Sunday, October 30, 2011

Energy independence

We have been talking about reducing America's dependence on foreign energy sources since at least the Carter Administration, but the share of energy supplied by foreign sources only seems to keep increasing. Has that trend finally been reversed? An article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, points out that US petroleum imports have fallen to 47% of our supply, down from a high of about 60% in 2005. A lot of this gain is due to better technology that is allowing oil companies to tap dormant fields. It is also due to ethanol, and to an increase in drilling permits. Another article in the Houston Chronicle I found courtesy of the Obama Diary gives President Obama credit for being the best energy president in decades, having increased domestic oil production by 14%, natural gas production up 16%, solar energy up 14% and wind generation up 59%. Interestingly, the article also points out that the administration's concurrent emphasis on conservation and energy efficiency doesn't seem to be hurting the energy industry at all.

I wonder if all those who chant "Drill, Baby Drill," are going to recognize that action is worth more than slogans. I wonder if they will give the president credit for the substantial gains we are making in energy production, or if they will just keep repeating the same tired criticisms that have no substance.

File this under "more inconvenient facts that don't fit the pre-determined opposition and media narrative."


  1. It's not the energy industry that is being hurt. It's the people who have lost good paying jobs in the Gulf States and all of the rest of us who pay the bills at home and at the pump.

    Then there is Solyndra, Sunpower, Fisker, Telsa and now Beacon Power. The list is expanding and will continue to expand. No problem, let me help finance this mess with dwindling amount of money I have left over after the policies of this administration.

    Higher costs at the pump, higher health care premiums, higher food costs and exploding debt. This what what I meant in an earlier post; I will vote to endure higher taxes when my government demonsrtates it can spend my money wisely, stops croney capitalism and distances itself from Wall Street.

    This year, Philadelphia spent 2.4 million dollars attacking sodas. With that money, they could have added 52 police officers!

  2. If I told you the sun was shining, would you feel compelled to point out that it might rain tomorrow?

    If you read the two articles I cited, you should agree with me that everything in those articles constitutes good news. If you want to bring up bad news, we can discuss that some other time, but it doesn't seem to have much to do with the facts cited in my post.

  3. Joe, I think you are right. Ol' KP is a little frustrated with Obama, Bush, Clinton, both parties of Congress, Dems, Repubs, Rubin, Geitner, Wall Street, bail outs and ideologues selling me blue sky in a storm.

  4. I give Obama credit for wasting hundreds of millions of dollars supporting "green" energy firms that have no business plan with a chance for success while damaging those that do.

  5. Joe, I think it's good that we're at least trying to get to a point where we're independent of foreign energy, but the transition isn't a pretty one (which is probably to be expected).

    We'll likely see gas prices stay right where they are, hovering at $3.50 a gallon, or get worse. The less foreign energy we consume, the higher the prices will get. The problem is that we can't make a clean break. Most of our oil still comes from foreign countries, so as long as a big chunk of our oil comes from OPEC nations, we'll still be under their ridiculous thumb.

    It's not Obama's fault, but we won't really see any alleviation at the pump for quite some time, if ever, considering that we'll likely never be able to be completely self-sufficient.

  6. The problem with gas prices, Jack, is not that they are too high. The problem is that when you buy gas, you are not paying for all of the costs of burning that gas. Those costs include the costs of air pollution, noise pollution, health costs associated with smog, as well as the costs of global warming and other environmental destruction. In other words, every time you step on the gas, you are causing the oceans to rise which is sinking the Maldive Islands, among other places, and will force the relocation or deaths of millions. You are causing people along your route to contract asthma and emphysema. And you are not paying for that.

    If we actually made people pay the full costs of what economists call the negative externalities that they are causing, that would go a long way toward reducing our dependence on foreign sources, as well as start to reduce our severe environmental problems. And morally it is only right that we should pay for all the damage that we are causing. Why should somebody else pay?

  7. President Obama is a fine man and has good intentions. But it is no longer good enough to have good intentions. I am all for green energy, and I want to be sure we leave a healthy planet to the future, but this president and his administration is playing pin the tail on the donkey with blindfolds. They are trying to pick winners and losers and throwing money away all over the place. I was listening to one of guys in the energy department testify in front of Congress last night. He made a couple of salient observations.

    If the majority of these green projects we are spending billions on were ready to be successful, then venture groups would have already put together the capital and done them. And if the venture groups had already collected the capital because they thought these programs were financially feasible then we wouldn't need the reinvestment act.

    Secondly, he was very frustrated at the way the administration was forcing money out. He said they were tasked with an impossible job. He used the example of trying hook up a garden hose to distribute the water from a fire hydrant! We simply did not and do not have the infrastructure in place to put the money where it is needed, the people to decide where it goes, the oversight to prevent fraud or the programs ready to be successful on large scale. The money (like water in the example) is being wasted in almost every way.

    Like I said, I am very supportive for green energy. But holy moly, you don’t toss billions of dollars out your car window while driving down the freeway and expect them to get to your bank account. And why, in the midst of the greatest recession would you avoid doing massive energy projects in gas and oil that are here at home. Even if we cut gas and oil use by 50% in this country we are still going to be using massive amounts for the next 30-40 years. Why not employ our people and produce our energy when we know where it is and can access it here at home.