Barack Obama

With anyone other than Obama at the helm, this would be unbelievable.


 Sometimes all the grand talk is just grand talk.

President Obama claims that his “new energy economy” will jump start growth and jobs. The EPA endangerment rule repudiates that claim once and for all. If the green future is going to be so bright, why does the White House want to exempt so many businesses from its glories?

The Wall Street Journal reports that the number of climate change skeptics is growing, even in the land of Gore and Obama.

The collapse of the “consensus” has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth’s temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Yet that inconvenient truth has only heightened the sense of urgency, as well as the rhetoric.

Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as “deniers.” The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

The jury is now out on who will be seen as the the real traitors in ten years time.

If only reducing greenhouse gas emissions was as simple as implementing more stringent automobile fuel efficiency standards.  

President Barack Obama will announce today that automakers must meet average U.S. fuel-economy standards of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, four years sooner than previously planned, a senior administration official said.

Environmentalists have high hopes for the policy:

Obama’s action is the “biggest single step to curb global warming,” Dan Becker, director of the environmental group Safe Climate Campaign, said in an interview.

But as Megan AcArdle points out the effects of the new fuel economy standards are predictable:

  • It will raise the prices of cars, and make them less safe
  • It will reduce our carbon emissions, but not by as much as advertised, because more fuel efficient cars make driving cheaper, so people will do more of it.  This “rebound” effect robs about 25% of gains, and also means more congestion, and more wear-and-tear on roads
  • This will either help the Big Three compete, or seal their doom as the Japanese manufacturers continue to eat into their market share.  If I had to bet, I’d wager this means big ongoing subsidies for our favorite three public charities.
  • If you want to cut down on the pollution from driving, this is about the worst possible way to do it. 

Geoffrey Styles, however,  views the new plan more positively:

All in all, I regard the new CAFE standard as a positive development, although it doesn’t stand on its own. The specifics of how it will be enforced will ultimately determine its success in altering the car-buying habits of Americans. At the same time, it’s worth noting that future increments of fuel economy beyond 35.5 mpg will cost much more and save many fewer actual gallons, because of diminishing returns. The same European car industry that has demonstrated that our new standard can be met has estimated that the cost of going from their present level of 160 g/km to the EU’s 120 g/km standard–equivalent to 46 mpg–would likely increase vehicle sticker prices by approximately $4,900 per car. When translated into dollars per barrel of oil saved or per ton of CO2 avoided, that looks prohibitively high. The implication is that yesterday’s move on CAFE should be our last tweak to fuel economy standards until technology has changed dramatically.

Still, whatever way you look at it, the price of CAFE is going up.

It was really only a matter of time before Kyoto morphed into an excuse for protectionism.

The closer the United States gets to adopting a cap-and-trade system to control greenhouse gas emissions, the more frightening it gets.

Not because the plan now under debate in the U. S. Congress would complicate the lives of energy producers, or impose new costs on consumers. Those drawbacks might be bearable if the system was truly designed to reduce emissions, and if the expense was reasonable. The alarm results from increasing evidence that emissions have become a secondary concern of a plan whose main purpose is to serve the partisan interests of the Democratic Party.

The Democrats’ evident determination to use global warming to mask a transfer of wealth from one part of the country to another mirrors the ill-starred Green Shift proposed by former Liberal leader Stephane Dion, which began as a means of fighting emissions and ended up as an anti-poverty program financed by Alberta for the benefit of more Liberal-friendly parts of the country.

Barack Obama has his work cut out for him if he truly wants to avoid being called the Depression President.

Jobs in the oil and gas industry are not going to disappear overnight. Yet it would seem that oil is a dirty word in the Obama administration. Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post looks at this bias in today’s column:

Considering the brutal recession, you’d expect the Obama administration to be obsessed with creating jobs. And so it is, say the president and his supporters. The trouble is that there’s one glaring exception to their claims: the oil and natural gas industries. The administration is biased against them — a bias that makes no sense on either economic or energy grounds. Almost everyone loves to hate the world’s Exxons, but promoting domestic drilling is simply common sense.

Contrary to popular wisdom, the United States still has huge oil and natural gas resources. The outer continental shelf (OCS), including parts that have been off-limits to drilling since the early 1980s, may contain much natural gas and 86 billion barrels of oil, about four times today’s “proven” U.S. reserves. The U.S. Geological Survey recently estimated that the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana may hold 3.65 billion barrels, more than 20 times a 1995 estimate. And there’s upward of 2 trillion barrels of oil shale, concentrated in Colorado. If only 800 billion barrels were recoverable, that would be triple Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves.

Now it is perhaps understandable that Obama thinks he can polish his environmental credentials by bashing the oil industry. It is an easy target, but also the cornerstone of the U.S. and global economies. Renewable energy will undoubtedly play an increasingly important role in meeting future U.S. energy needs, but in the meantime the U.S. economy remains dependent on fossil fuels, much of it from the most politically unstable regions of the world. This is not the time to be kicking the U.S. oil industry.