Yo, Jerry, we’re not ‘running out of oil.’ Says who? Says N.Y. Times

Gov. Jerry Brown’s bizarre likening of solar power to a miracle straight out of the lore of Hanukkah is wonderfully instructive. The Sac Bee quoted him as saying, “we’re running out of oil so we need a miracle.” Today’s miracle, he said, “is not to find more oil, but to utilize the sun.” Attention, Jerry: That “peak oil” theory is so 2002. Says who? Says The New York Times: “From the high Arctic waters north of Norway to a shale field in Argentine Patagonia, from the oil sands of western Canada to deepwater oil prospects off the shores of Angola, giant new oil and gas fields are being mined, steamed and drilled with new technologies. … Put together, these fuels should bring hundreds of billions of barrels of recoverable reserves to market in coming decades and shift geopolitical and economic calculations around the world.” So there goes two arguments of the anti-oil set: We’re running out, and our addiction helps the terrorists. Will Jerry or the California media ever acknowledge this new reality?

Apparently not. The pols and the press won’t allow anything to get in the way of their messianic, cultish view that fossil fuels are evil and that AB 32 is wonderful, even if most of the arguments for it have been exposed as crocks. To say so isn’t climate-change “denialism.” Instead, what I’m trying to do is to make California’s media remember what they wrote about AB 32 in 2006 and what we now know to be the truth.

The most obvious example is that AB 32 isn’t inspiring the rest of the world to mandate a change to renewable energy, as we were told in 2006. The state’s enviro reporters never acknowledge that a central selling point of the law isn’t coming true.

The fact that California’s energy will soon cost much more than in rival nations and states, leading to just the sort of economic vulnerability that U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu warned about in 2009 congressional testimony, is ignored, too. Instead, the opposite theory — that forcing energy to cost way more will somehow lead to a net creation of jobs — is taken seriously.

Now two more of the key arguments for AB 32 and many similar green energy initiatives are gone. The New York Times’ special section on energy — headlined, “New Technologies Redraw the World’s Energy Picture” — annihilates the claims about the inevitable demise of fossil fuels:

The United States may now have the means to reduce its half century of dependence on the Middle East. …

For consumers around the world, the new fuels should moderate future price increases.

But giving new life to fossil fuels is a devil’s bargain, probably making solutions to climate change, and the development of renewable energy, even more difficult.

James Burkhard, a managing director of the energy consulting firm IHS Cera, said that competition between fossil fuels and renewable energy development was driven by the price of oil and gas as well as by government policy.

“The unconventional boom will guarantee that the competition is strong for years to come,” Mr. Burkhard said. “If oil costs $200 a barrel, that would provide more headroom for electric vehicles. But if oil is at $90, alternative, renewable energy will need to compete better on an economic basis.”

What does this mean? The cost-driven argument that we must switch to renewable energy is now a lot of bull.

What about the we’re-supporting-terrorists trope of renewable energy advocates? It’s also DOA. More from the N.Y. Times’ special section on energy:

Oil sands [emergence as a big new source of oil] have already transformed Canada into an energy superpower, and they have shifted American dependency from the nations of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to a friendlier and more stable source. Oil sands have been around for decades, but they were too expensive to produce at large scale. Then rising oil prices altered the economics in their favor — attracting multibillion-dollar investments from international oil companies, including those in China.

Since 2000, production has expanded to more than 1.5 million barrels a day of synthetic oil from 600,000, making Canada’s oil sands the most important source of oil imported to the United States. …

“It’s one thing to find oil, and another thing to find oil in a very safe, secure place like Canada,” said Mr. Colton of Exxon Mobil. “From a U.S. energy security standpoint, it’s a very attractive proposition to U.S. consumers that we have this friend next door who has all these oil resources.”

Canadian oil sands production is expected to increase by as much as 200,000 barrels a day every year for the next two decades. Current estimates of how much is there already top Iraq’s total reserves, guaranteeing Canada’s place as a premier oil producer for many decades.

Yo, Jerry, do you read The New York Times? Yo, Jerry, yo, NRDC, yo, Darrell Steinberg, yo, John Perez, when will you acknowledge this new reality? In a few years, Californians will pay 41 to 60 percent higher energy rates than they used to because of a state law predicated on myths.

The rest of the world has figured this out. Cap and trade is dead, killed off by the bad global economy, skepticism about Al Gore’s “inconvenient truths” and the new availability of cheap fossil fuels.

The bottom line is that when it comes to addressing climate change, innovative, technology-driven approaches, as outlined by the “Freakonomics” authors, make much more sense than shutting down one-fifth of the First World’s economy.

Once again, this isn’t “denialism” or energy status quo PR from Texas oil barons. This is based on what is being reported by solid journalists. It’s the new reality on the energy/climate change debate.

So will Jerry Brown admit he told a whopper when he said “we’re running out of oil so we need a miracle”? He would if he were the politician he likes to think he is: the iconoclastic truth-teller who zigs when others zag.

Instead, on AB 32, he’s as big a propagandist as Arnold, eagerly dispensing the Green Kool-AId and ignoring the mountain of facts showing that the law is far more likely to devastate California’s economy than to inspire the world to change. Great, just great.

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