Archive for June 16th, 2014

by lizard

The short-sighted pandering required of Montana Democrats to extractive industry is understandable. It’s the pragmatic thing to do if you want a chance at winning a trip to the big trough in DC where the piggies feed. I do marvel, though, how one who claims to not support the Keystone pipeline describes why he supports Lewis’ support of that same pipeline. Sorry if that’s confusing. Maybe this will clear things up:

Yesterday, Democrat John Lewis released a detailed energy plan to “make Montana an energy leader” and Ryan Zinke issued a childish response that was as factually-challenged as it was simplistic.

To start with, both men support the Keystone XL pipeline. A key difference is that Lewis would legislatively mandate protections for landowners and that highly-skilled American workers would use high-quality materials to build the pipeline.

Now, as I said before, I don’t support the Keystone XL pipeline and have concerns about relying on coal to power the nation and Montana’s future economy. Those caveats aside, Lewis’s proposal recognizes political reality in the United States: the most viable energy policy in the short-term is to use fossil fuel resources to fund the transition to cleaner energy. It might feel good to demand an immediate shift and ignore the need to transition our economy, but Lewis is offering a pragmatic solution that suggests some real thought.

How exactly will fossil fuel resources fund the transition to cleaner energy? Will Congress end subsidies and raise taxes to fund research? Or are we just suppose to hope those nice oil companies will see the error of squeezing every last drop from the ground and willingly ween themselves off the habit we’re all locked into?

Here is the reality of what Lewis is ultimately supporting: a pipeline that will require the taking of private property through eminent domain to benefit a foreign company that will ship and refine some of the dirtiest fuel on earth. It will create less than 40 permanent jobs, according to the state department, and will more than likely end up in foreign markets, therefore NOT lessening our dependence on foreign oil.

Here is another political reality for Lewis and the rest of the Democrats in this state: 57,000 more voters turned out to vote in the GOP primary.

I believe there is a rich vein of bipartisan disgust that could be mined (using an extractive industry analogy) to fuel a populist charge against the establishment, but instead we have Democrats who are too afraid to even say climate change. No wonder Democrat voters are apathetic.

It sure would be nice to have a Democrat capable of articulating that the talking points for the Keystone pipeline are bullshit, but we won’t get that from a Baucus acolyte showing his chops at political expediency. Too bad the political reality doesn’t intrude on the actual reality, like the hoax of energy independence:

In a true supply and demand economy, higher prices would indicate demand is greater than supply, and the price of gasoline would drop if supply increased. This is one reason people are pushing for the construction of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. They also believe it will help America become energy independent.

The facts, however, indicate that energy independence has relatively little to do with America producing more gas. In fact, some Americans are paying more for gas from American oil fields while other Americans are paying less for gas from foreign oil fields.

According to GasBuddy, which keeps track of gasoline prices and predictions throughout the United States, refineries in the Rockies and upper Midwest are producing less expensive gas because they are paying $85 a barrel for Canadian crude oil. Refineries on the West Coast, however, are producing more expensive gas because they are paying $110 per barrel of crude oil. The quality of crude oil and the difficulty of obtaining and transferring it play a role in the price differences, but the bottom line in this case is that oil taken from American soil is costing more than oil taken from Canadian soil. (This apparently is not the case with the Keystone Pipeline. That oil will be produced in Canada by a Canadian company, cross the U.S. in the pipeline to Texas and then be shipped to other countries. Very little, if any, of that oil will remain in the United States and have little impact on our energy prices.)

The myth is that if we obtain more oil here, we can become energy independent and the prices will go down. If that were the case, then gas prices should be cheaper all across the U.S. this year because we are producing more oil and gas. Even though supply has increased the price is higher because we send most of our gas outside the country. According to GasBuddy, “the U.S. has turned into a net exporter, regularly sending more gasoline offshore than it brings in from foreign destinations.”

Anyway, just forget all that reality stuff and do the pragmatic thing, which is vote for John Lewis in November.

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