Brett Stephens presents the total hypocrisy of Environmentalists

Brett Stephens presents the total hypocrisy of Environmentalists

Redacted from an article by Bret Stephens:
Can Environmentalists Think?
The Wall Street Journal
July 9, 2013

As environmental disasters go, the explosion Saturday of a runaway train that destroyed much of the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic, about 20 miles from the Maine border, will probably go down the memory hole.

It lacks the correct moral and contains an inconvenient truth.

Not that the disaster lacks the usual ingredients of such a moral. The derailed 72-car train belonged to a subsidiary of Illinois-based multinational Rail World, whose self-declared aim is to “promote rail industry privatization.” The train was carrying North Dakota shale oil (likely extracted by fracking) to the massive Irving Oil refinery in the port city of Saint John, to be shipped to the global market. At least five people were killed in the blast (a number that’s likely to rise) and 1,000 people were forced to evacuate. Quebec’s environment minister reports that some 100,000 liters (26,000 gallons) of crude have spilled into the Chaudière River, meaning it could reach Quebec City and the St. Lawrence River before too long.

Environmentalists should be howling (but, of course, they are not) because this brings us to the inconvenient truth.

The reason oil is moved on trains from places like North Dakota and Alberta is because there aren’t enough pipelines to carry it. The provincial governments of Alberta and New Brunswick are talking about building a pipeline to cover the 3,000-odd mile distance. But last month President Obama put the future of the Keystone XL pipeline again in doubt, telling a Georgetown University audience “our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

(Of course, Obama could in fact not care less about pollution. What he cares about is destroying the great inherent strength of the US in every way possible and turn us into a Third World Nation! When are people going to finally wake up to the fact that this is his driving modus operand in every action he does or does not take?) jsk

Did the explosion at Lac-Mégantic not significantly exacerbate the problem of pollution, carbon or otherwise? Why do environmentalists routinely frame political choices in the language of moral absolutes—save/destroy the planet; “don’t be mean, go green,” and so on—rather than as complex questions involving trade-offs that are best dealt with pragmatically?

Like water, business has a way of tracing a course of least resistance. Pipelines are a hyper-regulated industry but rail transport isn’t, so that’s how we now move oil. As the Wall Street Journal’s Tom Fowler reported in March, in 2008 the U.S. rail system moved 9,500 carloads of oil. In 2012, the figure surged to 233,811. During the same period, the total number of spills went from eight to 69. In March, a derailed train spilled 714 barrels of oil in western Minnesota.

Predictable, you would think. And ameliorable: Pipelines account for about half as much spillage as railways on a gallon-per-mile basis. Pipelines also tend not to go straight through exposed population centers like Lac-Mégantic. Nobody suggests that pipelines are perfectly reliable or safe, but what is? To think is to weigh alternatives. The habit of too many environmentalists is to evade them.

Perhaps this is also the reason climate science is so prone to scientific embarrassment. In 2001, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change insisted that “global average surface temperatures [will rise] at rates very likely without precedent during the last 10,000 years,” and that they would rise sharply and continuously.

Yet in the 15 years since 1998, surface air temperatures have held flat, a fact now grudgingly conceded by the climate-science establishment, despite more than 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide having been pumped into the atmosphere over the same period.

It’s a pity. The world needs a credible environmental movement. Conservation matters. So does the quality of water and air. In China and Russia today environmentalists have mounted the most effective (and often the most courageous) critique of the toxic combination of coercive states and corrupt businesses. In the developed world, urban life has been massively improved thanks to a keener environmental awareness.

But all that depends on an environmental movement that isn’t just another fire-and-brimstone religion, that wants to be part of a solution without castigating everyone else as part of the problem. In other words, a movement that is capable of reasoned thought.

The first application for a Keystone XL pipeline permit was filed with the U.S. State Department in 2008. Since then, the amount of oil being shipped on rails has risen 24-fold. Environmentalists enraged by this column should look at the photo of Lac-Mégantic that goes with it, and think it over.

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Seaweed in your gas tank

Another deliberately destroy the US scam from Barack Hussein Obama

From the brilliant CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER

Seaweed in your gas tank

Posted March 18, 2012

Yes, of course, presidents have no direct control over gas prices. But the American people know something about this president and his disdain for oil. The “fuel of the past,” he contemptuously calls it. To the American worker who doesn’t commute by government motorcade and is getting fleeced every week at the pump, oil seems very much a fuel of the present — and of the foreseeable future.

President Obama incessantly claims energy open-mindedness, insisting that his policy is “all of the above.” Except, of course, for drilling:

• Off the mid-Atlantic coast (as Virginia, for example, wants).

• Off the Florida Gulf Coast (instead, the Castro brothers will drill near there).

• In the broader Gulf of Mexico (where drilling in 2012 is expected to drop 30 percent below pre-moratorium forecasts).

• In the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (more than half the size of England, the drilling footprint being the size of Dulles Airport).

• On federal lands in the Rockies (where leases are down 70 percent since Obama took office).

But the event that drove home the extent of Obama’s antipathy to nearby, abundant, available oil was his veto of the Keystone pipeline. It gave the game away because the case for Keystone is so obvious and overwhelming. Vetoing it gratuitously prolongs our dependence on outside powers, kills thousands of shovel-ready jobs, forfeits a major strategic resource to China, damages relations with our closest ally and sends billions of oil dollars to Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin and already obscenely wealthy sheiks.

Obama boasts that on his watch production is up and imports down. True, but truly deceptive. These increases have occurred in spite of his restrictive policies. They are the result of Clinton- and Bush-era permitting. This has been accompanied by a gold rush of natural gas production resulting from new fracking technology that has nothing at all to do with Obama.

“The American people aren’t stupid,” said Obama (Feb. 23), mocking “Drill, baby, drill.” The “only solution,” he averred in yet another major energy speech last week, is that “we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down.” Yet five paragraphs later he claimed that regardless of “how much oil we produce at home … that’s not going to set the price of gas worldwide.”

So, decreasing U.S. demand will lower oil prices, but increasing U.S. supply will not? This is ridiculous. Either both do or neither does. Does Obama read his own speeches?

Obama says of drilling: “That’s not a plan.” Of course it’s a plan. We import nearly half of our oil, thereby exporting enormous amounts of U.S. wealth. Almost 60 percent of our trade deficit — $332 billion out of $560 billion — is shipped overseas to buy crude.

Drill here and you stanch the hemorrhage. You keep those dollars within the U.S. economy, repatriating not just wealth but jobs, and denying them to foreign unfriendlies. Drilling is the single most important thing we can do to spur growth at home while strengthening our hand abroad.

Instead, Obama offers what he fancies to be the fuels of the future. You would think that he’d be a tad more modest today about his powers of divination after the Solyndra bankruptcy, the collapse of government-subsidized Ener1 (past makers of the batteries of the future) and GM’s suspension of production — for lack of demand — of another federally dictated confection, the flammable Chevy Volt.

Deterred? Hardly. Our undaunted seer of the energy future has come up with his own miracle fuel: algae. Yes, green slime, upon which Steven Chu’s Energy Department will be sprinkling yet another $14 million of taxpayer money.

This is the very same Dr. Chu who famously said in 2008 that he wanted U.S. gas prices to rise to European levels of $8-$10 a gallon — and who Tuesday, eight months before Election Day, publicly recanted before Congress, Galileo-style.

Who do they think they’re fooling? An oil crisis looms, prices are spiking — and our president is extolling algae. After Solyndra, Keystone and promises of seaweed in their gas tanks, Americans sense a president so ideologically antipathetic to fossil fuels — which we possess in staggering abundance — that he is utterly unserious about the real world of oil in which the rest of us live.

High gasoline prices are a major political problem for Obama. They are not just a pain at the pump, however. They are a constant reminder of three years of a rigid, fatuous, fantasy-driven energy policy that has rendered us scandalously dependent and excessively vulnerable.

Charles Krauthammer’s email address is letters@

The “Curious Speech” of Barack Obama

By Lawrence Kudlow, astute financial advisor

The Washington Times, March 5, 2012

Barack ‘All of the Above’ Obama

President Obama fought back against rising oil and retail gas prices in a speech in Florida. But it was a curious speech. He started out by mocking Republicans, stating that GOP candidates are licking their chops as gasoline prices rocket up. He said, “They are already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas. I’ll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill, and step three is keep drilling.”

Very clever. It’s kind of what Newt Gingrich said in this week’s Arizona debate.

But here’s the curious part. Obama said, “If we’re going to take control of our energy future, if we’re going to avoid these gas-price spikes down the line, then we need a sustained all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy — oil, gas, wind, solar, nuclear, biofuels and more.”

That’s a Republican policy. All of the above. George W. Bush used to say it. John McCain ran on it in 2008. And you hear Republicans talk in similar terms all the time. “All of the above.”

Obama next took credit for record oil and gas production. He took a bow for more rigs and the approval of pipelines (including from Canada!). He then argued that his administration has opened millions of acres for oil and gas exploration.

Well, I don’t know about the pipeline part. He sure hasn’t opened Keystone XL. And most people in the oil business say the administration has been slow-walking offshore permits, restricting access on federal lands, and excluding Alaska and the Arctic. They also note the general nuisance of the EPA, including its recent attack on hydraulic fracking.

But people in the business will tell you that production is high, and that things began turning around years before the administration took office. Of course, the great energy revolution has come with all the new shale fields in the Dakotas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere, which has led to a gusher of new oil and natural gas.

The fact that Obama sounds like a Republican doesn’t mean that he’s opened the barn door to all manner of new leases and permits. But the reality is that his administration has loosened things up a bit. Whether drill, drill, drill would produce $2 gasoline is an interesting debate. But surely the U.S. is on the road to energy independence if the government is more hands-off.

The fact remains, however, that right now there’s rising public angst over higher gasoline prices. That could become an economic problem, but it’s more rapidly becoming a political problem for the White House.

A lot of consumers and motorists are trying to figure out why all this new energy production hasn’t stopped prices from rising. The best answer I can come up with is Iran. As the Iranians rattle their sabers over the Strait of Hormuz, oil traders are taking long positions in the market. According to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, traders with net-long positions of oil contracts worth $100,000 have increased from 181,000 in early October to 281,000 lately. (Hat tip to economist Conrad DeQuadros).

During this period, oil prices have jumped about $35, or 37 percent. Today the WTI contract for light sweet crude closed above $108. And it’s worth noting that non-oil commodity indexes during this period have increased by less than 2 percent. That means the oil spike is a supply shock, not economic-demand driven. And since mid-December, AAA retail gas prices have increased about 11 percent from $3.22 to $3.60. Undoubtedly, gasoline prices are following oil prices higher. And the oil-price jump is a function of trader worries that Iran might choke off the Hormuz Strait, leading to a substantial, if temporary, oil-supply shortage.

Obama cites the Iranian situation in his speech, and he’s got an important point. We can debate the merits of Obama’s Iranian policy. But the reality is that energy prices are rising on speculative trading demands over a potential worst-case scenario.

If that worst case scenario doesn’t come to pass, energy prices could well retreat. In any case, even the oil and gas spike thus far is not likely to have a significant economic impact. All that oil and gas shale production from private, not federal, lands is a big reason why. The new natural-gas supplies have caused the price of natural gas to fall substantially. That means much lower home-heating bills for consumers. And the relatively mild winter so far is another factor contributing to lower utility bills.

The moral of this story is that America should continue to drill, drill, drill, and put up the Keystone XL pipeline, and work with Canada to build an energy-independent North America. But as long as the Iranian threat is unsolved, the future risk of higher energy prices is going to be a fact of life.