Blue Planet in Green Shackles

Ξ May 29th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Global Warming Myth |

May 28, 2008

Blue Planet in Green Shackles

By Vaclav Klaus

Presentation of the book “Blue Planet in Green Shackles”, National Press Club, Washington D.C., 27. May, 2008

It is a great pleasure to be here. Let me thank all those who helped to make the English translation and publication of my book “Blue Planet in Green Shackles” possible, especially Fred Smith and his Competitive Enterprise Institute, and those who co-organized the presentation of it in this very prestigious place. I am really excited to finally hold in my hands – after the Czech, German and Dutch editions – the English version of my book.

The authors often claim that their books speak for themselves. I cautiously agree and will, therefore, speak not about the book itself but about my motivations to write it.

To make my position and my message clear, I should probably revoke my personal experience. My today’s thinking is substantially influenced by the fact that I spent most of my life under the communist regime which ignored and brutally violated human freedom and wanted to command not only the people but also the nature. To command “wind and rain” is one of the famous slogans I remember since my childhood. This experience taught me that freedom and rational dealing with the environment are indivisible. It formed my relatively very sharp views on the fragility and vulnerability of free society and gave me a special sensitivity to all kinds of factors which may endanger it.

I do not, however, live in the past and do not see the future threats to free society coming from the old and old-fashioned communist ideology. The name of the new danger will undoubtedly be different, but its substance will be very similar. There will be the same attractive, to a great extent pathetic and at first sight quasi-noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of something above him, (of something greater than his poor self), supplemented by enormous self-confidence on the side of those who stand behind it. Like their predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality. In the past it was in the name of the masses (or of the Proletariat), this time in the name of the Planet. Structurally, it is very similar.

(more…)

 

Our Collectivists Candidates

Ξ May 28th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ 2008 Presidential Race |

Our Collectivist Candidates

By DAVID BOAZ

May 28, 2008; Page A17

On Sunday Barack Obama urged graduates of Connecticut’s Wesleyan University to devote themselves to “collective service.” This is not an unusual theme for a commencement address. But it was interesting how long he went on discussing various kinds of nonprofit activism without ever mentioning the virtues of commerce or of individual achievement.

He also did not cite the military as an example of service to one’s country. This is a surprising omission in a Memorial Day weekend speech to college-age students by a man seeking to be entrusted with the defense of the U.S.

Sen. Obama told the students that “our individual salvation depends on collective salvation.” He disparaged students who want to “take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy.”

The people Mr. Obama is sneering at are the ones who built America – the traders and entrepreneurs and manufacturers who gave us railroads and airplanes, housing and appliances, steam engines, electricity, telephones, computers and Starbucks. Ignored here is the work most Americans do, the work that gives us food, clothing, shelter and increasing comfort. It’s an attitude you would expect from a Democrat.

(more…)

 

Oil Executives Try to Educate Senate Democrats, But Democrats Appear Hopeless

Ξ May 22nd, 2008 | → 1 Comments | ∇ Main, Politics |

May 21, 2008

Oil Executives Try to Educate Senate Democrats, But Democrats Appear Hopeless

Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee summoned top executives from the petroleum industry for what Chairman Pat Leahy thought would be a politically profitable inquisition. Leahy and his comrades showed up ready to blame American oil companies for the high price of gasoline, but the event wasn’t as satisfactory as the Democrats had hoped.

The industry lineup was formidable: Robert Malone, Chairman and President of BP America, Inc.; John Hofmeister, President, Shell Oil Company; Peter Robertson, Vice Chairman of the Board, Chevron Corporation; John Lowe, Executive Vice President, Conoco Philips Company; and Stephen Simon, Senior Vice President, Exxon Mobil Corporation. Not surprisingly, the petroleum executives stole the show, as they were far smarter, infinitely better informed, and much more public-spirited than the Senate Democrats.

One theme that emerged from the hearing was the surprisingly small role played by American oil companies in the global petroleum market. John Lowe pointed out:

I cannot overemphasize the access issue. Access to resources is severely restricted in the United States and abroad, and the American oil industry must compete with national oil companies who are often much larger and have the support of their governments.

We can only compete directly for 7 percent of the world’s available reserves while about 75 percent is completely controlled by national oil companies and is not accessible.

Stephen Simon amplified:

Exxon Mobil is the largest U.S. oil and gas company, but we account for only 2 percent of global energy production, only 3 percent of global oil production, only 6 percent of global refining capacity, and only 1 percent of global petroleum reserves. With respect to petroleum reserves, we rank 14th. Government-owned national oil companies dominate the top spots. For an American company to succeed in this competitive landscape and go head to head with huge government-backed national oil companies, it needs financial strength and scale to execute massive complex energy projects requiring enormous long-term investments.

To simply maintain our current operations and make needed capital investments, Exxon Mobil spends nearly $1 billion each day.

Because foreign companies and governments control the overwhelming majority of the world’s oil, most of the price you pay at the pump is the cost paid by the American oil company to acquire crude oil from someone else:

(more…)

 

A Video Portrait Of Barack Hussein Obama

Ξ May 13th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ 2008 Presidential Race |

 

The Scariest thing about Obama

Ξ May 13th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ 2008 Presidential Race |

 

Ξ May 13th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Main |

May 13, 2008

In Defense of ‘Big Oil’

By Cal Thomas

With gas prices topping four dollars a gallon in some regions of the country, now may not be the best time to say something positive about “big oil,” but here goes anyway.

Where is it written that the cost for a product or service should be frozen in place and in time, never to rise again, or to rise at a pace commensurate with our incomes? People who think this way know little to nothing about supply and demand and less than nothing about the profit motive. That’s because at least three generations have been raised on the notion of entitlement, and when one feels entitled to something, one believes someone else should pay.

Senate Democrats last week sought to ingratiate themselves with voters, while doing nothing to produce more energy, with a familiar attack on “big oil.” They want to repeal $17 billion in tax breaks for the oil companies over 10 years and on top of that impose a windfall profit tax on companies that don’t invest in new energy sources. This is political expediency at its worst.

Peter Robertson, vice chairman of Chevron, told me it’s a myth that oil companies are not investing in new energy sources. He says last year alone, Chevron spent $20 billion exploring new sources of energy.

Every weekday NewsAndOpinion.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider “must-reading”. HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It’s free. Just click here.

Robertson said President Bush’s trip this week to Saudi Arabia is “highly embarrassing” because he is “calling on the Saudis to produce more oil when we are not doing it ourselves.” The last refinery built in America was in 1976. Tighter government regulations are the main reason. That’s how unserious we are about our energy “crisis.”

Robertson said there would be plenty of oil available to the United States if the oil companies were allowed to get it: “Eighty-five percent of offshore oil is off-limits.” Responding to objections to offshore drilling by environmentalists and their allies in Congress, Robertson noted that some of the strongest pro-environment nations in Europe — he mentions Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom — lease offshore locations for oil exploration. The technology has become so good, he said, that during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, “one thousand offshore wells were destroyed (in the Gulf of Mexico), but not one leaked.” Australia, he said, has allowed offshore drilling for 40 years without any environmental damage.

In addition to the sinking value of the dollar, here is the main problem: According to the Department of Energy, U.S. oil production has fallen approximately 40 percent since 1985, while the consumption of oil has grown by more than 30 percent.

According to government estimates, there is enough oil in areas accessible to America — 112 billion barrels — to power more than 60 million cars for 60 years. The Outer Continental Shelf alone contains an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Had President Clinton not vetoed exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in 1995, when oil was $19 a barrel, America would currently be receiving more than 1 million barrels a day domestically, all of it taken by better technology than existed more than 30 years ago. That was when the Alaskan pipeline was built despite protests from environmentalists who claimed it would destroy the caribou. It didn’t, but the environmentalists are back with the same discredited arguments. Because most of the oil remains “off-limits,” we are becoming more dependent on foreign oil.

No, we can’t “drill our way out” of our addiction to oil, but we can make the transition to other energy sources easier while lessening our dependence on foreign oil and propping up dictators who use our money to subsidize terrorists. A slow transition will also give us time to consider more fuel-efficient cars and greater use of public transportation, even bicycles for short trips. Bikes would help more of us lose weight and get in shape. A friend bikes to work every day, saving gas, car payments, insurance and repair costs.

The specter of a president of the United States going hat-in-hand to Saudi Arabia to plead for more (and more expensive) oil from the dictatorship that underwrites an extreme form of Islam that is out to kill us is obscene. President Bush ought to be rallying Americans, not embracing people who don’t allow women to drive cars. .

 

Biofuels Backlash!

Ξ May 9th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Main, Politics |

The Biofuels Backlash
May 7, 2008; Page A18

St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, and for 30 years we invoked his name as we opposed ethanol subsidies. So imagine our great, pleasant surprise to see that the world is suddenly awakening to the folly of subsidized biofuels.

All it took was a mere global “food crisis.” Last week chief economist Joseph Glauber of the USDA, which has been among Big Ethanol’s best friends in Washington, blamed biofuels for increasing prices on corn and soybeans. Mr. Glauber also predicted that corn prices will continue their historic rise because of demand from “expanding use for ethanol.”

Even the environmental left, which pushed ethanol for decades as an alternative to gasoline, is coming clean. Lester Brown, one of the original eco-Apostles, wrote in the Washington Post that “it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that food-to-fuel mandates have failed.” We knew for sure the tide had turned when Time magazine’s recent cover story, “The Clean Energy Myth,” described how turning crops into fuel increases both food prices and atmospheric CO2. No one captures elite green wisdom better than Time’s Manhattan editors. Can Vanity Fair be far behind?

All we can say is, welcome aboard. Corn ethanol can now join the scare over silicone breast implants and the pesticide Alar as among the greatest scams of the age. But before we move on to the next green miracle cure, it’s worth recounting how much damage this ethanol political machine is doing.

To create just one gallon of fuel, ethanol slurps up 1,700 gallons of water, according to Cornell’s David Pimentel, and 51 cents of tax credits. And it still can’t compete against oil without a protective 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imports and a federal mandate that forces it into our gas tanks. The record 30 million acres the U.S. will devote to ethanol production this year will consume almost a third of America’s corn crop while yielding fuel amounting to less than 3% of petroleum consumption.

In December the Congressional Research Service warned that even devoting every last ear of American-grown corn to ethanol would not create enough “renewable fuel” to meet federal mandates. According to a 2007 OECD report, fossil-fuel production is up to 10,000 times as efficient as biofuel, measured by energy produced per unit of land.

Now scientists are showing that ethanol will exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions. A February report in the journal Science found that “corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years . . . Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%.” Princeton’s Timothy Searchinger and colleagues at Iowa State, of all places, found that markets for biofuel encourage farmers to level forests and convert wilderness into cropland. This is to replace the land diverted from food to fuel.

As usual, Congress is the last to know, but maybe even it is catching on. Credit goes to John McCain, the first presidential candidate in recent memory who has refused to bow before King Ethanol. Onetime ethanol opponent Hillary Clinton announced her support in 2006, as the Iowa caucuses beckoned. In 2006 Barack Obama proposed mandating a staggering 65 billion gallons a year of alternative fuel by 2025, but by this Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” he was suggesting that maybe helping “people get something to eat” was a higher priority than biofuels.

Mr. McCain and 24 other Senators are now urging EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to consider using his broad waiver authority to eliminate looming biofuel mandates. Otherwise, the law will force us to consume roughly four times the current requirement by 2022. In fact, with some concerned state governments submitting helpful petitions, Mr. Johnson could largely knock out the ethanol mandate regime, at least temporarily.

Over the longer term, however, this shouldn’t be entrusted to unelected bureaucrats. The best policy would repeal the biofuel mandates and subsidies enacted in the 2005 and 2007 energy bills. We say repeal because there will be intense lobbying to keep the subsidies, or transfer them from projects that have failed to those that have not yet failed.

Like Suzanne Somers in “American Graffiti,” the perfect biofuel is always just out of reach, only a few more billion dollars in subsidies away from commercial viability. But sometimes even massive government aid can’t turn science projects into products. The industry’s hope continues for cellulosic ethanol, but there’s no getting around the fact that biofuels require vegetation to make fuel. Even cellulosic ethanol, while more efficient than corn, will require countless acres of fuel if it is ever going to replace oil. Perhaps some future technology will efficiently extract energy from useless corn stalks and fallen trees. But until that day, Congress’s ethanol subsidies are merely force-feeding an industry that is doing far more harm than good.

The results include distorted investment decisions, higher carbon emissions, higher food prices for Americans, and an emerging humanitarian crisis in the developing world. The last thing the poor of Africa and the taxpayers of America need is another scheme to conjure gasoline out of corn and tax credits.

 

I Feel Pretty

Ξ May 9th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ 2008 Presidential Race |

John “The Breck Girl” Edwards reveals what’s really important to him!

 

Going After OPEC – Reagan Style!

Ξ May 7th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Main, Politics |

Going After OPEC

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

Posted 5/6/2008

Energy: Hillary Clinton says she wants to dismantle OPEC if she becomes president. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. And we have just the way for her to do it.

“We’re going to go right at OPEC,” the candidate said Monday on the campaign in Indiana. “They can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world, they decide how much oil they’re going to produce and what price they’re going to put it at.”

Clinton said that along with her plan to tax oil companies’ “unreasonable” profits, she’d pursue OPEC through the World Trade Organization and by suits under the U.S. antitrust law.

Spoken like a true Democrat. But Clinton’s plan to go after OPEC is a slick PR exercise, and her recent threats against U.S. oil companies are downright dangerous.

“(Oil companies) have record profits,” she said, “that they frankly are just sitting there counting because they are not doing anything new to earn it; they are just taking advantage of what’s going on.”

This is patently false. In fact, oil companies from 1992 to 2006 invested more than $1.25 trillion. Their profits over that time: a little over $900 billion.

Moreover, U.S. oil companies would love to do a lot more, but Hillary and the rest of her Democratic Party colleagues in Congress have kept them from doing so.

If Hillary is really serious about breaking OPEC, she should push something very un-Hillary-like: boosting energy supply by unleashing the very oil companies she now vilifies. They’re America’s secret weapon against the cartel.

That’s right: Pry open more markets overseas and open up the vast resources that we still have available in the U.S. and which amount to literally hundreds of billions of barrels of crude oil and equivalents.

That will hurt OPEC by breaking the back of higher oil prices through added supply. Flooding the market with cheaper oil is the only way to make OPEC squeal — not senseless lawsuits and WTO actions that would take years, if not decades, to get through our legal system.

As we’ve noted repeatedly, U.S. oil reserves offshore, in Alaska and locked up on federal lands in the Midwest are a potential bonanza. If President Bill Clinton in 1995 had approved drilling in Alaska’s ANWR, instead of vetoing it, we’d have millions of barrels more of oil today. And, by the way, Hillary still opposes this.

Around the world, governments control about 80% of all energy reserves — that includes the U.S. And 12 of the 15 largest oil companies are government-owned. The real energy problem, in other words, isn’t Big Oil; it’s Big Government.

As with so many other things, President Reagan got it right when, not even a week after taking office in 1981, he signed Executive Order 12287 decontrolling the price of oil and gas. He then ordered his secretary of energy to focus on encouraging U.S. companies to find and produce more.

It worked like a charm, bringing oil prices down sharply and OPEC to its knees. By 1986, after a 74% drop in the price of oil, some even doubted OPEC could survive.

Such would-be monopolies look invincible when demand rises and prices follow. But when supply increases, prices fall and members start cheating, they look pathetic. This pretty much describes the history of OPEC.

Reagan’s strategy of energy decontrol would work again today. But this time it’s supplies, not prices, that need to be untethered.

 

Ten Simple Truths About Oil

Ξ May 6th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Main |

Ten Simple Truths About Oil
By Alan Caruba Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Having written about the energy industry and issues now for a long time, I hope I can be forgiven for being enraged by the comments by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) in response to President Bush’s press conference Tuesday morning. There is simply no way to describe them other than false.

The Democrat Party has long made “Big Oil” their favorite punching bag, confident that the public has no idea what influences the price and supply of oil. Saying anything favorable to Big Oil is immediately deemed evidence that one is in their pay and whatever facts are offered are therefore invalid.

There are, however, some simple truths about Big Oil that cannot and should not be ignored. To do so leaves everyone at the mercy of energy policies that have created the situation in which the United States finds itself today.

Fact #1. The combined ownership of oil reserves by the independent, investor-owned oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Conoco-Phillips, BP, Chevron and others is barely 4% of the total known oil reserves in the world. By itself, ExxonMobil’s share is 1.08%.
Fact #2. Oil is a global commodity sold on mercantile exchanges for whatever price it can command. Speculation in oil prices is the primary reason they have been driven to utterly insane costs per barrel. It has nothing to do with actual supply and demand.

Fact #3. No nation on Earth is or can be “energy independent.” The geopolitics of oil is complex, but as nations such as China and India have seen their economies grow, their need for oil grows with it and thus they compete with long established industrialized nations for existing oil supplies. This competition has an impact on prices.

Fact #4. The OPEC nations, those in the Middle East and including Venezuela, control 77% of the world’s known oil reserves. Like Russia and Mexico, where the oil industry is controlled by the state, it is generally poorly managed. Several Big Oil companies that were induced to undertake exploration and development in Russia and Venezuela actually had their assets nationalized or stolen at prices well below their investment and value.

Fact #5. Energy is the master resource. All nations with any hope of growing their economies require it, mostly in the form of electricity, but also for oil’s role in transportation. The failure to have a national long-range energy policy that is based in reality can severely impact energy prices.

Fact #6. The United States has, for years, pursued an energy policy based on environmental myths such as “biofuels” in which corn is turned into ethanol to reduce the import of oil, but it costs as much to produce ethanol as to refine oil and it provides less mileage per gallon, thus negating any reason for this additive. Likewise, suggesting that wind or solar energy can generate anything more than its current 1% of the nation’s electricity needs ignores their unreliability and the fact they are heavily subsidized, a form of hidden consumer tax.

Fact #7. It costs billions to explore, discover, extract and transport oil. It takes lots of lead-time as well. The United States Congress has, for decades, refused to permit the extraction of vast oil reserves in ANWR despite the fact it would have little or no impact on the Alaskan wildlife reserve. In addition, Congress has declared 85% percent of the nation’s coastal, offshore areas off-limits to any exploration for oil or natural gas.

Fact #8. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under the mandate of Congress, requires Big Oil to refine oil into some seventeen different formulations in the name of clean air. With three grades of gasoline, that means that refiners must produce some 45 different blends. The quality of air in America is excellent, but the cost of gasoline at the pump continues to rise as the result of these mandates.

Fact #9. America imports two-thirds of the oil it uses. All of its transportation runs on oil. The population continues to grow. Failure to encourage the construction of a single new refinery since the 1970s puts a further strain on the ability of Big Oil to provide the nation’s oil and diesel fuel needs.

Fact #10. Democrats continue to demand that Big Oil’s profits be confiscated in some fashion and some of the inducements offered to explore for more oil be ended. Because the costs of exploration, extraction, refining, and transporting of oil represents billions, the actual profit margin of a company like ExxonMobil is about 10%, well below what industries such as pharmaceuticals and banking enjoy.

For these and many other reasons, Americans are being impoverished at the gas pump because Congress has dithered and failed in one of its most important responsibilities.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, http://www.anxietycenter.com. He blogs at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com.