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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.

Muslim Brotherhood linked CAIR and ICNA oppose Dakota Access Pipeline

Two Muslim Brotherhood linked organizations, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) are vigorously opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Why would organizations that claim to defend Muslim civil rights oppose a pipeline that will help America’s economy and energy independence?

The Dakota Access Pipeline will deliver up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day from American oil fields to American refineries.  The pipeline will increase America’s energy independence and decrease the cost of fuel products.  See full report on Dakota Access Pipeline.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company handling the 1,172-mile and $3.78 billion project, had received all state and federal approvals except for a short section under the Missouri River in North Dakota.  However, mounting opposition alleging that the pipeline will ruin American Native sites and water quality influenced President Barack Obama to order the Army Corps of Engineers to halt construction on the pipeline to look for another route for the final part of the pipeline which goes under the Missouri River.   Eight other pipelines already cross the Missouri River.

The Council on American Islamic Relations opposes the Dakota Access Pipeline:

  • CAIR Oklahoma joined in the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline in October 2016.    CAIR Oklahoma press release states “Representatives from Council on American-Islamic Relations Oklahoma and Black Lives Matter were in attendance, expressing their support for indigenous communities and the struggles they face.”
  • CAIR Minnesota joined in the opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in November 2016.
  • The Council on American Islamic Relations issued a press release on December 5, 2016 titled CAIR welcomes denial of easement for Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Islamic Circle of North America sent out the following email blast on December 1, 2016:

Take Action Today
Call President Obama & Governor of North Dakota!
Thursday, December 1, 2016

The case of water protectors in North Dakota is getting worse and worse by the day. The pipeline, which would carry oil from western North Dakota to Illinois, would cross the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe — and the “water protectors” protesting alongside — say the pipeline would trammel on sacred lands and could contaminate the local drinking water supply if it leaks or ruptures. Stopping DAPL is a matter of climate justice and decolonization for indigenous peoples.

Police used a range of potentially lethal weapons against peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock: tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, mace, and water cannons. With temperatures well below freezing, the use of water cannons has afflicted many with hypothermia—not to mention the physical pain from being blasted with high-pressure water.
Let’s call President Obama and demand that he give an executive order to permanently stop the pipeline.

Let us also call the Governor of North Dakota, Jack Dalrymple, to not allow any blockage on food and supplies coming into the camp. On Tuesday, after the governor ordered the camp evacuated and a winter storm swept in, officials said they would begin blocking supplies.

The protesters vowed to stay put. In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Friday that the public will not be allowed in areas being used to protest after December 5th and that anyone found on the property will be considered trespassing and subject to prosecution.

President Obama is acting on leftist politics to delay completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  The pipeline was supposed to be completed in December 2016.   Thankfully, President Elect Donald Trump supports that Dakota Access Pipeline.  However, liberal progressives are already asserting that Trump cannot take a position on the pipeline because he owns stock in Energy Transfer Partners who is developing the pipeline.

On November 28, 2016 North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple ordered the pipeline protesters to leave.  Two days later the Islamic Circle of North America sent out their call to action email targeting Governor Jack Dalrymple.

Florida Family Association has prepared an email to thank North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple for his efforts to put an end to this disruptive protest that is hindering America’s economy and energy independence.

To send your email, please click the below link, enter your name and email address then click the “Send Your Message” button. You may also edit the subject or message text if you wish.

Click here to send your email to thank North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple for his efforts to put an end to this disruptive protest that is hindering America’s economy and energy independence.

Contact information:

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple
governor@nd.gov

EDITORS NOTE: To learn more click here: Dakota Access Pipeline

“Creating Jobs” Will Hurt the Economy by T. Norman Van Cott

How many jobs would the Keystone Pipeline project create? Political reporter Tom Murse points out that the answer is a matter of dispute. “Supporters argue that the Keystone XL pipeline would create tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of new jobs.” But critics “claim those numbers are wildly inflated,” Murse writes.

Both sides assume a higher number would make the project better for the economy. Both sides have it backwards.

Home Economics

The value of work is easy to grasp at the most domestic level: your own home.

Being a homeowner isn’t easy. Among other things, you always seem to have more chores to do than time to do them. The chores are not ends in themselves. Rather, they are means to an end — in this case, making a home and yard more livable or aesthetically pleasing.

Opting to do a chore yourself — “insourcing” in current parlance — isn’t costless. You lose the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your other labors. For example, you could tackle different chores, spend more time with your family, or work extra hours in the marketplace, increasing your income. Hiring someone else to do the chore — that is, “outsourcing” — isn’t costless, either. It means you can’t buy other things. Costs represent sacrificed alternatives.

The rule when it comes to home ownership isn’t rocket science. Tackle those chores whose ends you value more than their cost. If your water softener breaks, and you value having softened water more than what it would cost either you or the plumber to repair it, then hire the plumber if his cost is less than what it costs you to fix it yourself. (Don’t forget to count the work time you’ll be giving up to act as your own plumber.)

By outsourcing the repair work, you will have “lost a job,” but your standard of living will be higher. By how much? The difference between your cost and the plumber’s cost.

Added household chores — that is, “gaining jobs” — are anything but a blessing. Chores represent hurdles between you and that more livable, aesthetically pleasing home and yard. Each job represents something you’re going to have to give up before your house is the way you want it. “Gaining jobs” to achieve a given objective is synonymous with worsening your situation, not improving it.

The Rule Writ Large — The Case of the Keystone Pipeline

What is rocket science for many is the ability to recognize that the rule for individual households extends to the national household, as we can see in the case of the Keystone Pipeline controversy. The project, which has been a political football for several years, would transfer oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. The project’s desirability is associated with the number of jobs required for the pipeline’s construction and maintenance. The more jobs created, the more desirable the pipeline, it would seem.

All involved in the discussion fail to apply lessons for individual households to the national household. Pipeline jobs are part of the cost of getting oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. They are not part of the benefits. The fewer jobs created, the better. Indeed, in the best of all worlds, there would bezero jobs required to transfer oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. That way, we could get the oil transferred without having to give up anything!

Pipeline proponents who note a large number of required jobs are unwittingly arguing against the project, just as opponents who cite a small number of jobs are unwittingly arguing in its favor.

Beyond the Pipeline

This failure to apply the simple rules for individual households is not restricted to the Keystone Pipeline issue. It pervades economic, business, and political discussions. Government programs come packaged with estimates of the number of new jobs the programs will supposedly create. The more jobs, the merrier. That’s the political refrain. Likewise, state and local economic development bureaucrats tout the number of jobs associated with business relocations or expansions.

One has to wonder whether those who peddle this more-jobs nonsense apply it to their own households. I bet not. Fewer chores, not more, make their homes more enjoyable. National households are no different. Or as Adam Smith put it in his classic, The Wealth of Nations, that which “is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.”

T. Norman Van CottT. Norman Van Cott

T. Norman Van Cott, professor of economics, received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1969. Before joining Ball State in 1977, he taught at University of New Mexico (1968-1972) and West Georgia College (1972-1977). He was the department chairperson from 1985 to 1999. His fields of interest include microeconomic theory, public finance, and international economics. Van Cott’s current research is the economics of constitutions.

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.

Is Cheap Gas a Bad Thing? by Randal O’Toole

Remember peak oil? Remember when oil prices were $140 a barrel and Goldman Sachs predicted they would soon reach $200? Now, the latest news is that oil prices have gone up all the way to $34 a barrel. Last fall, Goldman Sachs predicted prices would fall to $20 a barrel, which other analysts argued was “no better than its prior predictions,” but in fact they came a lot closer to that than to $200.

Low oil prices generate huge economic benefits. Low prices mean increased mobility, which means increased economic productivity. The end result, says Bank of America analyst Francisco Blanch, is “one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history” as $3 trillion remain in consumers’ pockets rather than going to the oil companies. I wouldn’t call this a “wealth transfer” so much as a reduction in income inequality, but either way, it is a good thing.

Naturally, some people hate the idea of increased mobility from lower fuel prices. “Cheap gas raises fears of urban sprawl,” warns NPR. Since “urban sprawl” is a made-up problem, I’d have to rewrite this as, “Cheap gas raises hopes of urban sprawl.” The only real “fear” is on the part of city officials who want everyone to pay taxes to them so they can build stadiums, light-rail lines, and other useless urban monuments.

A more cogent argument is made by UC Berkeley sustainability professor Maximilian Auffhammer, who argues that “gas is too cheap” because current prices fail to cover all of the external costs of driving. He cites what he calls a “classic paper” that calculates the external costs of driving to be $2.28 per gallon. If that were true, then one approach would be to tax gasoline $2.28 a gallon and use the revenues to pay those external costs.

The only problem is that most of the so-called external costs aren’t external at all but are paid by highway users. The largest share of calculated costs, estimated at $1.05 a gallon, is the cost of congestion. This is really a cost of bad planning, not gasoline. Either way, the cost is almost entirely paid by people in traffic consuming that gasoline.

The next largest cost, at 63 cents a gallon, is the cost of accidents. Again, this is partly a cost of bad planning: remember how fatality rates dropped nearly 20 percent between 2007 and 2009, largely due to the reduction in congestion caused by the recession? This decline could have taken place years before if cities had been serious about relieving congestion rather than ignoring it. In any case, most of the cost of accidents, like the other costs of congestion, are largely internalized by the auto drivers through insurance.

The next-largest cost, pegged at 42 cents per gallon, is “local pollution.” While that is truly an external cost, it is also rapidly declining as shown in figure 1 of the paper. According to EPA data, total vehicle emissions of most pollutants have declined by more than 50 percent since the numbers used in this 2006 report. Thus, the 42 cents per gallon is more like 20 cents per gallon and falling fast. [Ed. note: And pollution is also mostly due to congestion.]

At 12 cents a gallon, the next-largest cost is “oil dependency,” which the paper defines as exposing “the economy to energy price volatility and price manipulation” that “may compromise national security and foreign policy interests.” That problem, which was questionable in the first place, seems to have gone away thanks to the resurgence of oil production within the United States, which has made other oil producers, such as Saudi Arabia, more dependent on us than we are on them.

Finally, at a mere 6 cents per gallon, is the cost of greenhouse gas emissions. If you believe this is a cost, it will decline when measured as a cost per mile as cars get more fuel efficient under the current CAFE standards. But it should remain fixed as a cost per gallon as burning a gallon of gasoline will always produce a fixed amount of greenhouse gases.

In short, rather than $2.38 per gallon, the external cost of driving is closer to around 26 cents per gallon. Twenty cents of this cost is steadily declining as cars get cleaner and all of it is declining when measured per mile as cars get more fuel-efficient.

It’s worth noting that, though we are seeing an increase in driving due to low fuel prices, the amount of driving we do isn’t all that sensitive to fuel prices. Real gasoline prices doubled between 2000 and 2009, yet per capita driving continued to grow until the recession began. Prices have fallen by 50 percent in the last six months or so, yet the 3 or 4 percent increase in driving may be as much due to increased employment as to more affordable fuel.

This means that, though there may be some externalities from driving, raising gas taxes and creating government slush funds with the revenues is not the best way of dealing with those externalities. I’d feel differently if I felt any assurance that government would use those revenues to actually fix the externalities, but that seems unlikely. I actually like the idea of tradeable permits best, but short of that the current system of ever-tightening pollution controls seems to be working well at little cost to consumers and without threatening the economic benefits of increased mobility.

This post first appeared at Cato.org.

Randal O’TooleRandal O’Toole

Randal O’Toole is a Cato Institute Senior Fellow working on urban growth, public land, and transportation issues.

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.

What Trump and Sanders Said about Oil Prices 4 Years Ago by Daniel Bier

Remember when complaining about the price of gas was all the rage? The public discourse was awash in pseudo-psychology, hand-wringing about “peak oil,” and an array of conspiracy theories to explain why oil cost so much.

There was much ado about corporate “greed” (the cause of all life’s problems), hissing about “speculators,” nationalist chest-thumping about OPEC, self-proclaimed experts warning that Earth was out of oil, and many inarticulate suspicions about George Bush and Barack Obama.

Economists were pretty sure that the price of oil was related to supply and demand, but what did they know? One cantankerous socialist knew the truth:

Pump prices spiked 5% in the past month… Crude oil prices stood at $108 on Friday, up from only double digits at the beginning of the month. …

What’s the cause? Forget what you may have read about the laws of supply and demand. Oil and gas prices have almost nothing to do with economic fundamentals.

Fortunately, when he wrote that in 2012, Sen. Bernie Sanders was ahead of the game, having never read anything about supply and demand at all. Unencumbered by basic economics, he was able to see that Big Oil “gouging” and Wall Street “speculators” were to blame.

Remarkably, right around the time of the fracking revolution, the price of oil and gas started tumbling. I guess Wall Street’s heart grew three sizes that day.

But Sanders didn’t have the only theory. One super smart billionaire figured out that Saudi Arabia was the real problem:

Look at what’s going on with your gasoline prices. They’re going to go to $5, $6, $7 and we don’t have anybody in Washington that calls OPEC and says, “Fellas, it’s time. It’s over. You’re not going to do it anymore.”

When Donald Trump diagnosed this problem in 2011, his solution wasn’t just to “call Saudi Arabia” and tell them “you’re not going to raise that f***ing price!” No, he had a practical measure: seize Iraq’s oil fields. “To the victor belong the spoils. You go in. You win the war and you take it.”

It’s worth remembering this mass hysteria, although the situation today is somewhat different. The price of oil is below $30 a barrel. The International Energy Agency has warned that the world is now “drowning” in oil.

This week, the price for a particularly low-quality type of oil briefly dipped to negative fifty cents a barrel. That is, producers actually had to pay the refinery to take their oil. Has greed been abolished from the land? Maybe. But there’s also a sensible explanation: the high-sulfur oil is expensive to transport and refine, but the producers still had to get rid of it somehow.

But just a few years ago, it would have been almost unthinkable for refineries to actively discourage oil production. At $140 a barrel, almost any kind of oil is worth refining. And here’s the upshot: it was precisely those high prices that prompted the massive investment in production, exploration, and innovation that led to fracking, the shale revolution, and today’s tumbling prices. It was greedy, profit-seeking oil companies who drove the price of oil down over 80% from its peak in 2008.

It’s important to grasp these lessons now, because at some point, the price of oil — or some other commodity — will rise again, and we will be greeted by the same parade of doomsayers, conspiracy theorists, and would-be regulators that we endured for the last decade.

They’re not gone, they’re not even hiding — they’re leading the race for president.

Bonus economics of gas story: On Monday, local news in Michigan reported that a bidding war between a couple of gas stations briefly resulted in prices below 50 cents a gallon. To understand just how weird this is, the wholesale price of gasoline is about $1.

Is this another sign of irrational generosity sweeping the petroleum industry? No. Gasoline is retailed at razor thin margins; gas is typically about 70% of a station’s revenue, but only 30% of its profit. Gas stations actually make most of their money selling food, cigarettes, and bottled water inside.

Occasionally, gasoline is used as a loss leader: stations will sell gas for cheap (even at a loss) to bring people to the pump, where they can then make more money selling high-margin items like bottled drinks and tobacco.

Daniel BierDaniel Bier

Daniel Bier is the editor of Anything Peaceful. He writes on issues relating to science, civil liberties, and economic freedom.

Islamic State Cuts Terrorist Salaries by Half by Daniel Bier

Documents leaked to CNN from inside the Islamic State show that the terrorist insurgency/quasi-state is undergoing massive budget cuts, cutting salaries for its fighters and staff by 50 percent across the board.

ISIS soldiers earn between $400 and $1,200 a month, plus a $50 stipend for their wives and $25 for each child, according to the Congressional Research Service.

But running a state at war is expensive. And recent victories for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS mean that the Islamic State can’t afford to pay its soldiers quite as much as it used to.

“On account of the exceptional circumstances the Islamic State is facing, it has been decided to reduce the salaries that are paid to all mujahideen by half, and it is not allowed for anyone to be exempted from this decision, whatever his position,” the ISIS’ government wrote in a memorandum.

Much of the financial pressure on ISIS may come from US and Russian airstrikes targeting cash stockpiles, oil resources, and other assets. ISIS also has to pay for a semi-functioning state, maintaining infrastructure, running schools, subsidizing bread, fighting a war, and, of course, murdering vast numbers of people for imaginary crimes.

But the Islamic State might have a revenue problem as much as a spending problem. ISIS gets most of its money by taxing people in conquered territory, but, as Dan Mitchell has pointed out, the terrorists have recently been discovering the Laffer Curve.

Quoting Adam Chodorow at Slate,

ISIS’s taxes are now so onerous that large numbers of people, who were apparently willing to tolerate ISIS’s religious authoritarianism, are fleeing Syria and Iraq to escape them. …

ISIS is … constrained by a lack of administrative resources and the simple reality once sketched on the back of a cocktail napkin by the economist Arthur Laffer: that tax rates can only get so high before they actually drive down government revenues.

Given current conditions, ISIS may be near or at the limits of its ability to tax, even if it can recruit jihadi tax accountants to its cause. Thus … it’s not clear how much room the group has to grow internal revenues. More important, its efforts to do so may do more to damage its prospects than outside forces can accomplish.

No matter how much violence they use, there is no escaping the basic economic reality of incentives: In addition to creating refugees of war and violence, ISIS is now also creating tax exiles.

As people flee Syria and Iraq, businesses close, and the economy dies — and ISIS’s ability to tax and sustain its war effort is slowly being bled out. This is probably one reason that the Islamic State views refugees as traitors, as they have not only abandoned the one true caliphate, but they’ve taken their incomes with them.

Even if they really believe in the cause, if ISIS fighters are at all motivated by money, cutting their pay in half will have a huge impact on recruitment and desertion. Incentives matter, even in a theocracy.

Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier is the editor of Anything Peaceful. He writes on issues relating to science, civil liberties, and economic freedom.

‘Could this be the year Europe dies’ as economic conditions drive a billion Africans North?

Klaus Schwab the founder of the World Economic Forum convening in Davos, Switzerland this week has a very scary prediction for the future of Europe.

Learn more here at American Resistance 2016!

See our complete ‘Invasion of Europe’ archive by clicking here.

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Wisconsin: It is not just meatpackers having problems with Muslim refugee employees

See American Resistance 2016! for a couple of stories that might interest RRW readers

So-called ‘Unaccompanied alien children’ numbers are on target to surpass Invasion 2014