in Energy Policy, Environment
So the tech bubble burst a decade ago, and the housing bubble five years ago. The higher education bubble is swelling to the bursting point, but it is the green energy bubble that is bursting loudest at the moment, and as usual environmentalists are slow to see that they’re about to get run over by a revival of the hydrocarbon economy. Those old dinosaurs may have been big lumbering animals, but the nimble fossil fuels they threw off are crushing the so-called green “fuels of the future” beloved of fruit-juice drinkers and vegans everywhere.
Item: In an extremely curious New York Times story last week, Times environmental writer John Broder notes that President Obama pushed hard for the final approval of Shell Oil’s long sought permit to begin drilling in a new offshore oil field in Alaska, which has been held up for years by bureaucratic red tape and environmental lawsuits:
The president’s preoccupation with the Arctic proposal, even as the nation was still reeling from the BP spill, was the first hint that Shell’s audacious plan to drill in waters previously considered untouchable had gone from improbable to inevitable.Yes, Obama played to the cheap green seats by delaying the Keystone pipeline, but the Alaska decision shows where the real action is. As the Times story continues:
And now, the president is writing a new chapter in the nation’s unfolding energy transformation, in this case to the benefit of fossil fuel producers.Well get used to it Michael. It’s what happens when you make yourself a wholly-owned subsidiary of one political party. If you go further into the story, the irony emerges that the key to breaking the bureaucratic logjam to approve the permit was a Democratic president and a Democratic senator from Alaska (Mark Begich) who would like to be re-elected:
“We never would have expected a Democratic president — let alone one seeking to be ‘transformative’ — to open up the Arctic Ocean for drilling,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
The intensity of Shell’s campaign was matched by the fervor of Mark Begich, the new senator from Alaska. He had won his seat in something of a fluke, defeating the longtime Republican incumbent, Ted Stevens, who was ensnared in what later turned out to be a deeply flawed Justice Department corruption investigation.Item: Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, Obama has grown very quiet about climate change. He can spot a political loser from a Chicago mile away. He’s not attending the UN’s 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit that started the whole climate diplomacy circus. Twenty years ago the greens browbeat President Bush to attend, which he ultimately did. But the craven greens seem to be giving Obama a pass. As Roll Call reports:
No politician in Alaska can survive as an opponent of any oil development, including those in the waters of the Arctic, the National Petroleum Reserve and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Mr. Begich enthusiastically supported all three.
When he first met Mr. Obama at a mayors’ conference in June 2008, Mr. Begich said, he told him, “If I’m elected, this is what I’m going to focus on.”
Being a crucial Democratic vote in a narrowly divided Senate representing a decidedly Republican state gave Mr. Begich leverage. Whenever the president called to court his support — on health care, climate change, the debt ceiling or budget matters — Mr. Begich always turned the discussion to oil and gas in Alaska, particularly Arctic exploration.
“Any time he initiated a call, I felt that was carte blanche to make my case,” Mr. Begich said. A chronology of his contact with the Obama administration on Arctic oil issues fills six pages.
He came to believe that his re-election hinged on delivering a reluctant president on oil issues, particularly drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf in the Arctic.
A Begich aide said that the unstated premise of every conversation with the president was, “You need me, and I need the O.C.S.”
President Barack Obama’s first Earth Day proclamation in 2009 was an urgent call to address global warming. This year? The word “climate” didn’t even get a mention. . .This Washington Post headline tells why the enviros are about to get run over:
Gone are the urgent statements warning of melting glaciers and rising sea levels. Indeed, the energy and environment page at WhiteHouse.gov now shows a photo of the president walking in front of segments of oil pipeline, and the White House never neglects an opportunity to tout its support for domestic oil and natural gas drilling. In briefings on background, senior administration officials now talk about exporting fracking technology, which has caused natural gas production to boom and prices to fall.
From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005. . .Item: It’s not just here that the left-leaning party is jumping in front of the fossil fuel parade. It’s happening in Germany, too, where the pledge to phase out nuclear power is looking increasingly unrealistic and where renewable energy subsidies are being cut sharply. That’s not enough: some leading Social Democrats have called for building . . . more coal-fired power plants (gasp)!
“We have a revolution here,” said Larry Goldstein, director of the Energy Policy Research Foundation in New York. “In 47 years in this business, I’ve never seen anything like this. This is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.”
The SPD politician [North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Hannelore Kraft] pleaded for the construction of new coal-fired power plants. “We will continue to need fossil fuel plants as a bridge technology,” she said. After all, the Social Democrats had strengthened their vote in the recent state election because of the SPD’s very aggressively support for industry.And the Berliner Morgenpost reports:
The German government no longer believes in the green energy transition. Doubts are growing in the ruling coalition government that the ecological project can succeed.Have a nice day, green weenies. Your party is over. Deal with it.
(And yes, it’s almost enough to award a Green Weenie Lifetime Achievement Award. But I’ll resist the temptation.)