Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shoveling Global Warming from Your Driveway?

This winter, many of us have faced record cold weather. We have joked with one another about shoveling global warming from our driveways. We have longed for some of that global warming in our area.

At CARE we have joked—half in jest, half seriously—about making bumper stickers that say, “Pray for Global Warming.” (We’ve been into making bumper stickers. E-mail us for a FREE “Energy Makes America Great!” sticker.)

With that in mind, you can imagine the glee we experienced when the following posting was forwarded to us. We contacted the author to ask permission to post it. Not only were we granted permission, he added a response to those who have e-mailed him following its original publication.

Please enjoy “Pray for Global Warming” written by John Tomlinson, weekly columnist for the Flint Journal in Flint, Michigan--Michigan's third largest paper. His additional comments follow the original article. Read on! What’s your response?

Pray for Global Warming
If you're wondering why North America is starting to resemble nuclear winter, then you missed the news.

At December's U.N. Global Warming conference in Poznan, Poland, 650 of the world's top climatologists stood up and said man-made global warming is a media generated myth without basis. Said climatologist Dr. David Gee, Chairman of the International Geological Congress, "For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?"

I asked myself, why would such obviously smart guy say such a ridiculous thing? But it turns out he's right.

The earth's temperature peaked in 1998. It's been falling ever since; it dropped dramatically in 2007 and got worse in 2008, when temperatures touched 1980 levels.

Meanwhile, the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center released conclusive satellite photos showing that Arctic ice is back to 1979 levels. What's more, measurements of Antarctic ice now show that its accumulation is up 5 percent since 1980.

In other words, during what was supposed to be massive global warming, the biggest chunks of ice on earth grew larger. Just as an aside, do you remember when the hole in the ozone layer was going to melt Antarctica? But don't worry, we're safe now, that was the nineties.

Dr. Kunihiko, Chancellor of Japan's Institute of Science and Technology said this: "CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or the other ... every scientist knows this, but it doesn't pay to say so." Now why would a learned man say such a crazy thing?

This is where the loonies get lost. Their mantra is atmospheric CO2 levels are escalating and this is unquestionably causing earth's temperature rise. But ask yourself -- if global temperatures are experiencing the biggest sustained drop in decades, while CO2 levels continue to rise -- how can it be true?

Ironically, in spite of being shown false, we must now pray for it. Because a massive study, just released by the Russian Government, contains overwhelming evidence that earth is on the verge of another Ice Age.

Based on core samples from Russia's Vostok Station in Antarctica, we now know earth's atmosphere and temperature for the last 420,000 years. This evidence suggests that the 12,000 years of warmth we call the Holocene period is over.
Apparently, we're headed into an ice age of about 100,000 years -- give
or take. As for CO2 levels, core samples show conclusively they follow the earth's temperature rise, not lead it.

It turns out CO2 fluctuations follow the change in sea temperature. As water temperatures rise, oceans release additional dissolved CO2 -- like opening a warm brewsky.

To think, early last year, liberals suggested we spend 45 trillion dollars and give up five million jobs to fix global warming. But there is good news: now that we don't have to spend any of that money, we can give it all to the banks.

Now, Here are his additional comments in response to the initial article:
Response From John Tomlinson
Re: Pray For Global Warming,

To: All the wonderful people who thought to write.

I want to finally take a moment to get back with all you kind people who took the time to read and respond to my article. As you can imagine I got slammed with massive emails from all over the country. So rather than attempt to answer each one individually (as I began to), I decided to put together something that says thanks, and to answer the questions people had about further information.

First, let me say how gratified I am to hear from so many thousands of people across the country who have not been sucked in by the hype. Hang in there, it’s getting colder! Second, I really don’t care what people believe about global warming, er . . . "climate change." Everyone gets to believe what they want. I just don’t want the most gullible among us spending trillions and trillions of our ever precious dollars and handing over millions of jobs to the Chinese (et al.) just to chase Vladimir’s Ghost.

Just as importantly, I don’t like people having their careers destroyed because they have the balls to stand up and say, "The hot dog has no mustard." Earth’s climate has changed radically lo’ these millions of years. It’s hubristic to believe man can usurp Mother Nature.

Consider this: If you believe the accepted version of how oil is made within the earth (by jungle-like vegetation being subsumed, then compressed into oil over millions of years), how do you explain the discovery of one of the earth’s largest oil fields under the Arctic ocean? Clearly, things aren’t what they used to be!

Monday, January 19, 2009

American Energy: A Cure for the Recession?

Forty years ago this month, a well blowout in the Santa Barbara Channel forever changed the way America looks at oil--and launched the anti-oil environmental movement.

The blowout was the only accident in over 45,000 US offshore wells where significant amounts of oil reached our coasts. The other good news is that the environmental impacts were temporary, and the accident initiated enormous advances in blowout prevention rules and technologies. The bad news is that the spill resulted in leasing and drilling bans that continue to this day, locking up an estimated 85% of our nation’s offshore oil and gas prospects, costing the United States billions in lost lease, royalty and tax revenues, and forcing us to import far more oil than would be necessary if we adopted more sensible energy policies.

Here frequent contributor Paul Dreissen analyzes the accident, discusses the aftermath, and offers policy prescriptions. His comments are from the perspective of someone who actually worked for the federal agency that regulates offshore oil and gas programs … and is one of a handful of people who has actually been scuba diving under the very platform where the infamous blowout occurred.

Paul's comments echo similar insights from some of the opinion editorials written by CARE's Executive Director Marita Noon that have been published in newspapers and online commentary sites nationwide.

Petroleum Production Bans Cost Us Billions That Could Pay For Stimulus Plans And Renewables
Plummeting stock and housing prices have triggered a painful recession, America’s worst job losses since 1945, and trillions in lost national wealth.

California is grappling with a $42-billion budget deficit. That’s more than the GDP of 112 countries. Maryland, Virginia, New York and other states likewise face billion-dollar budget shortfalls.

Congress and the White House want a $1-trillion “stimulus” for the banking, auto and steel industries, roads, bridges and ports, and “worthy” projects like water parks, parking garages and fitness centers.

They also support expanded renewable energy programs that will require tens of billions in subsidies and tax breaks – but provide intermittent electricity and deliver only 5-15% of their “rated capacity” during peak summer demand periods.

Many states have oil, gas, coal, uranium, and other energy and mineral resources, within their borders or off their coasts. Development would produce critically needed energy, reduce oil and gas imports, create millions of jobs, buttress our national security, and generate trillions of dollars in lease bonus, rent, royalty and tax revenues, to help pay these bills.

California could nearly double its offshore oil production within 12-18 months, without installing a single new platform, by using directional drilling technology to bore more wells from existing platforms.

But environmentalists vigorously oppose development. Many states increasingly restrict exploration and production. The US Senate is considering bills that would place more energy prospects off limits. Many legislators want a permanent lock on billions of barrels of oil beneath Alaska’s North Slope and America’s Outer Continental Shelf--despite support for drilling by two-thirds of voters.

Onshore, the usual justification is speculative or exaggerated impacts on wildlife, habitats and groundwater from drilling and production. Offshore, the most common rationale is the infamous oil blowout that occurred forty years ago this month, off Santa Barbara.

That spill is the only one in over 45,000 US offshore wells where significant amounts of oil reached our coasts. And it never would have happened, if it weren’t for the incompetence of a few federal regulators and oil company officials.

The guilty well was being drilled into brittle, highly fractured rock formations which sit atop a more stable zone that holds billions of gallons of gooey crude oil, mixed with natural gas under high pressure. It’s the same oil that’s been seeping out of the shallow formations and washing up on California beaches since long before Spanish explorers used it to waterproof their galleons.

But having drilled several wells without incident, company officials requested a waiver from normal regulations. Unbelievably, it was granted. The drill crew was allowed to install minimal well casing – steel pipes that go into well bores to prevent blowouts.

When oil and gas began to erupt out of the deep drill hole, the crew’s quick response stopped it only temporarily. Because the casing didn’t go deep enough, the pressurized goo surged into the brittle rocks, creating huge gashes that sent gushers of oil out around the platform. For six days, favorable winds kept the oil slick offshore. Then the wind shifted.

Oil inundated Santa Barbara’s gorgeous beaches. Thousands of sea birds died, along with seals and countless other marine animals. The anti-oil environmental movement was born.

Thankfully, dire predictions of permanent damage were wrong. Bird, crab, lobster, seal and other populations soon rebounded. Under the platform, the magnificent artificial reef ecosystem returned.

Enormous mussels, scallops and barnacles again cover the huge scaffold that holds the production platform above the waves. Gorging on shellfish, and having to move mere inches for their next meal, starfish grow to three feet across. Oriental carpets of white, pink and lavender sponges and sea anemones create firework displays of color, while crabs scamper about and thousands of mackerel, sardines and other fish cruise by.

I know this, because I’ve been there, up close and in person, in scuba gear, beneath that very platform and a dozen others in the Santa Barbara Channel and Gulf of Mexico. I joined biologists, wrote professional papers, and produced a documentary film about these towering steel reefs.

Even more important, the technologies, regulations and enforcement programs have changed. Today, instruments monitor temperature and pressure in wells 24/7. Blowout preventers, pipeline shutoff valves and other devices on or beneath the sea floor control the flow of oil and gas. Offshore operators conduct regular accident training and safety exercises. The efforts have paid off.

In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pounded the Gulf of Mexico’s 3,000 drilling rigs and production platforms. Over 200 were damaged or destroyed. But virtually no oil or gas escaped.

In fact, according to the US Minerals Management Service (where I used to work), oil companies produced nearly 12 billion barrels of oil from OCS leases between 1980 and 2007. Only 102,000 barrels were spilled: 3,780 barrels a year, on average. That’s a 99.999% safety record.

By contrast, natural seeps like the ones off California leak 620,000 barrels of oil per year into US waters. America’s oil industry has a pollution record 164 times better than Mother Nature’s!

And producing more US offshore oil has an added bonus. It means there is less seepage, and thus less oil in our oceans and on our beaches.

Our energy policies should recognize these facts.

America has been held hostage far too long by anti-oil ideologues and foreign “oiligarchs.”

Keeping our vast resources off limits won’t convince consumers to slash petroleum use. We will just import more, and be ever more indebted to foreign powers. (At $50 per barrel, imported oil costs the United States $235 billion per year; at $140 per barrel, we send $650 billion annually overseas.)

Oil prices are low at the moment, because world demand is down, due to the global recession. We could keep them down, by prolonging the recession – an unpalatable option. Or we can help keep prices at tolerable levels, by developing the domestic oil and gas that we have in abundance, but politicians, courts and greens for too long have told us we can’t touch.

We need the energy, jobs and revenues that offshore (and onshore) oil and gas development can provide. We can no longer afford to “just say no” to domestic petroleum, during the long transition to future energy technologies that we cannot begin to envision – any more than even Jules Verne could have foreseen the wondrous energy and other technologies that creative minds have made a reality today.

That’s the kind of change we can believe in. The kind America needs.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Stronger Russia and a Weaker America = Changes in Energy's Balance of Power

With Russia flexing its energy muscle once again, CARE contacted the leading national expert on Russia and their contril of Europe's oil and gas: Michael Economides, author of From Soviet to Putin and Back and the Color of Oil (An executive summary of the Color of Oil is available on the CARE Website). Once again he did not disappoint us. He has provided us with powerful insight into the energy news behind the news. What is really behind Russia's current battle in the Ukraine? Is it all about the Ukraine? Read on.

Once you read this piece, we encourage you read Professor Economides' other postings here with CARE.

Russia’s Energy Imperialism
If Russia was supposed to shut off natural gas supply to Ukraine in a pricing dispute that is a repeat of what happened three-years ago, why is it that gas was also turned off in Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Austria, the Czech Republic and Greece? It does not really matter that gas is re-started soon. Europe’s dependence on a country that is willing and, especially, is able to plunge it in freezing cold and darkness, is the crux of the issue. Russia relishes the role and the Ukraine gas dispute and last year’s Georgia invasion is the modern day manifestation of Russian hegemony in what can be called energy imperialism.

Ukraine, as a transit country for Russian natural gas pipelines transporting gas through its territory to Europe has received gas at a much discounted price -- about $180 per 1,000 cubic meters ($4.90 per million Btu) -- but Russia wanted to increase the price to $250 per 1,000 cubic meters. Ukraine rejected that price and Russia threatened to charge the full rate it charges Europe -- $418 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters ($13.08 per million Btu). By comparison US prices are less than $6 per million Btu.

A giant looms to the east of Europe – occasionally in the shape of a country, other times in the shape of a company, the two often indistinguishable. Russia and Gazprom are poised to dominate the whole of Europe and its Asian neighbors.

OAO Gazprom’s influence has been underestimated and astonishingly not discussed enough. Gazprom has been the flagship of former president Vladimir Putin’s strategy, and the battering ram to break down foreign defenses. The Russian state owns 50.01 percent of the company, and almost all top company executives are Kremlin loyalists. President Dmitri Medvedev was Gazprom’s chairman. He replaced Putin, who became prime minister, thereby replacing Victor Zubkov, who became Gazprom’s chairman. You get the story.

It was in early 2006 that Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine after it balked at seeing its gas prices rise by a factor of four. Of course, then and today, the issue is not what is happening to Ukraine, which draws a tiny portion of the flowing gas. Cutting Ukraine’s gas flow means massive gas deficits in a freezing Europe.

The Ukrainian affair three years ago was the trumpet heralding the sovereign. Hints of a new Russian empire, this time riding on oil and gas, projected dominance over its neighbors, from East Asia to Europe. Putin was the new Tsar, and most Russians, starved for power after the Soviet collapse, loved him.

Gazprom clearly has a strategy, and it’s to lock up as much gas as possible. In July 2008, Gazprom offered to buy all of Libya’s exportable gas supplies. Russia’s brash move to further control the European energy markets is hard to disguise. Libya is its only credible and neighboring competitor.

Russia has been recently leading the pack to create a new gas cartel, mirroring OPEC for oil. This involves newly minted gas giant Qatar, a western ally but also Iran, perhaps the most energy militant nation, other than Russia.

The situation, repeating itself and likely to re-emerge over and over again is now transparent and reminiscent of the Khrushchev era: world beware – the energy-invigorated Russian bear is at bay. After the Soviet Union’s collapse and its resulting economic calamity, it was up to Putin, through Gazprom, to redefine Russia’s position in the world. Its abundant oil and gas resources are now being put to work to accomplish what nuclear weapons and 50 years of the Cold War were unable to.

Europeans act like helpless sitting ducks. With no energy alternatives to speak of, an assertive Russia breathing on them and flaccid domestic policies influenced greatly by Green parties, European countries may become the victims of the old dictum: be careful what you wish for you might just get it. And this is the lessening of a muscular America leading an assertive western alliance.

Prof. Michael J. Economides, University of Houston and also Editor-in-Chief Energy Tribune Houston, TX

Monday, January 5, 2009

Obama and Energy: A Cure Worse than the Disease

Think about the strong men you've seen. Those whose body is the envy of all other men--not that they'd admit it. What do they eat? Real food in a balanced diet that includes veggies, carbs and protein.

America is like that--or it has been. We've been the strong man. The envy of other countries with men, women and children sneaking into America to enjoy what we have here.

As the bumper stickers we have available through CARE advertise: Energy Makes America Great. What separates America--and the rest of the civilized world--from the third world countries is not that we are better or smarter than those in other countries, but we have the energy to allow us to excel. We have electricity and liquid fuels--in abundance. Or at least we did.

However, there are forces at work who want to make America not only “vegetarian,” but “vegan” when it comes to energy. These forces want us to live on greens only. Salad is nice--but not when it is all you eat! We’d no longer be the “strong man.” We’d be susceptible to attack from terrorist factions. On a balanced diet, we are strong, we can fight off those who wish to annihilate us.

This posting is from frequent contributor Paul Driessen. Here he looks at the energy plans of the new administration and how they will impact America. Read on!

Economic Bloodletting--Some proposed energy and environmental policies are akin to eighteenth century medicine
Doctors once prescribed bloodletting to eliminate impurities that they believed caused disease. When George Washington was stricken with malaria and a throat infection in December 1799, his physicians bled a quart of blood from his weakened body, and administered laxatives and emetics.

A few hours later, Washington died – from a cure far worse than the disease.

Today, our nation is in a recession. Millions are unemployed. The financial meltdown has hammered incomes, consumer spending, savings, profits, tax revenues, charity, remittances and foreign aid in America and across the globe.

Congress and the White House have responded with promises to spend $1 trillion or more, to bail out banks, homeowners, taxpayers, auto makers and other beleaguered groups; fix roads and bridges; and weatherize buildings, develop renewable energy and create “green jobs.”

The economic situation is so dire, they say, that we can’t worry about deficits. The “patient” needs a large “blood infusion” stimulus to “get the economy moving.”

But many worry that the proposed infusion is artificial blood: government loans, grants, mandates and debts. Reduced taxes and regulations would stimulate far more private sector initiatives and jobs, argue many economists; but those curatives enjoy limited support among current political leaders.

Worse, there is a real danger that the stimulus actions will be followed by the economic equivalent of medical practices that killed our first president.

Precluding access to oil, gas, coal and uranium would deprive America of fuels that produce 93% of the energy that makes jobs, living standards, food, health and transportation possible. It would force us to continue spending our children’s inheritance on imported energy – and forego trillions of dollars in leasing, royalty and tax revenues that could help pay for stimulus, defense, renewable energy and other programs.

Some want even more extreme bloodletting administered in the name of global warming. President-Elect Obama wants to slash carbon dioxide “impurities” by 80% by 2050, via cap-and-trade programs. He says any company trying to build a coal-fired generating plant will be “bankrupted” by greenhouse gas fees.

If Congress fails to act expeditiously on cap-and-trade, the Obama Administration could unleash the Environmental Protection Agency’s newly proposed rules – and regulate virtually our entire economy under the Clean Air Act. Those rules would immediately impose even more draconian restrictions on carbon dioxide and methane released from almost every office and apartment building, power plant, factory, farm, hospital, school, car maker and dealership, train and airline in the nation.

However, that would severely impact two dozen mostly Southern and Midwestern states which use coal to generate 47-98% of their electricity – and ensure lower utility and manufacturing costs, more jobs and better living standards. Moreover, modern coal-fired power plants emit 95% less pollution than 1970s-era plants, per unit of energy produced.

Restrict hydrocarbon use, and millions will lose their jobs. Mortality rates will rise, if people cannot afford proper heating, air-conditioning, nutrition and medical care. In minority areas, restricted hydrocarbon use would hobble economic opportunities and civil rights.

A cap-and-trade bill like Warner-Lieberman would cost 3 million U.S. manufacturing jobs and $7 trillion in lost GDP, by taxing hydrocarbon energy, the Heritage Center for Data Analysis calculates. The EPA regulatory regime would be even more onerous and costly.

Either action would drain the energy lifeblood from our economy, prolong the recession and kill jobs, for little environmental gain.

Renewable-energy economic superpowers are as rare as body-building vegans. America needs a balanced energy diet, to ensure security and prosperity: raw “green” energy vegetables like wind and solar, proteins and carbohydrates from hydrocarbons and nuclear, and a full allotment of iron-rich energy lifeblood.

Some say we are heading for climate disaster. But thousands of scientists vigorously disagree. A US Senate Minority Report features 650 climate experts (including many current and former UN-IPCC scientists) who say there is no evidence to support climate cataclysm hypotheses.

Computer models are not evidence, they stress – and not one has accurately predicted climate conditions even one year into the future, much less fifty. Actual, measured temperature, hurricane, flood, drought and sea level changes are completely within the realm of observed variability over the centuries.

Satellite measurements show that planetary warming stopped in 1998, even as global CO2 levels continue to rise. Even eliminating US greenhouse gases would reduce 2050 global temperatures by only 0.2 degrees F, assuming CO2 controls our Earth’s constantly changing climate.

China and India are building new coal-fired power plants every week – and their expanding greenhouse gas emissions now dwarf even economy-killing reductions under cap-and-trade or EPA. Europe’s emissions are well above 1990 levels and even further above promised reductions under Kyoto. Yet, the Poznan agreement delays and dilutes EU pledges even more, to avoid jeopardizing jobs in a hydrocarbon-dependent Europe.

Politicians violate their oath of office when they impose policies based on climate disaster scenarios, despite real-world evidence to the contrary – and regardless of the grievous harm that their “cures” would exact on poor, elderly, minority and working-class families.

Americans everywhere should demand solid evidence, robust debate, honest congressional hearings, and responsible energy and environmental decisions. We need to prevent further economic bloodletting, preserve freedom and opportunity, and restore our nation’s prosperity.

Paul Driessen is author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power ∙ Black death (http://www.eco-imperialism.com/) and senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, whose new book (Freezing in the Dark) reveals how environmental pressure groups raise money and promote policies that restrict energy development and hurt poor families.