Global Coal Use Growing Faster Than Any Other Energy

Over the last decade, global coal use grew by 968 million tonnes of oil equivalent. That is 4 times faster than renewables, 2.8 times faster than oil and 50 per cent faster than gas. That’s hardly justification for a requiem.

As Master of Oxford University’s Baillol College in the second half of the 19th century, Benjamin Jowett once submitted a contentious issue to a vote among Baillol’s dons and was displeased with the result. “The vote is 22 to 2. I see we are deadlocked.”

enegy sources global

Jowett was determined to ensure that empirical facts were not going to deny him the result he wanted.

When it comes to the coal industry, environmental campaigners and fellow travellers in the media are busy wishing away facts that don’t suit their arguments.

‘‘The end of coal’’ was the tag­line for a Four Corners’ “analysis” of the coal sector last night. It was Episode 14 of Series 3 of the Four Corners’ critique of the mining industry.

Consistent with the established practice, the conclusion of the piece was predetermined and the narrative arranged accordingly.

Facts were in short supply, wishful thinking was not. A trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, which funds activist groups and co-funded the development of an Australian anti-coal strategy in 2011, was wheeled out as an objective observer.

So the release of BP’s 2015 Statistical Review of World Energy in recent days is timely. Although BP is no friend of coal, the report provides an objective analysis of developments in global energy.

Let’s test some of the anti-coal crusaders’ claims with some objective facts.

First, it is claimed that coal is a dying energy source and its use is being phased out. Not so. According to the BP Review, over the decade to the end of 2014, coal use grew by 968 million tonnes of oil equivalent. That is 4 times faster than renewables, 2.8 times faster than oil and 50 per cent faster than gas. That’s hardly justification for a requiem.

Second, investors are not walking away from coal. Yes, some universities and some funds have decided to divest some of their stocks in fossil fuels. That’s their prerogative. But the overwhelming majority have not and will not divest of coal stocks. Sure the share prices of coal companies fall during a commodity downturn due largely to oversupply. So do the share prices of oil companies and grain producers when prices fall in those sectors.

The empirical evidence suggests that interest in the sector from lenders and investors remains strong. One of the anti-coal movement’s own groups, Bankwatch, has complained that global financing for coal mining rose to $US66 billion in 2014, up from $US55bn in 2013 and a 360 per cent increase from 2005.

The third claim is that renewable energy is capable of replacing fossil fuels, including coal.

Not likely. In 2014, if the world had relied on renewable energy like wind, solar and biomass for primary energy, then the world would have had just 9 days of heat, light and artificial horsepower.

Fourth, campaigners claim that coal has no future in a low emissions world. Not true. New generation technologies are slashing CO2 emissions from coal fired plants by as much as 40 per cent. These high efficiency low emissions plants are being rolled out in China, Japan and elsewhere in Asia. And the first large scale carbon capture and storage coal plant in Canada has slashed its CO2 emissions by 90 per cent. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated the cost of meeting global reduction targets will be 138 per cent higher without the deployment of carbon capture and storage.

The campaigners also claim that major consuming nations are turning away from coal. But the International Energy Agency predicts that China will add 450 gigawatts of coal fired power over the next 25 years. That’s 40 per cent larger than the entire US coal fleet. As the International Energy Agency has predicted, “China will be the coal giant for many years in the future”.

Energy starved India is also expanding its coal use and is expected to become the world’s largest coal importer in the next decade. The anti-coal crusaders are confused when it comes to India, which, by the way, still has 300 million people without access to electricity.

Their intellectual callisthenics are driven largely by their opposition to the Adani project in the Galilee Basin, which will export high-quality thermal coal to India.

First the campaigners argued that India’s power needs could be supplied by renewable energy. Really? Wind, solar and biomass accounted for 2 per cent of India’s energy needs in 2014. That’s about one week of India’s primary energy needs.

Read the full post

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels with Alex Epstein

We were told our fossil fuel usage would bring ecological disaster on a cataclysmic scale, yet life is actually better. The truth must be exposed with the moral case for fossil fuels.

Myth: Fossil fuels are dirty.

Truth: The environmental benefits of using fossil fuels far outweigh the risks. Fossil fuels don’t take a naturally clean environment and make it dirty; they take a naturally dirty environment and make it clean. They don’t take a naturally safe climate and make it dangerous; they take a naturally dangerous climate and make it ever safer.

Myth: Fossil fuels are unsustainable, so we should strive to use “renewable” solar and wind.

Truth: The sun and wind are intermittent, unreliable fuels that always need backup from a reliable source of energy—usually fossil fuels. There are huge amounts of fossil fuels left, and we have plenty of time to find something cheaper.

Myth: Fossil fuels are hurting the developing world.

Truth: Fossil fuels are the key to improving the quality of life for billions of people in the developing world. If we withhold them, access to clean water plummets, critical medical machines like incubators become impossible to operate, and life expectancy drops significantly.

Calls to “get off fossil fuels” are calls to degrade the lives of innocent people who merely want the same opportunities we enjoy in the West. Taking everything into account, including the facts about climate change, Epstein argues that “fossil fuels are easy to misunderstand and demonize, but they are absolutely good to use. And they absolutely need to be championed. . . . Mankind’s use of fossil fuels is supremely virtuous—because human life is the standard of value and because using fossil fuels transforms our environment to make it wonderful for human life.”

mcff_newbookABOUT ALEX EPSTEIN

ALEX EPSTEIN started the Center for Industrial Progress to offer an alternative environmental philosophy to America, one that is anti-pollution but pro-development. A popular speaker on college campuses, he has publicly debated leading environmentalists. He lives in Orange County, California.

To learn more visit the MoralCaseForFossilFuels.com.

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The Poor Need Affordable Energy by Iain Murray

 

EPA: Hydraulic Fracturing is No Threat to Drinking Water

Hydraulic fracturing, when done correctly, is safe and saves Americans money. The science says so.

EPA looked at scientific studies, government, NGO, and industry data and concluded that hydraulic fracturing has not had “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water.”

For those of us closely involved in the debate over shale energy, this report simply reaffirms what previous science has shown, as Katie Brown explains at Energy In Depth:

EPA’s study actually builds upon a long list of studies that show the fracking process poses an exceedingly low risk of impacting underground sources of drinking water.  It corroborates a “landmark study” by the U.S. Department of Energy in which the researchers injected tracers into hydraulic fracturing fluid and found no groundwater contamination after twelve months of monitoring. It is also in line with reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Groundwater Protection Council, to name just a few.

“The results of EPA’s exhaustive new analysis of hydraulic fracturing should not come as a surprise,” Christopher Guith, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for 21st Century Energy, said. “As the scope of America’s shale oil and gas opportunities have become understood, states and industry have developed regulatory environments and practices that ensure that hydraulic fracturing is done safely.”

In light of EPA’s study, some people have some reevaluating to do:

This study shows that states are successfully regulating hydraulic fracturing and duplicative federal rules aren’t needed. “Shale energy development continues to be a major economic driver of our economy, and it is critical that the federal government does not layer on duplicative and unnecessary regulations,” said Guith.

As for hydraulic fracturing opponents, they need to stop denying the science.

Meet Sean Hackbarth @seanhackbarth Follow @uschamber

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of a hydraulic fracturing site located atop the Marcellus shale rock formation in Pennsylvania. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg.

The Poor Need Affordable Energy by Iain Murray

Affordable energy is fundamental to what economist Deirdre McCloskey calls the “Great Fact” of the explosion of human welfare. It remains central to the reduction of absolute poverty. Yet, some Western governments are working to increase energy costs, purportedly to combat global warming.

What they are really combating is prosperity.

This is perverse and regressive. In America and Europe, energy takes up a much larger share of poor households’ budgets compared to other income brackets. For instance, a household with an annual income between $10,000 and $25,000 spends well over 10 percent of its budget on energy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And a January 2014 study for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity found that “households earning $50,000 or less spend more on energy than on food, spend twice as much on energy as on health care, and spend more than twice as much on energy as on clothing.”

Increasing the cost of energy also harms people’s health. That’s because energy use is so fundamental to modern life that it can take precedence over other household expenses — including health care. The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association found that an increase in energy costs led 30 percent of poor households to reduce purchases of food, 40 percent to go without medical care, and 33 percent to not fill a prescription.

The term “fuel poverty” describes households in cold climates that are not able to keep their home warm at an affordable cost. The primary causes of fuel poverty are low income, poor insulation, and high energy prices. Eight percent of households in Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom suffer from some form of fuel poverty, according to the European Union’s European Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency consortium project. In the UK, where there is much more data owing to an official designation of fuel poverty, a household is defined as fuel poor if it has to spend 10 percent of its income on essential energy services; 20 percent of households meet this definition.

Despite this, Western governments are pursuing policies to increase energy prices. President Obama said during his first election campaign that electricity rates from coal would “necessarily skyrocket” under his policies; this may finally come to pass under his EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. In Western Europe, energy costs have increased due to a combination of renewable energy subsidies and mandates, bans or moratoria on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), hostility to nuclear energy, and Russia’s control of natural gas supplies for much of the continent’s eastern half.

Despite the president’s policies, US energy markets have shown that innovation beats regulation every time. Even though huge swaths of American energy resources are locked up under untouchable federal lands, energy production has boomed over the past decade, thanks to the development of horizontal drilling and improved hydraulic fracturing techniques. These technological advances have led to lower electricity prices from natural gas. And subsurface property rights have benefited both urban and rural households through royalty payments for energy production on their land.

Moreover, as gas became more affordable, it led to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, thanks to energy innovation, America met the emissions targets set for it in the Kyoto Protocol, without any need for burdensome laws and regulation — or for the Kyoto Protocol itself. Whatever you think of the need for carbon emissions reduction, energy innovation is achieving that goal.

This is all to the good, but more energy innovation is possible. They key is greater liberalization. America should free up federal lands to energy development, rather than pickle them in regulatory aspic. Europe could enjoy its own energy boom by approving hydraulic fracturing.

Reducing artificially high energy costs is the first step in tackling fuel poverty. In America, the market is alleviating the burden of energy costs on poor households, even as the government goes the wrong way. That shows us the way forward for tackling the much greater problem in the developing world.


Iain Murray

Iain Murray is vice president at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Israel’s Gas Pains Relieved

Great business news from Israel this week. Israel has become a veritable cyber ware super power.  According to Ha’aretz, sales of computer and network security technology reached more than $6 billion in 2014, accounting for 10% of the global $60 billion market place. The other great news was the resignation on Monday, May 25th of Dr. David Gilo, head of the independent Israel Antitrust Authority.  In his statement Gilo said:

My decision is a result of a number of considerations, most importantly the report that the cabinet, particularly the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources, will do everything they can to push forward the currently emerging structure in the natural gas sector. I am convinced that such a structure will not lead to competition in this important market, and could possibly detract from the independence of the Antitrust Authority, a matter of public importance, and harm its ability to carry out unilateral measures

 He had single handedly  brought to a halt the development of Israel’s important off shore gas fields by the Israel-US partnership, Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) and Houston based Noble Energy , Inc. (NBL-NYSE) . The partnership had put up $6 billion in risk capital to develop the country’s offshore gas fields, achieving energy security, creating a potential wealth producing export market.   Gilo stopped development of the giant Leviathan field in December 2014 when he reneged on a compromise deal reached earlier last year involving selling two existing smaller fields developed by the partners offshore in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).      While he resigned on Monday, May 25th, he won’t be departing until the end of August, 2015.  Allegedly that would give him time to clean up his other consumerist initiatives.  However, many believe based on his statement his real agenda was to take pot shots at the compromise plan being floated by the Ministries of Finance, Energy and Infrastructure, backed by Prime Minister Netanyahu for good and sound national security reasons.   A legal opinion from the State’s attorney General provided authority for the government to develop and conclude the proposed agreement with the development partners.    According to Globes, Israel Business, the compromise plan:

Requires Delek Group, Ltd. to sell all of its holdings in the Tamar natural gas reservoir within six years. Noble Energy, Delek Group’s partner will be required to reduce its holdings in Tamar from 36% to 25%, and will be barred from marketing gas from the Leviathan reservoir to Israel. At the same time, the agreement leaves Noble Energy with control of both reservoirs as the company operating them.

As we have written in both NER articles and Iconoclast posts Gilo was seeking to do the impossible. To create competition by forcing the sale of one of the two major fields, the Tamar, hoping to induce foreign competitors to make investments for the completion of the giant Leviathan gas field and thereby lowering energy prices through competition. Problem with that misguided view was there were few if any takers. Further, it put into jeopardy signed agreements for delivery of gas from the existing Tamar field with the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan. Moreover the government killed a potential minority investment by Australian energy development firm, Woodside, PTY for development of LNG from the Leviathan field and delivery to the Asian market. As a result, Nobel is presently working with the Republic of Cyprus to develop an LNG processing and distribution complex to link up with the Republic’s Aphrodite offshore gas field adjacent to that of Israel’s Leviathan.

In the run up to the March 17th, Knesset elections, it was apparent that Gilo was grandstanding perhaps hoping that the Zionist Union opposition might win. If that occurred he could pursue his consent decree proposal accusing the partners of being a monopoly in violation of Israeli basic law. Instead, Gilo and entourage took off for a junket to Holland to see how the Netherlands handled their off shore gas fields development.

It quickly became apparent that the Netanyahu government was not going to abide by this high handed patently political move by Gilo.  At stake is more than $76 billion in potential tax revenues that might be used to offset burdensome national and other social program expenditures .

Prior to Gilo’s resignation, the Netanyahu government  reached out to Professor Eitan Sheshinski at Hebrew University who had developed the original tax plan in 2010 to produce revenues from oil and gas developments both onshore and offshore. Sheshinski was appointed as adviser to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who he had worked with in the development of the original tax plan. He suggested in a Globes Israel Business interview that liquidation of the Tamar field ownership would not lower prices.  Additionally he said that Gilo’s original intent of controlling prices was unproductive.  Sheshinski was cited by Globes saying:

All in all, today’s price is reasonable by the standards of Europe, and certainly at the level of the Far East.  The price of gas in Europe is $8-10 per energy unit, and is about $15 in the Far East. Delek Drilling Limited Partnership (TASE: DEDR.L) and Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) today reported that the average gas price in Israel in the first quarter of 2015 was $5.45 per energy unit.

Sheshinski also asserted that controls over natural gas prices might do more harm than good. “Controls give a lot of authority to a bureaucratic system, and experience does not justify optimism,” he said, adding, “I don’t see how the regulator in Israel can adapt himself to the many changes occurring worldwide in gas prices. You have to keep this as far as possible from the bureaucratic and political system.”

Globes noted the Finance Ministry’s compromise proposal for ‘soft pricing’:

The state proposed that the price of gas in future contracts be a weighted average of gas prices in the contracts that have already been signed in Israel.

Sheshinski’s assessment of the Gilo’s objective , liquidating the monopoly, that a duopoly would enhance price competition was wrongheaded:

Both global experience and economic theory explicitly state that anyone who thinks that a duopoly will cause perfect competition is wrong. In this matter, you also can rely on our experience in Israel. In a duopoly, the controlling shareholders have a common interest… some claim that a duopoly’s prices are even worse than those of a monopoly.

He went on to address the current international markets impacted by a spike in US oil and gas fracking production:

In my opinion, the goal is to ensure that gas prices in Israel are not different from those prevailing in similar countries around the world. A revolution is now taking place in global energy prices. The US is becoming the world’s biggest oil producer, and both oil and gas prices are on a downtrend. In my opinion, this trend will continue, and our goal should be not to pay more than the reasonable prices of countries in a similar situation with respect to gas reservoirs.

Another expert who happened to be in Eilat,  Israel  at an international conference  this week was a law partner from the Washington, DC firm of Greenberg Traurig, Global Energy & Infrastructure Practice co-chairman, Kenneth Minesinger,  “legal advisor of the Alaska state government in its negotiations with the oil and gas companies.”   Minesinger had these comments in a Globes interview:

I’ve been advising the Alaskan government how to negotiate with the gas companies for decades. Like in Israel, two major reservoirs were discovered in Alaska: Prudhoe Bay and Point Thomson. The population there is small, and the gas industry is controlled by three companies.

Both Alaska and Israel are now trying to find out how to negotiate with the gas companies in a way that will safeguard the interests of the state and its residents, together with the gas companies’ interests.

I think that it’s necessary to act quickly in order to ensure development of the Leviathan reservoir, but hasty action motivated by panic isn’t the right way. What’s involved is an agreement that will ensure Israel hundreds of billions of shekels in revenue over the years, and serious consideration and the necessary time must therefore be devoted to this matter. In contrast to Alaska, the development project for the Leviathan reservoir is simple, but it is still difficult for an inexperienced country like Israel.

Minesinger pointed out that long term contracts must include development of a network   of adequately sized pipelines connecting fields that are developed.  Further, he suggested that pricing in such agreements should be formulaic and not based on a fixed single point basis. To overcome suspicions that developing companies might earn excessive profits Minesinger suggested distribution of profit sharing checks to Israel’s citizens akin to what Alaska presently does. He has also proposed to Alaska possible consideration of a state owned gas company.

The final comment on this week’s developments in the wake of the resignation of IAA head, Gilo, came in a Globes op ed from Norman Bailey, former Reagan national security aide and Haifa University policy expert, citing lessons learned:

The resignation of Prof. Gilo as head of the Antitrust Authority is undoubtedly good news. His reneging last December on the agreement he had made with the natural gas companies Noble, Delek and Ratio the preceding March had thrown the whole development of Israel’s offshore natural gas resources into confusion. The matter had already been badly handled by the government, which had driven out the Australian company Woodside, and Gilo’s retraction had put at risk the economic, financial and geo-political benefits of the gas discoveries. The government, after an unacceptable earlier draft, finally crafted a new, acceptable proposal over Gilo’s objections, which prompted his resignation. The lessons to be learned here are twofold: regulation is necessary but should not dominate at the expense of other relevant considerations; and agreements made should be honored, unless circumstances change fundamentally, which was not the case. Israel as a magnet for investment has been preserved.

We await announcement of an acceptable compromise plan to the parties involved to end this episode once again illustrating that  rule of law must reflect economic market realities.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

How Can So Many World Leaders Be So Wrong?

In a recent Daily Caller article, Michael Bastach took note of “25 Years of predicting The Global Warming ‘Tipping Point’.” This is the message that the Earth is warming rapidly and, if we don’t abandon the use of fossil fuels for power, it will arrive to wreak destruction on the human race and all life on the planet.

Cartoon - Man-Made Weather

It is astounding how many past and present world leaders are telling everyone this despite the total lack of any real science, nor any actual warming—the Earth has been in a natural cooling cycle since 1997!

At the heart of the global warming—now called climate change—“crisis” has been the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that has been issuing apocalyptic predictions since its inception in 1988. None of its predictions have come true. How could they, based as they are on the false science of computer models, not that based on observable climate events and trends?

To this day our own government through its meteorological agencies has been caught manipulating the data gathered over the years to conform with the “warming” scenario. The worst has been the Environmental Protection Agency which is engaged in an effort to shut down coal-fired utilities and access to every other energy source on which we depend to power the nation.

Despite this national and international effort, mostly likely based on the liberal ideology that there are too many humans on the plant and dramatic ways must be found to reduce that number. In the past these anti-humanity advocates could depend on famine, disease and wars to kill off millions, but in the modern world that has become less of a threat.

One libertarian think tank, the Heartland Institute, has been leading the battle against the global warming/climate change hoax for a decade. As a Heartland policy advisor I have had a front row seat. In June, Heartland will sponsor the Tenth International Conference on Climate Change bringing together some of the world’s leading scientists to recommend that it is time for Congress to “take a fresh look at climate science”, “explore better science-based policies for energy and the environment”, and, bluntly stated, to “start over on the question of global warming?”

It did not surprise me to learn that Heartland had dispatched staff to Rome when the Pope announced he too was joining the “climate change” advocates despite its lack of any basis in science. The group garnered tons of international media coverage by simply presenting the truth. You can find out more about them here. It didn’t take long for Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University professor and ‘special advisor” to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to write a commentary condemning global warming “deniers” that appeared on a Catholic website called Pewsitter.

Sachs took particular aim at The Heartland Institute and, despite not attending its Rome press conference or any of the presentations the experts provided, did not hesitate to identify Heartland as having been supported for years by the Koch brothers, known for the support of conservative groups and causes.

Joseph Bast, Heartland president, does not let such cheap shots pass by. “The Heartland Instituter has received just $25,000 from a single organization, a charitable foundation affiliated with the Koch brothers during the past 15 years. Our annual budget is approximately $7 million. Even that small gift was earmarked for our work on health care reform, not global warming. Why does Sachs mention the ‘Koch brothers’ unless his intention is to smear an independent organization by falsely implying a much larger or somehow Improper level of support from some singularly unpopular billionaires?”

Bast got to the heart of the war being perpetrated by the either misinformed or deliberately lying world leaders of the climate change hoax. “The dishonesty of Sachs’ reference to The Heartland Institute would be startling, coming from a person of Sachs’ stature, if this sort of misrepresentation of facts weren’t so common in the debate over climate change. President Obama sets the tone. Comparing global warming realists to members of the ‘flat earth society’ and rather ominously calling on his supporters to ‘hold climate change denier’s feet to the fire.’”

“Sachs has had a long and distinguished career as an academic and in various government agencies,” said Bast, “but on this issue he is letter his liberal ideology cloud his judgement. His short essay reveals a disturbing lack of knowledge about climate science and compassion toward the billions of people in the world who will be harmed by the UN’s plans to make energy more expensive and less reliable.”

“Sachs ends his essay with a call on people of all faiths to ‘fulfill our moral responsibilities to humanity nd the future of Earth.’ That responsibility starts with truth-telling. Sachs and his colleagues on the left haven’t reach the starting line yet.”

It doesn’t matter if it is the Pope, the President of the United States, or the UN Secretary General if the assertion that the Earth is warming when it is not or that coal, oil and natural gas must be abandoned to “save the Earth.” Whether from ignorance or a dark hidden agenda, the whole of the global warming/climate change is aimed at harming billions, many of whom need the power that this hoax would deny to everyone.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

EDITORS NOTE: The feature image is of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with His Holiness Pope Francis, with CEB members. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Now For the Bad News

An article by Christopher Carson in the April 27 edition of Daily Mailer.FrontPage, titled, A Mad Max Nation with No Electrical Grid, is enough to scare the bejabbers out of anyone.

In predicting what America would be like during a major outage of our electrical grid, Carson tells us: “It’s been one year since a white-hot study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was leaked to the Wall Street Journal. The government study concluded that coordinated attacks on only nine electrical transmission substations in the United States could bring down the entire trinity of grids (called interconnections) that supply electricity to America. Terrorists would have to physically destroy only four in the East, three in the West, and two in Texas, plus one large transformer production plant, and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.

Imagine what that would mean for a nation entirely dependent upon electricity for its very survival. Almost all large transformers are constructed overseas, including China, and the typical lag time from order to delivery and installation is two years. Forget no iPhones. Try no working sewer systems, no heating, no cars (because no gasoline pumps), no transportation, no garbage collection, no hospitals, no medicine kept in cold storage, no working government, and no civilization. It wouldn’t even be a medieval society because Europe in the Middle Ages had functioning governments, currencies, and a trading system. The USA would be more like the world of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdomefor the lucky survivors.”

This was preceded by an April 23 article by Discovery Communications and the Washington Post, describing a University of Utah geophysical study published in the current edition of the journal Science. The University of Utah study, titled, Yellowstone Supervolcano Much Bigger Than Thought, reports that a giant reservoir of magma and hot rock beneath the Yellowstone supervolcano has been found and imaged. The newly found reservoir lies 12-28 miles below the surface, and is four-and-a-half times larger than the shallower, hot melted rock zone that powers current Yellowstone geysers and caused the caldera’s last eruption some 70,000 years ago.

The volume of the newly imaged, deeper reservoir is a whopping 11,000 cubic-miles (46,000 cubic kilometers), which is about the volume of Long Island with 9 miles of hot rock piled on it, or 300 Lake Tahoes…”

According to the Washington Post, the Yellowstone supervolcano is “one of the world’s largest volcanoes, one that is quiescent for the moment but is capable of erupting with catastrophic violence at a scale never before witnessed by human beings. In a big eruption, Yellowstone would eject 1,000 times as much material as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. This would be a disaster felt on a global scale, which is why scientists are looking at this thing closely

“The newly discovered reservoir is 4.5 times larger than the chamber above it. There’s enough magna there to fill the Grand Canyon. The reservoir is on top of a long plume of manga that emerges from deep within the Earth’s mantle… This system has been in place for roughly 17 million yearsThe last time Yellowstone had a calderic eruption was 640,000 years ago, and the misshapen hole it created

was about 25 miles by 37 miles across. This caldera has since been filled in by lava flows and natural erosion, and Yellowstone Lake covers a portion of the area. The main visual evidence of the old caldera is the striking absence of mountains at the heart of the park: They were literally blown away in the last eruption.

But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission study on the likely impact of a terrorist attack on our national electric grid, and the University of Utah study on the Yellowstone supervolcano, are only speculative… forecasts of what might happen “if and when.” That’s the good news; now for some bad news.

In an October 23, 2013 study by respected writer and researcher Michael Snyder, titled, 28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima, Snyder paints a grim picture of the impact of the March 11, 2011 nuclear meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The failure occurred when the plant was inundated by a tsunami following the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake, resulting in the meltdown of three of the plants six nuclear reactors.

As Snyder prefaces his study he points to a map provided by the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center which shows that “…radiation levels at radiation monitoring stations across the country are elevated… this is particularly true along the west coast of the United States. Every single day, 300 tons of radioactive water from Fukushima enters the Pacific Ocean. That means that the total amount of radioactive material released from Fukushima is constantly increasing, and it is steadily building up in our food chain.”

As evidence of his assertion, Snyder notes a U.S. Geological Survey statement stating that some of the thirty-three polar bears found along the Alaska coastline showed evidence of “alopecia (loss of hair) and other skin diseases.”

Snyder quotes National Marine Fisheries Service wildlife biologist, Sharon Melin, as saying that, at island rookeries off the Southern California coast, 45 percent of sea lion pups born in June 2013 were dead by October of that year. The normal mortality rate among sea lion pups is less than one-third.

Among the findings in his research, Snyder notes that:

Along the Pacific coast of Canada and the Alaska coastline, the population of sockeye salmon is at a historic low.

Scientists have found that something is causing the fish along the west coast of Canada to bleed from their gills, bellies, and eyeballs. One test in California found that all 15 of the blue fin tuna examined in a test were contaminated with radiation from Fukushima. .

A vast field of radioactive debris from Fukushima that is approximately the size of California has crossed the Pacific Ocean and is starting to collide with the west coast. It is estimated that the radioactivity of coastal waters off the west coast could double over the next five to six years.

The California coastline is being transformed into a “dead zone.” Coastal rocks are unnaturally free of kelp, barnacles, and sea urchins and tidal pools are eerily devoid of crabs, snails, and other scurrying creatures. Snyder reports that there are days in which he is hard-pressed to find even a half dozen seagulls and/or terns on the beach, compared to 10-15 years ago when the skies and all the beaches were filled with seagulls.

Up to 100 times as much nuclear radiation from Fukushima has been released into the Pacific Ocean than was released during the entire 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine. It is projected that the entire ocean will soon have radioactive Cesium levels 5 to 10 times higher than during

the era of heavy atomic testing in the Pacific during the 1940s and ‘50s.

In 2012, the Vancouver Sun reported that Cesium-137 was being found in 73% of mackerel, 91% of halibut, 92% of sardines, 93% of tuna and eel, 94% of cod and anchovies, and 100% of the carp, seaweed, shark, and monkfish sold by Japan to Canadian markets. Some experts expect high levels of cancer among west coast residents from eating contaminated fish.

The BBC has reported that radiation levels around Fukushima are 18 times greater than previously believed. Atmospheric radiation from Fukushima reached the west coast of the U.S. in just a few days in 2011.

The Iodine-131, Cesium-137, and Strontium-90 that are constantly emanating from Fukushima will affect the health of those living in the northern hemisphere for generations to come. Iodine-131 can be ingested into the thyroid where it emits beta particles that damage tissue Cesium-137 from Fukushima has been found in fish caught as far away as California. It spreads throughout the body, but tends to accumulate in muscle tissue. Strontium-90, which mimics Calcium and accumulates in the bones, has a half-life of around 29 years.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it is projected that the Fukushima cleanup may take up to 40 years. Yale professor Charles Perrow warns that, if the Fukushima cleanup is not handled with 100% precision, humanity could be threatened for thousands of years.

To consider the impact of these tragedies… one politically preventable and two dictated by the laws of nature… tends to make issues such as global warming, the Middle East conflict, and an $18 trillion national debt pale by comparison. Since it is impossible to say anything remotely positive about the fates that might await us, a few wise words on fatalism appear to be in order.

Samuel Butler once said, “Let us eat and drink, neither forgetting death unduly nor remembering it. The Lord hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, etc., and the less we think about it the better.”

Finally, George Bernard Shaw once said, “Old men are dangerous: it doesn’t matter to them what is going to happen to the world.” At age 81, I find that to be a very comforting thought.

The Climate Change War Heats Up

AA - Climate Change Vs Capitalism

Climate change march denounces capitalism.

There is so much at stake for the charlatans that have foisted the failed “global warming” hoax, followed by the equally dubious claims and predictions regarding “climate change”, that it should come as no surprise that they have begun to wage a propaganda war on the courageous scientists who led the struggle to educate the public about the truth and the organizations who supported their efforts.

Along the way, many groups and publications claiming scientific credentials abandoned those standards to pump out global warming and climate change propaganda. Scientists discovered they could secure grant money for “research” so long as it supported claims that the North and South Poles, as well as all the world’s glaciers were melting. “Research” that predicted vast hurricane activity or a massive rise in ocean levels became routine headlines. None of it occurred. Both the government and liberal foundations provided millions to maintain the hoax.

Now we have a President claiming that his daughter’s asthma was due to “climate change.” It is obscene nonsense. If this was just a disagreement between scientists, we could look on as the facts determine the outcome, but there are vast agendas as stake so we have to keep in mind that billions have been wasted on “renewable energy” alternatives to replace fossil fuels; the oil, coal, and natural gas that are the heart’s blood of modern nations and our lives.

We have to ask why the United Nations Framework on Climate Change takes such a dim view of the world’s population that it cites its use of energy and other resources as a reason to reduce it instead of celebrating it. Hard-core environmentalists do not like humans because they build houses, start businesses, need roads, and generally consume a lot and then create trash. Climate change is also the platform the U.N. is using to “transform” the world’s economy.

We have to ask why our government is engaged in shutting down the coal-fired plants that provide the bulk of the electricity we use. This isn’t just a war on coal. It is a war on our entire economic system, capitalism. It is a war on Americans by their own government.

Lately, politicians at the federal level have declared war on those scientists whose research and findings have helped the public conclude, along with eighteen years of a natural cooling cycle, that “global warming” is no threat and that we have far greater threats to address than the vague notion that “climate change” is a problem we humans can affect in any way. We can’t and we don’t.

A recent example has been letters sent to seven university presidents by Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee asking for information on scientists and professors who had given congressional testimony that raised questions about “climate change.” Grijalva had no legal authority to request such information, but his intention was intimidation. In 2013, when asked about his legislative agenda by These Times, he replied “I’m a Saul Alinsky guy” referring to the activist whose book, “Rules for Radicals”, spells out ways to attack one’s political enemies.

Pete Peterson, the executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy, identified Grijalva’s letters as “scare tactics” concluding that we have come to a time when “The inability of politicians to confront another’s argument much less to attempt to persuade the other side, has become standard operating procedure. Now this toxic approach is extending to the broader world of policy—including scientific research.”

Around the same time, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Sen. Ed Markey sent a letter to a hundred companies, grade groups and other organizations “affiliated with the fossil fuel industry asking whether they spent money to support climate research.” The message was simple: do not sponsor research that would reveal inaccuracies or falsehoods regarding claims that “climate change” was a threat. The inference was that scientific research receiving such funding would betray scientific standards in ways that government or foundation funding would not.

Suffice to say the letters evoked outrage. As a policy advisor to the free market think tank, The Heartland Institute, I was aware of the response of its president, Joe Bast who called the letters something that “fascists do.” He was not alone. The Washington Times called the Senators “climate change Toquemadas” and The Wall Street Journal said the letters were nothing more than an effort to silence science.

When Sen. Whitehouse aired his unhappiness in an April 14 blog post the Huffington Post, “Right-Wing Groups Get Overheated on Climate Questions”, Bast responded asking, “If the Senator’s letter wasn’t intended as harassment of individuals who disagree with his extremist views on the climate, why the overly broad demand, the ridiculous deadline, the implied threat of action, and the news release saying it was intended to expose a diabolical conspiracy of ‘right-win groups’?”

When “climate change” reaches the political heights of Congress and the White House, it should come as no surprise that the charlatans who want to use this hoax for their own benefit and agendas are going to unleash efforts to smear and intimidate those scientists who have put true facts before the public.

In late March, Michael Bastash of The Daily Caller reported that “A new Gallup poll shows that Americans’ concern about warming has fallen to the same level it was in 1989. In fact, global warming ranked at the bottom of a list of Americans’ environmental concerns, with only 32 percent saying they were worried about it a ‘great deal.’”

That’s what has the politicians and U.N. officers on the offensive to silence scientists and defame think tanks and other organizations that have helped Americans come to the sensible conclusion that a “warming” isn’t happening and the planet’s climate is something over which they have no control.

© Alan Caruba 2015

RELATED ARTICLE: Here’s the Deal on the Court Fight Over Obama’s Carbon Regulations

Using the Global Warming Hoax to Destroy America

When President Obama announced on March 31 that he intends to ensure that the U.S. will slash its “greenhouse gas emissions” 26% below 2005 emissions levels by 2025 in order to keep pledges made to fulfill the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, he failed to mention that such levels would be comparable to what they were in our Civil War era, 150 years ago.

He also failed to mention that the U.S. has made no such pledges as regards the 1992 “Kyoto Treaty” which was resoundingly rejected by the U.S. Senate when then Vice President Al Gore brought it back from the U.N. conference.

There is no need, globally or nationally, to reduce such emissions. It would be a crime against humanity, especially for the millions that would be denied electrical power or would see its cost rise exponentially. “The President has no credible evidence to back up his claims,” said H. Sterling Burnett, a Research Fellow with the free market think tank, The Heartland Institute. “Obama’s climate actions are likely to cause far more harm to people, especially the poor, than any purported threats from global warming.”

“Global warming” and “climate change” are attributed to the use of fossil fuels to manufacture and transport ourselves and our goods, and to create electrical energy, despite the fact that the Earth, its oceans and land areas naturally generate such gases.

Volcano with SmokeThere are, for example, more than 1500 potentially active volcanoes and countless others under the oceans. They produce billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases that are identified as “greenhouse gas emissions.” The human contribution pales in comparison to natural sources such as the warming ocean surface which releases CO2.

Even so, CO2 constitutes a mere 0.04% of the atmosphere. There is no evidence CO2 plays any role in the Earth’s global temperature.

Do these “greenhouse gas emissions” trap heat? Apparently not because the Earth has been in a natural cooling cycle for the past eighteen years breaking and making records for snow and ice. In the 1970s scientists were predicting a new Ice Age. Ten years later they were predicting “global warming.”

Why then is the President intent on slashing “greenhouse gas emissions” when (1) the Earth is not a greenhouse and (2) doing so would harm our economy for decades to come?

The answer lies in his promise to “fundamentally transform” a nation that does not need transformation except for the reduction of the size and scope of the federal government. Its economic system is the best in the world. Its military is the strongest. Its agriculture feeds Americans and is exported to other nations.

As David Rothbard, the president and co-founder of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a free market think tank, noted in the wake of Obama’s announcement, “The President will have to bypass the law-making process and use executive orders and regulations” to achieve his goal of slashing emissions. “To do so requires tortured readings of the Clean Air Act and other current laws.”

Significantly, “the President offers no suitable replacement for the lost generating capacity beyond pointing toward wind and solar which is not up to the task.” When Obama took office, coal-fired plants provided 50% of U.S. electricity. It is now down to 40% and headed lower if Obama has his way.

Rothbard warns that “Global warming campaigners see this presidency and the Paris U.N. Summit as the best chance they are likely to see to take control of American energy. The ramifications are disastrous for American freedom and prosperity.”

This brings us to the what John L. Casey, founder of the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC), an independent scientific research organization in Orlando, says about the forthcoming November 30 to December 15 U.N. climate conference in Paris which he describes as “doomed” and that’s the good news.

Its announced goal of imposing global limits on greenhouse gas emissions will not be mandatory and “President Obama has effectively gutted any meaningful agreement among the major industrialized nations, by having granted to the planet’s largest CO2 producer, China, free license to build as many coal power plants as they wish, and emit as many gigatons of greenhouse gases as they wish until 2030.”

This is, in fact, a global trend as many developing nations such as India do the same thing. Nor will they suddenly shut down electricity production fifteen years from now.

This huge, international farce formerly known as the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, began as an international treaty created in 1992. The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the Kyoto Treaty, but pledges to reduce greenhouse gases were made by 33 out of 195 countries, called their “Intended National Determined Contribution” are the main feature at the forthcoming Paris conference.

For all the media attention the President will try to generate for this idiocy, Ken Haapala, president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, says “It is unlikely that the current Senate would approve a binding agreement.” Haapala notes that lawmakers that include the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)m and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), “have all insisted that the international agreement the U.N. is working on is a treaty and cannot be enforced without Senate approval.”

Sen. McConnell warned, “Considering that two-thirds of the U.S. Federal government hasn’t even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal.”

While most Americans have concluded that “global warming” or “climate change” are low on their list of fears President Obama has elevated this hoax to the top of his agenda for his last two years in office, along with the deal that would give Iran the opportunity to build a nuclear arsenal of weapons.

He doesn’t want to “transform” America. He wants to destroy it.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Iran military endorses a nuclear EMP attack on the U.S.

Iranian Military Documents endorsed an HEMP attack scenario on the U.S. What you are about to read sounds like science fiction; it is not. It is a 21st century weapon we must deal with. This article has not been written to frighten anyone; but we should all be frightened because it would be worse than a million ‘Pearl Harbor’ attacks.

AFP reports:

The U.S. military command that scans North America’s skies for enemy missiles and aircraft plans to move its communications gear to a Cold War-era mountain bunker, officers said. The shift to the Cheyenne Mountain base in Colorado is designed to safeguard the command’s sensitive sensors and servers from a potential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, military officers said.

The Pentagon last week announced a $700 million contract with Raytheon Corporation to oversee the work for North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command.

Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and Northern Command, said that “because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain’s built, it’s EMP-hardened.”

Read more.

33 Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age is a one-hour documentary produced by The Heritage Foundation that tells the story of the very real threat foreign enemies pose to every one of us. The truth is brutal – no matter where on Earth a missile is launched from it would take 33 Minutes or less to hit the U.S. target it was programmed to destroy. Watch the trailer to “33 Minutes” produced by the Heritage Foundation:

33 minutes logoIf the U.S. doesn’t destroy Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons civilization as we know it may be destroyed for hundreds of years. This is a frightening scenario but it can and may very well happen. Here’s why.

If Iran were to explode a high altitude nuclear bomb above the U.S., an HEMP (high altitude electro magnetic pulse) would be set off and it is estimated up to 90 percent of the U.S. population would end up dying. This is not science fiction; it is a fact. Iran’s military documents describe such a scenario.

What is nuclear HEMP? A nuclear device set off at high altitude would set off an electromagnetic pulse that would substantially damage or destroy the entire or most of America’s electric grid. The U.S. would be without electric for a year or more. This means we would have no electric, water service, sewer service, refrigeration, heat, communication, hospital service or anything else that requires electricity to operate. What would follow is starvation, chaos and anarchy on a level never before experienced by mankind.

The issue of a nuclear EMP attack was raised in the final hours of this week’s elections in Israel when U.S. authority Peter Vincent Pry penned a column for Arutz Sheva warning of Iran’s threat to free nations wrote:

“Iranian military documents describe such a scenario — including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States.”

A knowledgeable source said that the textbook discusses an EMP attack on America in 20 different places.

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, who is leading an effort to protect the U.S. electric grid from an EMP attack, has recently made similar claims based on the document translated by military authorities.

Once sneered at by critics, recent moves by Iran and North Korea have given credibility to the potential EMP threat from an atmospheric nuclear explosion over the U.S.

Pry has suggested ways for Iran to deliver a nuclear attack: by ship launched off the East Coast, a missile or via satellite.

Either way the result could be destruction of all or part of the U.S. electric grid, robbing the public of power, computers, water and communications for potentially a year.

Iran armed with nuclear missiles poses an unprecedented threat to global civilization.

One nuclear warhead detonated at high-altitude over the United States would blackout the national electric grid and other life sustaining critical infrastructures for months or years by means of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A nationwide blackout lasting one year, according to the Congressional EMP Commission, could cause chaos and starvation that leaves 90 percent of Americans dead.

Iranian military documents describe such a scenario–including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States.

Thus, Iran with a small number of nuclear missiles can by EMP attack threaten the existence of modernity and be the death knell for Western principles of international law, humanism and freedom. For the first time in history, a failed state like Iran could destroy the most successful societies on Earth and convert an evolving benign world order into world chaos”. (end quote)

It is reported that Israel has protected much of its electric grid and if attacked by an HEMP it could restore electric within a few days. It has also set up a variety of defenses as well. If Israel can do it, why can’t we.

To protect America there are two things that should be a top security issue that Congress must address without delay.

First Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons or become a threshold nuclear State. Second Congress must quickly pass legislation and funding to ‘harden’ America’s electric grid against an HEMP attack. A nuclear attack can kill thousands; but and HEMP attack could kill millions. Bob Heller

Read more.

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The $15 Billion Failure to Store Nuclear Waste

“The American people have spent 30 years and $15 billion to determine whether Yucca Mountain would be a safe repository for our nation’s civilian and defense-related nuclear waste.” That’s a quote of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) reported in the April issue of The Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News.

Compare that with the one year and 45 days it took to build the Empire State Building or the five years it took to build the Hoover Dam in the depths of the Great Depression. In the first half of the last century, Americans knew how to get things done, but the rise of environmentalism in the latter half, starting around the 1970s, has increased the cost and time of any construction anywhere in the U.S. In the case of Yucca Mountain it has raised issues about nuclear waste that is currently stored is less secure conditions.

As reported by CNS News in January, “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released the final two volumes of a five-volume safety report that concludes that Nevada’s Yucca Mountain meets all of its technical and safety requirements for the disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste.” Five volumes!

So why the delay? The NRC says the Department of Energy “‘has not met certain land and water rights requirements’ and that other environmental and regulatory hurdles remain.”

Harry ReidA Wall Street Journal editorial on March 30 asserted that It is not about environmental and regulatory hurdles. It is about a deal that Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader, cut with President Obama to keep Yucca Mountain from ever opening for use. In return, Reid blocked nearly all amendments to legislation to shield Obama from having to veto bills. He virtually nullified the Senate as a functioning element of our government.

“Since there is no permanent disposal facility, spent fuel from the nation’s nuclear reactors—‘enough to fill a football field 17 meters deep’ according to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report—is currently being stored at dozens of above-ground sites. The GAO expects the amount of radioactive waste to double to 140,000 by 2055 when all of the currently operating nuclear reactors are retired.”

The United States where the development of nuclear fission and its use to generate electrical energy occurred is now well behind other nations that have built nuclear facilities and are adding new ones. As Donn Dear, an energy expert with Power For USA, points out “there are only four new nuclear power plants under construction, all by Toshiba-Westinghouse LLC. One other plant, Watts Bar 2, whose construction was held up for several years, is being completed by TVA.”

Meanwhile, as Dear notes, “South Korea is building four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates. The Russian company, Rosatom, is building power plants in Turkey, Belarus, Vietnam, and elsewhere. The China National Nuclear Corporation is scheduled to build over twenty nuclear power plants.”

These represent jobs and orders for equipment that are not occurring in the United States, along with the failure to utilize nuclear energy to provide the growing need for electricity here. The same environmental organizations opposing construction here are the same ones supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s attack on coal-fired electrical plants. The irony is, of course, that nuclear plants do not produce carbon dioxide emissions that the Greens blame for the non-existent “global warming”, not called “climate change.”

A cynical and false propaganda campaign has been waged against nuclear energy in the U.S., mostly notably with the Hollywood film, “The China Syndrome” about a reactor meltdown. If you want to worry about radiation, worry about the Sun. It is a major source. Three incidents, Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, added to the fears, but no one was harmed by the Three Mile Island event and Chernobyl was an avoidable accident.

More recent was the March 11, 2011 shutdown of the Fukushima reactor in Japan as the result of an earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Three of its cores melted in the first three days, but there have been no deaths or radiation sickness attributed to this event. That’s the part you’re not told about.

CarterIn the end, all it takes is one ignorant President to set progress back for decades. In this case it was President Jimmy Carter for not allowing reprocessing of nuclear waste, a standard practice in France where only one-fifth of spent fuel requires storage. In the 1980s there were three U.S. corporations leading the way on the introduction and use of nuclear energy to produce electrical power; General Electric, Westinghouse Electric, and Babcock & Wilcox. Today only Babcock-Wilcox continues as a fully owned American company.

Thanks to President Obama, we have lost another six years on the Yucca Mountain project. That fits with his refusal to permit the Keystone XL pipeline. No energy project that might actually benefit America will ever see his signature.

Some are arguing that America is a nation in decline and they can surely point to the near destruction of our nuclear energy industry as one example. That decline can begin to end in 2017 with the inauguration of a new President.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Oil Boom and Government Glut

The government buys 5 million barrels of oil for its stockpile by JEFFREY A. TUCKER.

It’s a sweet thing when Uncle Sam becomes a mega-buyer of your product.

While the price of oil continues to plunge to record lows, drivers are celebrating, and oil executives are sweating it out. But never fear, the government is running to the rescue — of the oil industry. The Department of Energy is planning to enter the market with a purchase of 5 million barrels. It’s necessary for national security, don’t you know.

Oil prices have fallen 55 percent in the last year. The trend defied every expectation, and it’s been wonderful for drivers, businesses, and consumers. It’s an impressive illustration of how prices reveal information about underlying resource realities.

Technology has blasted away the last decade’s wild and misguided fears of a shortage. Production is at an all-time high in response to unprecedented demand. The stunning events have been a boon to consumers, as downward pressure keeps pushing on prices at the pump.

The market is giving us oil as never before. It is not failing. It is succeeding beyond belief.

“Experts” keep saying the trend is temporary, but no one knows for sure. We could see $20 per barrel before year’s end.

The new purchase is for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a hoary leftover from Gerald Ford’s presidency. It pays oil companies for their products, as the DoE says, “to protect the United States from severe petroleum supply interruptions through the acquisition, storage, distribution and management of emergency petroleum.”

But far from seeing “disruption,” we are seeing more and better distribution. You can tell from its language that this is the most thrown-back program imaginable. It illustrates a complete lack of understanding of the price system, which is the signaling mechanism that reveals shortages and surpluses in the market. Prices coordinate the interests of buyers and sellers with facts about underlying scarcity. Rising prices signal facts about supply and demand, incentivizing less consumption and more production. Falling prices encourage consumers to buy more and producers to make less.

The price system actually works, unlike these lame attempts at central planning. The proposed purchase by the government constitutes only half a day’s worth of production in the United States — as if an intervention so small would make the difference between prosperity and disaster.

If it is really necessary to have a “strategic reserve” for oil, wouldn’t we also have to have the same for carrots, beef, iPads, tennis shoes, wine, or raisins? Actually, we have one of those too: a National Raisin Reserve, an equally bizarre anachronism from the Great Depression that requires raisin farmers to give as much as half their crop to the government in order to keep raisin prices high.

The full Strategic Petroleum Reserve covers less than two months of US production, which is itself only 10 percent of world production. Why not make it six months? Why not a year? And what’s a half-day, more or less? There is no rational way to decide.

Let’s imagine there really were some weird catastrophe that caused all distribution to stop. Prices would surge through the roof and inspire a gigantic increase in oil production from all over the world.

But let’s also pretend, because of some foreign policy issue, that the United States also stopped all imports, and then tapped the “Reserve.” It’s not the consuming public that would benefit. It would be the government itself, making sure that the military and all the “essential” government agencies stayed running.

In other words, this program is not about you and me, even in theory. To understand why the Reserve exists, look who benefits most directly: the oil industry itself. It’s a guaranteed market, a kind of subsidy to big business, just as food stamps are for agriculture. Perhaps this is why this proposal is being made again right now, just as prices are falling so dramatically. It’s just thinly veiled corporate welfare.

The Reserve-subsidy came about during a period when oil prices were controlled by the government, and the oil industry was facing very serious financial pressure. The Reserve helped to alleviate that pressure — a classic case of how one intervention leads to others, until all special interests are satisfied with the new equilibrium. The SPR was a fix for a “market failure” created by government-failure.

Oil prices haven’t been controlled since the late 1970s, completely removing any objective conditions for why this needs to exist at all. The only time we ever had gas lines was when we had a “czar” telling people how much they could buy and what they were allowed pay for gas, and the lines disappeared when the controls were removed.

What harm does the Strategic Petroleum Reserve do? Most of the time, it’s simply an unconscionable waste of taxpayer money. When its supplies are actually deployed, dumping oil on the market from a government-mandated reserve, it puts downward pressure on the price and reduces the incentive to step up production right when it is needed most.

The Reserve is a perfect illustration of the dangers of any government program: once one starts, it is extremely difficult to get rid of it, no matter how irrelevant the original rationale has become. Here we are 40 years later, with astounding increases in supply and the technology for refinement and distribution, but we are still paying for this economically illiterate central plan for stockpiling oil.

It needs to be completely abolished, just as Ronald Reagan suggested in 1980 (before he later changed his mind to favor its expansion). The SPR is just like the Post Office in this sense: it exists solely due to that magic combination of economic ignorance and special-interest pleading.

ABOUT JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Jeffrey Tucker is a distinguished fellow at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Here’s the Obama Administration’s Response to the Shale Boom: More Regulations

In the last few years, we’ve seen innovative companies combine old and new technologies to tap into shale deposits that were once unreachable. The resulting shale energy boom has made the United States the world’s top oil and natural gas producer while creating jobs and improving the nation’s energy security.

Now that we’ve moved from an age of energy scarcity to one of abundance, the Obama administration wants to add another layer of bureaucracy on energy producers.

The Interior Department released its long-awaited proposed regulations on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, and on page 12 is this nugget:

Operators with leases on Federal lands must comply with both the BLM’s regulations and with state operating requirements, including state permitting and notice requirements to the extent they do not conflict with BLM regulations.

Federal regulators aren’t known for being speedy, as Katie Tubb and Nicolas Loris of the Heritage Foundation explain:

The [Bureau of Land Management] estimates that it took an average of 227 days simply to complete a drill application—just one step in the approval process to harvest oil and gas resources on federal lands. This is compared to 154 days in 2005 and the average 30 days it takes state governments to do the same.

As a result, the number of acres of federal lands leased for energy development has been declining.

BLM data of onshore acres of federal land leased.

Acres leased on all federal onshore land. Data source: Bureau of Land Management.

Now, don’t think states are failing to regulate hydraulic fracturing. If Pennsylvania is any indication, it’s far from the truth. Check out my favorite scene from the documentary Fracknation:

“There are numerous permits you have to get before doing anything” on the Marcellus Shale, Range Resources’ Tony Gaudlip said.

The only thing these duplicative, redundant federal regulations will do is ensure less of our energy abundance is available for our energy-hungry economy.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a pumpjack in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg.

Is John Kerry a Moron?

genghis_john-thumb

John Kerry testifying before Congress on Vietnam War.

I can recall John Kerry, Obama’s Secretary of State, from the days he testified to a congressional committee and slandered his fellow soldiers as the spokesman for Veterans Against the Vietnam War in 1971. I was appalled then and my opinion of the man has not changed since those days. I opposed the war, too, but I did not blame it on the men who were conscripted to fight it, nor did I believe the charges he leveled against some of them.

These days Kerry is engaged in securing an agreement with the Iranians, if not to stop their program to make their own nuclear weapons than to slow it to a later date. Never mind that the Iranian government is listed by our own government as a leading sponsor of terrorism worldwide or that they have signed such agreements in the past and then tossed out the inspectors.

Kerry is convinced that the Obama administration can get an agreement that is, in his own words, “not legally binding”, nor is it a treaty that the U.S. Senate would have to vote for or against. In point of fact, President Obama can make the deal—sign the agreement—just as Presidents have done for over two hundred years. It can then be abrogated by whoever the next President will be.

Why Obama and Kerry are doing this defies my understanding. It gives the Iranians more time to reach nuclear capability. It is opposed by every nation in the Middle East. It puts every nation within reach of Iran’s missiles at risk and it virtually guarantees the destruction of Israel, a goal of Iran’s Islamic Revolution from the day it was born. Kerry is negotiating with people who took our diplomats hostage in 1979 and have played a role in the deaths of many Americans since then.

Is John Kerry a moron? I think so.

I asked myself this question in regard to another area of U.S. policy which the Secretary of State is also championing even if millions around the world have concluded otherwise.

On March 2nd, Kerry addressed the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C, telling them what he has been saying in many forums. Let us understand that “climate change” is the name being used to replace “global warming”, because the Earth has been in a cooling cycle for the past 18 years or so. And let us understand that “climate change” has been happening for 4.5 billion years.

Kerry said, “So when science tells us that our climate is changing and human beings are largely causing that change, by what right do people stand up and just say, ‘Well, I dispute that’ or ‘I deny that elementary truth’?”

The problem with this is that human beings are not causing the planet’s climate change. Forces far greater than humans are involved, not the least of which is the Sun.

As for science, its most fundamental methodology is to constantly challenge the various ‘truths’ put forward as theories until they can be proved to be true by being independently reproduced. Nothing about the “global warming” theories has been true. All of the computer models on which it was based have been proven inaccurate. In some cases, they were deliberately rigged.

On television meteorologists remind us that every day, indeed, from morning to night, the temperatures of the area about which they are reporting are in a constant state of change. They show us satellite photography and mapping that demonstrates how dynamic the weather is on any spot on Earth. The climate, however, is measured in decades and centuries. Every one of the doomsday predictions of the global warming “scientists” and propagandists have been wrong.

The enemies of the use of energy to enhance and improve the lives of the residents of Earth began to claim in the 1970s and 80s that carbon dioxide (CO2) was threatening the climate.

At best, CO2 is a very minor element of the Earth’s atmosphere, about 0.04%, which gets it rated as “a trace gas.” As such, it plays no role with regard to the climate.

Kerry asserted that climate change is “one of the biggest threats facing our planet today” and should be ranked with terrorism, epidemics, poverty and nuclear proliferation…” Oh, wait! Isn’t this the same Secretary of State negotiating with Iran to allow it to become a nuclear power?

And what “solution” does he offer to reduce the “threat” of climate change? Kerry urged that the U.S. transition away from “dirty sources of energy” such as coal, oil and natural gas.

Writing in a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal, Matt Ridley noted that “In 2015, about 87% of the energy that the world consumed came from fossil fuels, a figure that—remarkably—was unchanged from 10 years before. This roughly divides into three categories of fuel and three categories of use: oil used mainly for transport, gas used mainly for heating, and coal used mainly for electricity.”

Fossil fuels have made the difference between modern life and burning cow dung to cook dinner. A billion people on Earth still do not have electricity.

Less obvious, but significantly more threatening is the White House effort to get the U.S. signed up for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its International Climate Justice tribunal. This is a follow-up to the 1977 Kyoto Protocol that was unanimously rejected by the U.S. Senate. Why? Because such treaties threaten the sovereignty of the U.S. and, just as importantly, because the entire United Nation’s climate program is a huge fraud.

This is what John Kerry wants the U.S. to agree to, just like the Iran deal, and just to be sure the U.S. Senate, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, doesn’t have a say in it, he and the President are calling these deals anything other than a treaty.

Is John Kerry a moron? Maybe not as dumb as he seems to be, but surely cynical and devious.

Unfortunately, he is the Secretary of State.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

RELATED ARTICLE: California Dem Warns of Global Warming-Induced Prostitution

Socialist Regulatory Zeal Kills Israel’s Off-Shore Energy Exploration Future

Globes Israel Business Arena has two stories about the tawdry state of affairs regarding the stop in Israeli offshore energy exploration and development. The first, “Antitrust uncertainty deters oil cos from coming to Israel” explains why 100 companies in the international oil patch won’t think twice about doing business in Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone:

Israel Oil and Gas Exploration Industries chairman Uri Aldubi says 100 companies contacted refused to come to Israel.

“Doing business in Israel has thereby become nonviable for the few operators who considered coming here,” he complained. Finally, in his letter, Aldubi accused the regulators in Israel, including the Antitrust Authority director general and the Ministries of Finance and National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources, of responsibility for the companies “halting their development processes for lack of an alternative, and many workers who could have been employed have been fired or not hired.”

The second illustrates, what happens when  the you don;t honor contracts with existing developers on royalty splits, “Delek, Noble Energy sue state over royalties.”

Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) and U.S. company Noble Energy are suing the State of Israel for NIS 58 million, sources inform “Globes”. According to the statement of claim, a few months ago the state charged the companies tens of millions of shekels for royalty differences from the Tamar natural gas reserve. The companies have now decided to sue the state for the return of their money plus interest

All because Dr. David Gilo director general of Israel Antitrust Authority reneged a deal with the Houston based Noble Energy and Israeli partner Delek Drilling Partners who invested Billions to bring offshore gas fields on stream. By not honoring an agreement this Ralph Nader wannabe has screwed the pooch on a major source of royalties and taxes estimated at over $60 billions to fuel economic growth create jobs and income as well provide revenues for defense and social programs.

This is what you can expect from an ally of Zionist Union leftists. Now Noble Energy Delek Drilling are suing the State over royalties from  the Tamar field they brought on stream to fuel Israel’s energy development.

This is what you get when state contracts are not honored and socialists regulate capriciously.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.