Sunday, May 15, 2005

A plague upon both houses...A sensible energy policy?...

Recently I have been trying to reconcile my enthusiasm for our current efforts in the Middle East with the itchy feeling that precious little was being done on the home front concerning our dependence on the evil oil monster. It used to be that the only people concerned with our dependence on oil had names like Luna and Gaia, but not any more. It should be pretty plain to anybody who has read a newspaper in the last four years that the sooner we can stop lining the pockets of people like Hugo Chavez and the Saudi Royal douchebags, the sooner we will be secure.

That being said, is doing things like drilling in the ANWR really the answer to our energy woes? Is there anything in the congressional release language that specifies that all of the oil extracted there will be applied only to the US market? If not, then the charge that we are drilling for our own security dries up. From the ANWR website:

At today's oil prices, ANWR's 10.4 billion barrels (mean estimate) represents over $500 billion worth of investment domestic investment. Developing these resources is expected to create over 750,000 new jobs for Americans.
Without a doubt those are huge numbers, and without a doubt those are very optimistic numbers. Nearly a million jobs, just by drilling this worthless, putrid stinking tundra? Well buy me a Hummer already (a Hummer car, that is). From the same site:

In 1980, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the Coastal Plain could contain up to 17 billion barrels of oil and 34 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

U.S. Department of Interior - 1987. After several years of surface geological investigations, aeromagnetic surveys, and two winter seismic surveys (in 1983-84 and 1984-85), the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), in its April, 1987 report on the oil and gas potential of the Coastal Plain, estimated that there are billions of barrels of oil to be discovered in the area. DOI estimates that "in-place resources" range from 4.8 billion to 29.4 billion barrels of oil. Recoverable oil estimates ranges from 600 million barrels at the low end to 9.2 billion barrels at the high end. They also reported identifying 26 separate oil and gas prospects in the Coastal Plain that could each contain "super giant" fields (500 million barrels or more).
So we see that it is not a home run yet. All we have signed off on is some oil prospecting. If we get the low end of the spectrum (600 million barrels), we might not have enough oil from ANWR to power George Soros' jets as he darts from one enviro rally to the next. If we're at the upper end, we'll have increased global reserves by less than one percent, seeing as there is no language that I can see in H. Con. Res. 95 that specifically reserves these deposits for American use. This may be because it is only budget language, I'm not sure. Anybody (Brig?) please correct me if I'm wrong on this.

Conversely, are we to believe the many greenies that tell us that nuclear energy is somehow worse than fossil-fired energy? As a dreamy enviro-type myself, I can attest to the sheer terror that the very utterance of the N word used to cause me. It was enough to keep a young hippie up at night, envisioning all of the wonderful animals running around with huge thyroids and extra testicles. It was precisely this type of fear that has caused our domestic nuclear interest to atrophy.

These are just a few of the possibilities on our plate. Throw in emerging renewable technologies, hydrogen fuel cells and nanotechnology and we could bark at each other for hours and not make any real headway. So is there a workable alternative to the oil boogeymen who mount us at every turn without so much as offering some of their plentiful oil as lube? If there is, it will most likely involve everybody losing some ground. Victor Davis Hanson has this to say in his most recent essay on the subject:

The Right used to believe that the omniscient market could adjudicate almost everything: let the specter of eventual $5-a-gallon gas deal with the problem of driving a 7,000-pound, 10-mile-per-gallon behemoth down the street to the supermarket. When the tab at the gas station get too high, or so free-market gospel preaches, people can make their own adjustments far more efficiently than clumsy bureaucrats and distant functionaries.

While persuasive in theory, such laizze-faire policy, in fact, is fraught with peril in the case of national energy policy. Whereas Detroit turns out too many gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks, Japan, reminiscent of the 1970s, is once again ahead of the curve and capturing market share in providing more fuel efficient and better hybrid cars — with long-term detrimental results for the US economy, as crisis returns to the American automobile industry.

While high gas prices would eventually determine consumer choices, in the meantime billions of petrol dollars will continue to pile up in Iran and the Gulf, and thus fuel everything from Teheran’s nuclear ambitions to world-wide Wahhabist madrassas and mosques.

He later spanks the greenies:
Meanwhile, the Left is straight jacketed by the same purist creeds. We have been told for three decades that solar power and hydrogen will save us, along with windmills and wave-machines, even though such alternate sources of powers are presently either impractical or years away from fruition. Environmentalists insist that coal is too dirty and hot, nuclear power too dangerous, hydroelectric too injurious to native streams and fish — almost everything too something to exploit fully.

In consequence, as we bicker and remain paralyzed, the cost of energy skyrockets, many of our enemies grow even more awash in cash, and our financial and security options are increasingly curtailed by energy considerations.

Then the juice:

A conservative should accept that government guidance in the domestic market is not as bad as empowering a nuclear Iran or Wahhabist Saudi Arabia.

While dreamers insist on waiting for a world of windmills and rooftop photovoltaic cells, they should concede that insistence on the future perfect solution will be the death of the good option right now, given that 30 years of energy crises have still not yet produced a viable alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear power. Finally, conservatives, as their name implies, should conserve; and liberals must be liberal and open to once taboo solutions to old problems.
A plague upon both houses! It might be the only way to make some headway on this issue. I'd gladly give up a few choice wild places if I knew it was essential to our security. In fact, you can park a nuclear reactor on my patio if it keeps a few Franklins out of the hands of the Wahhabis. In return, how about some real live government help in the emerging technologies? It's a departure from my recent dabbling in libertarian ideas, but every now and then the government does stumble upon some cool technology when it puts its mind (dollars) to it. Remember the internet?

Noah Adds: I don’t see how enormous thyroids and extra testicles are a problem. It’s just more meat!

Tom addzz: regarding the title of your post, any time you use the word "sensible", you must pay a tax to the owner of that word, Tom Friedman. In fact, the whole title could very easily pass for a Tom Freidman title on one of his "gray nutsack" op-eds.

Sean responds: I appologize to anybody confused by the title. Tommay points to a truth. I think Friedmans' version would ad a few colorful nonsensicle made-up words like "Enviro-dastardlyness" or "Oilexploration-alterworship". Anyway, I could kick Friedmans ass in a bar fight before he could even say the word "Earth-flattenerizer".

No comments: