September 2006

In the News

The Democrats’ Sham Energy Bill
R. Emmitt Tyrrell, American Spectator, 18 September 2008

McCain Should Oppose Senate Energy Gang
Editors, NRO, 18 September 2008

CAFÉ Standard Has Hurt
Sam Kazman, Wall Street Journal, 17 September 2008

Democrats Still Aren’t Serious about Drilling
Rep John Shadegg (R-AZ), Wall Street Journal, 17 September 2008

Henny Penny Goes Carbon Free
Peter Hannaford, American Spectator, 16 September 2008

Flood Insurance Program: Wrongheaded Climate Policy

William Yeatman, Washington Times, 16 September 2008

Obstacles Stunt California Offshore Drilling

Patrice Hill, Washington Times, 15 September 2008

News You Can Use

Energy Bill Exposed
CEI's Marlo Lewis

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) last week posted a devastating exposé of the Pelosi plan. As announced last week, the plan would:

  • Permanently ban access to undersea oil lying within 50 miles of the coast, which is where geologists believe the preponderance of recoverable oil and gas lies. 
  • Continue the ban on energy production in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
  • Institute permanent bans on energy production off the coasts of California, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts.
  • Institute a new and permanent ban off the coast of Alaska
  • Not allow States that approve new leases beyond 50 miles to share royalties with the federal government, thus stripping any financial incentive for States to stand up to environmental pressure groups, who will continue to agitate against any new oil and gas operations offshore.

Inside the Beltway
CEI's Myron Ebell

While everyone is watching Wall Street’s meltdown, news from Washington seems unimportant and uninteresting. So before turning to what is going on in Washington, a few comments on the Wall Street mess.  First, the U. S. Climate Action Partnership has lost two of its members, Lehman Brothers and AIG (that is, in the latter case, assuming that the federal government will not want to retain membership in a lobbying coalition, which may be wrong).  Lehman Brothers was the most enthusiastic promoter of cap-and-trade on Wall Street.  That’s saying quite a lot because when current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (whose incompetent attempts to manage the crisis are making a disastrous situation much worse—may I remind you again that CEI actively opposed Paulson’s confirmation as Treasury Secretary) was head of Goldman Sachs, he said that the greatest foreign policy mistake in the history of the United States was not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and that cap-and-trade was a golden opportunity for Wall Street to make tons of money. 

One of Lehman Brothers’ managing directors is Theodore Roosevelt the Fourth, the most prominent Republican environmentalist in the country.  Roosevelt serves as chairman of the board of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, as vice chairman of the Wilderness Society, and as a board member of several other environmental pressure groups.  He was chosen to give the keynote address on environmental issues at the 2000 Republican Party Convention in Philadelphia.  And most deliciously, Roosevelt is on the board of the Alliance for Climate Protection, which was founded and is chaired by former Vice President Al Gore and is behind the $300 million “We Can Solve It!” public relations campaign. Gore’s green investment fund, Generation Investment Management, relied on Lehman Brothers for investment advice. Perhaps Lehman Brothers wouldn’t be bankrupt if its managing director had spent more time on company business and less time working for groups that promote the idea that energy rationing policies will be good for the economy. Just a thought.

As part of its effort to be an intellectual leader among investment banks, Lehman Brothers produced a big two-part report last year on the Business of Climate Change, which argued that companies needed to start accounting for the risks of climate change and get on the cap-and-trade bandwagon.  The report’s chief scientific adviser was Dr. James E. Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and recent defender of terrorist activity directed against coal-fired power plants.  Let’s hope he got paid in stock options rather than cash.

Now, for the cheery news (comparatively speaking) from Washington.  The House on Wednesday passed another anti-energy bill by a vote of 236 to 189.  Two-hundred twenty one Democrats and 15 Republicans voted for the bill, while 176 Republicans and 13 Democrats voted against it.  The bill appears to break House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) promise that she would never allow more offshore drilling because she had to save the planet.  It was advertised as an offshore drilling bill.  In reality, it would open some Outer Continental Shelf areas that are at least 50 miles from the coast, but permanently withdraw all areas within 50 miles, including waters surrounding Alaska that are currently not under moratorium.  The U. S. Geological Survey thinks nearly all the economically recoverable oil is within 50 miles of shore, including Alaskan waters.  In other words, open all the areas that have little or no oil, and close all the areas that probably do have lots of oil.  The bill would also cause investment in domestic oil production and refining to decrease by raising taxes on oil companies and use the additional tax revenue to pay off special interests like Boone Pickens and other producers of uncompetitive energy.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said again this week that the Senate will vote on at least four pieces of anti-energy legislation in the next few days, including the House bill and the Gang of 10/then 16/now 20’s plan.  Like the House bill, the Gang’s plan would allow a tiny bit of offshore drilling and spend tens of billions of dollars on subsidizing wind and solar energy and ethanol.  But Reid is fixing it so that no amendments can be offered that would actually increase domestic oil and gas production.  The Senate may pass one or more of these bills, but it is unlikely that the House and Senate will agree on anything to send to the President before leaving town for the campaign.  The only thing they might agree on would be a bill to renew the refundable production tax credits for renewable energy because those enjoy overwhelming support among Republican as well as Democratic members.

House and Democratic leaders are thus trying to provide cover for members facing opponents in the November election who are using the gas price issue against them.  They will now be able to say that they took the tough vote in favor of offshore drilling.  Greenpeace and several other grassroots environmental pressure groups are trying to help this operation by attacking the bill as a sellout to big oil.  This might fool some people into thinking that Democrats in Congress have now caved in to public pressure on the drilling issue.     

Around the World
Great Britain

Evidence is mounting in Britain that the Labor Party’s policy of replacing conventional sources of energy with renewables is leading to a major energy crunch.

Currently, Britain gets three-fourths of its electricity from natural gas, coal, and nuclear power. But domestic production of natural gas in the North Sea has peaked and is declining rapidly, and the Labor Party intends to retire by 2016 coal and nuclear power plants that now generate a third of Britain’s electricity. The plants will be shut down largely to comply with European Union environmental regulations.

To keep the lights on, the Labor Party plans to rely on renewable energy sources, which the government promises will generate 40 % of Britain’s electricity by 2020.

However, a number of recent studies cast doubt on the feasibility of Labor’s 2020 target. In July, the non-partisan Renewable Energy Foundation released a report warning that “a near fatal preoccupation with politically attractive but marginal forms of renewables seems to have caused a blindness towards the weakening of the UK’s power stations.” The report predicted steep increases in energy bills.

Last week, Iain Fells, emeritus professor of energy conversion at the University of Newcastle, issued a report, “A Pragmatic Energy Policy for the UK,” which states that the 2020 renewable energy targets were “demonstrably unattainable.” Prof. Fells warned of massive, disruptive blackouts if Britain continued with its current energy policy. 


The international struggle to assert sovereignty over oil and gas rich Arctic waters heated up this week after Russian President Dimitri Medvedev suggested that the Federal Security Service (FSS) draw a formal border around Russia’s claimed territory. The Arctic is thought to hold 80 billion barrels of oil and up to 20 percent of the world’s natural gas deposits. Russia, the United States, Norway, Canada, and Denmark have made competing claims. In 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin created the Arctic Directorate within the FSS (the successor to the KGB) to further Russia’s claim over 460,000 square miles of the mineral-rich territory. Under international law, each country is entitled to control an economic zone within 200 miles of its continental shelf, but the limits of the shelf are disputed.