Business Climate Lobby: Once ‘at the table’, now ‘on the menu’

Kim Strassel writes in today’s Wall Street Journal about how lobbying for climate change regulation is shaping up as a giant miscue for corporate America.

Strassel cites Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers’ original rationale for lobbying:

“If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’ll wind up on the menu.”

Now, Strassel writes,

Duke sat, yet it and its compatriots are still shaping up to be Washington’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Obama plan will cost plenty, upfront, which will be borne by Mr. Rogers’s customers.

Stassel closes her terrific piece by recommending that:

Business leaders might do better to use this as an opportunity to kill the beast. They might get some credit for protecting their customers from what they are now, finally, admitting is a giant tax — in the middle of a recession.

The odd saga and miscues of corporate climateers like Duke Energy are spotlighted in Steve Milloy’s new book “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.”

Take Action:

E-mail Strassel’s column to a USCAP CEO that you know.

Renewable Pipedream?

Robert Bryce points out in today’s Wall Street Journal that if you convert the amount of electricity produced on a daily basis by so-called “renewable” energy sources into barrel-of-oil-equivalents, you get about 76,000 barrels of oil per day. But the America’s total primary energy use is equivalent to about 47.4 million barrels of oil per day.

President Obama declared in his address to Congress last week that,

“We will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next there years.”

But even if the President was to achieve his ambitious goal, we’ll still depend on hydrocarbons. It’s no wonder that Bryce’s column was entitled, “Let’s Get Real About Renewable Energy.”

Bryce is the author of Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of ‘Energy Independence’which is available through the JunkScience.com store.

Obama attack on oil & gas industry begins

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wants to take away tax breaks for oil and gas companies because they contribute to global warming.

Reuters reported that Geithner told the Senate Finance Committee on March 4 that,

“We don’t believe it makes sense to significantly subsidize the production and use of sources of energy (like oil and gas) that are dramatically going to add to our climate change (problem). We don’t think that’s good economic policy and we think changing those incentives is good for the country.”

I’m not for the government subsidizing anyone, but Geithner’s statement indicates that the Obama administration is starting its long-promised attack on the oil and gas industry. Their tax breaks apparently are first. Are profits next? Since last summer, Obama has been saying that he would impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies.

A recent study by CRA International commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute concluded that a windfall profits tax likely would:

  • Cause a net loss of up to 490,000 U.S. jobs by 2030.
  • Reduce U.S. gross domestic product by roughly 1 percent, or $240 billion by 2030.
  • Increase U.S. imports of crude oil by up to 18 percent in 2030 and reduce U.S. domestic production of crude oil by up to 26 percent in the same year.

Obama moves to end nuclear energy?

The Obama administration is driving a stake into the heart of the U.S. nuclear power industry by cutting-off funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage program in President Obama’s budget proposal.

The Washington Post reported this morning that,

Yucca Mountain is not an option.

Yucca Mountain opponent Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) called Obama’s action,

“… our most significant victory to date in our battle to protect Nevada from becoming the country’s toxic wasteland.”

Now, nuclear power plants will have to continue to store spent fuel on-site in hopes of someday being able to reprocess spent fuel like the French do.

But will the anti-nuclear greens permit that to happen? When will the nuclear power industry realize that the greens are not its friends?

If we can’t store nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain, can we at least dump the greens there? According to EPA standards for Yucca Mountain, humanity would be safe from the greens for at least one million years.

Natural gas jeered at D.C. rally

When Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) called for upgrading/retrofitting the U.S. Capitol’s power plant from coal to gas today at the Capitol Climate Action rally, she was jeered by protesters yelling out “no gas” and “solar.”

Rep. Norton apparently missed the march to the power plant rally which featured anti-gas chants such as “No coal, no gas, hey-hey, ho-ho.”

Deregulation or greens to blame for utility shut-offs?

The Washington Post reported today that,

Utilities across the Washington region have sent out millions of notices to customers who have fallen behind on their gas and electric bills in the past year and are increasingly shutting off service as residents find that they cannot pay rising heating costs.

In addition to billing cycle issues, the Post attributed customer payment difficulties on deregulation:

Higher wholesale energy prices continue to push up electricity and natural gas costs, a result of deregulated markets in the District and Maryland. A typical monthly Pepco bill for District customers is $103.67 today, compared with $58.16 in 2004.

The fuller story is that Maryland had capped electricity rates until a few years ago when the caps expired and market forces — like supply pressures — pushed prices up.

Who’s against increasing supply? A year ago, the Post reported that it was the greens.

BP CEO calls for more drilling

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for more domestic oil drilling, BP CEO Tony Hayward observed,

… energy security can only be built on a solid foundation of free markets and free trade. Two-thirds of the world’s oil is traded across international borders. This huge and agile market makes it possible to respond quickly to supply disruptions, such as hurricanes or political unrest. Tariffs, heavy taxes, or restrictions on the free movement of petroleum products interfere with that process…

… America must stop looking to others for the oil it needs and actively develop its own hydrocarbon endowment. Even with the rapid growth of alternatives, fossil fuels will continue providing most of the energy Americans consume for decades into the future.

The search for new sources of domestic crude has been constrained by a lack of access to promising areas, notably the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Resource estimates for closed areas exceed 100 billion barrels of oil, with 30 billion recoverable with today’s technology and at today’s prices.

Opening up the OCS would enhance America’s energy security. Moreover, a new study by ICF International estimates that it could create as many as 76,000 new jobs and generate a total of nearly $1.4 trillion in new government revenue by 2030…

What a refreshing change from Lord John Browne who thought BP stood for “Beyond Petroleum.”

Obama cancels Bush oil shale leases

The Washington Post reported this morning that,

In his second reversal of a Bush administration decision, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday that he is scrapping leases for oil-shale development on federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Salazar rescinded a lease offer made last month for research, development and demonstration projects that could have led to oil-shale exploration on 1.9 million acres in the three states.

It was the second time Salazar has reversed the Bush administration. He also halted the leasing of oil and gas drilling parcels near national parks in Utah this month.

At least the oil and gas producers had the courage to speak up:

“It’s part of a pattern of decisions by the secretary that are detrimental to all sources of domestic energy,” said Kathleen Sgamma, government affairs director for the Denver-based Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States.

In a media release, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said,

“We need to push forward aggressively with research, development and demonstration of oil shale technologies to see if we can find a safe and economically viable way to unlock these resources on a commercial scale. The research, development, and demonstration leases we will offer can help answer critical questions about oil shale, including about the viability of emerging technologies on a commercial scale, how much water and power would be required, and what impact commercial development would have on land, water, wildlife, and communities.”

Despite the Obama administration’s apparent openness to drilling, rest assured that last bit about “impact” on “land, water, wildlife, and communities” is code for “Don’t worry fellow greens. We’ll make sure that oil shale never happens.”

California blows climate cost-benefit analysis

To support the enactment of California’s global warming bill, Mary Nichols, the state’s top air regulator, embraced as “good-news-numbers” a cost-benefits analysis that predicted the law would create 100,000 jobs and increase per-capita income by $200 by 2020.

The New York Times reported this morning that, as it turns out, it is the critics who labeled the cost-benefit analysis as “unrealistic” who were correct:

In one withering review, Matthew E. Kahn of the University of California, Los Angeles said the analysis unconvincingly portrayed the law as “a riskless free lunch.” Another economist, Robert N. Stavins of Harvard, said the regulators were “systematically biased” in ways “that lead to potentially severe underestimates of costs.”

Now, with the recession deepening — unemployment in California is 9.3 percent — manufacturers like Mr. Repman say the recession will make carrying out the state’s plan, the first stage of which goes into effect in 2010, even more difficult and could make the economy worse.

The lesson? As the Times reported:

“We’re talking about a transformation of the way of life,” said Greg Freeman, an economist with the Los Angeles Economic Development Commission. “There’s going to be transitional costs. We can’t have the debate about whether the cost is worth paying unless we have a realistic idea of what the cost will be.”

Canadian PM says energy realities trump greens on tar sands!

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the following to Larry Kudlow on CNBC’s Kudlow Report tonight:

First of all, let me be clear about the importation [by the U.S.] of oil sands oil. Regardless of what any legislature does, the United States will be importing this oil because there is absolutely no doubt that if you look at the supply-and-demand pattern into the future, the United States is going to need Canadian oil. It is the one secure, growing market-based source of energy that the United States has. There will be no choice but to import this oil…

… any policy [to stop the importation of oil sands oil] is completely unrealistic if you look at American needs for energy and where Americans can get the supply at a reasonable price… we will do what we can to reduce the carbon footprint. But there should be no illusion that economic reality will hit those environmental policies pretty hard when one goes to implement them…

BTW, Larry Kudlow is an endorser of Steve Milloy’s upcoming book, Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.

Among many topics, Green Hell discusses how tar sands oil is a key means of providing affordable and secure energy and avoiding an environmentalist-induced oil/gasoline crunch.

Canadian PM Stephen Harper on tar sands oil (CNBC, Kudlow Report, at about 5:51 into clip)

Pickens says no one opposes his ‘Plan’

T. Boone Pickens said in an interview this morning on CNBC that,

… but know this… we’ve never had a person that stands up and says your plan is not good. Nobody has said that… I don’t know… there’s not many op-ed pieces or any thing…

But Steve Milloy has written six FoxNews.com columns critical of the Pickens Plan — one of which Pickens’ team responded to on FoxNews.com.

The Cato Institute’s Jerry Taylor has been critical of the Pickens Plan here and here.

Reece Epstein and David Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research have a lengthy critique here.

Here’s a Wall Street Journal article about Pickens’ critics, who include FedEX CEO Fred Smith and former Kansas governor Bill Graves, who now heads the American Trucking Association.

There are plenty more who have stood up against the Pickens Plan. Yet Pickens denies their existence in his effort to “swiftboat” America into his make-Boone-richer-scheme.

The Futility of Hybrid Cars

By Steven Milloy
February 05, 2009, FoxNews.com

By Steven Milloy

Could plug-in hybrid cars actually increase greenhouse gas emissions? Is energy efficiency being oversold as a greenhouse gas reduction measure? A new report from the research arm of Congress raises troubling questions about the direction in which President Obama is taking us.

Produced by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Carbon Control in the U.S. Electricity Sector: Key Implementation Uncertainties provides the lowdown on a variety of carbon control options for the electric power sector, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear power, advanced coal technology, carbon capture and sequestration, plug-in hybrid vehicles and small-scale power generation technologies.

President Obama has proposed that we reduce our CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. For the electric power sector, this goal translates to reducing what is projected to be 2.6 billion metric tons of CO2 emitted in 2020 to approximately the 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2 that were emitted in 1990 — a more than 30 percent reduction in emissions over a period of about 10 years.

Could this goal be achieved through gains in energy efficiency? Numerous private and government sources have claimed, after all, that 25- to 30-percent gains in efficiency are possible over a 5- to 15-year time horizon. But according to the CRS, “the diffuse nature of efficiency opportunity and the economic complexity of decision making” has historically made moving beyond the 5 percent to 7 percent electricity savings range “a persistent challenge to conservation proponents.” Although more aggressive policies could be attempted, the CRS says, there is “little track record upon which to base projections of future effectiveness.”

The CRS considered wind power and biomass as renewable energy sources. The main problem with wind, according to the report, is that while proponents assert wind could provide 20 percent of U.S. electricity needs, the U.S. electricity transmission network is already much constrained, with wind power producing only 1 percent of those needs. As much as 19,000 miles of new transmission lines would be needed to make wind work. The price tag — a net present value of $26 billion — isn’t the showstopper so much as public challenges to transmission line projects, which the CRS describes as “among the most serious and intractable challenges in the U.S. energy sector.”

The prospects for biofuels are worse. The CRS report cites sources that say a significant increase in biofuel production “would require harvesting various energy crops at a scale that vastly exceeds current practice.” A 2007 study from MIT estimated that as much as 500 million acres of land would be required, which would displace so much cropland that the U.S. would have to become a “substantial agricultural importer.”

Heavy use of biofuels, it seems, would simply move us from depending on foreign oil to depending on foreign food.

Nuclear power? Given the facts of green opposition to nuclear power and the decline in U.S. nuclear infrastructure over the last 30 years, the optimistic view for nuclear power is that we could perhaps build as many as 30 new U.S. reactors by 2030 — fewer than half the number constructed during the 1963-1985 heyday of nuclear construction. The pessimistic view, as cited by the CRS, is that we aren’t likely to see a serious ramp up of nuclear power for 15 to 20 years.

Although advanced coal technology can reduce CO2 emissions, the plants “still burn coal and — absent carbon capture technology — still release large volumes of CO2 to the atmosphere,” observes the CRS. So what about carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)? Should we hold our breath waiting for it? Not according to the CRS. Hardly anyone expects the first CCS projects to be constructed before 2020. Then again, there are so many hurdles for CCS to overcome, “one just has to put a big question mark on it,” the CRS cited a Department of Energy official as saying.

What about plug-in hybrid vehicles? When he was running for president, Obama pledged to put 1 million of the vehicles on the road by 2015. Aside from the question of how popular they’ll be with a projected retail price of $40,000 (as compared to $23,000 for a conventional vehicle), will they actually reduce carbon emissions? Only if the power plants they get electricity from produce little if any carbon. But since most U.S. electricity production is not carbon-free, the CRS observes that the “widespread adoption of plug-in hybrid vehicles through 2030 may have only a small effect on, and might actually increase, net CO2 emissions.”

The final carbon control options addressed by the CRS are the so-called “distributed energy resources” like rooftop solar panels, fuel cells, natural gas microturbines, small scale wind turbines, and combined heat and power systems (CHP), which makes productive use of “waste” heat from electricity generation. Of these resources, only CHP is economical, accounting for nearly 9 percent of U.S. electricity generating capacity in 2007. But according to the CRS, even CHP often faces technical and utility infrastructure barriers to implementation.

Combined with the dubious reasoning behind calls to reduce CO2 emissions — check out this YouTube video produced by JunkScience.com — and repeated avowals by China and India to not make any special efforts to reduce their CO2 emissions, the CRS report makes clear that significant U.S. carbon reduction could very well be little more than an expensive and painful exercise in futility.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.