As a result, analysts believe the US was the largest contributor to the increase in global oil supplies last year over 2009, and is on track to increase domestic production by 25 per cent by the second half of the decade.
Domestic oil production is soaring, but so are global prices. It should be obvious that yet more drilling can’t have any significant impact on oil prices — particularly since the U.S. Energy Information Administration has been making that precise point for years now (see EIA: Full offshore drilling will not lower gasoline prices at all in 2020 and only 3 cents in 2030!).
The only thing that can protect Americans from the inevitably increasing oil shocks of Peak Oil is an aggressive strategy to reduce the country’s oil intensity (oil/GDP), including a steady increase the fuel efficiency of our vehicles — policies that conservatives have fought for decades.
But that doesn’t stop those same conservatives — including former Big Oil lobbyist Haley Barbour — from trying to blame Obama for high oil prices. ThinkProgress has a rundown of all the absurd attacks:
By Christy Goldfuss, Public Lands Project Director at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
For the seventh time in a row, Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) of the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing where he pushed for more domestic production of oil and gas, a proposal known to benefit Big Oil with little impact on gas prices. His colleague on the Committee, Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA), whose largest single industry contributor is oil and gas, took the opportunity at the hearing to defend the profits of Big Oil.
He and other Republicans argued that the profit margin for major oil companies is commensurate with other industries. But in 2010, Exxon Mobil had $30.9 billion, Shell had $18.28 billion, and Chevron had $19.29 in profits. Bill Graves from the American Trucking Association had to “agree to disagree” with that reasoning.
Big Oil also was defended by the Republican majority witness from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Karen Alderman Harbert. When Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) asked whether Harbert supported the billions of taxpayer subsidies that go to Big Oil, she refused to give a yes or no answer. She instead tried to squeeze in a pitch for why Big Oil subsidies are necessary, even with billions in profits. She feels that denying those subsidies would be unfairly, “singling out the oil and gas industry and penalizing it.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also supports oil speculators, by pushing to repeal the new authority that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has to police speculation under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The Democratic minority invited witness from the Gasoline & Automotive Service Dealers of America, Inc., noted that “the fastest way to $6 a gallon is to cut the funding to the CFTC.”
To sum up, the House Natural Resources Committee is doing a great job defending Big Oil with hearings on issues that benefit Big Oil, with Republican members that ask questions and make statements in defense of Big Oil, and the Republican invited witnesses that support Big Oil.
34 Senators, enough to sustain veto, call for continued implementation of the Clean Air Act.
Is the White House, in the quest for a budget deal, quietly preparing to accept some aspects of a House GOP effort to roll back the regulatory power of the Environmental Protection Agency, which would represent a significant weakening of the Obama adminstration’s commitment to combat global warming? So reported the Associated Press, but in a statement sent my way, the White House is denying it….
UPDATE: Dem Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (a member of which was the source on the AP story), has also released a statement denying it: “The anonymous source who contributed to the Associated Press story was inaccurate.”
UPDATE II: The Associated Press, which originally reported this story, did a subsequent version that watered down the original claims, so it seems like there’s no one out there on any side vouching for the original assertion.
That’s the WashPost‘s Greg Sargent who blogs at “The Plum Line.” When I first saw the story reported at places like Grist and then Alternet, it seem unlikely and incorrect to me and the folks I know who are familiar with these discussions.
Because I thought the story was wrong, I didn’t blog on it. But enough readers have raised concerns that it’s clearly worth a post.
Craig Fugate, who heads the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in December, “The term ’100-year event’ really lost its meaning this year” (see Munich Re: “The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change”).
A couple weeks ago, I asked how many U.S. nuclear plants are vulnerable to a tsunami and/or a 500-year 100-year flood? Here a very initial treatment of the flood vulnerability issue.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Mar 31, 2011 at 5:21 pm
Her amendment, like others to be voted on next week, would stop vital carbon-pollution safeguards
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has joined the pro-polluter frenzy sweeping the U.S. Senate, introducing legislation to permanently cripple Clean Air Act rules on global warming pollution. Brad Johnson has the story.
By Tom Kenworthy, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
This morning, the House Natural Resources Committee held yet another hearing to tie rising gas prices to an oil industry agenda. The panel’s Grand Oil Party leadership continues to ignore reality. It’s not the Obama administration’s supposed imposition of “regulation after regulation, roadblock after roadblock” that’s holding up more domestic oil drilling, as claimed by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), the committee chairman. He acts as if his panel can help reduce gas prices at the pump by hiding the truth and smacking the Obama administration.
The facts are simple:
– As the head of the Energy Information Administration told Hastings’ panel the other day, opening up more federal lands to oil drilling will have at best a marginal impact on gas prices and even if there is a reduction it could be erased by OPEC cutting production.
– The industry has almost 7,200 drilling permits on federal lands that it hasn’t used yet, according to BLM data obtained by E&E news.
– In Wyoming alone, the oil and gas industry has idled nearly 12,000 natural gas wells that were actually producing. The cause? A “downturn in pricing” – in other words, low natural gas prices, according to Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission supervisor Tom Doll.
– The United States has 1,738 drill rigs actively exploring for or producing oil and gas right now, a 20 percent increase over a year ago. That’s more than the rest of the world has combined, not including Russia and China where the company that collects the data, Baker Hughes, says reliable information is not available.
The truth is that drilling and production are largely dictated by world energy markets and the industry drills and produces when it thinks it can make the most excessive profits. And when prices are down, the industry counts on people like Hastings allowing them to stockpile leases and drilling permits until prices rise. Americans will only stop being harmed by spiking gas prices when they are no longer hostage to the oil industry.
Skeptical Science debunks more Muller disinformation
UPDATE: GOP Chair Hall referred to the emails of “East Angeles“!
Muller says of surface temperature dataset, “Some of the most worrisome biases are less serious than I had thought.“ That’s because he doesn’t read the scientific literature!
There is a climate science hearing trial today at 10 am of the full House Science Committee, “Climate Change: Examining the Processes Used to Create Science and Policy” (webcast here).
The Charter (here) makes clear this is a Scopes-like trial of Climategate, since it has an extended discussion of the stolen e-mails (which it claims were “leaked” — as if) along with innuendo-laden treatments of “Data Quality” and the “IPCC process.” The Charter never mentions the multiple vindications of the scientists whose emails were stolen and of the IPCC itself — and it omits any discussion of the massive amount of data and independent analyses that underpin our understanding of climate science. And those phony attacks are then used to question EPA’s rather obvious finding that unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases are a danger to the health and well-being of Americans.
In this piece, he “lays out the case for putting large solar farms in the Mojave desert as part of a serious energy policy based on improving public health, boosting the economy, and avoiding the risks of the fossil economy.” Here’s more:
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has joined the pro-polluter frenzy sweeping the U.S. Senate, introducing legislation to permanently cripple Clean Air Act rules on global warming pollution. The small business legislation, the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 493), introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), is being used as a vehicle for senators who wish to prevent regulation of greenhouse pollution from oil refineries, coal-fired power plants, heavy industry, and other major emitters. Stabenow has added her amendment to three others intended to hamstring the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of carbon polluters.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has introduced amendment 183, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, first introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). The amendment is cosponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA). The amendment calls for:
– The permanent prohibition on Clean Air Act regulation of greenhouse gases, other than the existing motor vehicle rules
– Repeal of the greenhouse gas endangerment finding and reporting requirements
– Preventing any future California waiver for tailpipe greenhouse emissions
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced amendment 215, the EPA Stationary Source Regulations Suspension Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND). The amendment calls for:
– A two-year suspension of stationary source regulations of carbon dioxide and methane.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) has introduced amendment 236, which has three elements:
– Forbidding regulation of greenhouse gases from a emitter that doesn’t also produce other regulated air pollution
– Codification of the EPA tailoring rule that establishes a 75,000 ton CO2e/year threshold for regulation
– Excluding regulation of biofuel greenhouse emissions related to land-use changes, or of any greenhouse emissions from other agricultural activities
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has introduced amendment 265, which has four elements:
– A two-year suspension of stationary source greenhouse gas regulations
– Preventing any future California waiver for tailpipe greenhouse emissions
– Excluding regulation of biofuel greenhouse emissions related to land-use changes, or of any greenhouse emissions from other agricultural activities
– Allocating $5 billion to the Advanced Energy Project tax credit
Votes on some combination of these amendments is expected as early as Thursday afternoon.
Stabenow has introduced an new version of her climate-denial legislation as amendment 277. NRDC’s David Doniger has the details.
China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, will cut its 2020 target for nuclear power capacity and build more solar farms following Japan’s atomic crisis, said an official at the National Development and Reform Commission.
This week, Sen. Jim Webb’s office put out a press release (see the full release at Blue Virginia) calling for a vote on the “Rockefeller Amendment to Delay EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulations.” Needless to say, I strongly disagree with Jim Webb that any delay in taking aggressive, comprehensive action on clean energy and climate change makes any sense whatsoever. There are three main reasons we need to act immediately, not delay a minute longer:
By Climate Guest Blogger on Mar 31, 2011 at 9:23 am
34 companies and 7 associations write that the House proposal to kill the DOE loan guarantee program would cost thousands of jobs all across the country.
By CAP’s Richard W. Caperton.
Yesterday, 34 clean energy companies and seven associations that represent different sectors of the clean energy economy sent letters to Congress urging them to not end the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program. The companies identified 34 projects in fifteen states that would be at severe risk of not moving forward if this program is eliminated. These projects will immediately create 35,000 direct jobs.
Distressingly, the House of Representatives doesn’t think these jobs are worth saving.
Yesterday afternoon, Sen. Jim Webb’s office put out a press release (see the full release at Blue Virginia) calling for a vote on the “Rockefeller Amendment to Delay EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulations.” Needless to say, I strongly disagree with Jim Webb that any delay in taking aggressive, comprehensive action on clean energy and climate change makes any sense whatsoever. There are three main reasons we need to act immediately, not delay a minute longer:
One: The scientific evidence of dangerous, man-made climate change is crystal clear and voluminous, as is the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that we need to act urgently – as in, this is a planetary environmental emergency – to slash greenhouse gas emissions now;
Two: Our national security depends heavily on a rapid move off of our oil addiction, which means first and foremost transitioning the U.S. vehicle fleet to far higher efficiency, and also to clean-energy-generated electricity;
Three: Our economic future will be determined in large part on how rapidly we transition off of 19th and 20th century fuels (mainly coal and oil) and into 21st century energy sources (efficiency, wind, solar, wave, geothermal, next-generation biofuels).
Frankly, none of that should be remotely controversial. The vast majority of people who aren’t in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry – or snookered by the constant barrage of Big Lie propaganda that industry puts out — see the Chevron “Human Energy” campaign or “Energy Tomorrow” for a constant stream of lies, half-truths, and distortions — would almost certainly agree with those three points. I know Sen. Mark Warner gets it, because I’ve sat down and discussed these issues with him. As for Jim Webb? Sadly — and it truly is sad for me, as someone who led the “Draft James Webb” effort and who worked for his campaign — it doesn’t seem that he has much if any understanding – or even curiosity to learn – about energy and environmental issues. Yesterday, he actually said the following words:
I am not convinced the Clean Air Act was ever intended to regulate or classify as a dangerous pollutant something as basic and ubiquitous in our atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
That’s bad enough. But for now I just want to focus on a truly egregious distortion and piece of revisionist history from Webb’s press release. According to Sen. Webb, the “sweeping actions that the EPA proposes to undertake clearly overflow the appropriate regulatory banks established by Congress, with the potential to affect every aspect of the American economy.” Webb believes that “[s]uch action represents a significant overreach by the Executive branch.”
That’s so many kinds of wrong it’s hard to know where to start. Just a few points. First off, the EPA’s establishment (by President Nixon) was approved by Congress, back in 1970. Second, the Clean Air Act was passed by Congress, extended multiple times by Congress, revised many times by Congress, etc. Third, the U.S. Supreme Court clearly ruled in 2007 that the EPA “can avoid taking further action [on global warming] only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation.” Finally, the U.S. Senate has utterly failed in its duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, per the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, the overwhelming scientific evidence, etc. In 2009, recall that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a comprehensive, clean energy and climate law.
The U.S. Senate, of which Jim Webb was and is a part, then did what it usually does – nothing. Clearly, that is where the failure lies, in the U.S. Senate, not with the Executive Branch — or the Judicial Branch, for that matter. Frankly, at this point, the U.S. Senate has made it abundantly clear that it has zero ability to tackle this issue.
So, here’s my message to Sen. Webb and to the rest of his “scorpions in a bottle” — as he calls them — in the Senate: on clean energy and climate change, either lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way!
Cross-posted from Blue Virginia, where Webb’s anti-EPA press release can be read.
A new study finds that all those aircraft condensation trails you see across the sky may, on any given day, be warming the planet more than all the CO2 emitted by all the planes since the Wright Brothers’ first flew over a century ago.
Thestudy is “Global radiative forcing from contrail cirrus” (subs. req’d) in Nature Climate Change by Ulrike Burkhardt1 and Bernd K¤rcher of the DLR German Aerospace Center. That the climate forcing from airplanes is considerably greater than just that of their CO2 emissions has been known a long time.
What this study adds is an analysis of an “important but poorly understood component of this forcing,” namely contrail cirrus“””a type of cloud that consist of young line-shaped contrails and the older irregularly shaped contrails that arise from them.” It turns out that “the radiative forcing associated with contrail cirrus as a whole is about nine times larger than that from line-shaped contrails alone.” On the bright side, “contrail cirrus cause a significant decrease in natural cloudiness, which partly offsets their warming effect.”
Nature CC‘s news story has this explanation and satellite images:
Tokyo Electric to scrap Reactors 1 to 4, probably 5 and 6, too
… a deluge of contaminated water, plutonium traces in the soil and an increasingly hazardous environment for workers at the plant have forced government officials to confront the reality that the emergency measures they have taken to keep nuclear fuel cool are producing increasingly dangerous side effects. And the prospect of restoring automatic cooling systems anytime soon is fading.
Hiroto Sakashita, a professor in nuclear reactor thermal hydraulics at Hokkaido University, said of the fuel rods, “Handling this situation is getting increasingly difficult.”
The NY Timesexplains how the very efforts to stop a full meltdown have themselves had serious consequences:
In a speech at Georgetown University today, President Barack Obama outlined a modest vision for improving our nation’s energy security — a vision that is unfortunately bold and ambitious by the standards of today’s Washington DC politics. With a Republican Party running full-tilt into Big Oil fealty and climate denial, with a significant bloc of the Democratic Party that believes protecting the economy means protecting coal barons, with thousands of polluter lobbyists flooding the system, even the dangerous status quo is difficult to maintain. Obama hinted at that toxic reality near the end of his speech, when he castigated the “some folks” — that is, the fossil fuel industry and their conservative allies — that want to cut clean-energy investment and increase global warming pollution:
As we debate our national priorities and our budget in Congress, we’re going to have to make tough choices. We’re going to have to cut what we don’t need to invest in what we do need. Unfortunately, some folks want to cut critical investments in clean energy. They want to cut our research and development into new technologies. They’re shortchanging the resources necessary even to promptly issue new permits for offshore drilling. These cuts would eliminate thousands of private sector jobs, it would terminate scientists and engineers, and end fellowships for researchers — some who may be here at Georgetown — graduate students and other talent we desperately need to get into this area in the 21st century.
That doesn’t make sense.
We’re already paying a price for our inaction. Every time we fill up at the pump; every time we lose a job or a business to countries that invest more than we do in clean energy; when it comes to our air, our water, and the climate change that threatens the planet that you will inherit – we are already paying a price. These are the costs we’re already bearing. And if we do nothing, that price will only go up.
So at moments like these, sacrificing these investments in research and development, supporting clean energy technologies, that would weaken our energy security and make us more dependent on oil, not less. That’s not a game plan to win the future. That’s a vision to keep us mired in the past. I will not accept that outcome for the United States of America. We are not going to do that.
Although Obama outlined steps to maintain incremental progress with somewhat stronger fuel economy standards, a gradual increase in low-carbon electricity, and investment in advanced biofuels, he failed to deliver a “game plan to win the future.” The harsh reality is that we need leadership that ends our dependence on fossil fuels within the next few decades. And that requires leadership that chooses to accept actual reality instead of political “reality.” The president noted that increasing domestic drilling for oil isn’t a long-term solution for energy security, but made it the primary plank of his speech. He noted that “we can’t drill our way out” of our problems, but called for incentives for major increases in natural gas and oil drilling, citing the influence of T. Boone Pickens. He spent literally only one sentence mentioning policies that would actually reduce gas costs, cut oil dependence, and clean the air:
We’ve also made historic investments in high-speed rail and mass transit, because part of making our transportation sector cleaner and more efficient involves offering Americans – urban, suburban, and rural – the choice to be mobile without having to get in a car and pay for gas.
The choice President Obama presented in his speech today is between running back into the 19th century with the Grand Oil Party or slogging timidly ahead. The real world is moving much faster than Washington, DC can handle, and we need much more than the half-measures offered today to survive.
President calls for 1/3 cut in oil imports by 2025 — but we’re already most of the way there!
UPDATE: Obama went off of his prepared remarks to point out that we haven’t increased fuel economy standards in 30 years — but the President never bothers to explain to the public that’s because Republicans opposed such increases! And so it looks like he is saying both parties are equally culpable and equally incompetent. Is it any wonder so much of the public agrees.
His speech also says, “some want to cut these critical investments in clean energy. They want to cut our research and development into new technologies.” But he never says who it is — Republicans, once again. It’s like he’s playing college basketball and the GOP are in the NBA.
Just to be clear, if there is no political penalty for the GOP’s obstructive and destructive policies, they will never change — and all of Obama’s proposed policies will go nowhere.
President Obama is delivering today what is being billed as a very big speech on “energy security.” You can watch it live around 11:20 am here.
UPDATE: Obama calls for a one-third cut in oil imports by 2025 from 2008 levels of 11.1 million barrels a day. But the EIA reports that net imports for have averaged 9.0 MBD for the first two months of 2011 — and 8.9 MBD over the last 6 months (h/t Oildrum) We only need to hit 7.4 to achieve Obama’s goal!
I propose the following drinking game:
The first time the President uses the phrase “climate change” or “global warming,” down the drink of your choice.
The second time, empty out the liquor cabinet.
The third time, it’s a weekend in Las Vegas with Charlie Sheen (or Chelsea Handler).
UPDATE 2: Obama threw in a few extra “climate change” mentions, but one of them negated another — “So those of us who are concerned about climate change, we’ve got to recognize that nuclear power, if it’s safe, can make a significant contribution to the climate change question” – could that possibly be blander? How about explaining to the public why everyone should be concerned? And how about something stronger than “question”? Still, it is Charlie Sheen time. But not in a good way.
Of course, like the speech, the fact sheet that the White House released this morning ahead of the speech leads with expanded production of fossil fuels:
A recent study found “air quality in Houston is still among the worst in the nation.” Yet, as this Wonk Room cross-post makes clear, “Smokey” Joe Barton apparently lives in a different Texas.
Visiting the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in Fort Worth, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) “” who infamously apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward for having to pay Gulf residents for damage caused by his company’s oil spill “” stated that the air in Texas is “excellent“:
I have two reposts from the Natural Resources Defense Council. David G. Hawkins, NRDC’s Director of Climate Programs, explains what is at stake in the Senate votes today. But first, Pete Altman, their Climate Campaign Director, explains how you can make your voice heard:
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