May 12, 2008

When Harry Met Nancy

Hatched by Dafydd

A funny thing happened on the way to the fact checker...

AP distributed a very illuminating article today. They compared the major energy proposals of both Democrats and Republicans, in each case reciting the "spin" from proponents -- then following with the "facts," as defined by said checker of said facts.

Here is where illumination sets in: For every single proposal in the Democrats' plan, the "facts" discovered by AP completely contradicts the "spin" from the Democrats. Viz.:


_Enact a windfall profits tax on oil companies.

SPIN: Oil companies are making too much money, earning $123 billion last year while motorists faced soaring gasoline costs. Imposing a 25 percent windfall profits tax on the five largest oil companies and repealing $17 billion in tax breaks could help the shift away from fossil fuels toward alternatives. Taxes could be avoided if profits are used for refinery expansion or development of wind, solar or biomass projects.

FACT: Profits are large because the companies are huge, and oil now sells for well over $120 a barrel. The taxes could spur some new alternative energy projects, but economists say they also could reduce investments in oil and gas exploration, and are unlikely to affect prices. They could do more harm than good, says Robert Hansen, senior associate dean at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. "Anytime you put in a tax you create an incentive to avoid it," says Hansen.

And so forth. All in all, here are the proposed Democratic policies and AP's reaction to them:

  • "Windfall profits" tax: AP finds that the oil company profits are entirely legitimate and that such a tax would probably backfire;
  • Make energy "price gouging" illegal: Nobody can define "gouging," which means the law will end up being de facto "price controls;"
  • "Stand up" to OPEC: With the world oil market (and especially with both India and Red China ramping up industrial production), we can't force OPEC to pump more oil or lower the price... but we can prompt them to retaliate against us even trying.

But then the elite media turns its gimlet eye to the (cue scary music) Republican policies. Here, the "fact checker" seems to have found a very different pattern: For every single proposal in the Republicans' plan, AP finds that Democrats in Congress plan to block it from floor action.

In other words, All the Democrats' proposals are stupid and unworkable; and the GOP proposals cannot pass a Democratic Congress!

Case in point:


_Develop vast amounts of oil and natural gas in offshore waters now off limits.

SPIN: For a quarter century, energy development has been blocked in more than 80 percent of U.S. coastal waters, depriving the country of vast oil and gas resources. States should be allowed waivers to the moratoria and get some of the revenues from development.

FACT: Most areas of federal offshore waters outside the western Gulf of Mexico and off much of Alaska have been placed off limits to drilling by a succession of presidential orders and congressional action to protect tourist industries and avoid the risk of spills and environmental damage. The House has twice approved giving states the right to opt out of the federal ban.

Let's run through the Republican proposals and AP's "fact checking" anent them...

  • Pump oil from ANWR: Democrats in the House and Senate and President Clinton have always opposed this, and there's no indication they'll accept it now. Besides, while it's undisputed that we can get billions of barrels of oil from ANWR, it's still a small amount compared to the total world supply (but a large percent of the American supply);
  • Drill in the Gulf and other offshore locations: Stubborn Democrats refuse to allow this, too;
  • Build new refineries: Because of the ethanol mandate, oil executives don't expect much growth in oil demand; so they prefer to expand existing refineries rather than build new ones;
  • Coal-based diesel: Runs afoul of liberal global-warming policy to reduce greenhouse gases. (While John McCain supports doing something about "Anthropogenic global climate change," his plan is nowhere near as draconian as either Hillary Clinton's or Barack Obama's.)

So the problem with the Democratic proposals is that they simply won't work as advertised... and the real problem with the Republican proposals is the absurd politicization of the House and Senate Energy Committees by vindictive and "world-saving" Democrats, as personified by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 85%) and Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 65%).

This analysis sounds so even-handed and mature, I'm shocked, shocked to see it come from the drive-by media.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 12, 2008, at the time of 5:14 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Seaberry

Some editor will get fired over that article for letting it slip by.

I’m surprised at the part on refineries, i.e. that the oil “industry prefers to expand existing refineries” rather than build new ones. Refineries are a weak-link-in the-chain…well one of the many weak-links in our energy program. Since many States have different requirements for the blends of fuels they want, refineries have to make changes to their systems in order to produce those blemds. Why not just have three grades of gasoline for all ‘Fifty-Seven’ States?

Tesoro denies there is anything nefarious behind the shutdowns. Lynn Westfall, the company's chief economist, says refiners were preoccupied last year with new environmental fuel formulations, so some routine maintenance projects were postponed until this spring.

Then “new environmental fuel formulations” show up!? Refinery goes offline to make changes, and the cost of gas goes up. Between the radical environmentalists, politicians, and the oil/refinery execs we end up getting screwed, IMO.

The above hissed in response by: Seaberry [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2008 7:39 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

One problem with your analyses - The fact checker thinks it is right and proper for the Democrats to block all proposed Republican solutions. This "refutes" the Republican spin! It is a very liberal concept - because I don't like something then logically it must be a terrible idea.

One thing we cannot do is tax our way to lower gas prices.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2008 10:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: boffo

I'm alternately amused and disgusted by the Democrats' energy "plan."

They want to:
- Put an enormous tax on oil companies.
- Heavily restrict American oil exploration and pumping.
- Impose strict environmental standards on gasoline.
- Restrict imports of oil.
- Prevent new refineries from being built.
- Force oil companies to subsidize research into politically mandated alternative energy with no thought into the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, or feasibility of the alternate plans.
- Prevent any new nuclear, wind, or hydroelectric plants from being built.

But then after all this, they complain about the high price of gasoline and insist they'll somehow fix it with all their policies that would make gasoline more expensive.

The above hissed in response by: boffo [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2008 10:55 AM

The following hissed in response by: dasbow

_Pump oil from Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, now off limits.

SPIN: The coastal strip of ANWR, as the refuge is called, probably has 11 billion barrels of oil. At the rate of 1 million barrels a day, it would add to domestic production, reduce U.S. reliance on imports, lower prices and produce jobs. With modern technology wildlife and the environment can be protected.

FACT: Drilling in ANWR has been debated for 28 years and remains one of the most contentious environmental issues. Several times the House, under GOP control, has approved development; it passed Congress in 1995 only to be vetoed by President Clinton. Drilling supporters repeatedly have been unable to get the 60 votes needed to overcome filibusters and are unlikely to do so this time.

While ANWR has substantial oil, none would flow for 10 years. Even then, its impact on global production of 87 billion barrels a day will be minimal, energy experts say, as OPEC could adjust to compensate.

But oil from ANWR won't be available for 10 years! The dumbest reason yet. That was one of the excuses as far back as 28 years ago. If they'd done their jobs right back then, we'd have had 18 years worth of ANWR oil pumped out already. I don't care if OPEC can adjust or if it would only feed a fraction of our consumption - at least it's a domestic supply they can't cut off.

The above hissed in response by: dasbow [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2008 11:16 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

We have this irrational view of energy:
We are willing at once to invest in pie in the sky 'alternatives', that will never produce significant power, but we decline to do the incremental things available from proven energy sources, becuause they may impact a desolate piece of land someplace and will not completely solve the problem.
So we waste our efforts on ephemeral solutions that never realize, while ignoring the huge solutions in front of us.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2008 12:23 PM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

Here's some fun information:

Prudhoe Bay, since its discovery, has pumped 11 billion gallons of oil. ANWR is estimated to to contain approximately 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil. At today's price ($120 a barrel) that would save the U.S. consumers about $ 1.2 trillion in payments to foreign governments.

So the argument that ANWR will not have an impact assumes Prudhoe Bay (the most productive oil field in North America) had no impact. OPEC may "adjust" its output, but we still keep $1.2 trillion in the U.S. Plus jobs, energy security, etc.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2008 12:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

Coal-based diesel: Runs afoul of liberal global-warming policy to reduce greenhouse gases. (While John McCain supports doing something about "Anthropogenic global climate change," his plan is nowhere near as draconian as either Hillary Clinton's or Barack Obama's.)

and what exactly is the difference between the US liquifying coal for fuel and importing petroleum?

I would say as far as we are concerned that is CO2 neutral

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2008 1:43 PM

The following hissed in response by: Seaberry

Environmentalists escaped all blame for the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, especially to New Orleans, even though they were responsible for most of the destruction. Since they are in Lock-Step with, and under the protection of the Democratic Party, they basically get a free pass. They are never blamed for the destruction of thousands/millions of acres of forests, even though they are responsible for most of the damage. ANWR? Forget it! More Nuclear plants? Forget it! A new Refinery? Forget it! Drilling for oil off our coasts? Forget it! Before they are done, we’ll need to buy a Federal Permit to fart, or face prison time for not having one.

We have the largest oil shale formations in the world (like 2/3rds of the oil shale):

…moderate estimate of 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia…Formation would last for more than 400 years.

Estonia, Israel, China, Germany (even!), Brazil, and Russia uses it. How about us in the USA? Forget it! I’ve read where we have more oil sources (or resources) than the entire Middle East, if oil shale is included.

Maybe when gasoline hits $10-a-gallon…

The above hissed in response by: Seaberry [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2008 2:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

Before they are done, we’ll need to buy a Federal Permit to fart

Don't you realise that would release Methane?

Which is an even greater Heat Trap chemical than CO2???

Eating Beans could DESTROY THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2008 8:00 PM

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