Tag Archives: Energy

Mary Landrieu – Canary In A Coal Mine

Sen. Mary Landrieu has problems. Years of Reid/Pelosi/Obama far-left politics have come home to roost in her center-right Louisiana. Obamacare, regulation, and an anti-energy dictatorship have turned many LA voters against their Democrat tradition. Barring a masterful performance on her part, or an equally pitiful performance by the GOP (recall Todd Akin), Landrieu will lose November’s race. Landrieu comes from Louisiana political royalty, but that dynasty is old-school Southern Democrat. Since the Senator has nothing to lose, her fellow Dems are using her for scientific purposes in their effort to hold the Senate.

While Landrieu has voted with Obama about 96% of the time, when Sen. Max Baucus retired to avoid the ignominy of being forced out of office, she tacked right. Baucus, off to China, gave his Finance Committee Chairmanship to Sen. Wyden, who opened his Energy Chairmanship to Landrieu.

Wyden is too far left to simply toe the Democrat line. He is Left by Oregon standards, and distances himself from Obama – to the left. This is the politician Democrats have until recently placed in charge of energy policy in the Senate – a global warming true believer. Landrieu comes from an oil and gas state that favors exploration, despite the BP spill. Landrieu signaled her new found interest in energy by endorsing the Keystone XL project just before the Baucus switch.

True, Senate chairmanships are largely based on seniority, but Landrieu could have received another job. After eight years of hard-left anti energy policy from the Democrats, they turned 180 degrees in the form of a LA Senator who pre-signaled her distance from Obama.

Democrats want to know if throwing Obama under their bus will save any votes from people disaffected by Obamacare and his energy policies. If Landrieu can make her campaign competitive by pretending she never voted for Obamacare and was always in favor of more drilling and pipelines, expect more of the same. No doubt Obama would dump his Hollywood leftie friends and approve Keystone XL if he thought it would save the Senate.

The wheels of Democrat political thought are on display here. If Obama approves Keystone XL, then Democrats believe the Landrieu strategy is operative and want to give her more room to maneuver away from the Left. If Obama cans Keystone XL again, Democrats have decided her seat and many like it are a lost cause and that Hollywood money is of more long-term worth. Like coal miners looking at a canary to see if they are in danger, Democrats have made Sen. Landrieu an existential test case.

Fracking Fantasies

Environmentalists have taken aim at a common natural gas extraction technique called Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking. The enviros claim that Fracking will contaminate ground water or even cause earthquakes because it involves injecting water, sand, and some chemicals into bedrock to increase natural gas supplies. Not only are these claims specious (Fracking occurs well below the water table), the enviros are revisiting a long history of hypocrisy since the only way to obtain their renewable energy goal is through Fracking.

States like Wyoming and Texas are now requiring thorough disclosure of Fracking chemicals. France has banned the practice outright. Agitprop movies like Gasland seek to demonize the technology that has turned an expensive, price volatile commodity into a near limitless resource. Even if everything the enviros say about Fracking is true, they still want the US to shift toward natural gas for most of its energy needs, and that requires Fracking. As usual, the enviro dirty laundry is showing.

At least 23 states have renewable energy laws that purport to require 15% to 30% of all electricity to come from renewable energy sources. But wind power provides less than 2% of the nation’s electricity and solar nearly zero. How do these states hope to go from 2% to 30%? The answer is a political sleight of hand called the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS. A RPS does not actually require a massive and impractical investment in solar and wind generation, it requires the overall CO2 emissions of a utility to mirror a hypothetical portfolio of renewable energy sources (assuming such technologies actually worked as advertised).

A RPS solution usually contains a token amount of wind and solar credits, along with advertising encouraging consumers to conserve, but the bulk of the results come from replacing coal plants with natural gas turbines. The unadvertised reality of a RPS is that it is nothing more than shifting from coal to natural gas. Renewable energy? Hardly, but natural gas contains hydrogen atoms that when burned release H2O, not CO2. By its nature, natural gas releases less CO2 per unit of energy, so the bottom line of replacing coal with natural gas resembles an investment in renewable energy. Also, natural gas turbines produce fewer secondary pollutants than coal, a nice plus given the EPA’s regulations regarding mercury and particulates.

So, renewable energy has next to nothing to do with wind and solar and is mostly replacing coal with natural gas. What is the problem? Well, prior to Fracking, natural gas was a limited and expensive commodity with a highly volatile price. Shifting electricity generation to natural gas would more than double the price of powering people’s homes. The only way to achieve a RPS is to ensure a vast and stable supply of natural gas, and currently Fracking is the only practical way to do that.

The same enviros that demanded the shift from coal want to shut down domestic natural gas production. The old line about conservation, living simply, and other collectivist garbage cannot withstand the fact that the US economy needs energy to function. Be it coal or natural gas, something must be extracted from the ground, and it must be burned. But enviros do not care about reality because they are never held accountable for their positions; they are just ‘for the planet,’ not for regular people powering their homes. The Old Time Media will never point out the enviro hypocrisy of both demanding more natural gas energy and outlawing its production, but the enviro’s Fracking fantasy seeks to hobble the US way of life nonetheless.