Platts Energy Week with Bill Loveless: The invaluable Platts Energy Week ran a revelatory interview with Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, the Navy’s assistant secretary for energy, installations and environment. McGinn is the point man on the Navy’s pointless “Farm to Fleet” program, the purpose of which is to achieve “energy independence” by increasing use of biofuels. For the Navy, this means buying large volumes of ultra-expensive “advanced” biofuels, despite the fact that there’s an oil and gas boom in America.
About a minute into the interview, the host got down to brass tacks.
Bill Loveless: One of the requirements of this solicitation is that the bids be cost-competitive…as you know, the navy has taken some heat in the past for testing biofuels that cost as much as $30 a gallon. How do you expect these prices to come in this time?
Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn: We have got a very good set of analyses that shows it [the price] will come in at under $3.50 per gallon. And we’ve verified that several different ways. We are absolutely confident and we are moving forward based on the assumption that it is going to be competitive with petroleum.
Hmmm…..Call me a cynic, but there are some big red flag code words in the Vice Admiral’s answer. Among them: “a very good set of analyses”, “we’ve verified that several different ways,” “absolutely confident,” “based on the assumption.” Pretty much the whole thing. It was a straightforward question—“how much will it cost?—of the sort to which the armed forces have long given obtuse responses.
The host then asked Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn whether the premise of the program, which is the need for “energy independence,” wasn’t undercut by the American energy renaissance. Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn responded that the Navy has to look far forward, beyond the present, when it assesses threats. This raises an obvious question: Why didn’t they foresee the oil and gas boom. Watch the whole interview below.
Other weekend media highlights:
- I performed an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network on some sort of silly rally for climate action held proximate to the Congress. I reposted the interview below; Here’s the article.
- On Friday, New York Magazine’s oft-wrong Jon Chait asked: Why is the Environmental Protection Agency Furious with the New York Times? Here’s the backstory: Last Sunday, the New York Times ran a hagiography of NRDC lawyers who, according to the article, drafted the “blueprint” for EPA’s recently released Clean Power Plan. Mid-week, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy strongly denied the substance of the article. On Friday, Chait concluded that he agrees with the New York Times, but he can’t prove it. (Stop the presses, right?). Chait is right—of course NRDC crafted EPA’s plan!—but he misses the point. EPA’s not interested in credit, per se. Rather, EPA is concerned about public relations (the “optics”). Having a big campaign donor special interest write policy reeks of regulatory capture, as I explain here.