22 June 2008

Re: Drilling, A Few Points of Clarification

After reading a few of your comments, we figured the discussion on this blog would benefit from a little issue elucidation.

- First off, though we endorse a carbon tax, we do not believe that it is realistic to expect one in our lifetime. Americans would probably throw the president and party who enacted such legislation out on their posteriors. The only way this works is if it is coupled with a cut in income taxes and corporate taxes as we suggested in our last post. Even then, passage of of a carbon tax remains an extremely long shot.

- Let drilling be part of a comprehensive plan. The global warming fetishists also happen to be the same people who have been anti-nuclear and in our neck of the woods (Washington State) anti-hydropower. Of the alternatives to fossil fuels in providing electricity to Americans, nuclear power is the only one even close to having proven capacity to produce. All the other "alternative" energy options combined produce something like 0.5% of all the energy consumed in this country. And this, even after the huge subsidy to their production and the high price of oil.

- All of which brings us to our point about R&D (research & development, to the uninitiated). Spend money on R&D, but do so in a cost effective fashion. We'd like to see a competition with a $100 million prize to the team or corporation or university or whoever was able to come up with the cleanest most viable alternative energy source. It does no good to simply throw money at wind or solar or whatever when the "solution" (though we doubt there will ever be just one OR that we'll ever truly go away from fossil fuels) may be something that has not ever been discovered yet.

A command and control solution to our energy problem will not solve the problem. We guarantee that the cure will be worse than the disease. For those of you who doubt this guarantee, we point, once again, to the ethanol debacle. Mandate ethanol, starve the already poor and starving in lesser developed countries.

- We agree with Lomborg and the consensus conference of earlier this year. The money being expended trying to cool the earth could be better spent in other areas. And, efforts to curb global warming, which studies show will have little to no impact, will hinder economic development that would, in the future, enable us to develop the technology necessary to actually do something.

Want to do some good in this world? Good that would actually save lives and make them better--make the world a better place?

Per the consensus, the most cost-effective ways to help the world's poor:

1. Vitamin A & zinc supplements
2. Doha trade round
3. Iron supplements and salt iodization
4. Expanded youth immunization
5. Biofortification of seed stocks

Those of you who click through to the article will find global warming-related initiatives at the bottom of the list. Even global warming R&D is near the bottom of the list. But then, we don't really care about developing new energy sources because of the environment. We don't think it's as serious a problem as the GW fetishists.

- Re: the millions less miles Americans drive today versus a few years ago: this is due far more to the price of gasoline than to any efforts of the GWF's.

- Drilling off the coasts is only part of the solution. And admittedly, not a short term one. We hope only to derive short term political gain from the issue, but we believe, and there is reason to do so, that drilling could help America's long term issues with energy dependence. Banning development of domestic oil and shale-oil is a stupid policy and stupid Democrat Party "article of faith." If they want to hold to it, they should be punished at the polls. But in addition to drilling off-shore and in ANWR, we think Congress should open up America's shale-oil supply to development and production. The numbers we've read--1.5-2.6 trillion barrels--that could potentially come from those sources are huge. They could be and would be developed and produce oil the same way as the Canadian tar sands. Coal liquefaction is another fossil fuel alternative.

There is energy to be had on American soil. And it can be extracted cost effectively. We should free American corporations to get at it. Fossil fuels will always be part of the American energy picture because they are there and they are cheap--far cheaper than the "alternatives." And, as they dwindle, market forces will drive innovation that will bring other energy alternatives online--the same way we went from whale oil to light sweet crude.

- For those of you religiously opposed to fossil fuels, your next alternative should be nuclear power. It is proven and it is clean. Call on your local representatives to do what is necessary to free the American nuclear industry from onerous regulations and frivolous lawsuits. In the nuclear sense, we should follow the example of the French, whose energy needs are satisfied in large measure by their extensive nuclear power program.

Our comprehensive energy/environment policy recommendations:
- open American coastlines, ANWR to traditional oil drilling.
- permit development of shale-oil extraction.
- enact a carbon tax combined with a cut in income and corporate tax.
- expand nuclear power plant construction.
- introduce cost effective, competitive R&D legislation
- start worldwide campaign to divert money now being spent on ineffective global warming policy towards the Top 5 cost-effective ways to help the world's poor.

If you have tips, questions, comments, suggestions, or requests for subscription only articles, email us at lybberty@gmail.com.


RD said...

Great post.

I have certainly never advocated a command-and-control solution to alternative energy. in fact, I don't think anyone who comments on this blog has. Rather, the government should seek to use market power to develop it. Friedman's gas tax idea (and related plans) does just that: it incentivizes alternative energy R&D in the private sector. By reducing demand for oil, we (1) gain leverage over OPEC, and (2) create incentives for the private sector to develop better solutions. This is the great thing about markets, but those on the far right often act as if there are only two choices - laissez-faire and command economy. This creates some very superficial dialog.

All the drilling you advocate will not fix our dependence problem; rather, it will prolong the problem. Because America consumes three times what it produces, those who control marginal supply get to determine prices. Drilling more will not fix that problem. Rather, it will divert the private sector from real solutions. Indeed, while you say you want drilling as part of a comprehensive solution, what the current discussion of drilling will do is prevent a comprehensive solution. To avoid this prevention, we must wait to drill until it actually is part of a comprehensive solution. When a Republican or Democrat proposes such a solution, I am all for the drilling. But I don't have that much confidence in either party.

You are absolutely right about nuclear power. Opposition to it is archaic at this point. It must be part of any comprehensive solution. Ethanol is also a debacle, but this is a straw man argument; you act as if everyone who has ever liked the environment supported ethanol. You are right, however, to point out that government subsidies are certainly not the answer.

You often make your right-wing arguments by comparing them to far left-wing arguments, calling the left ones stupid, then presenting yours as the only remaining option. There is a lot of ground in the center that you are ignoring. This is unfortunate, and it simply represents the typical false dichotomy in American political dialog. This is the problem when we do our thinking based on what our party thinks, rather than choosing what party to side with based on our own thinking.

Earth Day Panty Hose said...

Fetishist. Revealing choice of words. Is someone showing a little repressed sexuality in those tightly fastened conservative pants?

Frankly, the latest writing has been drivel, likely induced by a long drive and hours of talk radio. In addition to the poorly reasoned argument, the intentionally offensive language also dumbs the debate down. What about the gun fetishists? Or the anti-gun fetishists? Or the Christ fetishists? Or the tax-and-spend fetishists? Or the military conflict fetishists?

I guess I'm a crappy-blog fetishist, because I keep coming back to Lybberty.

RD said...

Earth Day, Jake's arguments are "poorly reasoned" because he has no defense for them. I asked in the last post what benefit we get from drilling besides an election issue; instead of doing some research and providing an answer, Jake stuck to his opinion and employed a series of straw man arguments. Drilling is not a short-term solution or a long-term solution; drilling is no solution (Jake says he has reason to believe it is a long-term solution; what reasons?). Rather than being a solution, drilling is just another Republican fetish, just like supply-side fetishes, military buildup fetishes, anti-Europe fetishes, talk show fetishes, abortion fetishes, and the rest.

This is what we're getting used to from this blog. On any issue, get your information from conservative talk shows; find one person in the intellectual community who agrees with you; cite that person as the prime authority on the subject (in this case Lomborg, who is actually a journalist, not an academic), label anyone who disagrees as a tree-hugging communist liberal, and pretend you've made an argument. Adopt every Republican fetish regardless of its social or economic merit.If you ever actually disagree with Republicans, it's because they are being too liberal (which naturally leads to communism).

For discussion of this issue without predictable, indefensible partisan irrationality, visit pendulum politics.

Matt said...

Again, I would like someone (Lybberty or Pendulum) to give me a non-predictable, indefensible, non-partisan, and completely rational explanation for as to why no one is considering/demanding Iraqi oil as short-term or long-term solution to $4 and beyond gas prices. By my calculations from the blood and treasure we have spent in Iraq it should cost me about $9 to fill up my gas-guzzling SUV.

On May 25, 1961 John F. Kennedy responded to the launch of the Russian Sputnik by stating; "this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." The goal was definite and unequivocal. Why is it so difficult for a President, politician, Congressman, Senator, to make such a distinguished goal relating to our oil independence not only from the Middle-East but more importantly from ourselves??

Matt B.

Ben Treasure said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben Treasure said...

The national charge for energy solutions has not been heard. And I believe the biggest reason it hasn't is due to the rhetoric harbored in these posts; where anyone who doesn't support dependence on oil is made out to be a communist flag burner.

The rhetoric has got to stop and a solution must be found. And not in the form of more oil, just so we can face more of this same nonsense in 5, 10, or even 50 years down the road.

Even if we drilled tomorrow, and there was in fact oil in the numbers we need (still unclear), the soonest we'd get any of it hitting our supply would be 5 years. Apparently you aren't a real American if you need relief sooner than half a decade out for $400 a month for gas (which is what MY SUV takes). This relief would come in the form of beefed up public transportation, more bike friendly local communities, and a comprehensive plan to rid us of oil dependence--and all of this subsidized through tax incentives (etc). But the idea of turning someone's desire to minimize what amounts to an outrageous monthly expenditure (one that currently exceeds what I pay in rent per month) is way out of line, and completely counterproductive to the health of this nation. Anyone telling someone who pays their own bills to basically 'hold the phone' for five years is also entirely out of touch with the concerns of real people in this country.

Furthermore, the charge for more drilling has been spearheaded by an administration whose vice president has had repeated closed door meetings with oil executives in violation of the moral integrity of our entire form of governance. So is anyone surprised that, as the populous finds market stimulus to look elsewhere for their energy needs so that they can keep paying their bills on time, this oil administration is telling us that solution is (surprise!) MORE oil? And true to form, they've made this charge by questioning peoples patriotism all the while.

RD said...


Are you arguing that the oil under Iraq belongs to the United States? I didn't know that the invasion of Iraq was an imperial conquest to increase our empire's possessions and use its resources. I was under the impression that the oil in Iraq belonged to the Iraqis. Now, if they had invited us to come to Iraq and spend our "blood and treasure", then perhaps we could demand some sort of payment. But, since we went there uninvited, I don't understand why you think they have to give us their oil.

We must buy Iraq's oil like anyone else. And we're in the process of doing that. Last week the Times reported that American oil companies are working on the beginnings of oil concessions in Iraq. But this is a long process - not as simple as talk shows would like you to think (much like ANWR and shale oil).

That said, if you think getting oil from Iraq will be sufficient to solve our energy problems, you suffer from the same myopia as the drill fetishists (great word, Jake). Iraq currently produces about 2.5 million barrels per day; it could get up to 3 during the next few years. While this is nearly 3 times what the magical ANWR can produce, it is still not sufficient to quench America's 20 million barrels per day thirst for oil.

I may be confused - you seem to think that Iraq is a US possession - but I think Iraq is actually an independent, foreign country. As such, importing Iraqi oil will do nothing to fix our dependence on foreign oil, will it?

Add together the two solutions proposed on this page - more drilling in the US and free oil from Iraq - and you get a max of 5 million barrels per day, probably not fully available for 10 to 20 years, to address America's 12+ million barrel deficit (which will be larger in 10 to 20 years, won't it?).

The solution is not more oil; it's less.

Matt said...


I read your blog regularly and enjoy it.

You state that the solution is not more oil but less and I agree. That is the sole reason why I made the comparison between JFK's definitive goal of reaching the moon within the decade and my desire for a leader to put an equivalent goal relating to our oil independence from not only the middle-east but most importantly independence from ourselves.

In regards to if I think Iraq is a "possession." The paragraph of which you refer was stated with a tip of sarcasm and I was actually surprised that you dedicated 3+ paragraphs to it. Iraq is not the answer to anything let alone oil. It is a SNAFU but it would be nice to place America first on the contract list which has proven not the case of late.

Matt B.

RD said...

My mistake, Matt. If I knew you better I would have known you were being sarcastic. Well said. But, my comments remain for those who would believe something similar.