Mean House Republicans make Obama and Reid cry

December 13, 2011

And they did it while pursuing intelligent, job-creating energy policy:

Defiant Republicans pushed legislation through the House Tuesday night that would keep alive Social Security payroll tax cuts for some 160 million Americans at President Barack Obama’s request — but also would require construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline that has sparked a White House veto threat.

Passage, on a largely party-line vote of 234-193, sent the measure toward its certain demise in the Democratic-controlled Senate, triggering the final partisan showdown of a remarkably quarrelsome year of divided government.

The legislation “extends the payroll tax relief, extends and reforms unemployment insurance and protects Social Security — without job-killing tax hikes,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner declared after the measure had cleared.

Referring to the controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline, he added, “Our bill includes sensible, bipartisan measures to help the private sector create jobs.”

On a long day of finger pointing, however, House Democrats accused Republicans of protecting “millionaires and billionaires, ” and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., derided the GOP-backed pipeline provision as “ideological candy” for the tea party-set.

Harry’s just mad that the ball is in his court, now, and the situation is lose-lose for him and his Munificent Sun King. Here’s the background:

The Keystone XL pipeline would cross roughly 1,700 miles from Canada’s tar-sands deposits to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. In addition to giving us access to a reliable supply of oil from a nearby friendly nation, estimates are that the pipeline will create anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 jobs in the US, not to mention the consumer boost from disposable income. While there are environmental concerns, the State Department has declared them to be minimal. Sounds like a great deal, right?

Not if you’re Barack Obama and the Democrats, who need to pander to the environmentalist Left to shore up  their base, it isn’t. Playing to the Green Luddites, Obama delayed a decision on Keystone until, oddly enough, after the election. I guess people who need jobs matter less than donations from the Sierra Club.

Back to the bill just passed.

Obama and the (Social) Democratic leadership had wanted a continuation of the payroll tax cut and an extension of unemployment insurance (which, btw, only worsens unemployment), all paid for by increasing taxes on those evil rich folks. The Republicans, on the other hand, understanding basic economics, wanted instead to pay for the cuts by imposing a federal wage freeze. They also wanted to pass legislation mandating approval for Keystone, since, well, Republicans actually care about people who are out of work and obtaining a reliable source of energy for the US, which would otherwise go to China. (There’s that Smart Power diplomacy, again.)

Obama had threatened to veto any legislation extending the payroll tax cuts if it included authorization for Keystone XL. He gambled that Republicans wouldn’t dare let themselves be seen as allowing a tax increase and a cutoff of unemployment benefits, something he and his allies figured would redound to the Democrats’ benefit.

Well, the Smartest President Ever bet wrong.

Here’s why the Democrats now find themselves in a pickle: the Republicans have passed a bill that

  1. Brings reliable energy to the US
  2. Creates thousands of real jobs (far more than the Stimulus ever did)
  3. Extends unemployment benefits (1) and payroll tax cuts
  4. and pays for them with a fiscally responsible wage freeze.

Now Reid has to either kill all that in the Senate (2), which will hand the Republicans a large club to beat Democratic incumbents with in 2012, or he has to pass it and send it to Obama, who will then have had his bluff called and face an ugly choice: tell thousands of unemployed American workers you don’t get a good job and, oh, by the way, the unemployment checks are going to stop, or sign the bill and look weak while ticking off the same environmental groups he had just bent the knee to.

Like I said, “lose -lose” for them. Darn.

Well played, House Republicans. Well played.

via Doug Powers

Footnotes:
(1) Yeah, I just linked to an article showing how unemployment benefits retard job growth, but this is political reality. No party will vote to cut off those benefits in a rotten economy. And that’s why Obama will not veto this bill.
(2) Assuming he can hold his caucus together. Several of those vulnerable Democratic senators might well be tempted to defy their party leader and vote in favor of jobs “back home.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Hope for our energy future, but first we need Change

September 10, 2011

Via Walter Russell Mead, news of a big oil strike off the coast of French Guiana:

A consortium of energy companies Friday reported a large oil discovery off the coast of French Guiana, opening up a potentially massive frontier of petroleum development along the northern coast of South America.

The discovery, made by Tullow Oil PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Total SA, could buoy hopes about the extent of the world’s untapped crude-oil reserves. Most of the barrels still underground are believed to be in the hands of a few countries that restrict access or are trapped in hard-to-exploit regions like the Arctic.

It’s estimated that 3.5 billion barrel of oil lie untapped at the site, though how much can be recovered remains to be seen. Nonetheless, this is a big find, comparable to estimates to the Bakken formation in the US. And its location makes it a double-boon for America, as Mead explains:

America’s geopolitical good luck seems to be continuing in the 21st century.  With very large deposits in Canada, the Gulf, Mexico, Venezuela and offshore Brazil, the US looks to have the most stable and secure oil supplies of any major world power.  Throw in new reserves here and the vast natural gas resources we keep finding, and the US energy picture seems to be getting brighter all the time.

And let’s not forget that estimates of oil and gas reserves within the US are growing, perhaps as high as 145 billion barrels of oil (Source in PDF):

U.S. proved reserves of oil total 19.1 billion barrels, reserves of natural gas total 244.7 trillion cubic feet, and natural gas liquids reserves of 9.3 billion barrels. Undiscovered technically recoverable oil in the United States is 145.5 billion barrels, and undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas is 1,162.7 trillion cubic feet. The demonstrated reserve base for coal is 488 billion short tons, of which 261 billion short tons are considered technically recoverable. …

Proved reserves are those amounts of oil, natural gas, or coal that have been discovered and defined, typically by drilling wells or other exploratory measures, and which can be economically recovered. In the United States, proved reserves are typically measured by private companies, who report their findings to the Securities and Exchange Commission because they are considered capital assets. In addition to the volumes of proved reserves are deposits of oil and gas that have not yet been discovered, which are called undiscovered resources. The term has a specific meaning: undiscovered resources are amounts of oil and gas estimated to exist in unexplored areas. If they are considered to be recoverable using existing production technologies, they are referred to as undiscovered technically recoverable resources (UTRR). In-place resources are intended to represent all of the oil, natural gas, or coal contained in a formation or basin without regard to technical or economic recoverability.

If those UTRR estimates become “proved reserves,” then we vault into the top-ten oil producers in the world — and bear in mind that those estimates could be too low, as well as too high.

Which brings us to fly in the ointment, that which makes Mead’s brightening picture something to look for several years down the road, not right now: we have to get rid of the Obama administration and all the anti-exploration and anti-drilling ideologues it’s put in positions of power. We could have all the oil in the world, and it would do us no good because of the Obama’s administration’s hostility toward responsible exploration and exploitation, both on- and offshore.

Let’s face it, the situation won’t improve until a new administration is in power that is not a slave to the Green Statist, eco-Socialist agenda and that will put an end to the administration’s insane permitorium. One that stops trying to strongarm the nation into “green technology” that isn’t yet economically viable and is a breeding ground for corruption.

Which, of course, means we need a new president. Someone with a commitment to free markets, limited government, and responsible energy development.

Gee, I wonder who comes to mind?

RELATED: Taking the brakes off exploration and development would do wonders for our jobs situation, too.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Venezuela: the fruits of Obama’s energy policy

April 26, 2011

Thanks to the Obama administration’s refusal to explore and develop the vast oil resources we have in the United States, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez will likely wind up with an extra $11 billion slush fund heading into his next presidential campaign.

Hey, if you can’t help your friends…

Obama with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez


The future of US nuclear power after Japan

March 18, 2011

Reason Magazine has a good article online looking at the the implications for the just-reviving nuclear power industry in the wake of the Sendai earthquake and tidal wave. After reviewing the damage at the Fukushima plants (they actually withstood the temblor surprisingly well, but the tidal wave that killed power to the cooling systems was the back-breaker) and the situations of nuclear plants in the seismically active American West (including California’s San Onofre), Ron Bailey examines newer technology that would make for safer reactors, even in the event of a huge natural disaster:

One hopeful possibility is that the Japanese crisis will spark the development and deployment of new and even safer nuclear power plants. Already, the Westinghouse division of Toshiba has developed and sold its passively safe AP1000 pressurized water reactor. The reactor is designed with safety systems that would cool down the reactor after an accident without the need for human intervention and operate using natural forces like gravity instead of relying on diesel generators and electric pumps. Until the recent events in Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was expected to give final approval to the design by this fall despite opposition by some anti-nuclear groups.

One innovative approach to using nuclear energy to produce electricity safely is to develop thorium reactors. Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive element, which, unlike certain isotopes of uranium, cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction. However, thorium can be doped with enough uranium or plutonium to sustain such a reaction. Liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR) have a lot to recommend them with regard to safety. Fueled by a molten mixture of thorium and uranium dissolved in fluoride salts of lithium and beryllium at atmospheric pressure, LFTRs cannot melt down (strictly speaking the fuel is already melted).

Because LFTRs operate at atmospheric pressure, they are less likely than conventional pressurized reactors to spew radioactive elements if an accident occurs. In addition, an increase in operating temperature slows down the nuclear chain reaction, inherently stabilizing the reactor. And LFTRs are designed with a salt plug at the bottom that melts if reactor temperatures somehow do rise too high, draining reactor fluid into a containment vessel where it essentially freezes.

While recent research shows that the United States has far greater reserves of coal, oil, and gas than previously thought, nuclear is still the cleanest economical alternative energy source around and has to be a crucial part of any coherent* national energy strategy. Rather than react in panic (as we did after Three mile Island) and again cripple the development of nuclear power, we must recognize that there is no risk-free magic solution and should instead draw the appropriate technological, engineering, and disaster-planning lessons from Japan’s trauma, apply them to our own situation, and keep on a rational path toward energy self-sufficiency.

Our future prosperity and national security depend on it.

*While I give Obama props for sticking by nuclear power, his energy policy is anything but coherent or rational.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Blacked-out Britain

November 10, 2010

Last one out of the UK, turn off the lights:

New dark age on our streets: Up to 75% of councils are dimming the lights to save money

Town halls are plunging our streets into darkness as they try to cut energy bills, damning research reveals.

Up to three-quarters of councils are planning to turn off street lamps or dim the lights in an attempt to save money and meet climate change targets, a poll has found.

But police fear that darkened streets will act as a haven for burglars, muggers and vandals – and motoring experts warn that there may be more accidents on the roads.

Evoking memories of 1970s-style blackouts, the poll found that 43 per cent of town hall bosses are already committed to switching off lights.

Another 12 per cent say they are dimming lamps – meaning that more than half of councils are cutting back in some way.

Meanwhile, a further 19 per cent of local authorities are also considering some form of blackout, according to the survey of 75 councils.

If these results are replicated across all councils, nearly three-quarters could be cutting back on lighting to save money.

The worries about public safety are no joke, as England and Wales already have a worse crime rate than the US.

The increasing energy bills are part and parcel of a long-term UK government policy to fight the non-existent problem of anthropogenic global warming that has favored uneconomical “solutions,” such as wind farms, that need government subsidies to survive. These subsidies are paid for by taxes and fees on other, more economical power sources, which costs then get passed on to the end-users, such as local councils. (And let’s not forget that these wind farms almost never produce the power they promise.)

Unlike France, which has made nuclear power a centerpiece of its domestic energy program, Britain halted all construction for so many years while pursuing the Green Dream that their existing reactors are scheduled to come offline in a few years with no replacements, leaving the UK to face severe energy shortages and… lights out!

RELATED: An excellent book on the mess caused by the global-warming farce, including an extensive discussion of Great Britain’s disastrous energy policy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Mr. President, we have plenty of good places to drill

June 16, 2010

Last night, President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office to inform us of the steps he’s taken to deal with the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To be frank, I didn’t watch. For the 50-plus days oil has been spewing into the Gulf and wrecking local economies and ecologies, I’ve seen his response in action and I haven’t been impressed. Feckless, incompetent half-measures have been matched with an attitude of taking responsibility in name, only.

But, later, I read the speech out of curiosity. Of the many things to say about it (see the links below for good analysis), one item jumped out at me at the point at which the President tried to explain why we were drilling in such risky areas:

After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean – because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

(Also here. Emphasis added.)

Huh? To quote the mighty Joe Wilson, “You lie!!”

Okay, maybe he’s not lying, but it’s either that, or he’s ignorant of economics, the recent history of drilling in this country, and the established natural resources of the United States. To be fair, he says “part of the reason,” but it’s a big part of his argument.

And it’s a false part.

Forget for a moment the vast resources sitting off the Atlantic coast, the near-shore Gulf of Mexico, off California, the oil shale of Colorado and neighboring states, and the humongous amount of oil sitting under Alaska and just offshore. Let me provide just one example, which his own Geological Survey could have told him with a 30-second phone call:

In March, 2008, I wrote about the Bakken formation, a large oil bearing area under North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan province. Go ahead, read it for background. I’ll wait.  Whistling

Ah, you’re back. Okay, so the easily recoverable reserves for just North Dakota were estimated at 660 million barrels. A report from the USGS of about the same time puts the recoverable reserves under North Dakota and Montana at 3-4.3 billion barrels.  (See also here) And that still does not include the whole formation. Snopes points out that this would cover US oil imports for roughly only one year, not the 41 years some have hyperventilated over, but that’s a bit of a straw man, for it doesn’t consider other reserves in the US and nearby waters.

But, back to President Obama’s mendacious argument. It’s not that we’re “running out of places to drill;” it’s that government policy has been dominated by environmental reactionaries who opposed any drilling whatsoever onshore and in coastal waters, especially if it gets in the way of the pretty view from their house. That’s been the politics of oil here in California since the 1969 Santa Barbara spill. Since then, even with improvements in drilling technology and safety measures (this latest event aside, US platform drilling has an excellent safety history), it’s been almost impossible to get new drilling off the coast, thanks to a combination of the environmental Left and coastal homeowners playing the role of NIMBY.

It’s this Luddite eco-tyranny that’s lead to drilling in risky areas, such as where the now-destroyed Deepwater Horizon rig was located. By blocking exploration and exploitation in safer, more reasonable areas, the environmentalist Left has helped create the conditions for this catastrophe. No, I’m not excusing BP’s lousy practices or the Fed’s failure to properly supervise them and plan for a catastrophe. But the pressure to drill in riskier deep-water areas, which we first incentivized under Bill Clinton, originated with the anti-oil environmental lobby that has time and again fought to block intelligent exploitation of safer fields, such as ANWR or the coast of California via slant drilling.

So, Mr President, far from running out of places to drill, we have plenty. More than enough to safely supply our oil needs (or more realistically, greatly cushion our dependence on foreign oil) while we work to develop alternative sources of fuel and lubricants that are economically viable.

The Federal government just has to stop barring the door.

LINKS: Analysis of the rest of the President’s speech from Power Line, Hot Air, Big Government, the LA Time’s Andrew Malcolm, Jonah Goldberg, and Nick Gillespie.


Palin. Nightstick. Boom.

June 13, 2010

Perhaps giving in to exasperation, Sarah Palin unloaded on both President Obama and the (Social) Democrats on her Facebook page today in a post that links the need to expand domestic oil drilling to our national security:

Am I the only one who wonders what could possibly be the agenda of any politician who would thwart our drive toward energy independence? Continuing to lock up America’s domestic energy reserves, including the energy-rich Last Frontier of Alaska, only equips dangerous foreign regimes as they fund terrorist organizations to harm us and our allies. I’m going to keep speaking and writing about this in the simplest of terms until someone can provide a simple answer as to why liberal Democrats don’t understand that we have safe, warehoused onshore and shallow water reserves waiting for permission to be extracted. They either choose not to understand the geology, science, and technology behind an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy security, or they understand it, yet for whatever frightening reason choose to be lap dogs to Chavez and Ahmadinejad.

Ouch. That’s going to leave a mark.

The former governor goes on to cite a Newsmax article about a letter from Republican senators challenging the administration over Venezuela’s ties to terrorism and our reliance on oil supplied by Hugo Chavez, who hates the United States. (Paging Joe Kennedy…)

While I’m not comfortable about relying on Newsmax (they’re given to sensationalism and have had to retract stories in a few embarrassing cases), she’s right to draw the link between the intelligent exploitation of domestic resources and our national security. In the Persian Gulf, many of the wealthy in countries from which we buy our oil use the profits from our purchases to support al Qaeda and other jihadist groups at war with America and the West.

In the case of Venezuela, Chavez has made no secret of his growing alliance with Iran, while the Newsmax article Palin quotes talks of Iranian security forces sealing off a Venezuelan airport in advance of an apparently high-value delivery. While the subsequent discussion of the ease with which some sort of nuclear explosive could be smuggled north is sensationalistic, the overall point is well-taken:

  • Iran is headed by a millenarian fascist regime that sees as its duty to do what it can to create the chaos that will herald the return of the Mahdi and the final victory of Islam.
  • Iran has been at war with the United States since 1979, even if we haven’t realized it.
  • Iran’s cats-paw, the terrorist jihad organization Hizbullah, has a significant presence in the United States and could be used to launch attacks within America.
  • Venezuela is allied with Iran and itself is seeking nuclear technology (supposedly for peaceful purposes).
  • Our southern border is undeniably porous.

And our dependence on Venezuelan oil is thus an example of how our freedom to act against potential threats posed by the Iranian-Venezuelan axis is potentially limited by our failure to intelligently exploit our own resources, relying instead on others.

If Sarah Palin is exasperated, she has every right to be.

I am, too.