Energy


To paraphrase George Monbiot:

There is not enough oil.  We are all going to die!

. . . oh, wait . . .

There is too much oil.  We are all going to die!

It must be really depressing being an environmental alarmist.  No matter what happens, you have a compelling need to see it as a dire threat to the very existence of humanity.

As one would expect, Mr. Monbiot fails to note that much of the United State’s newly found energy wealth is in the form of natural gas, and as a result, “total [U.S] CO2 emissions this year are on track to drop to the lowest level since 1991.”

It's always darkest just before it goes pitch black.

If you were wondering where all the Puritanical guilt went as our society become more secularized, I think the environmental movement has found it for us.

This day we frack!

This is borderline sacrilege . . . but funny none the less.

As Aragorn might have put it if he was in the oil business, “A day may come when the hydrocarbon supply of men fails, when we forsake our internal combustion engines and break all pipelines and refineries, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and solar cells, when the age of oil comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we frack! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you drill, Men of the West!”

— Walter Russell Mead, Global Warming in the Golden Age of Oil

Mozambique’s new energy reserves may not be pretty or clean, but they have two advantages that trump everything else: they are lucrative, and, unlike the unicorns that the global climate movement insists will descend from the Misty Mountains any minute and solve all our problems while saving us money, they are real.

Walter Russel Meed, Via Meadia

The The good kind:

A new technique being used to drill through a type of rock known as shale has led to a surge in domestic natural gas production over the last three years and enabled the United States to overtake Russia recently as the world’s No. 1 producer of natural gas.

. . .

Thanks to a breakthrough in drilling technology, involving the use of three-dimensional seismic imaging and hydraulic fracturing of shale rock, huge amounts of natural gas are being produced in New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Louisiana and other states. Instead of declining, domestic natural gas production is booming to record-high levels (see chart).

If estimates hold up, energy experts say the shale gas that underlies large parts of the United States will be able meet our country’s needs for the next 100 years. The Department of Energy expects shale gas to account for 50% of natural gas production by 2020 if not sooner.

What’s more, the same drilling techniques for shale gas are now being used in several European countries, including France and Poland, to extract their own supplies. Both China and India have huge shale-gas resources. Geologists say shale gas is so plentiful in some parts of the world that it could meet global needs for several centuries.

And, the bad kind (of which Joe Biden appears to be the No. 1 producer):

But these exciting energy developments may not last if natural gas companies are burdened by excessive regulation and heavy taxes. Environmental groups are lobbying Congress to shift regulation of hydraulic fracturing from state governments to the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming that the process poses a risk to groundwater supplies.

But the fact is, hydraulic fracturing is done about 1,000 feet below underground aquifers and separated from the water supply by thick rock.

The White House also wants to add $37 billion in taxes on U.S. oil and natural gas companies, rehashing a proposal to Congress that failed the first time around. History shows that once drilling costs jump due to higher taxes, investment starts to dry up.

(Via Carpe Diem)

No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a Corolla. So there are not enough idiots who will buy it.

— Audi of America president Johan de Nysschen speculating on the success potential of GM’s Volt hybrid-electric car, as quoted in Car & Driver (Jan. 2010).

I don’t know what de Nysschen is on about. It’s only a 19 year return on investment. I could probably break even by the time the crown prince finishes college.

I think I have a basic understanding of public choice theory, and how special interests can use political power to extort money from the rest of us.  However, I cannot understand the tremendous political power of the agricultural lobby, especially the corn growers.  Only 2-3% of the American workforce is directly employed in agriculture, and I’m sure the corn growers are only a fraction of that small percentage.  And yet, the industry continues to receive massive subsidies in the face of opposition by groups as diverse as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Motorcycle Industry Council and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, the American Lung Association, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club.

Everyone Hates Ethanol, The Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal (Mar. 16, 2009).

Americans are unlikely to use enough gas next year to absorb the 13 billion gallons of ethanol that Congress mandated, because current regulations limit the ethanol content in each gallon of gas at 10%. The industry is asking that this cap be lifted to 15% or even 20%. That way, more ethanol can be mixed with less gas, and producers won’t end up with a glut that the government does not require anyone to buy.

The ethanol boosters aren’t troubled that only a fraction of the 240 million cars and trucks on the road today can run with ethanol blends higher than 10%. It can damage engines and corrode automotive pipes, as well as impair some safety features, especially in older vehicles. It can also overwhelm pollution control systems like catalytic converters. The malfunctions multiply in other products that use gas, such as boats, snowmobiles, lawnmowers, chainsaws, etc.

That possible policy train wreck is uniting almost every other Washington lobby — and talk about strange bedfellows. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Motorcycle Industry Council and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, among others, are opposed, since raising the blend limit will ruin their products. The left-leaning American Lung Association and the Union of Concerned Scientists are opposed too, since it will increase auto emissions. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club agree, on top of growing scientific evidence that corn ethanol provides little or no net reduction in CO2 over the gasoline it displaces.

(HT Carpe Diem)

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