green energy

Giant downdraft tower in Arizona another green energy venture

A Maryland company, Solar Wind Energy Inc., proposes to build a giant first-of-its-kind wind tower near San Luis, Arizona, a seismically active area that could cause the structure to collapse from a medium-sized earthquake, while producing enough humidity to negatively affect a town up to 62 miles away. San Luis is in the southwestern part of the state south of Yuma.

solar-wind-tower--240x300The proposed tower, essentially a hollow hyperbolic cylinder, is planned to be 2,250 feet tall, 1,200 feet wide at the top, and 1,500 feet wide at the bottom. It would be the second tallest structure on the planet. The project will cost $1.5 billion, apparently from private investors, and generate an average of 425 megawatts.

This project has been described previously in Forbes (see here and here) and more recently by an August 8, 2014 story in Inside Tucson Business. Both sources contained some confusing ambiguities. Earlier this week (August18, 2014) I spoke by phone to Steven Sadle, COO, and to Ronald W. Pickett, president and chief executive officer of Solar Wind Energy Tower Inc. to get better information.

The technology is based on work done in Israel in the mid-1970s (see Wikipedia article here). The tower is supposed to work as follows: Water is sprayed into the tower near its top. The water evaporates and makes the air in the tower heavier and cooler than the ambient air. This difference causes air in the tower to drop down the structure at up to 50 mph. It exits the tower by passing through turbines which produce electricity. You can see a more detailed explanation and a short video at the website of Solar Wind Energy here. As far as I can find out, the technology has been tested only with a 4-foot model. The Arizona project will be the first practical test.

The design capacity for the tower is 1250 megawatts. That is under ideal conditions of very hot, dry ambient air. Increases in humidity or cooler temperatures in ambient air both reduce the amount of electricity produced by this method. That means electricity production in winter will be much less than in summer, for instance. Even though the proposed tower can operate 24/7, it is still subject to the vagaries of local weather. Mr. Pickett anticipates an actual production averaging 425 megawatts. Mr. Pickett told me it will take 11.6 percent of electricity output at the time to run the plant. Most of that is for pumping water. The amount of water pumped is variable and depends upon local conditions. The company will closely monitor humidity and temperature so they know how much water they need to pump at any given time. According to Mr. Pickett, the project will actually use less water on hot, dry days because the evaporation rate is more efficient compared to cooler, more humid days.

This project will use 8,000 acre-feet (2.6 billion gallons) of water per year, the equivalent use of about 1,500 residences. The water will come by pumping groundwater from the aquifer in the San Luis area. In the Inside Tucson Business story Mr Pickett was quoted as saying,”We will be taking water out of the ground and putting it back through evaporation, so we will not be a net user of water.” In my conversation with Mr. Pickett, he backed off from this claim and conceded that the water would not replenish the local aquifer. The company will, however, collect and recycle water that runs down the interior of the tower.

There may be problems with local humidity. According to the 1970s Israeli research a plant of the proposed size will humidify the air enough to make “a community even 100 kilometers away… unpleasantly affected.”

Another possible problem is that the area is near a region prone to earthquakes. Most earthquakes occur in California just west of the Colorado River. San Luis is east of the river. Using the Arizona Geological Survey’s hazard viewer, I produced the map below which shows the incidence of earthquakes of magnitude 5 and greater. San Luis and the proposed tower lie in the southwest corner of Arizona close to a cluster of past earthquakes.

San luis earthquake map

The vertical cross-section of the tower is a hyperbolic curve, wide at the base, narrowing with height. This technology, invented in 1918, is widely used in cooling towers at power plants because it is more stable than a vertical-walled cylinder and has better physics for air flow. However, there may still be problems with building these towers in seismically active areas. There has been much research with some cautionary conclusions. (Note: I have access to only the abstracts of the papers cited below.)

For instance, the paper “The Damaging Effects of Earthquake Excitation on Concrete Cooling Towers” which studied cooling towers in earthquake-prone Iran, “concluded that for the (typical) cooling tower configuration analyzed, the columns that are instrumental in providing a load path are influenced greatly by earthquake loading, and for the earthquake data used in this study the representative cooling tower would be rendered unstable and would collapse under the earthquake forces considered.”

Another paper “Dynamics of axisymmetric hyperbolic shell structures” notes previous failures of these cooling towers and notes that structural integrity is very sensitive to the curvature of the hyperbolic curve. Both too little and too much make the structure unstable.

A third paper from China “Study on Seismic Performance of Large Hyperbolic Cooling Tower in Different Fields” notes that the base of the structure is very sensitive and concludes that these towers should not be sited in seismically active areas.

Given these data, the tower will have to be carefully designed to take into account the extra stress that may be caused by earthquakes in the San Luis region. I brought up this subject with Mr. Pickett. He told me that the tower will be built on piles which will act similar to a floating cap that will dampen some seismic movement. Also, the tower will be designed to allow some movement within the tower structure itself.

Solar Wind Energy Inc. is in the process of securing necessary permits.

For reports on Updraft ventures, see:

Solar Updraft Towers, an alternate, alternative energy source

Two 2500-foot solar towers to be built in Arizona

VA too busy being green to care for veterans

It seems that the Veterans Administration is busy being green. They even have a special office to manage their many programs: The Green Management Program Office at

And that office has several sub-departments, here are two:
“The Green Management Program Office leads VA’s effort to keep our promises to Veterans through sustainability. We provide policy, guidance, training, outreach, and opportunities for national recognition in order to help VA’s workforce of more than 300,000 employees to be good stewards of the environment.”

I’m sure every veteran is worried about VA promises of sustainability, trouble is the VA is talking about environmental sustainability rather than the veteran’s sustainability.
“VA has a goal to increase its renewable energy consumption to 20% by 2020.
VA has performed renewable energy studies to determine which facilities would be most ideal for investing in renewable energy technologies based on availability of renewable fuels, energy plant characteristics, and local utility rates.”

VA workers spend time vying for awards for being especially green. Take a look at the projects VA personnel are involved in – nothing to do with helping veterans:

A short, but scathing editorial in the Washington Times “Strange priorities at the VA” notes:

“VA facilities have become littered with every scheme to banish carbon dioxide short of requiring visitors to hold their breath. Calverton National Cemetery spent $742,034 on solar panels. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery spent $787,308. Not to be out-greened, the Riverside National Cemetery spent $1.3 million on its solar system. At the Phoenix VA Health Care System, where 20 Americans died from incompetence and cover-up, the department spent $20 million putting solar panels on the hospital roofs. That would have been more than enough money to provide the veterans with the health care they deserved.”

The Washington Free Beacon notes that the VA spends millions on advertising and “professional services.”

An analysis of records on the government’s official spending website shows the VA spent $1.3 billion in the past five years for “support” and “professional services.” These contracts included millions of dollars for a campaign to put the VA in a positive light, lodging and training of employees, and energy programs to make VA facilities more sustainable.

A total of 10,171 contracts were awarded under the “professional service” code as the number of VA Medical Centers under investigation for unprofessional services and misconduct has continued to rise in recent weeks.

Records show several contracts awarded for two commercials that were part of the VA’s “National Messaging Campaign.” In a series of 10 transactions, the VA awarded Woodpile Studios $5 million on 9/29/10, $1.7 million on 7/15/10, $1.7 million on 7/14/11 and another $1.8 million on 6/27/12 for the message campaign.

Strange priorities indeed. It seems that the whole VA bureaucracy exits for the benefit of the bureaucrats rather than for the veterans.

As Daniel J. Mitchell writes in a TownHall column:

“Nearly 80 percent of senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs got performance bonuses last year despite widespread treatment delays and preventable deaths at VA hospitals and clinics…The main thing to understand is bureaucrats respond to incentives. And when you have government programs with no bottom-line reason to deliver efficiency and good service, we shouldn’t be surprised that we get bloated payrolls and absurd compensation packages.”

Carbon tax failures – lessons from Australia and Germany

In a national election yesterday, frustrated Australians threw out the administration that imposed a carbon tax on the country.

An article in the Daily Caller notes that the carbon tax did not decrease carbon dioxide emissions.  One year “after the tax was enacted electricity prices had risen 15 percent, including the biggest quarterly price increase in the country’s history. Furthermore, 19 percent of the typical Australian household’s electricity bill is due to the tax and other “green” programs in the country. Taxing carbon may have also impacted the job market, as unemployment shot up by 10 percent after its implementation.”

The Daily Caller article notes some other consequences of the carbon tax: a record 10,632 businesses faced insolvency in 2012; and provincial hospitals forked over an extra $6.1 million for energy costs in only six months.

A report from the Institute for Energy Research said the carbon tax failed to deliver any of its promised benefits.  The IER report also says that the “carbon tax will permanently reduce GDP below what it otherwise would have been in every year that it is in place, with these costs growing over time.”  The study notes that there has been a reduction in real wages and predicts that electricity costs will double by 2050.

Germany, the greenest of the green in Europe, is suffering the consequences of its foolish energy policy of carbon taxation and heavily subsidizing alternative energy schemes.  The German paper Spiegel Online has a long article titled “Germany’s Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good” with the subtitle “Germany’s aggressive and reckless expansion of wind and solar power has come with a hefty price tag for consumers, and the costs often fall disproportionately on the poor.”

Even though Germans already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe, the government predicts that electricity bills will increase an additional 20 percent due to renewable energy surcharges.  “After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan two and a half years ago, [German Chancellor] Merkel quickly decided to begin phasing out nuclear power and lead the country into the age of wind and solar.”  The result was that “German consumers will be forced to pay €20 billion ($26 billion) for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants — electricity with a market price of just over €3 billion. Even the figure of €20 billion is disputable if you include all the unintended costs and collateral damage associated with the project. Solar panels and wind turbines at times generate huge amounts of electricity, and sometimes none at all. Depending on the weather and the time of day, the country can face absurd states of energy surplus or deficit.”

The increased electricity costs have resulted in power shut offs in more than 300,000 households a year because of unpaid bills.  “It is only gradually becoming apparent how the renewable energy subsidies redistribute money from the poor to the more affluent.”  “Germany’s renewable energy policy is particularly unfair with respect to the economy. About 2,300 businesses have managed to largely exempt themselves from the green energy surcharge by claiming, often with little justification, that they face tough international competition.”  Where have we heard about “waivers” before?  Could it be Obamacare?

“More and more wind turbines are turning in Germany, and solar panels are basking in the sun, yet the amount of pollutants and greenhouse gases emitted by smokestacks increased last year.”

We see that in both Australia and Germany, the green dream is a costly mistake that fails in its primary goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, puts a damper on the economy, makes things more expensive, and cuts jobs.  It’s not easy being green.

See also:

Study says subsidies and tax incentives for renewable energy have minimal effect on greenhouse gas emissions

The economic impact of Arizona’s renewable energy mandate

Petition to Arizona legislature – Dump Renewable Energy Mandates

Does alternative energy actually replace fossil fuel consumption?

EcoTality electric car charging company blows $100 million and eyes bankruptcy

Back in October, 2010, I attended a promotional meeting put on by Ecotality (see article here.)  At that time I wrote:

“Tucson is the guinea pig for a project run by ECOtality of North America to install chargers for electric vehicles in 16 cities throughout the country. Tucson will get 240 chargers. The company hopes, during the next few years, to install 14,650 level 2 (220V) chargers and 310 DC fast chargers. The level 2 chargers can replenish batteries in 4- to 6 hours, while the DC fast chargers can give at least half a charge in 30 minutes. The bulk of the money, some $114.8 million, comes from government grants, your tax dollars.”

Now, The Hill, is reporting that “Obama-backed electric car charging company eyes bankruptcy.”  “ECOtality Inc., an Energy Department-backed maker of electric car charging systems, is facing a major cash crunch and could file for bankruptcy.  The company, which has been awarded nearly $100 million in grant funding under the 2009 stimulus law, disclosed Monday that it’s weighing a restructuring or sale as it seeks more outside capital. “

In the past two years, Ecototality did manage to install 12,500 charging stations in 18 U.S. cities according to The Hill.

My 2010 story ended with this: “It remains to be seen whether or not arrays of charging stations will attract customers. It’s like the “Field of Dreams.” If they build it, will customers come?”  Apparently not.  It looks like Obama’s Energy Department blew $100 million for nothing.

It looks like Ecotality may join the long list of President Obama’s Taxpayer-Backed Green Energy Failures:

Evergreen Solar ($25 million)*

SpectraWatt ($500,000)*

Solyndra ($535 million)*

Beacon Power ($43 million)*

Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)

SunPower ($1.2 billion)

First Solar ($1.46 billion)

Babcock and Brown ($178 million)

EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*

Amonix ($5.9 million)

Fisker Automotive ($529 million)

Abound Solar ($400 million)*

A123 Systems ($279 million)*

Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($700,981)*

Johnson Controls ($299 million)

Brightsource ($1.6 billion)

ECOtality ($126.2 million)

Raser Technologies ($33 million)*

Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)*

Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)*

Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)*

Range Fuels ($80 million)*

Thompson River Power ($6.5 million)*

Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)*

Azure Dynamics ($5.4 million)*

GreenVolts ($500,000)

Vestas ($50 million)

LG Chem’s subsidiary Compact Power ($151 million)

Nordic Windpower ($16 million)*

Navistar ($39 million)

Satcon ($3 million)*

Konarka Technologies Inc. ($20 million)*

Mascoma Corp. ($100 million)

*Denotes companies that have filed for bankruptcy.

A question for Tucson electric car owners: Do you use chargers around town?  Where are they?

See also:

Electric cars not doing well in Ireland


Green energy jobs cost taxpayers only $11 million each

There is an interesting post by David Middleton over at WUWT.  Using data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Institute for Energy Research (IER), Middleton notes that 2,298 permanent jobs have been created since 2009 on green energy projects in the U.S., mostly solar, wind, and geothermal jobs (see table below). Those jobs were created by $26.32 billion in loan guarantees by DOE.  That comes to $11.45 million per job created.

Middleton says of this: “Clearly, in terms of ‘bang for the buck,’ government programs that coddle renewable energy are losers. In terms of jobs, the losers are the American workers who would otherwise be gainfully employed but for the tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars on the administration’s obsession with ‘green energy.’ As the economy continues to suffer and dollars for federal programs get harder to come by, it is getting increasingly difficult to defend a program that costs so much and produces so little.”

President Obama promised to create 5 million green energy jobs over 10 years.  He has only 4,997,702 jobs to go.

The alleged rationale for these green energy projects is to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide produced by generation of electricity, and indeed they have.   Middleton calculates that U.S. green energy projects have reduced global carbon dioxide emissions by 0.007% relative to coal or 0.00035% relative to natural gas.  Again, not much bang for the buck.  It’s your tax dollars at work.


See also:

Solar energy cannot economically compete in electricity generation

Wind turbines versus wildlife

Big Wind gets “get out of jail free card” from Obama Administration

Does alternative energy actually replace fossil fuel consumption?

The Cost of green energy

Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

Big Wind gets “get out of jail free card” from Obama Administration

If a company or individual violates either the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or the Eagle Protection Act, they could get fined up to $250,000 or get two years imprisonment per incident.  This is, unless they run a wind turbine installation, an industry which collectively kills thousands of birds and bats each year.

Not a single wind farm operator has yet been prosecuted for killing birds, yet in 2009 ExxonMobil was fined $600,000 for killing 85 common ducks and other birds that flew into uncovered tanks on its property.  “BP oil company was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. And PacifiCorp, which operates coal plants in Wyoming, paid more than $10.5 million in 2009 for electrocuting 232 eagles along power lines and at its substations,” according to the AP.

Ron Arnold, of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, quoting a study by Teresa Platt of the National Center for Public Policy Research, notes that “‘Every year since the 1980s the 5,000 turbines at NextEra’s Altamont Pass in California kill thousands of slow-reproducing red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls, kestrels, as well as iconic golden eagles, and bats.’” The birds Platt mentions are raptors – birds of prey – particularly valued for their agricultural role in killing mice and other crop-damaging rodents. Eagles, both golden eagles and bald eagles, have long impressed Americans for their majesty, and the bald eagle was selected by our Founding Fathers as our national emblem.”  See Arnold’s report here.

The American Bird Conservancy says that Altamont alone has killed more than 2,000 golden eagles.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hedges its annual windmill bird death estimates at between 100,000 to 444,000 dead birds in the U.S.

An article from the Associated Press notes “the administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind-energy company, even those that flout the law repeatedly. Instead, the government is shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret.”  “The result is a green industry that’s allowed to do not-so-green things. It kills protected species with impunity and conceals the environmental consequences of sprawling wind farms.”   “Nearly all the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws, which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies, over the past five years.”

The failure to enforce the law evenly for all energy producers clearly shows that the Obama administration has a double standard when it comes to his much touted “green energy” projects.

See also:

Wind turbines versus wildlife

Biofuels program destroying grasslands in American Midwest

Biofuels destroying grasslandA new study by researchers at South Dakota State University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (see full paper here), shows that more than 1.3 million acres of grasslands in the western corn belt (WCB) of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska, have been converted to agricultural use since 2006 to grow corn and soybeans for biofuel production.

The researchers introduce their paper by writing:

“In the US Corn Belt, a recent doubling in commodity prices has created incentives for landowners to convert grassland to corn and soybean cropping. Here, we use land cover data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service Cropland Data Layer to assess grassland conversion from 2006 to 2011 in the Western Corn Belt (WCB)…”

They go on to write:

“Our analysis identifies areas with elevated rates of grass-to-corn/soy conversion (1.0–5.4% annually). Across the WCB, we found a net decline in grass-dominated land cover totaling nearly 530,000 ha.[hectares]. With respect to agronomic attributes of lands undergoing grassland conversion, corn/soy production is expanding onto marginal lands characterized by high erosion risk and vulnerability to drought. Grassland conversion is also concentrated in close proximity to wetlands, posing a threat to waterfowl breeding in the Prairie Pothole Region. Longer-term land cover trends from North Dakota and Iowa indicate that recent grassland conversion represents a persistent shift in land use rather than short-term variability in crop rotation patterns.”

“The concentration of grassland conversion on lands vulnerable to erosion implies negative impacts on soil quality and a subsequent cascade of negative impacts on, e.g., crop yields, primary productivity, and carbon sequestration. Tillage of adjacent uplands increases sediment inputs to wetlands by several orders of magnitude, limiting the productivity of duck food sources, including aquatic plants and invertebrates, and reducing food water storage.”

In the conclusion, the researchers note:

“Our results show that rates of grassland conversion to corn/soy (1.0–5.4% annually) across a significant portion of the US Western Corn Belt are comparable to deforestation rates in Brazil, Malaysia, and Indonesia, countries in which tropical forests were the principal sources of new agricultural land, globally, during the 1980s and 1990s. Historically, comparable grassland conversion rates have not been seen in the Corn Belt since the 1920s and 1930s, the era of rapid mechanization of US agriculture. Across the WCB, more than 99% of presettlement tallgrass prairie has been converted to other land covers, mostly agricultural, with losses in Iowa approaching 99.9% of an original 12-million ha. of tallgrass prairie. Potential expansion of corn and soybean cultivation into remaining fragments of tallgrass prairie in the WCB presents a critical ecosystem conservation issue.”

This is another example of so-called “green energy” being not so green. As the authors note, ” A number of studies have now shown that a biofuel strategy based on corn ethanol and soy biodiesel may indeed be suboptimal in terms of net energy and carbon balances.”

See also:

Ethanol fuel not as green as you think

Ethanol from Sugarcane, not so green

Death Toll from Biofuels

Wind turbines versus wildlife

In our quest to find greener sources of energy, what at first seems like a good idea leads to some not-so-green unintended consequences. Such is the case with wind turbines and wind farms.

In an article in The Spectator (a British publication, not the American Spectator), zoologist Clive Hambler notes:

“Wind turbines only last for ‘half as long as previously thought’, according to a new study. But even in their short life spans, those turbines can do a lot of damage. Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial. But the evidence suggests that, this century at least, renewables pose a far greater threat to wildlife than climate change.”

“Every year in Spain alone — according to research by the conservation group SEO/Birdlife — between 6 and 18 million birds and bats are killed by wind farms. They kill roughly twice as many bats as birds. This breaks down as approximately 110–330 birds per turbine per year and 200–670 bats per year. And these figures may be conservative if you compare them to statistics published in December 2002 by the California Energy Commission: ‘In a summary of avian impacts at wind turbines by Benner et al (1993) bird deaths per turbine per year were as high as 309 in Germany and 895 in Sweden.’”

This danger to birds and bats is not confined to Europe. An article in the Washington Times by Paul Driessen notes:

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and American Bird Conservancy say wind turbines kill 440,000 bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, egrets, geese and other birds every year in the United States, along with countless insect-eating bats.

“New studies reveal that these appalling estimates are frightfully low and based on misleading or even fraudulent data. The horrific reality is that in the United States alone, “eco-friendly” wind turbines kill an estimated 13 million to 39 million birds and bats every year.”

In the recent “fiscal cliff” negotiations, it seems crony capitalism triumphed over good sense. Lobbying by the wind industry saved its subsidy, the Production Tax Credit, which was set to expire at the end of 2012. The “cliff” deal now extends that subsidy through 2013 thus costing American taxpayers $12 billion, and encouraging use of a very expensive, very unreliable, and to wildlife, a very lethal form of “green” energy production.

See also:

(human) Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

Electricity generated by wind power may raise temperatures and costs

Wind farms raise local and regional temperatures

Thorium, another alternative energy choice

The Cost of Green Energy

The price of being green is about to come home to ratepayers in California and Germany.

In California:

The California Manufacturers and Technology Association released a new report that suggests costs associated with California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) may be a lot higher than previously estimated.

The new study estimates “that the average California family will pay an additional $2,500 annually by 2020 when AB 32 is fully implemented. In addition, the state is expected to lose an additional 262,000 jobs, 5.6 percent of the gross state product, and a whopping $7.4 billion through decreased annual state and local tax revenues as a result.” See more here.

In Germany:

From Spiegal Online: “Solar subsidies cost German consumers billions of dollars a year and are widely regarded as inefficient. Even environmentalists are concerned that Berlin’s focus on solar comes at the detriment of other renewables. But the solar industry has a powerful lobby, and politicians have proven powerless to resist.”

“Next year, a three-person family will likely have to pay up to an additional €175 ($220) to finance the construction of renewable energy infrastructure.”

“A new study by Georg Erdmann, professor of energy systems at Berlin’s Technical University…[estimates that] subsidies for renewable energy, including an expansion of the power grid, will saddle energy consumers with costs well over €300 billion ($377 billion)” between now and 2030.

“Photovoltaics are threatening to become the costliest mistake in the history of German energy policy. Photovoltaic power plant operators and homeowners with solar panels on their rooftops are expected to pocket around €9 billion ($11.3 billion) this year, yet they contribute barely 4 percent of the country’s power supply, and only erratically at that.” See more of the story here.

As Kermit once said, “It isn’t easy being green.”

Politics versus American Energy Security

There seems to be a great disconnect between administration rhetoric and actual administration policy.  Here I will examine two examples, policy on outer continental shelf drilling for oil and gas, and actions on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.

White House rhetoric:

“We need to deploy American assets, innovation, and technology so that we can safely and responsibly develop more energy here at home and be a leader in the global energy economy.” – White House website.

“[T]he Obama Administration has launched the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in U.S. history to ensure that our nation can safely and responsibly expand development of its offshore energy resources.” – White House website

The reality:

Exploring for oil and gas offshore has been an on-again, off-again circus.  The latest round is a de facto moratorium.  On November 8, 2011, the Obama administration announce a draft plan that would close exploration drilling on the outer continental shelf until 2017.

OCS-2008This moratorium places some of the most promising areas off limits and blocks some leases that were in progress.  This policy certainly is “aggressive” but misguided.

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring OCS2010additional oil from Canada.  Canada currently supplies us with more oil than all the Persian Gulf sources combined, and this pipeline would put an additional large dent in that unstable source.

The pipeline is awaiting administration approval.  President Obama is caught between his environmentalist lobby supporters who want him to ban the pipeline, and the unions because the pipeline would create many new jobs.  President Obama has decided not to decide until after the 2012 election when he will have less need of these opposing forces.

White House rhetoric:

“As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs – but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment.” – President Barack Obama

The reality:

This is a green fantasy that ignores reality.  So-called clean energy or green energy, such as solar and wind generation, is actually a parasite on the economy because neither would exist without government mandates and subsidies.  Expenditures on these programs divert resources that could otherwise be spent on more economical and productive development.

One administration claim is that increased use of solar and wind generation will reduce our dependence on foreign oil imports, but this doesn’t fly because less that 1% of our electricity is produced from petroleum.

The experience in Europe should serve as a warning:

Spain spent €571,138 (Euros) to create each ‘green job’, including subsidies of more than €1 million per wind industry job.” “… the programs creating those jobs also resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,500 jobs elsewhere in the economy,” and that “each ‘green’ megawatt installed [including solar jobs] destroys 5.28 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy.” The study also estimates that between subsidies, and higher production costs, Spaniards would have to pay 31% higher electricity prices to repay the incurred debt.

The administration’s EPA is also promulgating unrealistic regulations which will harm our ability to produce energy.  For a story close to home, The San Pedro Valley News-Sun has a story which starts:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new regulations that, if enacted, could cause the cost of generating electricity to go up substantially in rural areas. In some cases, the cost of implementing the infrastructure to support the regulatory changes is so prohibitive, power generation facilities may be forced to shut down entirely.

Potential regulatory changes involving the sequestering of carbon and how coal ash is used – if enacted – could impact generating stations throughout rural America, including Cochise County, said Geoff Oldfather, the communications, marketing and public relations manager for Arizona Electric Power Cooperative.  (Read the rest of the story here.)

Politics and environmental zealotry are getting in the way of sound energy policy.


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Sunday that he was looking at exporting more oil to China after the United States delayed a decision on a controversial pipeline.  Read more here.

See also:

Obama Clueless on Energy – Part 1

Obama Clueless on Energy – Part 2

Obama administration still clueless on energy

Blowing in the Wind, a look at green jobs

The myth of green jobs

Clean Coal: Boon or Boondoggle?

EIA says Clean Energy program will increase electricity costs 29%