The story is big the news, the retraction, not so much. Consider this news story - “The Environmental Protection Agency has dropped its claim that an energy company contaminated drinking water in Texas, the third time in recent months that the agency has backtracked on high-profile local allegations linking natural-gas drilling and water pollution.” reference
I think that the unlocking of our vast natural gas reserves is the best ecological & environmental story in years. Yet it has drawn heavy criticism, sometimes justified, often ignorant, mostly based on outdated narratives. Consider the wildly inaccurate documentary "Gasland". It won all kinds of awards and is very compelling. Scientists think it is bunk and research has disproved most of the claims, but - hey - it makes a better drama when you can light water on fire.
It seems to me that very much of the mythology centered on environmental extremism is based around the keystone myth that nature w/o humans is somehow clean, benign and perfect. It is not. Many toxins appear in the natural world. Arsenic is present in natural water in many areas. Gas and oil have seeped out of the ground since before the ancestors of men (although Chrissy informs me perhaps not women - no logic there) descended from trees.
The idea of perfect nature apart from man is not merely wrong; it is pernicious because it impedes decision making based on sound & practical ecological principles. The attack on gas is a good example. Natural gas extraction and use is more ecologically benign than any of the alternatives currently available at the scale that it could currently replace. Yet purists reject it because it is not perfect. They make the perfect the enemy of the good. Purists are pains in the ass.
This is not a new problem. A century ago, various revolutionaries argued the efficacy of reforming capitalism. Some radicals fought against measures that would improve life for ordinary people on the theory that conditions had to become so bad that they would provoke the world revolutions predicted in Marxist theology. When the Marxist nightmare ran out of steam, people with a puritan/revolutionary bent had to look for other causes. The environment was a perfect home for them.
One of the big weaknesses of Marxism was that they claimed to speak for the workers, but the workers could speak for themselves. What they said, usually contradicted Marxist mythology. The advantage of "speaking for nature" is that nobody can really ask trees, rocks or animals what they really think. Unlike Marxists, environmental revolutionaries have no ostensible constituency that can contradict them.
We don't need an environmental revolution, but we could use a reformation. As with most things, real progress is achieved in the middle ground, where we can be pragmatic enough to make compromises. A sound environmental policy requires - not allows requires - that we sometimes kill animals, cut trees and even pave land. If done correctly, it can create benefits all around. And if we don't make it possible for honest people to make a profit doing these things, the field will be left to dishonest operators acting outside the law.
There are a few things we need to understand in our reformed environmentalism.
- Sustainable does NOT mean preserved unchanged. It means reasonably predictable and beneficial change.
o Sustainable is better than natural and many natural systems are not sustainable.
- Renewable is better than recyclable, although both have their place.
o The cost for most things in environmental terms is usually mostly concentrated in the energy it takes to move it. If you use less paper, it doesn't really "save trees" but it may save energy.
o It may require more energy to recycle than to throw out and renew.
- Nothing lasts forever. Sometimes we just need to let go. Panda bears, for example, are doomed. They may survive in zoos, due to the kindness of humans, but they are not fit (in the Darwinian sense) to survive in the wild.
- There is no environment in the world that is not influenced by humans. If we think we can "return to nature" we are abdicating our responsibility to be good stewards.
One more thing - natural gas is as good as it currently gets as a fuel we need at the scale we need to use it. It is not THE answer, since there is never a final answer, but it is the one we should be using for the next decade at least. That would be good environmental policy and good economic policy too.
Posted by Christine & John at March 31, 2012 6:03 PM
C&J, you brought up some good points and I might add to them:
1. The left, especially the environmentalist hate humanity; the believe we should all be living in caves and walking. Well, anyway they believe all except for liberals should be living in caves. They believe the invention of the wheel was the downfall of mankind.
2. According to the Bible, God created man and gave him dominion over natural resources. If He didn’t want us to use them, why did he creat them? If God wanted us to live in the perfect world of the liberals, he would have created Adam and Steve, instead of Adam and Eve. One generation and man would have been on the endangered spiecies list.
3. How will the left deal with proof of global warming in medieval times, with no output of CO2?
Everything is a crisis to the left and must be dealt with now, or WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE. Latest:
But it never fails, as time goes by and the truth is learned…well you get the picture.
The definition of a leftist intellectual is someone who loves all mankind, but can’t think of many people re really likes.
And the right thinks if we could just cut more taxes the clouds would part rainbows.. strike that rainbows are gay and the unclean masses would rejoice. Thank god for grover norquist.
“They believe the invention of the wheel was the downfall of mankind.”
Actually it was the discovery of fire.
“The definition of a leftist intellectual is someone who loves all mankind, but can’t think of many people re really likes.”
And the best representation of the right is Larry the cable guy.
C&J, Although the source is WSJ if it is true that fracking doesn’t contaminate the local water supplies it is good news. Wonder what caused the water to burst into flames though?
Frank, just bringing the otherwise intelligent post of C&J, down to your level…
1. The right especially social conservatives hate humanity; they believe we should all live in the gutters and streets, well except for the 1% of course. They believe the discovery of the earth rotating around the sun was the downfall of mankind.
2.According to the bible thumping conservative extremist God wants us to use up all resources he created as fast as humanly possible while we live in our own excrement. One wonders why God spent those millions of years turning plants into oil just to have us use it all up in a few hundred years. If God would have wanted us to live in the perfect world of the conservatives he would have not created Adam or Eve to just have them sin thereby not populating the world with humans at all, well unless they were rich of course, cause God….
Natural gas leaks to the surface in many locations around the world. There are cases of spontaneous combustion of methane from geological sources or from swamp gases. Water in swamps can “burst into flames” and some campers have found to their surprise and distress.
The case in “Gasland” is one of those natural methane seeps, unrelated to fracking. Strictly speaking, the water doesn’t burst into flames, BTW, but methane present does.
“Get er done”. He is a good example of a common - especially common - man. I would not feel bad about having guys like that in my camp. They usually can actually get things done.
Re fire - indeed, as you know, it was Prometheus’ gift that separated humans from the Gods in the Greek stories and gave them the power. For this service, Zeus sentenced Prometheus to be chained to a rock and have his liver pecked out every day by an eagle. Every night it grew back. That must have been a great feat of genetic engineering. Too bad we still have not achieved that advance.
Frank on God and dominion:
You act like God is an excuse for business to profit today at the expense of our natural resources and our clean communities tomorrow. As C&J points out, the key phrase there is good stewardship. Perhaps you think no industry has ever polluted, or destroyed forests or wetlands in the name of big business? Of course they have. They have and they will if left alone. It’s what they do. You may not like the regulations we’ve put in place over the years but they allow business to function and at the same time we have some protection for our families at the same time.
Frank on global warming:
I appreciate how you take the word of one group of scientists because they agree with you while you disregard the words of a global consensus of scientists who believe in human made climate change because you disagree with them. Does that pass as critical thinking for you? Multiple independent studies confirm the world is significantly warmer now than it’s been in the last thousand years. If scientists as a community come up with some explanation for this trend other than human created CO2 then I’m sure you’ll be the first to know. Until then you should try not to cherry pick your stories and your evidence simply to match what you want to say is false simply to continue your trend of hating liberalism in all forms you can come up with both real and imagined.
C&J, I thank you for including me in the discussion about your petroleum industry commercial.
So all the incidents of alleged contamination of ground water caused by fracking are actually caused by natural seeps? Picking out one event and spinning is exactly what conservatives are good at. Second to genuflecting for a faction of the wealthy of course.
How much less expensive will the LNG auto’s be? How many of them have you purchased?
Frank, have you converted your gasoline powered vehicle over to LNG?
The desire for knowledge led to the downfall of Man.
” I think that unlocking our vast natural gas reserves is the best ecological and environmental story in years.”
Of course that is what the petroleum industry is promoting and what they want all Americans to believe, but it isn’t true in the least. The concept of renewable energy is and every patriot should be clamoring for as much of it as quickly as possible. IMO, every patriot that can afford to should be investing in home based solar energy and a wind mill or two, and that we should all be demanding that OUR government help us to do this and make it more affordable for more of us. Lets be patriots of the U.S.A. first and patriots of capitalism second.
C&J, you should have raised your family in the most polluted environment in America. Oh, you say down wind is reserved as residential areas for the poor working class.
I agree with most of what you said. If it can be demonstrated that fracking can be done without risk to local drinking resources, then that is very good news.
Another thing we need to consider is whether fracking done today impairs our ability to use carbon sequestration technology tomorrow. Carbon sequestration technology still isn’t operational so it might not be worth pursuing, but we must be aware that we are limiting our options in the future by making certain decisions today.
Most of your comment is completely senseless and not worth my time debunking. However, I will point out that the digital journal link is extremely inaccurate. It is evident that whoever wrote that article did not even bother to look at Dr. Lu’s work, because it is so highly misrepresented. Instead, they simply paraphrased articles written in Conservative UK papers such as the Daily Mail and the Register. Nevertheless, it seems that those UK Journalists haven’t read Dr. Lu’s work either because it makes no claims regarding global warming. Just because the AP was warmer during the MWP than during the LIA means nothing with regards to the claim that anthropogenic carbon dioxide is driving our current warming trend.
The last time I debated conservatives on this site about global warming, I was shown a slideshow presentation from Dr. Richard Lindzen. I’m pretty sure Dr. Lindzen or his friend, Dr. Roy Spencer will be cited by conservatives sooner or later so I’m going to get this out of the way beforehand.
Last month, Dr. Lindzen asserted that global warming was a “religion” for the left and I was told by conservatives on WatchBlog that this must be fact because Dr. Lindzen’s word is infallible in these matters. I was instructed to ignore the fact that Dr. Lindzen’s hypothesis that cirrus cloud formation in the tropics would provide a large enough negative feedback that we shouldn’t be concerned about an enhanced greenhouse effect.
I just want to point out that Professor Lindzen ultimately had to apologize for fabricating data presented in that slideshow presentation.
I personally find Professor Lindzen’s story to be profoundly tragic. The man is a brilliant atmospheric scientist who has made many positive contributions to the field. However, he cannot accept the possibility that his hypothesis is incorrect. Ordinarily, he would likely stop pushing his hypothesis because no one would listen. However, the conservative media industry have given this guy the one thing he truly craves: attention and fame. He is a celebrity within the conservative sphere and gets to experience all the accolades of Nobel Prize Winner without having demonstrated his hypothesis’ soundness. All he has to do in return is repeat the conservative talking points and give them an air of credibility.
In the seventies I attended the U of Wis pursuing a degree in Resource Management which I obtained. I and many of my friends were Viet Nam vets. We were discussing natural and sustainable ecological systems in a class one day and a buddy showed the class a photo he took in Viet Nam which I have never forgotten.
The photo showed an old man squatting next to a small pond. There was a long wooden walkway leading out into the pond to an outhouse. The man and his family ate the fish from the pond, the human evacuation was dropped into the pond which fed the algae and other aquatic forms which then were eaten by the fish.
A nearly perfect cycle of nutrients from nature to man and back existed. This worked well for the man and his family. However there is no way of knowing if disease finally ruined their paradise. And, I wonder how many ponds it would take today to feed the world’s population of humans by this method.
My point in relating this story is to demonstrate that small populations of mankind in his early history could and did live more harmoniously with their environment than is conceivable or possible today.
Large populations of humans require huge amounts of natural resources to maintain themselves. As populations become more advanced and wealthy they demand more resources.
Mankind has been very resourceful over the millennium in finding new ways of providing enough food and energy to sustain themselves. And I believe we will continue to do so. Until new sources of food and energy are available in sufficient quantities we must use what we currently have available to us.
RF, well put. Cycling is very common in nature and is integral to our continued existence. All of our resources have been used before us. We are profoundly fortunate to live on a planet where so many systems have been created in order to sustain life.
You are right that human technology has changed our relationship with those natural cycles. With proper tools, we can modify and adapt those cycles to better suit our needs, but we must be aware that we continue to depend on them for our continued existence.
Fracking should be - and is - regulated. There have been some incidents caused by poor execution of work, especially regarding concrete used to seal wells. There have been no cases of gas seeping into groundwater from actual fracking, which is well below groundwater.
We are not standing still. Methods are improving. It is already one of the safest ways to extract energy and certainly one of the cleanest to use once extracted.
Re the price of LNG - that is a product of natural gas. The price of natural gas itself has plummeted, saving home owners who use gas hundreds or even thousands of dollars this winter. I don’t know about the LNG market. Most consumer of natural gas use the piped versions.
Re LNG vehicles - we still have the Honda Civic hybrid we purchased in 2005. I don’t know that LNG vehicles are at this time a viable option for non-fleet vehicle. The buses in Northern Virginia run on natural gas, which has made that form of transport much cleaner and quieter.
Re the use of renewables - I await their widespread viability. You can purchase them today if you wish to, as can anybody else. As we write, renewables are too expensive for most people to use and/or not available in forms required (especially liquid fuels).
Natural gas is cleaner and more environmentally benign that other fossil fuels. You are welcome not to use it or to pay renewables. If you choose not to do that, you really have no moral ground to stand on. If you choose to do it, your economic grasp is weak.
Re the working poor - I grew up in sight of two steel mills and a coking coal plant. There are no places in the U.S. today that are as polluted as my neighborhood was in those days past. We also had thick coal pallor, which was mitigated in my childhood by the widespread introduction of natural gas as a heating fuel.
I lived for years in Krakow, Poland, which was still suffering from the environmental effects of communist mismanagement, with much worse pollution than we have in America. I doubt you have ever seen pollution that bad. Some days you had to dust off your car, since the ash feel like snow. So please don’t try to outdo me on the pollution experience. You could never prevail. I experienced these things, which is why I embrace cleaner technologies like natural gas.
I doubt carbon sequestration will ever really be viable. The only technique that might seem to work is a technology to create concrete that absorbs carbon. I read your article and I really don’t understand the conflict, anyway. After the gas is gone, the shale formations could still hold CO2, if you sealed the wells, since it would still be trapped by the impermeable rock above the shale. In fact, the fracking would create cavities for the CO2, if it ever needed to be used.
Royal & Warped
They lived harmoniously, but not for very long. It is always interesting too, that when we look more closely at those sorts of things we find they are more ephemeral and less pleasant than we initially thought.
We can do something like this, BTW, using bio solids, although there is significant opposition from some people who call themselves (wrongly) environmentalists.
since it would still be trapped by the impermeable rock above the shale
I’m not an expert, but I believe the fracking process increases the permeability of the rock overlaying the shale formation. From the article:
This recent growth is due to widespread application of hydraulic fracturing technologies, wherein otherwise competent low-permeability formations are purposely fractured so that flow channels can be created, thereby enhancing production of natural gas. The fracturing operations are designed to enhance permeability over as large a distance as possible. While good for gas production, such fracturing operations are clearly in direct contradiction with a CCGS operation that relies on a continuous, competent shale formation to serve as a barrier to flow.
We have here the discussion of non-experts. But I understand it differently. There are a several layers and types of rock. The shale layer is below one of the impermeable rock. The fracking fracks the shale. The gas remains in the shale level until it is tapped out through the impermeable rock.
If fracking broke the impermeable rock, the gas would escape and make the whole process useless.
Call me back when you’re citing scientific literature, not the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal.
It is a fallacy of logic to suggest that because the EPA’s retracted its claims on a few sites that there isn’t a problem. It is also a fallacy of logic and an unscientific claim to say that because nature sometimes does a thing, that manmade influences should not be moderated.
During the big oil spill, the point was made that oil seeps naturally occur. Yes, they do. But it’s very rare in nature to see such a gigantic volume of oil flow through such a clean, unimpeded channel. Most of the time, the reason we call them seeps is that the oil is rising through the permeable strata at a slow rate. The fact that nature sometimes accidentally spills oil on its own does not make it a failure of judgment or an innocuous event for man to spill massive quantities.
Yes, arsenic and other contaminants do show up in groundwater sometimes, and in certain places at unhealthy levels. Yet that doesn’t have the same impact or volume of the stuff industry is able to send down the river. We humans concentrate, purify, invent through chemistry contaminants nature would find absent or in ore form. We also disturb the ground and the rock in ways that have groundwater leaching out acids and other contaminants we wouldn’t otherwise see.
The propaganda from some industry thinktanks would have us believe that the market itself would prevent abuses, but history testifies differently.
I could go on, but the fact here is that the basis for much of your claims is political wishful thinking. What’s more, we’ve spent the last few decades resisting environmental clean-up and mitigation of pollution, rather than applying the markets to figuring out ways to more economically spare ourselves the pain and suffering that comes from the indiscriminate release of chemicals into the environment. Too many industrialists are part of tradition of industrialism that never got past outrage at the government regulating them, that always assumes that the cheaper option for all involved, the more economic object is to simply crap where we eat.
I’ll tell you what: we need to look at these sites one by one, and identify the actual problems. Fracking need not be so problematic, but we will need to be careful about it.
We should also do more than just give thought to what comes next, because what we’re dealing with now is literally fossil energy, energy stored by plants and animals long dead now. It will run out, and we can either be past it by the time we reach that point, or we can remain dependent on it, to tragic effect. I know the Right likes to portray itself as the hard nosed realists on this matter, but their realistic policies, despite increasing drilling, haven’t done crap to lower price. We are dealing with a limited, often non-local energy source that we do not control the supply of.
How much pain and suffering have we endured simply for the sake of all that oil? What ways have we screwed up the reputation of this country, propped up tyrants, compromised our opposition to the colonialism we hated in the days of the patriots, simply on account of that stuff?
Sooner or later, we have to take off the energy training wheels, and run on silicon age power. We have the science to change things, to do otherwise. We have the power to be independent, but industries with vested interest and conservative bottom lines are not going to sit still and let their power to profit fade without a fight. We need to realize that what is good for a few in one corporation may not match with what is best for us all.
The EPA - Obama’s EPA- has retracted their claim. You ask for science. Do you have any?
When you get this great alternative power, let us all know. As I have said many time, I believe in researching this alternative. We should be working toward it. But we are not there yet. In the time between now and when we reach that bright happy place, natural gas is much cheaper and more ecologically benign than the alternatives.
Let me also point out something you may not know. Price reflects the relative scarcity of something or its difficulty in obtaining. The reason solar costs so much per unit of power produced is that it takes lots of human an physical resources to produce. I know you wish this wasn’t true. I do too. But I am a practical person.
My father use to tell me that we should hold a wish in one hand and some sh*t in another and see which weighs more. I think your wishful thinking is very cute and quaint, but we need real power.
You mention the problem of oil. I agree. Natural gas is not oil. Natural gas extracted with the new technology has the advantage of being plentiful, clean and American.
The price of natural gas, BTW, has dropped to about 1/4 of what it was a few years ago.
Look, there’s a reason folks do investigations into possible wrongdoing or possible pollution. Science isn’t having the answer before you set out, Science is drawing your conclusions from what you find. If they find nothing, it would be problematic for them to stall or otherwise avoid following the evidence.
I would venture you’re doing more wishing than I am. You’re looking at natural gas to be our savior, but natural gas doesn’t have gasoline’s energy concentration, and even fracking can’t shove the price down too far without making it uneconomic to drill further. Boom and bust. I can remember a lot of that, given where I live, and what my father did for a lot of the time I was growing up.
Your problem is that the new techniques for getting oil and gas out of the ground are more expensive, and in the case of heavy-fraction oil from shale and tar sands, more energy intensive, perhaps even to the point of being a negative return on energy. This means the fuel can’t really get cheaper than that without causing a supply problem and a rebound on price.
You’re telling us, though, keep at this! Let’s keep devoting ourselves to an energy source that is going to take more energy and more money to sustain.
So, who is practicing wishful thinking? Solar panels are getting cheaper per watt, and once operational, keep on yielding new energy until they wear out or are destroyed. We’re not burning them up in order to provide the energy. So, you tell me, what’s more wishful thinking, lining up to buy milk from a cow that is getting older and less bountiful, or buying a cow yourself to get you fresh stuff for the future going forward?
We need to stop buying the milk and start buying the cow. The Natural gas boom may be over in a generation, and the supply of its necessary consituents done for. There will be solar panels for as long as there is sand, and a sun to shine on the finished product, and these panels are getting less expensive and more efficient as time goes on.
If you want to follow the downward sloping curve and hope that gets you where you need to be, be my guest. I’m going to push for policy that catches the new energy sources on their way up, and makes us key energy players on that matter.
“Science isn’t having the answer before you set out, Science is drawing your conclusions from what you find.”
Indeed - and science has found nothing yet besides the usual mistakes I mentioned. Science can never be sure of anything, but this looks pretty good and significantly better than the alternatives available at scale.
“…even fracking can’t shove the price down too far without making it uneconomic to drill further.”
You are right, but this is not useful. NOTHING, nothing at all, can be priced lower than its price to obtain, at least not for very long. What do you even mean by pointing this out?
Re solar panels, you are exchanging a more fixed cost for a more variable one. This is also no big surprise. WHEN the fixed cost of a solar panel makes energy cheaper than gas, people will want to use it.
Solar is a problem for several reasons, which is probably why I bet you do not use them for all or most of your energy needs. First, they cost a lot to install. As you say, they are good until they wear out, but they DO wear out and are victims to weather events, especially hail storms. They also still require maintenance.
I will repeat for the - who knows - thousandth time. I like solar. When it gets cheaper I will be an early adopter. It is not ready yet.
I figure that gas boom will be over, but it may take a century or two. Before that happens, I hope and believe that solar and other renewables will be in place. This will be good. But that day is not today.
C&J, the merits of your argument are undermined by the industry deceit. They have interacted with politicians to delay the development of renewable energy. They are the prime source of funds for the anti global warming groups. You say there is no reason to mention that these companies are not going to sell their products below cost, but these companies, right wing pundits, and even Republican politicians are doing that by propagandizing and promising prices that are far below cost.
The drill baby drill scenario isn’t about drilling here for more oil and gas, not about prices, not about energy independence. It is about the leases and regulation.
If the auto industry were to only produce electric/gasoline hybrids, our consumption of oil for transportation would be cut in half in a decade or less. That would greatly advance our goal of energy independence from foreign suppliers and give renewable energy an opportunity to make up for the years of delay. Instead, even companies like GM are bankrolling the anti global warming groups while promoting a resurgence of the muscle care era, and 300 horses is now considered woefully under powered.
The American people, especially conservatives show much concern for dependence on foreign supplies, but aren’t interested in making any sacrifice to change that. Thus, they have a desire to believe the lies of the petroleum industry and it’s promoters. It is much the same with many liberals who could afford a little extra for a hybrid, solar panels, or windmills, to do something positive about their concerns for the environment.
We talk big but carry a twig.
Most of your comment is completely senseless and not worth my time debunking.”
Thanks Warped, but I sure did get a lot of liberal hits on something that was not worth debunking.
but I sure did get a lot of liberal hits
What is your purpose here? Are you merely a provocateur? Or are you here to debate things intelligently and thoughtfully?
I guess you are avoiding the latter because it would end up undermining your ideology.
What is “the industry”? We have lots of players in natural gas. Many are firms that came into business only a few years ago.
Re renewable energy - you have a narrative in mind that does not conform to reality. There are significant payoffs if someone could develop alternative energy sources. In many ways shale gas IS an alternative energy source. It was unavailable ten years ago in the scale we have today.
Firms are unable to hold down new technologies, techniques or firms if they work. Consider the immense power of GM, unable to stop the Japanese, or IBM unable to smother Microsoft.
German and other Europeans have invested heavily in solar. If that worked well, we certainly could buy and use it.
Re hybrids - they are available. You can buy one today. Electricity, BTW, is most often generated with coal. So your “electric” car would really be coal powered.
Speaking of gasoline - the U.S. reached “peak gasoline” in 2008. We will probably never use as much gasoline again.
Re buying solar panels - it is not much of a gift to buy something that really doesn’t work. In order to be a viable product, it must be something you would actually want.
Re energy independence - I really don’t think that is a valid goal. We don’t want to concentrate our dependencies, but otherwise it doesn’t matter. We are not independent in anything else. We both import and export food, for example. We are not independent in bananas, mangoes, pineapples or sugar. Does that matter?
What we need to do is become a large producer of our own energy. Natural gas will help; so will oil from places like North Dakota; and nuclear power and even solar, when it gets better.
C&J, if this country really wanted to “get er done, we could supply the entire worlds demand for electrical energy, generated by solar, in three decades, possibly less. It would take a massive research, development and building project, possibly as large as two Manhattan projects and two put a man on the Moon projects combined, but the benefits would be equally as large.
The American space program has supplied significant benefits to our economy. Something that would have never happened if the private sector was the responsible party.
An electrical grid highway can be supplied with earth based solar and wind without the need for burning coal. The research, development and building of that could be, IMO, achieved in a decade and a half.
The drilling for gas and oil in America is highly dependent on the price escalating. North Dakota oil is not going to save the American people a plug nickle. They are going to pay higher prices irregardless. It is like a Tsunami, we can see it coming but we don’t have the gumption or the desire to run for higher ground.
“We have lots of players in natural gas.” Oh good, that means there will be hundreds of different companies running natural gas service stations. The competition will be fierce. There are a few big oil and gas companies that control the bulk of the industry. Utilizing little guys is a way for these large companies to reduce their cost and liability.
“Re energy independence - I don’t think that is a valid goal.” Re oil - I agree, but try telling that to your conservative allies. According to them, the only thing standing between America and energy independence is Obama.
Twice in this thread you have disavowed two rants of the right, prices lower than cost and energy independence.
I don’t want energy independence. I want America to dominate the energy market and our taxpayers could do that in three decades. It would pay for itself. I have no problem with the taxpayers hiring the private sector to accomplish the various tasks required to accomplish the project and to run it after it is built as long as the taxpayers at the least recoup their investment. I am a firm believer in taxpayers receiving a monetary return for their investments.
Solar panels don’t work? Apparently I am not the only one that is not completely connected to reality.
“C&J, if this country really wanted to “get er done, we could supply the entire worlds demand for electrical energy, generated by solar, in three decades, possibly less. It would take a massive research, development and building project, possibly as large as two Manhattan projects and two put a man on the Moon projects combined, but the benefits would be equally as large.”
This is a statement of faith, not science or evidence.
Your faith in massive, government sponsored research is based on a false premise. Making a bomb or getting a man to the moon is a difficult but simple goal. Changing the energy mix is not only much bigger, but it is more complex, requiring societal choices that everyone cares about and may have differing opinions.
Beyond that - WE HAVE DONE IT. The world is so much richer today than it was in 1945 or even 1965. Government budgets for the research you mention, not to mention the much bigger private ones, have greatly exceeded the money spent on developing the bomb, as have the numbers of people working on the problem.
It has not been “solved” because the question is complex. Many sub-questions have been solved, BTW. The questions have changed. Back in the late 1970s, we sought sources of energy. We found them. The fear of 1973, that we would soon run out of fossil fuels, is no longer a problem. In fact THIS is now the problem. We have access to so much oil and gas at low prices that many people despair of developing alternatives.
“Oh good, that means there will be hundreds of different companies running natural gas service stations.”
This is an unlikely scenario. Progress is not linear and energy is fungible. Natural gas is currently mostly replacing coal. Oil may supply liquid fuel for the rest of our lives.
I will also point out that even if we used no fossil fuel at all, we would still need to produce oil and gas because of the petrochemicals and fertilizers made from them. Fuel is - in some ways - a byproduct of these activities. You will have fuels whether you seek them or not.
Re solar panels working - I have seen them work. They don’t work well enough and at scale.
You need to avoid the simplistic analysis and look at the larger picture. I often have people trying to tell me things I already know, pointing out solutions that I have actually explored. The key to understanding the energy problem is to look at scale, complexity and various choice mechanisms. The actual energy generation part is the simple one.
We installed solar in Iraq. It seemed a no-brainer. The place is always sunny. But they didn’t work well. Why? Dust. The panels would get covered in dust and stop working. The cost of the solar panel had to include daily maintenance and the locals were unenthusiastic about such work, so they stuck with diesel.
I don’t share this to trump the argument, but merely to point out that there are many factors involved, some not easily predicted (although obvious once you know the answer) or counter intuitive.
Re taxpayer “investments” - government is led by politicians and administered by bureaucrats. This is unavoidable and in the nature of government. It works for many things, but widespread innovation that changes fundamental relationships is not among its strengths. If government planning worked, the Soviet Union would have buried us, as they thought they would in 1955 and as many western intellectuals hoped or feared (depending on their place on the left-right spectrum). Centrally planned operations look good, until you look closely or for a longer time.
Today, the energy industry in the US is dominated by a very few large petrochemical companies (big five).
The energy industry sector of the US economy spends substantially less on R&D than any other sector of the US economy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the reasons for such low investment.
If the private energy sector won’t spend the money to develop alternative energy sources, then who will?
In the past, government has been the leader in developing and financing new sources of energy. Would we have 20% of our energy from nuclear without government research and financing assistance? You consistently tout natural gas as an example of private sector success. However, it was government spending on research and tax credits in the late 70s that provided the “break through” technology and financial incentives for private sector energy drilling to tap the known natural gas reserves in the US.
Natural gas development is an excellent example of smart government/private sector partnership for technological R&D and incentives for implementation of the technology.
You have consistently pointed out in the past that “smart” government leadership in R&D and financing is desirable. What, then, in your opinion would be “smart” government policies and financing that would provide the necessary R&D and incentives for alternative energy development, efficient utilization of current resources and replacement of aging nuclear?
Rich, the government does nothing for R&D. Tax credits are not R&D; tax credits are given to every company. Over the past few years GE has paid nothing in taxes. Does that mean they haven’t made a profit? Your attacks on oil companies are BS. Government involvement in energy can be seen in the lost money given to green energy. Another solar company went bankrupt this past week. A company that the DOE wanted to invest in, but it went belly up. Government investment in European green energy has failed and wasted billions of dollars. The problem with you lefties is that you look at tax dollars as being yours to spend. The tax dollars are money that companies made and government has stolen. Since when is keeping your own money wrong?
Obama and his EA have shut down any new chances of coal fired plants. But this was promised when he told the American people their “energy prices would skyrocket”.
Every time Obama says “oil subsidies” he is lying. Tax credits are given to all industry, and using the tax code is not a subsidy.
“it was government spending on research and tax credits”
I have consistently advocated government research. What I have consistently opposed it government investment in private firms and attempts to manage energy.
I explained it here - http://www.watchblog.com/republicans/archives/007708.html
Politicians claim to want to support research but they tend toward crony capitalism, as we saw with the Obama energy policy.
IMO - government funding of research infrastructure is an important part of modern societies. But government should enable, not manage.
The analogy that I have used is a road. Government builds the road, but within broad speed limit and traffic laws, does not dictate who drives or how and certainly does not dictate the destinations drivers choose.
“Rich, the government does nothing for R&D.”
The government was instrumental in the development of nuclear energy and for the initial financing of nuclear energy plants. They are now aging and will need to be replaced, either with new plants or with alternative energy sources. The only way that private capital will invest in nuclear energy, today, is with government financing guarantees and with government indemnification for accidents and compensation. This is not some liberal policy but the policy of both conservative and liberal administrations that have recognized the financing problem of nuclear energy.
The natural gas industry is another example of the crucial role of government financing for R&D. In the 70s, we knew that there were vast reserves of natural gas in the US. However, we could not tap it due to limitations in drilling technology and extraction. The government, during the Carter administration, did two things that turned this around. It first, heavily invested in drilling and fracking R&D technology that resulted in substantial advancements in the techniques used to exploit the reserves. Second, it provided well head investment tax credits to attract private capital for exploitation of potential well fields using the new technology. By the way, Frank, those tax credits have long expired but they did the job in getting the new technology into actual production.
“Every time Obama says “oil subsidies” he is lying. Tax credits are given to all industry, and using the tax code is not a subsidy.”
Please, Frank, of course they are subsidies. That is their very purpose. They can be good or bad. They can stimulate development that would not happen without a tax break on investment or they may be obsolete and nothing more than a gravy train for investors or particular industries. The trick is determining which credits are worthwhile and which are simply unnecessary pork. In the example given above on natural gas, the tax credits had a sunset. They are no longer available to the gas industry. But they appeared to have assisted in establishing a re-invigorated natural gas industry.
Nobody is arguing that using such tax credits by the oil industry or any other industry are illegal or even unethical. The question is whether they are meaningful to the national economy.
“Mitsubishi To ‘Mothball’ $100 Million Fort Smith Wind Turbine Factory”
Looks like the free market cannot compete with the government gravy train.
Much of the success the private sector has had in this country is also the government’s success?
Both government and the private sector have roles to play, but they are different ones. Government’s role is to create and maintain structures under which the people can prosper and create wealth. This includes defending the rule of law, maintenance of stable & predictable conditions, investments in big infrastructure projects that no individuals, firms or people in voluntary association could accomplish, and - of course - maintaining national defense and domestic tranquility.
When governments fail in this role, the people suffer. When government oversteps its role, the people suffer.We balance on the knife edge between tyranny and anarchy.
Nobody thinks we can get along w/o government. Conservative, in fact, tend to serve government well. They (we) are overrepresented in the military. We tend to be law abiding and we pay our taxes (even if we complain).
I think of government like a beautiful woman (or handsome man if you are on the other side). She is great when she is lean and fit. Not giving her enough to eat ruins her health. But if she eats too much, she will become unhealthy and unattractive.
To carry the metaphor a bit farther, she tends to overeat when she gets depressed.
The woman/man (Gov) is obese and very ugly. Conservatives are more likely to serve in the military, and are more likely to donate to charity and show real concern for the downtrodden, and conservatives are much more likely to defend the constitution as written. Liberals on the other hand view the Constitution as a living and evolving document. The Bible is the living Word of God; not the Constitution.
The latest SCOTUS case involving obamacare shows the left’s complete lack of knowledge of the Constitution. Obama has been lifted up by the left as a Constitutional Scholar; who believes the SCOTUS is nothing more than a rubber stamp for congressional laws. He believes they do not have the right to exercise as an equal and third part of government. This fiasco shows how incompetent the left is when it comes to the Constitution.
The role of Government is to create an atmosphere for individuals and business to succeed. Not all individuals or businesses WILL succeed, but that is not government’s concern. Liberals always want to stack the deck in favor of one side over the other. This is not what the Constitution does. A great example is the government stimulating certain companies over others. Under Obama and the left; they have chosen certain investment companies over others, cetain financial institutions over others, certain auto industries over others, and certain energy sources over others. This goes agains the fundamental principles of the founding fathers and the Constitution.
”..they [Obama Administration]have chosen certain investment companies over others, cetain financial institutions over others,..”
Kind of like the last conservative administration (Bush) that let Lehman go under then decided to save Goldman Sachs, AIG, etc. with the TARP program proposed under conditions expressed as a national emergency by the Bush administration (evening Rose Garden address to nation by Bush).
“certain auto industries over others,”
“The bailout [Chrysler and GM], which ultimately totaled $85 billion, was originally begun during the waning days of the Bush administration. With a specific rescue effort rejected by Congress, the former Commander-in-Chief decided to tap into a separate, $700 billion fund Capitol Hill did approve for the bailout of Wall Street and the banking industry.
”..the Bush Administration provided $25 billion in emergency assistance, $13.4 billion going to GM, another $4 billion to Chrysler. The Obama Administration added another $60 billion shortly after taking office.”
“I’d do it again,” proclaimed Bush,”
Bush argued that “The immediate bankruptcy of (Chrysler and GM) could cost more than a million jobs, decrease tax revenues by $150 billion and set back America’s Gross Domestic Product by hundreds of billions of dollars.” http://bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/07/10342178-bush-on-auto-bailouts-id-do-it-again
Nothing like letting the facts get in the way of a good ideological argument.
Guess what Rich, I’m against any government doing it. Do you honestly believe the conservatives supported Bush to do what government does not have the authority to do?
Bush grew government during his time in office. It was a mistake. Obama built on this and added more layers and debt. Both did wrong. We should hate the sin, not the sinner and stop doing those things.
The big difference between Bush and Obama is that Bush is no longer in a position to cause that harm and so has stopped. Obama is still doing it and does not seem to regret his actions. If reelected we will get even more of it.
Bush grew government by expanding defense spending, establishing the TSA, and through increased health care costs driven by increases from the private sector. Bushs took budget surpluses and a stabilized deficit of about $5 billion and doubled it. Remember how when Bush took office, there was a projection of a ten year $10 trillion dollar surplus?
Obama faced a very different situation. Obama came into office during one of the worst economic downturns in American history. Deficits and debt were used to stimulate the economy, NOT provide tax cuts for the rich or wage unfunded wars. The stimuli worked.
We have seen one of the biggest bull markets in US history since Obama took office.
You do realize that, right?
I like to make money in stocks. It is about reaching the trend line you would have expected in 2007. That has recovered. The rest is subpar.
I don’t think the stimulus in general was a bad idea. I think it cost too much and was poorly administered. But I think that Obama would like to continue to spend even more and grow government. He is kept in line now by the threat of elections
C&J, the answer is yes. When it comes to doing large and great things, even sometimes seemingly impossible things, I have very much confidence in my country and my government. Why? Because we have a proven track record of succeeding where others have failed or doing better what others have done. And, every time we have made these large endeavors, we have benefited financially.
Had we been totally dependent on private financing for a space program there would be no space program and no weather, telecommunications, or other satellites.
When we landed on the Moon, I saw pictures of people, around the world, watching, often on a TV in a store front. Do you know what they were doing? They were cheering. Virtually the entire human race was proud of that achievement.
What I have proposed, I have researched, and I have much confidence in our ability to overcome the engineering challenges that are involved in those projects.
Cronyism is a part of every government no matter it’s size. Cronyism and poor management is the result of the failure of our one person one vote system because of the partisanship promoted by the political parties.
Example: Chris Dodd resigned in disgrace over the financial collapse. Sitting next to Dodd on the committee and equally if not more guilty was Senator Shelby. Shelby was reelected, as was other politicians who were responsible, on both sides of the aisle.
There you go again - “Had we been totally dependent on private financing for a space program there would be no space program and no weather, telecommunications, or other satellites.”
Nobody wants totally private for these sorts of infrastructure. Conservatives tend to be overrepresented in the things like the military that serve the U.S. We pay our taxes and generally give more to charity.
What we like is neutral infrastructure, things that everybody can use and produce general prosperity. Liberals prefer to target specific groups or even firms.
I wrote a post about how government should fund research and do the big projects. But I don’t want Obama playing Chicago politics with the treasury.
I think if you look at the history, so see that government enjoyed widespread support until the 1970s. At that time something very interesting happened.
The right continued to support government in the traditional sense. We served in the military and supported national defense and big infrastructure, but opposed redistribution and government management of the economy. Liberals embraced government programs while they generally wanted to cut defense and distrusted large infrastructure.
The “conservative” population was supportive of government investments in the traditional progressive way, i.e. building dams, highways, pipelines etc. In the 1970s, liberals moved government more in the direction of creating equality of results.
I find myself with this problem. I love government and think the Federal government is one of the most sublime creations of mankind. I support government research and large infrastructure. But I strongly dislike the idea that the Federal government should redistribute income or attempt to establish equality of economic results.
Expanding government has meant more of the latter. Government did a better job of research and infrastructure when it was smaller. We could never build Hoover Dam today. There would be too many environmental, EEOC and equity complaints. Despite our improved technology, I doubt we could go to the moon today, for some of the same reasons. Government has become too circumspect. When we chose astronauts with the “right stuff” we were very careful to choose the best. It mattered if they could fly the vehicles, brave the dangers and tolerate physical challenges. Today we would have to balance race, gender, sexual preference and would probably have to include a few blind and deaf people. We would probably have to make the capsules bigger to accommodate the fat people. And if anybody died or was seriously injured we would never hear the end of the lawsuits. This has become government today. The heroic age is over. Now we are into the middle age bloat.
C&J, When Carter gave his speech about energy and declared that the oil crisis was the moral equivalent of war, called for research of alternative and renewable energy sources and increasing exploration and extraction of U.S. oil and gas supplies, The private sector had the opportunity to invest in research in renewable energy and refused to do so. The Reagan Administration, IMO, had an obligation or duty to do the research and did not. IMO, powerful forces were allied to ignore the need to do that research.
Speaking of Reagan, wasn’t he the one that promised the Russians that we would share our missile defence research with them?
“New York (AP)- Oil and gas production may explain a sharp increase in small earthquakes in the nation’s midsection, a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey suggests.”
Possible cause for small earthquakes that could lead to even larger quakes, continuing to add CO2 to the atmosphere, in the midst’s of a global warming event, which creates more warming, which in turn is increasing the acidity of the oceans and also increases the amount of methane being released into the atmosphere by melting permafrost, which increases the global warming.
We could never have prevented much of this from happening, but if not for a failure of leadership by the most powerful country of the planet, we could have been further along in reducing the effects. A failure of leadership that is still being promoted by interests, large and small, primarily because of greed, selfishness, and conservatism.
By the way, a vast majority (99%) of both conservatives and liberals do not serve in the military. And, conservatives out number liberals 2 to 1, right? So what is your point?
By the goal of the Carter Administration - we have succeeded. Our energy supply available today is much greater than it was in 1979. We have enough energy at prices we can afford and usually lower in inflation adjusted terms than in 1979.
The Carter plans also called for things like coal gassification and additional use of coal in general. This is because in 1979 few people knew about global warming and in fact worried more about global cooling.
It is fortunate that many of the synfuels envisioned in those days did not come to pass. It was the wrong path.
Centrally planned efforts like this never work. Examples often mentioned like the atomic bomb or Apollo programs are specific goals, limited in time and scope.
The energy problem is one of many choices and factors. President Obama recognized before his reelection campaign that alternative power would be significantly more expensive.
How much more are you willing to pay for the power and gas you buy today?
I know that liberals believe in magic. They think that there will be some kind of advances that will make clean power cheap and it is only because somebody doesn’t want this to happen that we don’t have it. Germans and others have poured massive money into solar. As a result they are about as far along as we are.
Re conservatives serving more often in the military etc. Why do I bring that up? Because you and others often imply that we don’t do our part. In fact, we do - more.
Liberals tend to call for higher taxes - on others - and they call that generosity. Conservatives know that you cannot be generous using somebody else’s money.
I love government. It is an essential part of any good society. But I understand that just making it bigger is not making it better. I also have contempt for those who call for bigger government to benefit themselves at the expense of taxpayers. This should not be a conservative point of view. It should just be an American point of view.
I have always done more than my share to support my country. This has meant paying more in taxes than many of my liberal friends, obeying laws, volunteering for civic organizations, giving time, money and blood to charities, serving in war zones and not making myself a burden on the system. This is what is required from citizens. Those who can say the same are my equal, liberal, conservative or other. Those that do not should strive to be better citizens before they bitch about the responsibilities of others. IMO - merely receiving the benefits of our great country does not make you a good citizen. And yes, we CAN judge that sort of thing.
A general rule on which both conservatives should agree.
Before we worry about getting our fair share from our country, we should be concerned about giving our fair share - and more. John Kennedy said that same thing, a bit more elegantly. We should not forget.
C&J, once again you take a position that is the opposite of what spokespersons for the conservative movement are saying. They say that the price of gas is being manipulated by Obama to be artificially high and propose a price for gas that ranges from as high a $2 and as low as 15 cents per gallon.
I listened to one of the conservative whores, Stossel, on Fox last night say that the space program was a multi billions boondoggle that only gave us Tang and cat scans. Millions of conservatives believe that garbage. There is a reason why most of our greatest achievement were done by progressive or liberal minded presidents. T.R may have been a Republican, an imperialists, a capitalist, but he was also a progressive.
Carter made proposals, not all of which would have panned out. It was up to those that followed to sort it out and they did, almost exclusively in favor of gas and oil. It is called manipulation. The result was negative towards developing renewable energy.
In regards to your opinion of many working Americans, I agree that hedonism has taken hold of the land to the benefit of corporate wealth and people like you. Hedonism is the primary reason for us having the largest economy. If everyone was frugal, only buying what they need when they need it, responsible about debt, saved a lot, what do you suppose the effect that would have on the size of our economy would be?
If medical research could make a major breakthrough and raise the human life expectancy to 200, why we could raise the retirement age to 175, at least for the working classes.
Through out your working life, you obviously made more money than I and you paid more in taxes, but I paid a higher percentage of my earnings in taxes. You worked for an above average wage in a war zone. I am a veteran who earned $78 per month as a starting pay in the military. As a construction worker building the infrastructure that enhanced your earning potential, I cheated death on several occasions. Injuries, scars, broken bodies, and deaths are sacrifices to the greatness of this country.
But, of course, conservatives are superstars and liberals are trash.
There is no place in this country that needs to heed Kennedy’s words more than Wall Street.
What makes you think you paid a higher % of your income in taxes? Despite what you may have heard, our tax system still is progressive, at least that is how it works for me. As I have made more money, I have paid more in taxes and higher %. Maybe Warren Buffet can avoid paying taxes; most of us ordinary semi-prosperous people get stuck for the whole freight.
Re liberals being trash, I wrote - “Those who can say the same are my equal, liberal, conservative or other.”
You say liberals are trash. I never do.
Re above average wages - Actually my lifetimes wages have just about reached the median. I make above now; I made below in other years. I think this is an interesting thing. It shows the dynamic of the system. The “rich” of today are often “the poor” of years ago. So I consider that I have already achieved income redistribution.
Re Carter - people make lots of proposals, most do not pan out. My point was that we have indeed achieved - and exceeded - Carter’s goals of energy production. It was not meant to criticize Carter, although I believe his program was misguided around 60% of the time, but to show how things change. We actually do make progress and solve problems, but new ones come, often created by yesterday’s solutions.
It is silly to look back over a quarter of a century of one of the best times in our history and call it a failure because it did not continue forever. What might have been is always more attractive than what did happen, BTW. You lived through the Carter years. Was it really such a fun time?
Are we to ignore the poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, industrial disasters and explosions that are directly linked to “hydrofracking.” Are we to ignore actual events that have happened in Ohio,Pennsylvania etc.
To the extent that such things are confirmed, we should react to them. But when we look more carefully, we usually find that the reports have been exaggerated and/or other factors besides fracking were responsible.
All forms of energy exploration, and almost everything else in life, have their risks and downsides. Natural gas harvested by fracking is among the safest and cleanest ways to obtain energy.
Andre, yes, we are supposed to ignore the negative aspects of fracking. Just trust the industry, they would never mislead you.
Oh, the Bush ranch in Texas is totally off the grid. Laura says it is saving them a lot of money.
83% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans say the government should invest more in research and development of renewable energy. The Limbaughese and the fossil fuel politicians are the ones who are out of touch with the country.
Scotland gets 30% of it’s electrical energy from renewable energy and expects to be at 100% by 2020.
CO2 acidification of the oceans has been directly linked to population loss in Oysters and other shellfish.
As a citizen to, we live and living environment for the protection, is directly or indirectly, to protect the natural environment; We destroy the living, the living environment, will directly or indirectly, destroy the natural environment.
As the government, too, should focus on the protection of the macro and micro of from, arouse the masses, education the masses, the environment protection become citizens’ action.