Post image for Arguments Against Keystone Pipeline Fall Flat

Professional environmentalists are cheering President Obama’s rejection of construction permits for the KeystoneXL Pipeline. They are the only ones cheering, aside from a few NIMBY groups and The New York Times Obama’s always-loyal damage control cohorts. Even The Washington Post voted against Obama in this struggle. The pipeline was a small, but important part of our energy infrastructure and none of the arguments put forth against construction of the KeystoneXL Pipeline are convincing.

1. An initial argument claims that the KeystoneXL Pipeline will somehow not provide energy security for the United States.

Because consumers from around the country (and the world) use oil, pipelines are necessary to transfer mind-bogglingly large amounts of it around the country each day. Imagine a scenario where we randomly begin shutting down oil and natural gas pipelines around the United States. The obvious result of decreasing our capacity would be decreased security, as we are less capable of moving oil around our country to deal with shocks, disasters, etc. Now think about what adding a pipeline does: it increases our capacity to transport oil around the country. Ultimately, this must increase to some extent our energy security. [click to continue…]

Post image for Ethanol Industry Loves America, Gives Up Subsidy

Writing in The Hill’s Congressional Blog, lobbyist in chief for the ethanol industry Bob Dineen waxes poetic about the historic nature of the ethanol industry voluntarily giving up losing one of its subsidies, the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC):

With growing concerns about gridlock in Washington and greed on Wall Street, Americans are wondering whether anyone with a stake in public policies is willing to sacrifice their short-term advantage for a greater good.

Well, someone just did.

Without any opposition from the biofuels sector, the tax credit for ethanol blenders (the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit – VEETC) expired on January 1.

In fact, American ethanol may well be the first industry in history that willingly gave up a tax incentive. Facing up to the fiscal crisis in this country, industry advocates have engaged in discussions with the Administration, Congress and our own constituents in an effort to frame forward-looking policies that balance the needs for deficit reduction and the development of clean-burning, American-made motor fuels.

Incentives should help emerging industries to develop and grow, not to be forever subsidized by the nation’s taxpayers. The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit — which actually accrued to biofuels blenders, not producers – has helped the renewal fuels industry to stand on its own two feet. So now it is time for this subsidy to be phased out. [click to continue…]

Post image for Ethanol Tax Credit More Likely to Expire

The ethanol compromise did not make it into any debt ceiling negotiations and its future is now looking bleaker than ever before. The Congressional ‘super-committee’ established by the debt ceiling negotiations will have to decide by November 23rd some manner to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion or face potentially unpopular automatic spending cuts to defense and discretionary spending (though USA Today writes that these “threats” have failed in the past). None of the rumored super-committee members seem to be from regions that would require their support of the ethanol industry

The ‘ethanol compromise’ had legs because it funneled money into the domestic ethanol industry while still maintaining a facade of deficit reduction. It would have collected $2 billion in revenue from the ending of the domestic tax credit as of July 21 and used a small amount less than that to spend on items near and dear to the ethanol industry (mainly ongoing support for cellulosic ethanol and money for the installation of blender pumps at fueling stations), hence their support.

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Post image for Why Democrats Blame “Speculators” and “Subsidies” for High Gas Prices

With gas prices hovering near $4/gallon, Democrats are trotting out fanciful “solutions” to temper the price of oil.

On Saturday, President rolled out a three-part plan to relieve Americans’ pain at the pump. The third part was the elimination of Big Oil “subsidies” (in fact, they are tax breaks, not subsidies). This doesn’t make any sense. The point of the tax breaks to Big Oil is to decrease the cost of production. That is, they make oil cheaper to extract. Removing these “subsidies” will in no way decrease the price of gas.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are blaming evil “speculators” for bidding up the price of oil. This is utter malarkey. The price of oil is dictated by a global market.  Ill-defined “speculators” are a straw man.

Removing Big Oil’s “subsidies” and prosecuting “speculators” are empty political gimmicks of the sort that the 2008 version of Obama campaigned against. (So much for “Change,” right?) I suspect that the President and Senate Democrats are relying on these bogus non-solutions because, otherwise, they’d have to acknowledge that the price of oil is a function of supply and demand. And if they concede that the market, and not “subsidies” or “speculators,” is to blame for high oil prices, then they’d also have to acknowledge that increasing supply would decrease the price. That is, they’d have to admit that “drill, baby, drill” works. Of course, they don’t want to do that, because doing so would upset their environmentalist base.

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Post image for Energy Populism at the Justice Department

In case you haven’t checked recently, gas prices are high again. Fear not, because the DoJ is on the case: “High gasoline prices prompt Justice department to eye energy industry.” From the article:

Attorney General Eric Holder made no secret the move is a direct response to public angst, not to current evidence of any illegal conduct.

While promising official vigilance, the attorney general acknowledged regional differences in gasoline prices, and said, “It is also clear that there are lawful reasons for increases in gas prices, given supply and demand.”

At least give them credit for admitting that they’re wasting taxpayer dollars on a bunch of nonsense. If public conern is the only metric for a DoJ bureaucratic task-force, there are a number of other issues American’s are inappropriately worried about. I’d be shocked if the Department of Justice was interested in wasting its time on those issues.

There was a good piece in Forbes explaining the (lack of) evidence that speculators have been driving the price of oil by Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren.

Post image for President Obama Endorses More Oil Production—in Brazil

The most astonishing event this week was President Barack Obama endorsement of more oil production—in Brazil.  In a speech to a CEO Business Summit in Brasilia, the President said:

By some estimates, the oil you recently discovered off the shores of Brazil could amount to twice the reserves we have in the United States.  We want to work with you.  We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers.  At a time when we’ve been reminded how easily instability in other parts of the world can affect the price of oil, the United States could not be happier with the potential for a new, stable source of energy.

This is the same President who has spent the last two years doing everything he can to reduce oil production in the United States.  Cancelled and delayed exploration leases on federal lands in the Rocky Mountains; the re-institution of the executive moratorium on offshore exploration in the Atlantic, the Pacific, most Alaskan waters, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico; the deepwater permitting moratorium and the de facto moratorium in the western Gulf.  The result is that domestic oil production is about to start a steep decline.  An article on Red State by Steve Maley summarizes the future effects of the Obama Administration’s war against oil.

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