Another Write-wing Conspirator

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    Armchair philosopher, politically-incorrect political commentator, raconteur, retired air traffic controller, dilettante truck driver, US Army veteran, recluse, sometime-writer, redneck convert neè Buckeye, ne'er-do-well, bon vivant, unrepentant libertine, unapologetic libertarian, and (of course) curmudgeon…

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Obama’s Energy Gambit

Posted by The Curmudgeon on April 3, 2010

Absurdities punctuated by contradictions

Apparently fooling no one, the Obama regime announced what it hoped would be seen as wide-reaching initiatives in the realm of not-so-green energy production.

It took about five minutes for critics to dissect and discredit the announcement. The only real mystery here is: What’s he up to this time?

On its surface, it appears an ill-conceived effort on Obama’s part. Proponents of expanded oil exploration (the “Drill, baby, drill” contingent) quickly pointed-out the most glaring shortcomings of his announcement: That it would take at least two years to have any effect, that it omitted the most-coveted reserves (notably the rich ANWR oil-fields)—and in fact excluded more areas than it identified as acceptable for exploration, and that the very use of the term “explore” doesn’t carry with it the promise of actual fuel production. In this supposed acknowledgment that “green” technology is not yet the panacea many would like for it to be, The Anointed One suggests an interest in resorting to less-trendy energy sources (“suggests” is the key word, here). He even gives a nod to coal as an acceptable energy source (did anyone notice a slight choking sound accompanying those words as they escaped his lips?). The notion that he’d publicly embrace (or appear to) fossil fuels is reported to have shocked tree-huggers so deeply that they found themselves no longer hugging; rather, they were clinging desperately for support as their knees went weak.

Be not afraid, wood-nymphs; had you been paying attention these past few years, you’d know to not believe anything Obama says. (On the other hand…had you been paying attention, he’d never have been elected in the first place.)

If there was a surprise in all this, it was that Obama would deign to even mention coal, at all. He’s clearly established himself as no friend to the coal industry (conveniently overlooking the simple fact that half the nation’s — and the world’s — electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants, and completely ignoring coal’s economic importance). Moreover, coal is anathema to his green-minded left wing; throwing genuine support to coal at this point would risk alienating a significant percentage of his liberal base.

He should re-think his position.

Public perceptions of coal notwithstanding, coal could well prove a boon for U.S. energy—if allowed to do so. It’s estimated that domestic coal reserves have the capacity to end dependence on foreign oil (can you say “national security”?)—and USGS surveys indicate that peak coal (the point at which maximum production has been reached—and a period of declining production begins) won’t be reached until about 2030. Contrary to the long-held image of coal as a dirty, pollution-spewing, outmoded energy source, current technology permits coal’s conversion to both liquid and gas fuels at a cost comparable to that of petroleum-based fuels—and “clean coal” power plants could easily supplant their smoke-belching ancestors. No, it’s not the ultimate, perfect energy source; it could do the trick, however, until “green” alternatives catch-up. (Something to think about while watching news video of “wind farms” in the northern U.S. rendered useless when their enormous turbines were frozen still by harsh winter weather.)

Petroleum experts, meanwhile, openly scoffed at this claimed shift in the White House’s position, correctly noting that no drilling has yet been authorized—and doubts were raised that even one oil platform would ever be established. A trademark Obama performance, the “announcement” was predictably long on vague, abstract aims—and just as predictably short on specific commitments.

Oh, and Obama also reminded us that he’d given the green light to building the first nuclear power plant to be constructed in this nation in three decades (no word yet on when that’ll actually come to pass—if it ever does).

At this point, it might be helpful to consider a few significant points:


Despite his new suggestions (and they’re just that: mere suggestions…hints—not hard commitments) of openness to further oil exploration, it must be remembered that throughout his campaign for the White House Obama opposed — consistently and firmly — any new drilling.

While seeming to be amenable to increased coal use, Obama’s EPA just a few months ago rejected seventy-nine mining permits. (It should also be noted that obtaining new permits is a slow process; one estimate places the interval between permit request to actual production at up to seven years.)

While outwardly encouraging the development of nuclear power, Obama terminated the Yucca Mountain (NV) project after the expenditure of nearly $10 billion—leaving the nuclear industry with no long-term repository for spent nuclear fuel.


To repeat the question posed above: What’s Obama up to this time? (Recall once again his own words: “I always have a plan.”)

The prevailing guess is that he intends to somehow leverage the salvation of his “cap-and-screw trade” proposal (currently languishing in Congress—bereft of supporters in the wake of the bitter health care reform scuffle). Given his reputation for employing varying combinations of smoke, mirrors, bribes, and blackmail…well, it certainly seems a reasonable conclusion. (One might be well-advised to put-off buying oil futures just yet.)

So…how should we regard the seeming contradictions posed by Obama’s momentous announcement?

Warily. Very warily.



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