Jim Morin of the Miami Herald, via the National Journal. Here’s a near-real-time demonstration of why gasoline prices rise so dramatically.
My old sometime nemesis and rescuer Robert Redford keeps chugging along — getting sharper, politically, as he ages, I think.
Here’s his succinct summary of the Keystone Pipeline issue so far — with a plea for funds for the NRDC tacked on. Any factual errors?
Dr. Douglas Brinkley writes history, and teaches. In the last decade he’s been one of our premiere historians of conservation and wilderness preservation, especially as started by Theodore Roosevelt.
The issue at the hearing was the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
One may get a whiff of “skeptic” desperation at the hearing — Brinkley’s written a book on wilderness protection. That’s why he was called to testify.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Eli Rabett. He’s right — it’s tough to improve on the straight dope, the unexpurgated version. So most of this post is borrowed from the Bunny’s Spartan, laconic post of this same material.
And the Big Bunny is correct that MSNBC’s interview of Brinkley following the hearing is good to see and hear.
Anyone who votes Democrat regularly gets the “told you so” e-mails from Republicans making claims about how bad things are under President Obama.
One favorite, hoax meme is the claim that Obama hurt energy exploration in the U.S. One friend e-mails me at least once a month with a claim that Obama has done something to frustrate drilling for oil in the U.S., usually accompanied with a political pitch that all we need to do is drill the hell out of Alaska, kill the caribou, and allow pollution of the Gulf of Mexico, and we’ll be independent of Middle Eastern oil forever.
Here’s the ugly secret they don’t want to tell you — heck, they probably don’t know: Total oil rig count is way up under Obama from when he took office, increasing at a rate about double that of the previous Bush administration.
Under President Obama, oil and gas exploration in the U.S. is greatly increased.
North American Rotary Rig Counts
The U.S. rotary rig count was down 15 rigs at 2,001 for the week of November 18, 2011. It is 324 rigs (19.6%) higher than last year.
The number of rotary rigs drilling for oil decreased 8 to 1,125. There are 394 more rigs targeting oil than last year. Rigs drilling for oil represent 56.2% percent of all drilling activity.
Rigs directed toward natural gas were down 6 at 871. The number of rigs currently drilling for gas is 65 lower than last year’s level of 936.
Year-over-year oil exploration in the U.S. is up 53.9 percent. Gas exploration is down 6.9 percent. The weekly average of crude oil spot prices is 20.8 percent higher than last year and natural gas spot prices are 16.8 percent lower.
Tuesday a week ago I joined the high school economics teachers dining at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, the annual “Night at the Fed” event. The bank brought in Keith Phillips, a Senior Economist and Advisor from the San Antonio Branch to talk about “Where Will Your Students Find Jobs?”
One of his charts showed drill rig counts since 2000, on a slide, “Drilling Rig Count has Surged to High Levels.” Among other things, that partly explains why Texas was not so severely hit with the recession as the rest of the nation (though jobless counts in the past couple of months suggest Texas may catch up).
Sitting at the front table I could not help but be impressed with the rig count line. In 2000, when Bush came to office, there were about 300 active drilling rigs in the country, in oil and gas. Over seven years that count rose to about 1,000, then plunged in Bush’s last year in the economic downturn.
Obama came into office with a drill rig count just slightly higher than Bush had two terms previously. In three years, drill rig counts have climbed to near the height of the Bush administration’s best year, just under 1,000 (if I’m reading the chart correctly — and the piece above suggests I am).
Here’s the chart from Baker-Hughes — showing about the same rig count Dr. Phillips showed:
Here’s a more colorful, more clear version from EnergyDigger.com:
In other words, drill rigs have increased in the three years of the Obama administration at about double the rate of increase of the Bush administration.
When does Obama get credit for the increase in oil and gas exploration in the U.S. in his administration?
From the Climate Denial Crock of the Week:
Of course this flies right in the face of most conservative, and denialist, claims about fighting global warming.
Do Americans have great business sense?
Then it is unlikely that we’ll pass up the opportunity to export energy for profit — and consequently, we’ll boost our wind generating capacities, geothermal power generation, and step in to retake the lead in solar cell development and production, won’t we?
Here is a story I’ll bet you missed last spring — I missed it, too; from the Daily Ticker:
Just as the average price for gas is set to hit $4 a gallon this week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports February was the third month out of four that the U.S. — the world’s most energy-hungry nation — actually exported more oil that it imported.
Despite the notion that the U.S. is currently hugely reliant on foreign oil, the country sold 34,000 more barrels of petroleum products a day than it imported in November 2010. And, in both December and February, the U.S. sold 54,000 more barrels a day. Net imports have not been negative for nearly two decades.
Part of this has to do with weak U.S. demand in recent years due to the recession. The other part rests on the growing demand in our own backyard for not only crude oil, but refined oil as well.
Mexico, Latin America and even OPEC member Ecuador are some of the U.S.’s top customers for fuel products, namely refined oil. Rising demand in these countries far outpaces their capacity to refine crude oil into petroleum products like gasoline or diesel fuel.
But, as Dan points out in the accompanying clip, this is not the only news item that hints at this country’s ability to export energy to the rest of the world.
Yesterday, Arch Coal announced a $3.4 billion all-cash deal to buy its competitor International Coal Group. The transaction would make the newly formed company the second-largest U.S. supplier of metallurgical coal, which is the coal used to make steel.
And because of growing demand in places like India and China, where coal is used for electricity, the U.S. has started to export more at higher prices than in previous years.
Then there’s natural gas. U.S. reserves of natural gas have also grown considerably in the last decade to record levels. A new report by the Potential Gas Committee suggests that in the last two years, potential U.S. natural gas supplies have increased by 3 percent. Two years ago, however, the group reported that supplies jumped 36 percent.
The U.S. does not currently export liquefied natural gas, but that time may soon be on the horizon.
Of course the U.S. is not about to join OPEC. But this news, quietly sneaking up on us as it did, should change the nature of the discussions about our energy future, and the direction, too.
In the first place, energy substitution — wind and geothermal for coal and oil, for example — becomes an issue of generating revenue, rather than just saving imports. If we can get power from the wind for free and sell coal to others for profit as a result, we get wins for U.S. citizenry and big wins for U.S. industry.
I haven’t seen much discussion of the topic. Stephen Leahy wrote an opinion piece for Common Dreams suggesting that oil companies have a political stake in keeping this news quiet, in order to get greater advantage for themselves, especially in electoral politics.
The only reason U.S. citizens may be forced to endure a risky, Canadian-owned oil pipeline called Keystone XL is so oil companies with billion-dollar profits can get the dirty oil from Canada’s tar sands down to the Gulf of Mexico to export to Europe, Latin America or Asia, according to a new report by Oil Change International released Wednesday.
“Keystone XL will not lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but rather transport Canadian oil to American refineries for export to overseas markets,” concludes the report, titled “Exporting Energy Security”.
Little of the 700,000 to 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil pumped through the 2,400-kilometre, seven-billion-dollar Keystone XL will end up in U.S. gas tanks because the refineries on the Gulf Coast are all about expanding export markets. One huge refinery operator called Valero has been touting the potential export revenues of tar sands oil to investors, the report found.
In 1941, the U.S. was the largest oil-producing and oil-exporting nation in the world. When we cut off oil to Japan, Japan determined to attack the U.S. to try to get energy superiority in the Pacific, and our nation was pulled into World War II.
Is it possible we can avoid future energy wars, and change the game with our energy exporting capabilities over the next decade? What do you think? Does this change any game, and how does it change things?
Watch those exports.
From the White House blog, something you probably didn’t see in your local newspaper and/or Tea Party organ:
Bright Ideas: Thomas Edison would be amazed. The conventional light bulb now has some serious competition. Philips Lighting North America has invented a revolutionary 10-watt light emitting diode (LED) bulb. Phillips is the first winner of the Energy Department’s Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize(L Prize). The L Prize challenged the lighting industry to develop high performance, energy-saving replacements for conventional light bulbs that will save American consumers and businesses money.
Some business gets an award for lights that conserve energy? Rats, there goes Rand Paul’s raison d’etre — all but for the lack of a toilet Paul could flush on his own.
I missed Global Wind Day on June 15 — too much static from the ironically long-winded anti-winders.
* These posts are for examples only, and should not be interpreted to mean that the blogs sampled are composed entirely of denials, or that the blog authors and editors are themselves pure denialists — certainly they will deny that. We will gladly post links to posts at those blogs that promote benefits of harnassing wind energy, if anyone can find them.
Our memorial to George Washington neared completion in the 1880s. For an obelisk more than 550 feet tall to honor the Father of Our Country, planners decided to top it with a “capstone” made of the what was, then the most precious metal known on Earth. The top is a pyramid, and the top of the pyramid is a one-pound block of this precious metal.
What was the most precious metal known to humans in 1880? Gold? Platinum? Tungsten, perhaps, not yet chosen to be filaments in the yet-to-be-perfected Edison “A” lightbulb?
Washington’s Monument is topped with aluminum.
“But,” you begin to sputter in protest, “aluminum is almost ubiquitous in soils, and it’s cheap — we use it in soda cans because it’s cheaper than steel or glass, for FSM’s sake!”
Today, yes. In 1880, no. Aluminum requires massive amounts of energy to refine the stuff from ore. Aluminum is common in soils and rocks, but it couldn’t be refined out easily for use.
That problem’s solution was electricity, generated from coal or especially falling water. For a while, our nation’s biggest aluminum refining plants resided in the state of Washington, not because they were close to aluminum ore deposits, but because there was a lot of cheap electricity available from the Grand Coulee and other dams on the mighty Columbia River. It was cheaper to transport the ore long distances for refining than to transport the electricity.
This history reveals a lot about science, history, energy use, resource conservation and economics — areas in which most climate denialists appear to me to lack knowledge and productive experience.
Peter Sinclair more often explains why climate denialists get things wrong. In this video, the first of what could be a significant series, Sinclair explains how we got to where we are today in energy use and conservation — or energy overuse and lack of conservation, if the Tea Party and Rand Paul get their way. (Notice the ingots of aluminum shown in the historic film footage.)
This is history which has been largely covered up, partly because so much critical stuff happened in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a time the internet doesn’t cover well.
Sometimes time and events just catch up to the hoaxsters.
In Nebraska, on Wednesday July 14, the Cooper nuclear generating station of the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) ended it’s “notification of unusual event” as floodwaters of the Missouri River retreated from the site.
According to the Associate Press report, the alert for the nuclear power plant at Fort Calhoun remains in effect. Fort Calhoun is upriver from Cooper, and lower in elevation in relation to the Missouri River. Fort Calhoun also was offline and in cold shutdown when the alert was posted, because it had been in a refueling operation. Fort Calhoun is operated by Omaha Public Power district (OPPD).
No damage was done to the reactor at either site. Operations continued at Cooper.
Rumors of a serious incident aroused conspiracy nuts when a hoax report out of Pakistan claimed the Russian nuclear agency had said the Fort Calhoun plant was in meltdown.
How with the hoaxsters spin it now?
Earlier at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:
Dan Weiss reports at Climate Progress that the attempt to kill energy conservation standards failed tonight. It required a two-thirds vote from the House to suspend the rules to consider it (the bill did not go through normal legislative channels) — the bill failed.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Tony Sidaway and his tweets.
Life is just a constant bitch for tea partiers.
Rand Paul revealed why he’s full of . . . that certain fecality, shall we say. He did that in a hearing about light bulbs, and appliances. Energy conservation gives Rand Paul formication (look it up).
But what about efforts to undo the energy conservation bill that practically forces long-lived, low-energy light bulbs on us? The Tea Party doesn’t like that idea, either. Michael Patrick Leahy, writing at the blog for Rupert Murdoch’s Broadside Books, explains why he thinks the Tea Party should oppose Fred Upton’s bill to repeal the energy standards Rand Paul castigated.
Basically, none of these guys knows beans about energy, nor much about the technology or science of electricity and lighting — they just like to whine.
Section 3 [of the “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act,” HR 2417] states that “No Federal, State, or local requirement or standard regarding energy efficient lighting shall be effective to the extent that the requirement or standard can be satisfied only by installing or using lamps containing mercury.” This reads to me that Congress is attacking the mercury laden CFL bulbs. The point of the individual economic choice guaranteed in the Constitution, however, is that Congress ought not to favor CFLs over incandescents, just as it ought not to favor incandescents over CFLs. I’m no fan of CFL bulbs personally, but look for CFL manufacturers like GE to make this argument against the bill at every opportunity.
Section 4 of the Act is designed to repeal the light bulb efficiency standards in effect in the State of California since January 1 of this year. The standards are essentially the federal standards that will go into effect January 1, 2012, but moved up a year. While I personally question the legal status of these very specific rules promulgated by the California Energy Commission based on a vague and non-specific 2007 California statute, it seems to me that there are serious Constitutional questions surrounding a Federal law prohibiting a State to establish its own product efficiency standards. While a good argument can be made that the Commerce Clause grants Congress the right to repeal California state regulations, a reasonable argument could be made by opponents of the bill that Congress can’t do this because the state of California is merely establishing local standards, which is its right.
Given these concerns about Sections 3 and 4, what purpose does it serve to include them in the bill? Both raise potential objections to the passage of the bill on the floor of the House if it comes to a vote this week.
Now, granted this is the House of Representatives, and not the Senate where Sen. Paul keeps a chair warmed, occasionally. Still, is it too much to ask the Tea Party to support the bills it asks for? Leahy said:
A full and open discussion of these issues in public hearings held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee would have been the right way to begin a legislative process that would have identified and addressed these potential objections. That’s the course that a Committee Chairman seriously committed to repealing the light bulb ban would have taken. Instead, Chairman Upton has followed this secretive, behind closed doors, last minute rushed vote approach.
There was a hearing in the Senate — good enough for most people — and of course, there were hearings on the issue in the House. The Tea Party was unconscious at the time. The bill they’re trying to repeal was a model of moderation as touted by the president when it passed, President George W. Bush — and it’s still a good idea to conserve energy and set standards that require energy conservation (the law does not ban incandescent bulbs).
Also, while they’re complaining about the mercury in Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs), remember, Dear Reader, they oppose letting our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protect you from mercury in your drinking water or the air that you breathe. Pollution is only worrisome to them if they can use worry as a tool to whine about people making life work without pollution. A rational person would point out that the mercury released by coal-fired power plants to produce the energy required by repeal of the conservation law would more than equal the mercury from all the CFLs, even were all that mercury to be released as pollution (which it isn’t, if properly disposed of):
8 hours: The amount of time a person must be exposed to the mercury in a CFL bulb to acquire the same mercury level as eating a six-ounce can of tuna, according to Climate Progress’s Stephen Lacey.
Is it too much to ask for reason, circumspection, and a touch of wisdom from these guys? You’re supposed to drink the tea, Tea Party, not smoke it.
A wet shake of the old scrub brush in the general direction of Instapundit, who never met a form of pollution he didn’t prefer over clean water or clean air.
Because it’s not like more efficient light bulbs would be helpful at all:
The American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy says that the standards would eliminate the need to develop 30 new power plants – or about the electrical demand of Pennsylvania and Tennessee combined.
Only Republicans can make the current crop of Democrats look good…
Mike provides more points that make the Upton bill look simultaneously silly and craven: The current law does not ban incandescent bulbs at all, for example, one manufacturer has introduced two new incandescent bulbs in the past year. Tea Party Republicans: No fact left unignored, no sensible solution left undistorted and unattacked.
While a few (crabs?) argue that solar power will never make a significant contribution to our daily energy budgets in the U.S., others quietly slip the bonds of the grid and go solar. If solar works, it will work one house at a time.
If you wish to go solar, where do you start? The Orange County (California) Register provided a great graphic to illustrate some of the considerations a homeowner needs to make, and how much it might cost.
Orange County, California, is the hotbed of conservative politics, and warming denialism such as it exists in California. In Orange County, solar power is a question of practicality, and one’s desire to save money on electricity. It’s in the Home and Garden section of the newspaper, not politics, not business.
Another gift from mainstream media that bloggers don’t equal, yet.
Is a Smart-Meter required for solar, today?