough-the-accidental-discovery-that-revolutionized-american-energy/281193/

    • That’s completely wrong. Modern resources plays are easily traced to the Barnett Shale play & the efforts of Mitchell Energy. Mitchell’s fogged persistence is what kicked it all off. Industry followed from there

      • dang auto-correct … “dogged” not “fogged”
        David – I think our posts crossed coming up … same point. Mitchell changed not only our industry domestically but because of the success , now is shaping the industry & oil price world wide.

      • Yep. Crediting the Federal government for fracking is as moronic as crediting Al Gore for Apple, Amazon and Facebook. George Mitchell’s people built on the previous work of industry, academia and government. But he was the one person who put it all together…

        In all the hoopla, Steward’s point has gotten lost. He is quick to acknowledge that fracking’s success came through the hard work of people at Mitchell Energy, building on the advances of others. Fracking technology has existed for more than a century, and the first commercial fracking job was done in 1947. His comment that “the DOE started it” refers to the Eastern Gas Shales Project, a research effort in the Appalachia Basin from 1979 that proved shale rock was rich in natural gas. The DOE-supported project tested the use of nitrogen foam to fracture shale formations, and its analysis led to a deeper understanding of natural shale fractures.

        George Mitchell’s team studied those results while developing the Barnett Shale near Fort Worth, the first modern fracking play. The company relied on research from the Sandia National Laboratory to use micro-seismic technology to map the shale fractures in wells, and Mitchell also benefited from federal tax credits for unconventional drilling, which helped underwrite the cost of developing hydraulic fracturing.

        Steward doesn’t deny any of these contributions, and in fact, he was trying to acknowledge them in his interview with the Breakthrough Institute. In hearing the president’s speech, though, he was annoyed that Obama seemed to give the government most of the credit, without mentioning Mitchell. It was, after all, Mitchell’s perseverance and funding that unleashed a new era of American energy and created the jobs Obama touted.

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorensteffy/2013/10/31/how-much-did-the-feds-really-help-with-fracking/#1999c8fc3edf

    • Chris, …….. GETTA CLUE, ………… “The technology known as hydraulic fracturing isn’t new, and has been around for 100 plus years.

      Tens of thousands of NG wells here in WV were “hydraulically fracked” during the 70s, 80s and 90s.

      And with the recent drilling into the Marcellus Shale formation in northern WV and PA ….. hydraulic fracking of NG wells has substantially increased.

      “DUH”, the WV DEP maintains records on over 55,000 active and 12,000 inactive oil & gas wells.
      Source: http://dep.wv.gov/oil-and-gas/Pages/default.aspx

      West Virginia Has Nearly 3,200 Completed Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Wells

      http://www.theintelligencer.net/news/top-headlines/2017/02/west-virginia-has-nearly-3200-natural-gas-wells/

  13. If I remember correctly !
    The Obama science advisers had a lot to do with making the Deepwater Horizon accident much worse !!!

  14. “Dr. Ehrlich accepted the challenge and asked Dr. Holdren, then the co-director of the graduate program in energy and resources at the University of California, Berkeley, and another Berkeley professor, John Harte, for help in choosing which resources would become scarce.”

    Holdren – Berkeley – BEST.

  15. Although the OSTP has been a dysfunctional agency, an effective means to communicate the positions of rational scientists on climate change to the public is still missing from the administration’s arsenal. The CAGW alarmists broadcast their message through a compliant media. I suggest redirecting the role of the OSTP from being an enabler of the goals of social activists to being a communication center to improve the scientific literacy of the public and to counter the false narratives of the mass media. A Science Advisor is still needed direct such an organization. I suggest William Happer at Princeton as a possible candidate.

  16. It is heartening to see Julian Simon given a bit of the credit that is his due. He has been forgotten too long…

  17. Why does the Federal Government need an Office of Science and Technology Policy?

    If there is a problem that science and technology can solve, and people are willing to buy the solution for more than the cost of producing it, some smart entrepreneur in the private sector will design it, build it, and sell it.

    The only thing that a government office of science and technology policy can do is regulate technologies that work, and subsidize technologies that would otherwise not be profitable.

    What was the net benefit to the American taxpayers of throwing half a billion bucks at Solyndra?

    OSTP, RIP.

    • The benefit of throwing money at Solyndra was to satisfy Nancy Pelosi and other Bay Area congressional power brokers who were being lobbied by Solyndra execs. Having the taxpayers take the hit is what they do for a living. And those execs got their bonuses while defaulting on loans.

      • Interesting the Bush Administration rejected the Solyndra request for subsidies because it was deemed too risky. Possibly Resourceguy explains how the government decided to change its mind. The number of failures are [breathtaking], are [there] any successes? I happened to have consulted on more than a few of those failures, including Rangefuels.

      • Solyndra had an unusually large workforce considering how noncompetitive and uninteresting it was to the investment community. So it went the low road with lobbying and sought low bar political due diligence instead of real due diligence in the investment community. It could not pass muster for a stock offering so they went for loans and grants from the hapless one-eyed fools at DOE. That’s the same DOE staff that was later instructed to ignore the program guidelines when Solyndra entered the financial toilet. More importantly, it exemplifies the methods of DOE and Obama for eight years spanning many questionable projects. Then they covered over their messes with spin messaging that counted the best of breed players to hide the political ploys with averages.

  18. Help me someone! The recent COP23 was in Bonn, correct? Watching some of their videos it says Fiji, what is that about? Fiji?

  19. …After all, who could have predicted the mineral-resource boom with energy that has the other side now saying ‘leave it in the ground’? Who could have predicted how little global warming has occurred since the late 1990s (and wait until 2017 before declaring ‘the pause‘ over). And the incredible story of declining air pollution with increasing fossil-fuel usage continues.

    And, despite the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident, the increasing safety of the oil industry?

    Increasing supply. Decreasing pollution. Global lukewarming. Increasing safety. Decreasing ‘energy insecurity’…….

    That is, of course, exactly what Julian Simon predicted – down to the last comma…

  20. “It was clear that [Obama] understood how and why science and technology matter to virtually every facet of the national agenda and that he would understand and run with good ideas presented to him,” said Dr. John Holdren

    It was clear to me that President Obama ‘ran’ with bad ideas that he didn’t fully understand. Consulting with Bill Nye did not help his understanding.

    Who was tasked with distinguishing the good from the bad ideas?

  21. I like the reference to space (“…. From climate change to space to education, the office has served as an in-house incubator for research, data, and crisis management that drove policy under seven presidents…”), as if Trump killed NASA or the shuttle program… or made Muslim outreach a priority of NASA.

  22. Not sure why we have an office of science and technology these days. There might have been times when this was a need for nation—recall that the UK provided prizes for solving problems (for example, how to measure longitude accurately), but having the government choose technologies and putting their thumb on the scale seems nothing as much as a big waste—and we’re funding (on average) less effective scientists, most of whom are constrained by federal regulations and red tape.

    These days private industry investments in science and technology swamp what the feds sop[end and what they achieve. Even the Genome project was competing with a privately-funded effort. Technology and science are seen as key to a the future, not relegated to fourth place in people’s minds.

    Shut it down. And I have a long list of agencies and departments that I feel do more harm than good to the nation, like the Department of Educations, which has only driven up the price of education while making the actual education worse.

  23. Can’t we make their pay (or pension) go up (or down I would think more often) in response to how well their predictions go?

  24. He’s not useless. Some people serve a purpose by being consistently wrong, you can see what they say, do and predict, and do the opposite.

    I’m like that with currency trading, I discovered ;)

  25. Trump is not a science talent repellent. I’d happily take the job, and I have the credentials and experience that demonstrates “talent”.

  26. As a climate scientist in training, I predict that the next catastrophe to strike due to climate change will be – less enjoyable orgasms. Join me in standing against #ClimaxChange

  27. “Dr. Holdren’s CV could be summed up as:

    Wrong about everything… But, hey! At least I’m consistent!”

    Exactly so. Thanks, David, for skewering this turkey so precisely. What a great fool. Exactly suited to Pres. Obama, sadly. The damage done….

  28. Reasons acceptable for maintaining the Office of Science and Technology Policy:-

    Nuclear power programme
    Nuclear Fusion Technology

    That should reduce the staff to about 12, over the weekend.

  29. There’s a difference between draining the swamp and eliminating the alligators. The scientific swamp facing President Trump persists even as he downsizes the OSTP.

    Dr. John Marburger, a Democrat, was the Director of OSTP during the two terms of the President George W. Bush administration. Dr. Marburger was an advocate for nuclear power and drew criticism from activists for his defense of the Bush administration’s stance on climate change, stem cells, and sex education. His tenure as Director was marked by his ability to advise the President on science without trace of political bias.

    With 9/11/2001 as a backdrop and only 6 days after the anthrax attack on the Hart Building, Dr. Marburger was confirmed by congress and appointed as Director of OSTP. I’m certain that the advice and coordination of the government agencies provided by OSTP during this period and through the 8 years of the Bush presidency was invaluable to deploying effective responses and ensuring our safety.

    The following video features Dr. Marburger speaking on the role and importance of the presidential science advisors. His speech is followed by an interview conducted by Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. The forum is a series of lectures on scientific policy at University of Colorado, Boulder that were organized by Dr. Pielke.

  30. Good news story of the day! I especially like this:
    Under Mr. Trump, the OSTP staff has dropped to 45 staffers, a substantial decline from President Obama’s OSTP, which had a staff of 135 people.

  31. As the CDC example illustrates most (if not all) parts of the government have their own scientists who are (or at least should be) experts in their area. NASA has scientists, NOAA has scientists, DOE has scientists, DOD has scientists. So why is there a need for the OSTP? I can maybe see the use of a small staff to collate and summarize the information from the various other agencies, but over 100 people seems way too much.

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