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How CO2 Supply Chain Mayhem Almost Caused a Meat Shortage in Britain

In recent months, many of us have faced empty shelves, long lines, and frustrating delays as supply chains have seized up around the country, and indeed the world. Some have argued that the government should step in to fix these issues, blaming the problems on “corporate greed” and “the free market”. But while it may be tempting to blame private companies for our current woes and see the government as the savior, the reality is not that simple. Indeed, far from being the solution, government intervention in the market is arguably the primary cause of these problems in the first place.

A good case study for this issue is Great Britain. Back in September, the nation’s supply chain issues got so bad that they almost had major disruptions in their food supply. The UK government has been intervening in an attempt to fix the problems in the short run, but the situation is still extremely precarious.

So who is responsible for these issues? Well, let’s follow the supply chain link-by-link and see if it can lead us to the culprit.

The immediate problem that food producers are facing is a shortage of food-grade carbon dioxide (CO2). The meat industry is particularly affected by this shortage, since CO2 is used in many meat production processes. But aside from that, the gas also plays a key role in modified atmosphere packaging, which is used to prolong the shelf life of many food products. It’s also used in carbonated drinks (hence the name) like beer and soda, and in its solid form as dry ice it is used to keep fresh food cool during transportation.

Why is there a shortage of CO2? Well, most food-grade CO2 comes from fertilizer plants, because CO2 is a byproduct of the fertilizer manufacturing process. These plants, however, have been producing far less CO2 than normal. So to understand why there’s so little CO2, we need to investigate the fertilizer plants. This brings us to the next link in the chain.

Two of the biggest fertilizer plants in the UK are owned by a company called CF Industries. Together, they normally produce about 60 percent of the UK’s food-grade CO2. However, these plants were actually shut down for a large part of September, which drastically reduced the UK’s CO2 production.

The reason they were shut down is because natural gas, an essential part of the fertilizer process, has been very expensive in recent months. With the price of this key input so high, it was actually uneconomical for the plants to operate, so they decided to shut down temporarily in hopes of restarting their operations once the price of natural gas came back down. But why is natural gas suddenly so expensive? This brings us to the third link in the chain.

First, to say that natural gas prices are high in Britain is really quite the understatement. According to Industry group Oil & Gas UK, wholesale prices for gas in September were up 250 percent since January, and had increased 70 percent since August. As one UK energy CEO remarked, this is “the most extreme energy market in decades.”

So what’s causing the high prices? A number of factors. High global demand has played a role, especially since roughly 60 percent of the UK’s natural gas supply is imported. Lower solar and wind output have also been factors, as well as outages at some nuclear stations. The cold winter in 2020 also resulted in depleted stocks (since people use natural gas to heat their homes), and several gas platforms in the North Sea have closed to perform maintenance that was paused because of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

But one of the biggest sources of price volatility is the dearth of natural gas storage facilities in the UK.

“The UK currently has very modest amounts of storage, less than 6% of annual demand.” writes Michael Bradshaw, a Professor of Global Energy at the University of Warwick. “In Germany, France, and Italy, storage covers about 20% of annual demand,” he continues for context. Another report noted that the UK has enough storage to last for about 7 days, whereas Germany and France have roughly 90 days of storage.

While storage is far from the only factor affecting natural gas prices, it certainly plays a significant role. But why does Britain have so little storage capacity? This brings us to the final link in the chain.

One of the reasons for Britain’s low storage capacity is that a storage facility called Rough, which used to provide a significant percentage of the UKs natural gas storage, was decommissioned in 2017 as a result of age-related deterioration.

Industry leaders were concerned about the resulting lack of storage at the time, and have been warning about the issue ever since.

“Rough makes up an impressive 70% of the UK’s storage working gas volume,” Timera Energy noted back in 2017, when permanent closure was still being deliberated. “This can be contrasted with Rough’s contribution to the UK’s daily deliverability, at around 25%. And it is the deliverability that the UK market will miss most.”

They go on to explicitly discuss the likely impact of the closure on the price of natural gas. “The loss of deliverability should boost spot price volatility as it reduces the buffer of supply flexibility available to respond to swings in daily demand…The loss of working gas volume is likely to mean that supply shocks…have a sharper and more prolonged price impact.”

The need for more storage was reiterated in 2019 by another industry leader named InfraStrata Plc. “There is more demand in the market than we can satisfy,” said John Wood, the CEO of InfraStrata. “The market in the U.K. is sending out strong economic signals for additional gas storage capacity.”

So why wasn’t more storage built? Well, as it turns out, natural gas storage is taxed and regulated very heavily in the UK, much more so than other industries. Indeed, one of the largest gas storage operators in the country, called Storengy, explicitly called attention to these problems back in 2018, pointing out the “punitive” and “extortionate” tax levels that are applied to storage facilities as well as the numerous regulations that burden the industry.

As a result of these barriers, many potential storage projects have remained on the shelf, since they are prohibitively expensive in the current business environment. Thus, even though the demand is clearly there, the market has been unable to meet it, because taxes and regulations have severely crippled the industry.

This analysis is hardly exhaustive, of course. But at least with respect to the storage issue, it seems clear that government intervention in the market is the primary cause of the food supply chain disruptions.

One of the interesting things about this story is how it highlights the plethora of people, items, and systems that work together to keep our grocery shelves full. First, we discovered that food producers rely on CO2. That led us to investigate fertilizer plants and the crazy natural gas market, and then from there we explored natural gas storage and learned about the many ways that government intervention has been crippling that industry. Of course, most people wouldn’t intuitively connect gas storage regulations with food availability, but the rippling unintended consequences of these policies are very real nonetheless.

In his famous essay “I, Pencil,” Leonard Read similarly draws attention to the “innumerable antecedents” of everyday items, such as the seemingly simple lead pencil.

“Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents,” Read wrote, speaking as the pencil. He goes on to discuss some of the many ancestors of the pencil, the people and things that went into producing it, and he points out how they all depend on one another. Indeed, you can’t mess with the trucking industry without impacting the production of pencils, just as you can’t mess with natural gas storage without impacting food supplies.

With that said, trucking and natural gas are not only ancestors of pencils and food. They are also ancestors of many other products, and this leads to an important insight. In reality, it’s actually somewhat misleading to speak of supply chains, as if the economy consisted of independent, linear processes. The economy is much more accurately characterized as one giant supply web, a multiplicity of interconnected processes that all depend on each other in various ways.

With this in mind, it quickly becomes apparent why interfering with the economy can be so dangerous. When the government breaks one part of the web, they aren’t just impacting one chain, they are creating countless unintended consequences, many of which are impossible to foresee.

If we’re lucky, those consequences will only lead to higher prices. If we’re not so lucky, empty grocery shelves await.

To address the looming crisis, the UK government ended up bailing out CF Industries, the company that owns the fertilizer plants. The deal, which was finalized on September 21, resulted in one of the two plants resuming operations, with the UK government providing “limited financial support,” which the Environment Secretary later clarified was “going to be into many millions, possibly the tens of millions [of euros].”

Since then, the government has brokered a deal between CF Industries and its CO2 buyers. Though the details are unclear, the government seems to be involved in setting the price of CO2, which would constitute even more intervention in the market.

But intervention is not the solution here. When governments intervene, they inevitably distort price signals, leading to increasingly inefficient outcomes. The real solution is for the government to stop causing the problem in the first place by removing the taxes and regulations that are standing in the way of the natural gas storage market.

Granted, it will take some time before the storage market can adjust, but even in the interim, the best way to address these problems is to let markets and prices do their thing.

COLUMN BY

Patrick Carroll

Patrick Carroll has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and is an Editorial Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

‘Will Not Fix The Problem’: Biden Releasing Oil Reserves Due To Politics, Critics Say

  • President Joe Biden’s decision to tap the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was derided by top GOP lawmakers and experts who said the move was political and won’t move the needle on gasoline prices.
  • “Even if the economic reality of five or maybe 10 cents a gallon of short term impact isn’t that big of a deal, doing nothing might look like a really big political problem,” Kevin Book, a National Petroleum Council member and managing director of ClearView Energy Partners, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • The federal government will release 32 million barrels of oil from the SPR and accelerate the release of 18 million barrels that had already been congressionally mandated, the White House announced Tuesday.
  • “This very temporary measure is not going to solve the supply issue at the pump nor is it a solution to gas prices that have doubled in the last year,” Rep. Fred Upton, the top Republican on a House energy subcommittee, told the DCNF.

President Joe Biden’s decision to tap the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was derided by top GOP lawmakers and experts who said the move was political and won’t move the needle on gasoline prices.

The federal government will release 32 million barrels of oil from the SPR and accelerate the release of 18 million barrels that had already been congressionally mandated, the White House announced Tuesday. Biden’s move to release crude oil from the nation’s emergency reserves was made alongside China, India, Japan, South Korea and the U.K., marking the first internationally coordinated release of emergency oil reserves.

However, experts suggested that the action was likely a political reaction to ever-rising prices at the pump and said it wouldn’t have a significant long term effect.

“It’s possible to say, ‘okay, this is something that politically, if not economically, requires intervention.’ The problem might be that, actually they started talking about doing something back in August,” Kevin Book, a National Petroleum Council member and managing director of ClearView Energy Partners, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“The White House was aware of these rising prices and concerned about them, and started taking steps towards intervention and created an expectation for intervention,” he continued. “So, even if the economic reality of five or maybe 10 cents a gallon of short term impact isn’t that big of a deal, doing nothing might look like a really big political problem.”

Book added that the release would have a minimal effect on oil prices, which had already declined over the last several weeks as reports of such a move became public. The price of oil is expected to decrease in the next couple of months due to normal seasonal market fluctuations, according to Book.

A Goldman Sachs report published last week echoed Book’s comments, arguing that tapping the SPR is a “short-term fix to a structural deficit” and was already priced-in to the market. Oil prices may even increase more than expected due to the move, the report concluded.

Biden even acknowledged that he doesn’t have a near-term fix for higher prices and that tapping reserves would barely have an effect during a CNN town hall in October. His administration has mulled an SPR release for months.

But, like Book, Chamber of Commerce Global Energy Institute Senior Vice President Christopher Guith said Tuesday that the White House should focus on long term policies rather than “ineffectual band aids.”

‘A cynical move’

Biden, meanwhile, has faced heavy criticism for his administration’s anti-fossil fuel actions, which include revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit and banning new oil and gas leases on federal lands. While the president has set ambitious clean energy goals, gasoline prices have risen to their highest level in nearly a decade, government data showed.

Gas prices are tightly tied to the price of crude oil.

“This very temporary measure is not going to solve the supply issue at the pump nor is it a solution to gas prices that have doubled in the last year,” Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, the top Republican on a House energy subcommittee, told the DCNF.

The SPR was established in the 1970s as a tool to help the U.S. survive future energy crises where the global supply of oil dried up. The total inventory is estimated at around 604 million barrels of oil which is kept in deep underground storage caverns in Texas and Louisiana.

The last time the U.S. tapped the SPR was in 2011 when former President Barack Obama ordered a strategic release amid the Libyan civil war, a move that disrupted the Middle Eastern nation’s oil exports.

“President Biden’s policies are hiking inflation and energy prices for the American people,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member John Barrasso said in a statement. “Tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will not fix the problem.”

“We are experiencing higher prices because the administration and Democrats in Congress are waging a war on American energy,” he continued.

Dan Kish, a senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, said the move was like someone eating everything from the pantry then “shooting the farmers.”

“This is a cynical move by a guy who’s done everything in his power to restrict production here at home and in North America,” Kish told the DCNF. “All the while watching Russia become our number two supplier of foreign oil.”

Kish noted that oil prices have increased since Biden announced the release, a sign that it would have little effect on gasoline prices.

Republican Whip Steve Scalise said the SPR is strictly for emergency purposes in response to a question from the DCNF during an October roundtable. If Biden wanted to lower prices, he would make it easier for firms to drill and construct domestic pipelines, the Louisiana Republican added.

“The SPR is not to be used as a piggy bank just to bail you out when your failed policies create higher gas prices,” Scalise said.

“The answer is very straightforward and it’s right under our feet,” he continued. “Instead of trying to drain what’s left of our reserves, we ought to be producing more energy and creating more jobs here in America to take leverage away from OPEC countries and to take leverage away from Russia.”

COLUMN BY

THOMAS CATENACCI

Energy and environment reporter. Follow Thomas on Twitter

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Navajo Nation Slams Biden Oil Drilling Ban, Says White House Violated ‘Tribal Sovereignty’

The Navajo Nation criticized the Biden administration for banning oil and gas leasing on a large swath of New Mexico land that supported much of its community.

The tribe argued that President Joe Biden failed to properly consult it before issuing the sweeping order earlier this week. Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced Monday that the federal government would review a new rule prohibiting oil and gas leasing within the 10-mile radius around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwest New Mexico for 20 years.

Biden made the announcement during the White House Tribal Nations Summit and said the ban would “protect” the more than 200,000 acres of tribal lands covered by the rule.

“The Biden Administration bypassed previous requests to Congress for field hearings and for leaders to hear directly from our Navajo families affected in the Chaco Canyon region,” Navajo Nation Council Speaker Seth Damon said in a statement Tuesday. “It is important that the federal government consider and work with our Navajo allottees to further advance development.”

“The Administration must respect our tribal sovereignty and what the government to government relationship entails,” Damon continued.

The Navajo Nation previously opposed the ban proposed by the Biden administration, instead advocating for a 5-mile radius around the historic site, according to Damon. Fossil fuel companies return an estimated $90 million per year to Navajo mineral owners, a sum that helps support the largely low-income community, a watchdog report concluded in 2017.

“The White House is ignoring the will of the Navajo Nation, which voted overwhelmingly to support a five-mile buffer that would protect the park while enabling Navajo mineral owners to access their prime oil resources,” Kathleen Sgamma, president of the fossil fuel industry group Western Energy Alliance, said in a statement. “Oil and natural gas development is already done in a way to protect cultural resources.”

Republicans also criticized the administration’s action, noting the indirect harm it would do to Navajo families.

“In the Biden administration’s desperate attempts to appease radical environmentalists, however, they are expanding that protected perimeter to miles outside the park, jeopardizing the ability of Navajo allottees to develop their mineral rights,” House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman said in a statement.

Westerman added that the historic park is already protected.

COLUMN BY

THOMAS CATENACCI

Energy and environment reporter. Follow Thomas on Twitter

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

‘Social Cost of Carbon’ Nonsense

American oil, coal and natural gas are abundant, affordable and efficient, so naturally the anti-energy Left hates them.

Fossil fuels keep the lights on, transportation moving, and our houses warm, all at less cost and a tiny fraction of the land required for inefficient wind and solar.  The math is not on the side of wind and solar.

That’s why the Obama Administration went all-in on a construct called the “social cost of carbon” (SCC).  Joe Biden brought it back “on day one.”  Think of it as politically correct math.

David Wojick lays out a devastating case at CFACT.org:

The Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) has been around for some time. Obama introduced it as a policy measure, which Trump then canceled. Now Biden has brought it back and made it worse.

In a way SCC personifies the craziness of the climate scare. The whole scare is based on outlandish doomsday computer models and SCC is arguably the most absurd of all.

CFACT senior policy analyst Paul Driessen posted a rundown on the arbitrariness of “social cost” math to CFACT.org:

The price tag was set at $22/ton in 2010, raised to $36/ton in 2013, and just as arbitrarily increased to $40, before finishing the Obama era at $51/ton. President Trump disbanded the Interagency Working Group on carbon costs and had the SCC slashed to less than $10/ton. Within hours of taking office, President Biden resurrected the working group, reinstituted $51/ton as a starting point, and directed federal agencies to devise a definitive SCC by 2022…

The SCC enables agencies and their allies to attach any price they wish to every conceivable cost of using fossil fuels: hotter and colder, wetter and drier climate and weather; more frequent and intense hurricanes; reduced agricultural output; forest health and wildfires; floods, droughts and water resources; “forced migration” of people and wildlife;  worsening health and disease; flooded coastal cities; even “reduced student learning and worker productivity,” due to warmer planetary temperatures.

The SCC also lets practitioners completely ignore the obvious and enormous benefits of using fossil fuels, and emitting carbon dioxide – such as enhanced productivity via affordable air conditioning in summer and heating in winter; improved forest, grassland and crop growth (and greening deserts) due to more CO2 in the air; greater home and human survival rates amid extreme weather events; and having the jobs, mobility, living standards, healthcare and longevity of modern industrialized life.

In fact, hydrocarbon and carbon dioxide benefits outweigh costs by 50:1, 400:1 or even 500:1!

That’s right, the benefits of oil, gas and coal to society outweigh the costs!

How’s that for an inconvenient truth?

P.S.  Don’t forget that CO2 and carbon are not the same.  Carbon is the incredibly versatile element, that as Carl Sagan pointed out years ago, “likes to combine.”  You’re made of it.  Carbon dioxide is what you get when a carbon molecule combines with two molecules of oxygen.  CO2 is the odorless, invisible gas you just exhaled.

EDITORS NOTE: This CFACT column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Connection Between Russia and 2 Green Groups Fighting Fracking in U.S.

New Yorkers who are missing out on the natural gas revolution could be victims of Russian spy operations that fund popular environmental groups, current and former U.S. government officials and experts on Russia worry.

Natural gas development of the celebrated Marcellus Shale deposits has spurred jobs and other economic growth in neighboring Pennsylvania. But not in New York, which nearly 10 years ago banned the process of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, to produce natural gas.

Two environmental advocacy groups that successfully lobbied against fracking in New York each received more than $10 million in grants from a foundation in California that got financial support from a Bermuda company congressional investigators linked to the Russians, public documents show.

The environmental groups Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club Foundation received millions of dollars in grants from the San Francisco-based Sea Change Foundation.

“Follow the money trail, and this [New York] ban on fracking could be viewed as an example of successful Russian espionage,” Ken Stiles, a CIA veteran of 29 years who now teaches at Virginia Tech, told The Daily Signal.

To Stiles and other knowledgeable observers, this looks like an actual case of knowing or unknowing collusion with Russia.

Both Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club Foundation also accepted tens of millions from the Energy Foundation, the top recipient of grants from Sea Change, according to foundation and tax records.

When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, renewed his state’s ban on fracking three years ago, the Natural Resources Defense Council issued a statement supporting the ban. So did the Sierra Club, the primary recipient of grants from its sister organization, the Sierra Club Foundation.

Environmental activists associated with the groups receiving Sea Change Foundation grants continued to pressure Cuomo and other public officials to maintain and expand New York’s fracking ban.

Most recently, the two environmental groups scored another victory when the Delaware River Basin Commission, an interstate regulatory agency that includes the governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, proposed a ban on fracking within the Delaware River Basin cutting across all four states.

The Sierra Club and the Natural Resource Defense Council have pressed the regional commission to impose the ban, issuing statements (here and here) calling for  restrictions that are tighter than what the commission proposed.

PennEast Pipeline Co. is set to begin construction on a 120-mile-long pipeline to transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale across Eastern Pennsylvania into New Jersey. In a new public relations campaign, PennEast asks New Jersey residents if they would rather obtain their energy from Pennsylvania or Russia.

PennEast cites media reports describing how anti-pipeline policies in Massachusetts forced the state into a position where it had to rely on Russian imports of liquified natural gas during peak cold periods this past winter.

The Russian Money Trail

Government officials and environmental leaders have a responsibility to track the money, Stiles, the former CIA officer, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“The Russians are very adept and skilled at making long-term investments,” Stiles said. “They sit back very patiently to see how their funding can pay off over a period of many years.”

Stiles added:

Whether these environmental groups realize it or not, they could be operating as what we [in the CIA] call ‘agents of influence.’ By working to block natural gas production, environmental activists are advancing policies that work to the advantage of Russia and to the disadvantage of America and America’s allies.

Logo of the Natural Resources Defense Council

Karen Moreau, who is in charge of the New York office of the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association for gas and oil companies, argues that the resulting policy hurts state residents and businesses.

“New York remains at a disadvantage because other states are not just more pro-energy, they are more pro-business and therefore pipelines that could have been constructed in New York taking gas from the Marcellus Shale are instead moving south, not north,” Moreau told The Daily Signal.

“The manufacturing renaissance that is taking place in this country thanks to the president’s policies is not happening in states like New York,” she said.

A senior adviser to the State Department told a recent conference that Trump administration policies supporting energy dominance could help the U.S. eclipse the amount of natural gas Russia exports to the European Union.

The Daily Signal unsuccessfully sought comment from the Sierra Club Foundation and its affiliate the Sierra Club, as well as Natural Resources Defense Council and Sea Change Foundation, on the allegations of Russian financial support for environmentalists’ anti-fracking and anti-pipeline campaigns.

The Marcellus Shale is a geological formation of sedimentary rock with large deposits of natural gas that cuts across southwestern New York, northern and western Pennsylvania, western Ohio, most of West Virginia, and small portions of Kentucky and Tennessee.

The U.S. Geological Survey determined that the Marcellus Shale contains “about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas and 3.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas liquids.”

Since the U.S. is now the top producer of natural gas in the world, and well positioned to export liquefied natural gas across the globe, Russia recognizes it gradually could lose influence in parts of the world where Moscow has been the dominant supplier of oil and gas, Stiles said in a phone interview.

“America’s natural gas revolution has huge geopolitical ramifications, so Russia’s motivation to try to block our natural gas development is easy to understand,” the CIA veteran said. “If you are worried about the Russian bear rearing its ugly head in the next several years, the way to stop that and put it back into its cage is to cut it off at the knees financially.”

“That’s what natural gas pipelines are all about and that’s what fracking is all about. We are providing affordable energy to average Americans at home and our allies overseas.”

The Sierra Club Foundation’s logo

US Gains in Market

In the fracking technique applied to shale formations, engineers inject water mixed with sand and chemicals into a well at high pressure, producing a fluid that fractures the rock and releases trapped oil or natural gas.

Environmentalists continue to challenge fracking, arguing among other things that it contaminates well water.

The natural gas import-export equation has changed radically in the past few years, with trends pointing to the U.S. becoming a net exporter.

Richard Westerdale, the senior adviser with the State Department, made this point in November during the Heartland Institute’s America First Energy Conference in Houston, Texas.

“By 2020, the U.S. will be approaching nearly 100 billion cubic meters in [liquefied natural gas] exports,” Westerdale said in a presentation. “It’s simply amazing to me to think that back in 2010, we were building [liquefied natural gas] import terminals.”

As natural gas markets become increasingly competitive, the “world wins,” he added, since “well-functioning markets reinforce global energy security, foster economic growth and commercial interests abroad, and, depending upon how host countries choose to use [natural gas resources], it can in fact enhance environmental stewardship.”

In three of the first five months of 2017, U.S. natural gas exports were greater than imports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The most recent available data shows that U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas increased for the duration of 2017 as new facilities went operational.

Logo of Sea Change Foundation

What Consumers Know

Stiles, who teaches espionage and national security issues in Virginia Tech’s geography department, defines espionage, or spying, as “an operation that is planned and executed as to conceal the identity of, or permit plausible denial by, the sponsor.”

One way for Moscow to conceal its sponsorship of anti-fracking campaigns in New York or elsewhere in the U.S. is to move its funding indirectly and anonymously through various entities, the former CIA analyst told The Daily Signal.

“I think the groups and individuals on both sides of the debate over fracking and pipelines have a tendency to just look in their own back yards, without looking at the larger geopolitical picture,” Stiles said. “If it was more widely known that anti-fracking, anti-pipeline operations may be benefitting from a foreign source of funding, this would certainly impact the debate.”

The agents of influence described by Stiles range from “controlled agents” and “trusted contacts” who know they’re working for a foreign government to “manipulated sources” who have no idea that they’re doing the bidding of a foreign power.

The former CIA analyst said he is inclined to characterize environmental activists who received Russian funding through indirect channels, such as Sea Change or the Energy Foundation, as manipulated sources.

Stiles calls on the leadership of environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, which accepted large amounts through such channels, to start asking hard questions.

“It’s either a lack of due diligence or incompetence, or they may actually know something about a particular donor, but they don’t want to ask that question,” Stiles said. “I tend to think the issue is more that they are just not looking the gift horse in the mouth, and they are just taking the money.”

Energy Foundation’s logo

Paperless Money Trail

Sea Change Foundation, a family charity, is identified in congressional reports and correspondence as a major incubator of funding from foreign sources, including Russia. That money ends up in the coffers of U.S. environmental groups opposed to natural gas development and drilling techniques such as fracking that make that development possible.

Nathaniel Simons and his wife, Laura Baxter-Simons, established Sea Change Foundation in 2006. Simons is the son of James Simons, founder of the New York-based Renaissance Technologies hedge fund firm.

Sea Change, according to its website, works to “address the serious threats posed by global climate change,” focusing on “climate change mitigation and clean energy policy in the United States and internationally.”

In July 2014, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released a report describing how a Bermuda-based company, Klein Ltd., “was set up for the sole purpose of funneling anonymous donations to Sea Change.”

Bermuda law permits Klein Ltd. to conceal foreign sources of funding, the report explains.

“It appears that Klein exists on paper only, as it does not have an internet presence, and was set up for the sole purpose of funneling anonymous donations to Sea Change,” the report says.

Subsequent investigations building on the findings of the Senate committee—including that of the Washington-based Environmental Policy Alliance—established a connection between Wakefield Quin, the law firm that set up Klein, and top Kremlin officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Lawyers and others at Wakefield Quin have been associated with Russian energy companies and worked with Leonid Reiman, a former Russian minister of telecommunications and longtime Putin ally, these investigations found.

Environmental Policy Alliance, which opposes the agenda of liberal green groups, is affiliated with Washington lobbyist Rick Berman and his Berman & Co. public affairs firm.

Sea Change has not responded directly to The Daily Signal in the past, and did not respond for this report.

In an email to Salon, however, the foundation in July 2017 acknowledged receiving financial support from Klein, saying it accepted the company’s grant money as “general support” with no proviso that it be used for specific programs.

Response From Klein Ltd.

In an email to The Daily Signal, Roderick M. Forrest, a Wakefield Quin lawyer representing Klein Ltd., described allegations against his Bermuda-based client as “completely false and irresponsible.” Klein, he said, “has no Russian connection whatsoever.”

Forrest made similar assertions in an email to The Washington Times in July 2017.

The Daily Signal had sought the law firm’s comment on allegations of Russian funding of U.S. environmental groups and Klein’s alleged role in easing movement of Russian funds to the Sea Change Foundation.

“Our firm has represented Klein since its inception,” Forrest said in the email, “and we can state categorically that at no point did this philanthropic organization receive or expend funds from Russian sources or Russian-connected sources and Klein has no Russian connection whatsoever.”

The lawyer for Klein added:

Attorneys, law firms, financial institutions and all other companies based in Bermuda operate under a regulatory and anti-money laundering regime which applies standards which are amongst the highest in the world. Illicit movement of funds falls well below such standards and any informed party would understand that, not only is there no substance or truth to such allegations in this case, the allegations appear to be intended to damage the reputation of the Bermuda-based individuals and businesses named.

Bermuda and the U.S. have in place an information exchange framework under which the U.S. government, its regulators and law enforcement agencies have access to all information concerning financial transactions in Bermuda and by Bermuda entities. Through this framework, information is available to such proper authorities, enabling them to be satisfied as to the probity of any alleged payments.

Julie Hill, a professor at University of Alabama School of Law with expertise in regulation of financial institutions, told The Daily Signal that it is not “as easy as it was at one time to engage in money laundering” in places such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

That’s because monetary authorities now collect more information from companies than they did previously, Hill said.

“This information is not made public, but it can be given to foreign governments,” Hill said in an interview, adding:

The advantage in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands now would be more in terms of tax neutrality rather than anonymity. But it’s certainly true that various entities have in the past engaged in money laundering schemes in these locations, and the Russians would be part of this history. Today there are more barriers than in the past. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it just means it’s harder.

‘Ripe for Investigation’

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, sent a letter in June to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying allegations of Russian financial support for U.S. environmental groups “are ripe for an investigation” by the Treasury Department.

In the letter, previously reported by The Daily Signal, Smith noted that Klein Ltd. and Wakefield Quin share the same Bermuda address “with more than 20 other companies” apparently run through the law firm.

A review of IRS 990 Forms shows that Klein contributed $23 million to Sea Change in 2010 and 2011, almost half of what the California foundation received in that time. The 990 forms indicate Sea Change then made grants concentrated on environmental advocacy groups.

From 2010  through 2015, the Sierra Club Foundation received more than $18 million from Sea Change and Natural Resources Defense Council received more than $15 million.

Both groups are on record opposing natural gas development in New York, and both are among the top 10 recipients of Sea Change grants, according to an analysis of foundation records.

The Energy Foundation, at $64 million, was the top recipient of Sea Change grants from 2010 through 2015, the most recent year for which 990s are available.

The 2014 Senate report describes the Energy Foundation as a “pass through” public charity that donates to environmental activist groups such as the Sierra Club Foundation and Natural Resources Defense Council.

The idea behind a “pass through” organization, according to the Senate report, is “to create the appearance of a more diversified base of support” and to “shield” donors from accountability.

Between 1998 and 2015, the Energy Foundation paid 30,178 grants to 12,058 recipients totaling more than $1.2 billion, records show. Grantees included environmental groups active in opposing natural gas development of the Marcellus Shale.

The top recipient was Natural Resources Defense Council, with more than $35 million. The Sierra Club Foundation received more than $16 million. (The council has $236.5 million in net assets, while the foundation has $113.2 million in net assets.)

Recalling Cold War History

Paul Kengor, a Grove City College political science professor who has researched the history of Moscow’s manipulation of U.S. political figures, told The Daily Signal that he sees an “old Cold War powder keg that went dry suddenly being reignited.”

“What makes the current situation more nefarious today is the possibility—if this is indeed accurate—of Russian manipulation of domestic groups inside the United States and the willful cooperation of those domestic environmentalists,” Kengor, a biographer of Ronald Reagan, said in an email, adding:

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan had one heck of a time trying to enlist the support of our Western allies in blocking the Siberian gas pipeline in Russia. Even [British Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher balked; in fact, that’s an understatement: Thatcher was vehemently opposed because she wanted Britain to have the cheap Russian gas and wanted some British firms to have some of the construction contracts. The same was true for the West Germans and the French.

Ronald Reagan boldly proceeded almost alone in this effort in the 1980s. But here today … we have the extremely troubling possibility of our own U.S. citizens being targeted by the Russians for manipulation in undercutting our own domestic energy industry, our workers, and our citizens.

What stands out in terms of Cold War history and its relevance to contemporary questions of espionage is the role of Putin, warns Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington-based think tank that supports free market solutions to policy challenges.

“Putin, let’s not forget, is an old hand at using Western pressure groups to serve the Kremlin’s purposes,” Cohen said in an email.

“When, in the 1980s, the old Soviet Union was manipulating self-styled ‘peace groups’ in Western Europe and the U.S. in an effort to divide NATO and isolate the U.S., Putin was a mid-level KGB agent in East Germany.”

Cohen added:

Though that effort ultimately failed, Putin learned his lesson well. Then it was U.S. missiles to defend Western Europe that had to be demonized; today, it is U.S. oil and natural gas that are portrayed as a threat. In both cases, money changed hands, and scare tactics were the order of the day.

New Yorkers and High Energy Costs

New York residents continue to pay the price for Cuomo’s ban on drilling techniques that make it possible to access natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, laments Moreau, executive director of the American Petroleum Institute’s New York office.

“People who could have had inexpensive natural gas instead have had to pay very high electricity prices due to the cold snap this winter,” Moreau told The Daily Signal, “and many power generators were actually forced to burn oil instead of natural gas due to the constraints on natural gas.”

The 625 members of API, a national trade association, include major energy companies in the oil and gas industry.

Although New York is the fourth-largest consumer of natural gas in the nation, that natural gas primarily is imported from other states, Moreau said.

“If not for the pro-energy development policies of other states, New Yorkers would be bitterly freezing this winter,” she said.

The Daily Signal sought comment from Cuomo’s office to ask if the New York governor had concerns about allegations of Russian support for environmental groups active in his state. His office has not responded.

Cohen, of the National Center for Public Policy Research, said he sees a connection between Putin’s government in Moscow and influential U.S. environmental groups that is difficult to deny.

“The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other advocacy groups may have their own ‘green’ reasons for opposing America’s realizing the energy potential of its abundant fossil fuels,” Cohen said in an email to The Daily Signal.  “At the same time, these groups know full well that they receive funding from the Sea Change Foundation and the Energy Foundation, both of which, according to a congressional report, are funded by Russian interests via a Bermuda-based shell company.”

Some green groups and Russia under Putin “have a common interest in demonizing fracking and related technologies that have tilted global energy markets in America’s favor,” Cohen said.

“Just as the shale revolution has been an economic godsend to millions of Americans, providing them with affordable electricity and transportation fuel, it has been a nightmare for Russia and environmental activists.”

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kevin. Twitter: @KevinMooneyDC.

RELATED ARTICLE: PennEast Pipeline Backers Tout Lower Energy Prices in Fighting Well-Funded Green Groups

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaking on Jan. 21st in Lower Manhattan, renewed a ban on fracking for natural gas in his state. (Photo: John Roca/Polaris/Newscom)

President Trump opens ‘all available’ Gulf of Mexico waters to oil drilling

“Opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy independent,” said Zinke.

And not only that: it will also cut off a great part of the funding for the global jihad, which goes from our gasoline money to oil-producing states, where all too much of it finds its way into the hands of the jihadists who have vowed to destroy the U.S. and the free world.

“Trump Opens ‘All Available’ Gulf Of Mexico Waters To Oil Drilling,” by Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller, March 7, 2017:

The Department of the Interior will include “all available” federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico that have not already been leased out for offshore oil drilling.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Monday 73 million acres off the coast of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida would be offered at a lease sale in August as part of the Interior Department’s five-year leasing plan.

“Opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy independent,” Zinke said in a statement.

Interior finalized its current five-year offshore leasing program in January, just before Trump took office. The current plan includes 11 potential lease sales — 10 in the Gulf of Mexico and one in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

The Obama administration, however, did not include any lease sales in most of the Arctic Ocean and all of the Atlantic Ocean. The administration initially considered offshore drilling in those areas, but decided not to on the urging of environment groups.For now, it seems like the Trump administration will stick with current policies. that could possibly change one Secretary Zinke gets all his appointees in place. The Senate confirmed Zinke last week, and it’s unclear when they will hold confirmation hearings for other high-level Interior positions.

“The Gulf is a vital part of that strategy to spur economic opportunities for industry, states, and local communities, to create jobs and home-grown energy and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Zinke said….

Shortly before leaving office, former President Barack Obama locked up even more offshore areas from drilling, issuing an executive order in December making 31 canyons in the Atlantic off limits to drilling. The order took 3.8 million acres of the Atlantic ocean out of play for drillers.

In that same order, Obama designated “the vast majority of U.S. waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas as indefinitely off limits to offshore oil and gas leasing.”

Environmentalists supported keeping Arctic and Atlantic waters off limits to drilling. Activists say it’s necessary to protect marine life and slow global warming.

Trump, on the other hand, promised to boost U.S. energy production through opening more federal lands and waters for exploration and eliminating regulations. That includes rolling back Obama-era policies blocking offshore drilling.

“This is exactly the kind of investment, economic development and job creation that will help put Americans back to work,” Trump said of Exxon’s investments announced Monday….

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Carbon Dioxide is the ‘Elixir of Life’

Kevin Mooney in his column “Group Defends Carbon Dioxide as ‘Elixir of Life’ in Climate Change Debate” reports:

Forget everything government officials, many media outlets, and “activist scientists” have warned about the damaging effects of carbon dioxide, because in reality there’s no cause for alarm, a group called the CO2 Coalition urges.

Scientists, engineers, and policy analysts who are part of the nonprofit organization turned out in force Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, outside Washington.

“Atmospheric CO2 is not a pollutant, it is in fact the very elixir of life,” Craig Idso, a science adviser to the CO2 Coalition, said during a panel discussion at CPAC exploring the benefits attached to higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The CO2 Coalition, founded in 2015, describes its mission as “educating thought leaders, policymakers, and the public about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy.”

[ … ]

“Adding CO2 to the atmosphere enhances plant water use efficiency,” he said.

Increased levels of carbon dioxide could boost plant growth and make plants more resistant to droughts, he said. This could lead to increased food production, which in turn could offset projected food shortages.

Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore testified before the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on February 25, 2014. During his statement for the record Dr. Moore said:

‘There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years.

‘Today, we live in an unusually cold period in the history of life on earth and there is no reason to believe that a warmer climate would be anything but beneficial for humans and the majority of other species…It is “extremely likely” that a warmer temperature than today’s would be far better than a cooler one.’

Earth’s Geologic History Fails CO2 Fears: ‘The fact that we had both higher temperatures and an ice age at a time when CO2 emissions were 10 times higher than they are today fundamentally contradicts the certainty that human-caused CO2 emissions are the main cause of global warming…When modern life evolved over 500 million years ago, CO2 was more than 10 times higher than today, yet life flourished at this time. Then an Ice Age occurred 450 million years ago when CO2 was 10 times higher than today.’

Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore also stated that oil is the ‘most important source of energy to support our civilization.’ Dr. Moore said, “If it is the aim of ‘environmentalists’ to stop fossil fuel production and use, end fracking, end coal mining, end use of oil, then they are promoting a policy that would have disastrous consequences for human civilization & the environment. If we stopped using fossil fuel today, or by 2020 as Gore proposes, at least half the human population would perish & there wouldn’t be a tree left on planet within a year, as people struggled to find enough energy to stay alive…”

The New American (TNA) interviewed Princeton University Professor William Happer on the notion that CO2 is a pollutant and is the cause of climate change, formally known as global warming. TNA reports:

Physics Professor William Happer discredits the negative effects of CO2 on the planet and whether or not climate change is man-made. He also goes into detail of why the United Nation’s models are incorrect despite their overwhelming confidence that significant warming is taking place due to human activity.

John Casey, author and former NASA rocket scientist, has taught me three facts about the climate:

  1. The climate changes.
  2. The changes are cyclical.
  3. There is nothing mankind can do to change these natural cycles.

As John notes the only thing that mankind can do is prepare for these changes using good science and the best climate prediction tools to warn us of the coming changes.

End of story. Let the real science begin!

RELATED VIDEO: Tucker Carlson versus Bill Nye (Feb. 27, 2017).

The Human Flourishing Project — The ‘F’ Word

On the latest episode of Power Hour, I announce what I call The Human Flourishing Project — the first step of which is the new Human Flourishing Podcast. One of my advisors on the project and my co-host on the podcast is strategy guru Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach. He joins me on Power Hour to discuss how the project came to be and what we hope to accomplish with it.

Bottom line: I expect this project to both accelerate our impact on the energy debate and impact many other crucial debates, as well.

In October, 2016 I gave a speech to the Genius Network annual event in Arizona. It was about freedom and human flourishing. The event was $10K a person to attend and until now the full recording was only available to Genius Network members who pay $25K a year. But now it’s available on YouTube. It’s 12 minutes, maybe the best talk I’ve ever given. Please share it.

My favorite speech finally available — and it’s just 12 minutes:

EDITORS NOTE: Readers may enter in their email at HumanFlourishingMovement.com to get updates about the new project. Alex will be launching the new podcast by the beginning of February.

Let’s See the University of Cincinnati’s Hydraulic Fracturing Research

KEY TAKEAWAY: 

Recently, I wrote about hydraulic fracturing opponents being put in the uncomfortable position of funding a University of Cincinnati research project that found fracturing didn’t contaminate groundwater in Ohio’s Utica Shale.

New information has surfaced on how its research was funded. Based on this, the university is obligated to do more to publicize the study’s findings.

For those getting up to speed on the story, Energy In Depth posted a short clip [full video] from the University of Cincinnati’s Dr. Amy Townsend-Small’s presentation to local Ohio hydraulic fracturing opponents along with some key findings about hydraulic fracturing’s safety:

  • “All the samples fell within the clean water range and they did not find any changes over time either in any of our homes during the time series of fracking.”
  • “We never saw a significant increase in methane concentration after fracking well was drilled.”
  • Samples that were collected that were high in methane “clearly did not have a natural gas source.”
  • “Some of our highest observed methane concentrations were not near a fracking well at all.”
  • “There was no significant change in methane concentration over time, even as more and more natural gas wells were drilled in the area.”

Unfortunately Townsend-Small said her team’s research won’t be publicized further because the study’s funders stopped supporting them because of they didn’t like the findings.

“I’m really sad to say this but some of our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results,” Townsend-Small told the audience. “They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping our data could point to a reason to ban it.”

No press releases, no research papers, and no data released for the public or other researchers to dig deeper.

That’s not just disappointing; it looks to be in violation of the grant the University of Cincinnati used to fund its research.

The premise of the research project was to see what effects hydraulic fracturing has on drinking water by testing wells before, during, and after fracturing took place.

Here’s how the Ohio Environmental Council (no fans of hydraulic fracturing) described the project that earned one of its Environmental Achievement Awards in 2014:

This innovative research study is examining the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on groundwater in Ohio’s Utica shale. Led by UC geologist Amy Townsend Small, this first-of-a-kind project is testing for the presence of methane (the primary component of natural gas) and its origins in groundwater and drinking water wells before, during, and after the onset of fracking.

Water samples were tested using a stable isotope ratio mass spectrometer to determine the source of methane found in the water. As Inside Climate News explained in a 2014 story:

Each sample is tested for methane, the main component of natural gas. Townsend-Small’s lab uses isotopic analysis to “fingerprint” the methane to determine if it’s “biogenic methane” (produced by microbes, and unrelated to natural gas drilling) or “fossil fuel methane” (methane found in oil, gas and coal deposits).

The University of Cincinnati purchased the mass spectrometer to do the testing in 2012 with a$400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation—i.e. taxpayers’ dollars. Townsend-Small’s team was one group of UoC researchers using the device.

The NSF grant’s mandate states unequivocally that findings gleaned from using the instrument be made publically available:

Results from research projects using this instrumentation will be disseminated through student and faculty presentations at national and international scientific meetings, publications in peer-reviewed journals, and online data repositories.

The University of Cincinnati should hold up its end and add to the public’s knowledge of hydraulic fracturing’s safety. With so much misinformation being pushed by hydraulic fracturing opponents, a short presentation in front of a few people in southeast of Canton, Ohio doesn’t cut it.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a drilling rig sits on a natural gas pad in Pennsylvania. Photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.

Super PAC Helping Elect Republicans Supporting a Conservative Clean Energy Agenda

CHARLOTTE, N.C. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Conservative philanthropist Jay Faison today announced the formation of ClearPath Action, a new independent expenditure-only political action committee being established to help elect Republicans to public office and advance a conservative clean energy policy agenda for GOP lawmakers.  Faison is also the CEO and founder of ClearPath, a private non-profit foundation dedicated to accelerating conservative clean energy policy solutions.

“No one is currently providing enough support to candidates who embrace conservative clean energy principles and feel compelled to talk about clean energy as part of their campaign,” said Faison in announcing the effort.  “We’re forming this committee to make an impact, provide support, and help Republicans this election cycle and in future election cycles.”

“We know that Democrats are using clean energy as a wedge issue and we’re committed to fighting back and going on offense for the GOP,” added Faison.  “We don’t have to agree on climate change to agree that Republicans can support a conservative clean energy platform that provides energy security, creates jobs and boosts our economy, and reduces pollution.”

clearpat actionABOUT CLEARPATH ACTION

ClearPath Action is building a sophisticated campaign infrastructure with plans to help support multiple Republican candidates throughout the country in 2016.

For more information on ClearPath Action, visit www.ClearPathAction.org.

Obama Seeks To Harm America, Again

History proves that President Obama’s plan to slap a ten-dollar tax on every barrel of oil imported into America or developed here to use the money for transformation is both is both fool-hearty and wasteful.  Once again, one of the big chiefs of overbearing nanny goat government is threatening to use unconstitutional bullying to dictate the activities of “We the People.”  This time seeking to increase the tax burden upon business activity and consumption.  The president stated, “I will take advantage of low gas prices to accelerate a transition to a clean energy economy.”  “We’re going to impose a tax on a barrel of oil imported, exported, so that some of the revenue can be used for the investments in basic research and technology that’s going to be needed for the energy sources of the future.”

Oil industry officials, who are always accused by progressive government types like Obama and their cohorts in the dragon media of being greedy, stated that Obama’s proposed $10.00 per barrel tax on crude oil would harm consumers.  “The Obama administration believes that we the American people are not paying enough for gasoline.”  That is why he wants to dictate a higher price for us to pay more for gasoline.  The proposed tax could increase the cost of gasoline by at least 25 cents per gallon.  That development could harm consumers who have ale=ready been hurt by the president’s efforts to “fundamentally change America.”

In addition, more American jobs could be wiped out.  Also our republic’s emergence as a global energy leader could be brought to a halt, according to the American Petroleum Institute.  Actually, that is a goal of the Alinsky inspired Obama administration.

Now that I think about it, no one is more to blame than the bloated federal government for any problems our republic is facing in regards to energy production or transportation.  If you research the mid nineteenth until the early twentieth century, the private sector was providing a vastly superior system of transportation over what has emerged as government transit systems throughout America.  For example, Both Cleveland and Detroit had rail transportation throughout both cities and surrounding areas.

All major thoroughfares and many minor streets had streetcar or rail transport that ran often and almost always on time, baring any natural disaster.  The service was provided by mostly private companies who competed for customers.  The various transportation systems did not overlap and even the quality and cleanliness of the streetcars, or trolleys were well maintained.

In Detroit, among the private companies providing transportation service were the Fort Street and Elmwood Avenue Railway Company, Detroit Railway Company and several others.  Streetcar or rail service for public transport began during the 1860s in both Cleveland and Detroit as horse drawn trolleys.  By 1895 all were converted to electric power.

The nature of government is to progressively either take over or dismantle and then dominate private entities.  That was the case in both Cleveland and Detroit.  In Detroit, during the early 20th century, the transit companies raised their adult ridership price by one nickel to a “whopping” ten cents.  Soon after, the populist city government bullies who desired to take over the transit business publically railed against the nickel increase and duped Detroit voters into approving the city government takeover of transportation services.  City misleaders had convinced city dwellers that they could provide better transportation services at a lower price by using tax dollars to subsidize the trolley services.  That false scenario was played out in other cities as well including New York City.

In fact, the original private based companies that oversaw the building of the earlier subway tunnels in the Big Apple constructed them at a much quicker pace than the tax payer funded union trolls who built subway tunnels in the following decades.

What does the story about past government takeovers of private transportation services have to do with Obama’s call for increasing crude oil taxes today?  It is simple, if government had not gotten involved and taken over viable private run transportation companies, I believe that cities like Detroit would have maintained great transportation systems it their customers desired to continue utilizing transportation systems.

The problem is big government getting involved, thus killing innovation and in most cases quality of service.  How much further ahead regarding energy independence would America be, if only the United States had not been prevented from increasing oil and gas exploration and production by the Obama administration?  Before the curse and onslaught of the Obamacare being thrust upon our republic “We the People” were blessed with the best medical care on earth, but now it is in steady decline.

If Obama wants improved transportation options for America, the government tax regulations and tax burdens must be lessened and certain taxes such as on production should be eliminated as soon as possible, which should be now.  As a result there would come about increased economic activity would fuel incentives for needed changes that the American people desire, not wasteful unwanted government mandates that only bring about destructive and unnecessary declines in the quality of life and related hardships.

RELATED ARTICLE: Supreme Court Halts Obama’s Aggressive Climate Agenda

President Obama Wants You to Pay More for Oil

Apparently oil prices are too low, so President Barack Obama thinks it’s a good idea to slap on a $10 per barrel oil tax. Politico reports:

Obama aides told POLITICO that when he releases his final budget request next week, the president will propose more than $300 billion worth of investments over the next decade in mass transit, high-speed rail, self-driving cars, and other transportation approaches designed to reduce carbon emissions and congestion. To pay for it all, Obama will call for a $10 “fee” on every barrel of oil, a surcharge that would be paid by oil companies but would presumably be passed along to consumers.

Based on current prices, this would be a roughly 30% tax on a barrel of oil.

It’s disturbing that the president’s reaction to an industry slashing jobs and cutting investments in a tough business environment is to place a massive tax on the product they produce.

It’s also troubling to see that President Obama thinks of the tax as a quid pro quo for ending the oil export ban. (Something he opposed.)

“You’re allowed to export, but we’re also saying is that we’re going to impose a tax on a barrel of oil,”President Obama said at a press conference.

Thankfully this tax is already “dead on arrival” in Congress, said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

President Obama knows this, but doesn’t care. As Politico notes, “It’s mostly an effort to jump-start a conversation.” And it falls squarely with his mission to end fossil fuel use in the United States.

“It’s really about taxing the energy they don’t like to make President Obama’s favored energy sources,” said Institute for Energy Research President Thomas Pyle.

The president acknowledged this. When questioned by reporters, President Obama said if imposed, the tax “will have further weaned our economy off dirty fuels.”

But his sweeping plan runs straight up against reality. Americans will be using oil and other fossil fuels for decades to come. Until economically viable alternatives are developed that offer the same benefits (convenience, reliability, energy density), fossil fuels will be needed to keep America’s economy moving.

There’s no question we need more revenue to fix America’s broken roads and bridges, but the oil tax covers over the real intention behind the proposal: The radical transformation of America’s energy economy.

MORE ARTICLES ON: ENERGY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of President Obama is by photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.

How We Can Get the Candidates Talking About America’s Energy Opportunity

America has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to combine American innovation, American resources, and American freedom to create American energy abundance and become the world’s energy superpower, overtaking Russia and the Middle East.

In 20 seconds, you can tell our politicians, including the candidates that are completely ignoring this issue in the debates–this time to discuss Trump’s feud with Megyn Kelly–that you will only vote for candidates who will seize America’s Energy Opportunity.

Please do so at AmericasEnergyOpportunity.com.

For Energy Industry Employees

America’s Energy Opportunity affects all of us, but you most directly, along with the millions of people who work directly and indirectly with your industry.

Therefore, please tell your colleagues about this campaign. Here is a letter you can send.

Dear ______,

I would like to ask you to take three minutes to stand up for this industry in the upcoming elections.

As you know, last year was a difficult year for our industry, with many bankruptcies and massive job losses.

Unfortunately, Washington is considering many proposals to make it even harder for our industry to produce, move, and sell our product–proposals to tax hydrocarbons, stop hydraulic fracturing projects, and limit exports to our customers. That will mean more job losses, bankruptcies, and damage to our economy. And so far our industry has had no voice in the 2016 debates.

But a movement called America’s Energy Opportunity is fighting back.

At AmericasEnergyOpportunity.com there is a petition to our politicians to leave our industry free to create amazing prosperity for this country. If millions of people sign this petition we will prove to the candidates that we cannot be ignored this election.

Please take 3 minutes to read the petition and sign it–for the sake of your jobs, your families, and this country’s future.

Sincerely,

________

8 Speeches in 2 Days

Last week, I gave 10 speeches–including 8 speeches in 2 days. The 8 were all at one company. Those of you who signed up for this list, welcome.

Lately in my speeches I have been emphasizing, even more than I used to, that clear thinking and communication about energy issues requires the right starting framework. If in our thinking and communication we start with a framework based on human well-being and big-picture thinking, we come to the right conclusions and can explain them convincingly. If we don’t, our thinking is a mess and/or our communication is a mess.

For more on framing conversations the right way, see How to Talk to Anyone About Energy.

Thanks to everyone who came to my presentations last week, and the organizations in Mississippi who sponsored them. I met a lot of bright, motivated people whom I expect to become great energy champions.

New Blog Post by David Biederman: Fossil Fuels Make the Planet More Productive

From the latest blog entry:

“The fact is that when it comes to satisfying humanity’s basic needs, almost nothing is given, as almost everything must be created and produced. The arrangements of elements that make up the planet are not organized by natural processes to optimally support human life. Instead, work is required to transform the planet from an environment of scarcity to one rich with food, clothing, and shelter. The ability to do this work is made possible primarily by the fossil fuel industries?coal, oil and natural gas.”

Keep reading.

This Week’s Power Hour: Amanda Maxham on the Virtues of GMOs

On this week’s episode of Power Hour I talk with Dr. Amanda Maxham, Research Associate at the Ayn Rand Institute, about the incredible advances in genetic modification–and why our society is responding to them with fear and coercion rather than enthusiasm and freedom.

Listen to this episode.

Power Hour: Michael Lynch on Recent Oil Prices

On this episode of Power Hour, I talk to Mike Lynch, President of Strategic Energy & Economic Research, about the recent decline in oil prices.

Tune in.

As always, if you’d like to suggest a new guest for Power Hour, or have me appear on your show, you can send me an email at support@industrialprogress.net, or just reply to this one.

Marco Rubio’s Recent Climate Change of Heart ‘Disingenuous’

ken fieldsNEW YORK, NY /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In response to Marco Rubio’s recent campaign event in New Hampshire where the candidate appears to have made a climate change of heart and has called for America to be “number one in wind, and number one in solar, and number one in biofuels, and number one in renewables, number one in energy efficiency. Let’s lead in all of these things,” independent presidential candidate Ken Fields (pictured right) responded by saying:

“For someone who has so vehemently opposed any acknowledgement of the scientific consensus backing the evidence of human-caused climate change due to our planet’s reliance on fossil fuels, Rubio’s change of heart seems disingenuous at best. He has voted against energy efficiency and clean energy tax incentives. It’s hard to believe him.”

When pressed for further comment, Fields stated, “The recent and continued volatility in global oil markets should be evidence enough that energy security is not simply a matter of having and exploiting our own fossil fuel resources, but rather being completely independent of fossil fuels altogether.”

Fields officially launched his campaign last week on January 8th, 2016. His platform revolves around his slogan, “Greatness Must Be Earned” and to do great things, he has advocated the transition to 100% renewable energy for the country over the next 20 years. His policy plan includes, but is not limited to, creating the public and private mechanisms to encourage and nurture the financial markets to participate, a tax holiday for repatriated corporate capital that is invested in renewables and a carbon tax and dividend plan.

For further information on his policies and positions feel free to visit www.kenfields.net.

When Will the Presidential Candidates Debate America’s Energy Opportunity?

Presidential debates are supposed to cover the issues that will most affect voters.

In this respect, every Presidential debate so far has failed, because none have discussed America’s single greatest opportunity, an opportunity that can help solve 8 of our toughest challenges and “make America great again.” This is America’s energy opportunity.

America has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to combine American innovation, American resources, and American freedom to create American energy abundance and become the world’s energy superpower, overtaking Russia and the Middle East.

The question is: Will we seize this opportunity or will we squander it?

You’ve heard the expression “there’s no silver bullet” for our problems but America’s energy opportunity is a silver bullet.

Energy is a uniquely consequential issue because the energy industry is the industry that powers every other industry. By creating American energy abundance and becoming the world’s energy superpower we can tackle eight key challenges at once.

  1. Jump-start the American economy

    Our challenge: We have been mired in recession or near-recession for a decade—and without the energy industry it would be much, much worse.

    Our opportunity: The same industry that has kept us out of desperate trouble can bring us to new heights, by producing and selling energy around the world.

  2. Create millions of well-paying job opportunities

    Our challenge: It is difficult for many Americans to find jobs, in large part thanks to onerous restrictions on industry that have shut down many companies.

    Our opportunity: A ramp-up in the US energy industry would create millions of productive, well-paying jobs.

  3. Lower your cost of living

    Our challenge: The US cost of living has been going up for decades, and when the prices of energy goes up, transportation, heating, and electric bills place a large burden on American business.

    Our opportunity: Energy affordability can lower the cost of our direct energy bills, saving thousands of dollars a year—and, because energy is part of every industry, it can lower the cost of everything we buy and do.

  4. Increase our industrial competitiveness

    Our challenge: Due largely to onerous government policies, American manufacturing has declined for decades, leaving far worse employment opportunities for those trained for industrial jobs.

    Our opportunity: Energy affordability dramatically lowers one of the largest manufacturing costs, and combined with liberating industry from irrational costs, it can make America a manufacturing hub.

  5. Shrink the deficit

    Our challenge: America has a massive, ever-growing deficit and debt, caused by a combination of reckless spending and a sluggish economy.

    Our opportunity: Doubling American energy production is our easiest path to economic growth and increased tax revenues without tax increases; coupled with a commitment to cutting spending we can finally be on a path to solvency.

  6. Increase national security

    Our challenge: Nations around the world threaten us, and one major difficulty we have in dealing with them is their enormous influence in world energy markets, particularly oil and gas.

    Our opportunity: America’s energy leadership will give America and her allies energy security from Russia and the Middle East, protecting both economic stability and foreign policy leverage.

  7. Fight global poverty

    Our challenge: Much of the world is still massively impoverished.

    Our opportunity: Energy abundance will make it more affordable for countries to industrialize and in particular to alleviate one of the most crucial aspects of poverty: energy poverty.

  8. Improve environmental quality worldwide

    Our challenge: Environmental concerns are always crucial—we want to be as productive as we can be but also have a clean, healthy environment, which many say is impossible with fossil fuels, nuclear, and hydro.

    Our opportunity: Contrary to popular belief, the freedom to develop these sources won’t make our environment dirtier and our climate more dangerous, they will make our environment cleaner and our climate safer—because energy abundance dramatically improves environmental quality and climate safety.

Our politicians should be seizing all 8 of these opportunities. Instead, they are squandering them.

We can only create American energy abundance if we are free to choose, produce, transport the most abundant, affordable, reliable forms of energy—including hydrocarbons, nuclear, and hydro power.

Unfortunately, the Washington establishment has attacked every single one of these sources of energy abundance.

Instead of protecting the freedom to choose the best forms of energy, they are anti-choice and pro-subsidy.

Instead of protecting the freedom to produce the best forms of energy, they are anti-drilling and anti-mining.

Instead of protecting the freedom to transport energy where it is needed, they are anti-pipeline and anti-export terminals for coal, oil, and gas.

Instead of protecting the freedom to innovate in energy, they are anti-innovation in the most promising types of energy technologies, such as nuclear and fracking.

Washington could be making us into an energy superpower. Instead it is making us into an energy pawn.

How can we change course? We need to give our politicians an ultimatum: seize America’s energy opportunity—or lose our vote. That’s why I created a simple website, America’s Energy Opportunity, with an ultimatum you can sign and send to your elected officials.

If we do this together—by the hundreds, by the thousands, and ultimately by the millions—then our politicians and candidates will no longer be able to ignore America’s energy opportunity. And they just might seize it. Let’s demand that they do.

Disclosure: America’s Energy Opportunity has no affiliation with or funding from any party, industry, campaign, PAC, or other special interest. Its (very small) budget is entirely financed by my organization, the Center for Industrial Progress.

As always, if you’d like to suggest a new guest for Power Hour, or have me appear on your show, you can send me an email at support@industrialprogress.net, or just reply to this one.

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