In the Pipeline: 3/7/11

IER’s Tom Pyle explains why it makes dollars and sense to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico Washington Examiner (3/6/11) reports: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently announced that the proposed $12 billion Department of Interior budget would make painful cuts and “do more with less.” While Interior worries about its own internal costs, the department’s leaders continue to lock up significant income, revenue and jobs through the Obama Administration’s ongoing de facto moratorium on offshore drilling permits…The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) imposed two blanket moratoriums on deepwater offshore activities following the April 2010 Macondo well blowout at the Deepwater Horizon site…But even after Salazar formally lifted the second moratorium on Oct.12, 2010, new permits have yet to be processed and little to no deepwater drilling has resumed. Salazar announced the issuance of one deepwater permit last week…Even that decision, however, was consistent with the politicization of the permitting process, as it came just before Salazar was scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill to answer questions about BOMERE’s complete agency inaction.

No Mr. President, be careful what you wish for — green dreams can lead to gas nightmares The Hill (3/5/11) reports: The Obama administration delivered a warning late Friday to a federal judge who’s demanding Interior Department action on deepwater drilling permit applications: Be careful what you wish for… Interior appealed the orders late Friday and asked for a stay…In their filing, Justice Department lawyers say that Judge Martin Feldman’s orders could thwart the “efficient development of oil and gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf, as well as potentially harm the near-term interests of the operators who submitted the subject applications.”…The Interior Department challenged a Louisiana judge’s orders that require decisions on several industry applications later this month, warning that the court’s mandate could force Interior to “deny the applications outright” and divert resources from review of other permit requests.

IER’s Dan Kish talks gas prices in light of the Obama Administration’s war on affordable and reliable energy Wall Street Journal (3/4/11) reports: Onshore? Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has revoked oil-and-gas leases. The EPA is suffocating the coal industry with regulation. One of the president’s only clear State of the Union proposals was to raise taxes on oil and gas. The White House’s energy policy, says Dan Kish of the Institute for Energy Research, is “embargoing our own energy supplies to drive up their costs…”The Obama administration has its share of headaches: a possible government shutdown, Arab unrest, the union uprising. The real migraine may be a firestorm over gasoline prices…Oil last week topped $100 a barrel, and gas has hit $4 a gallon in pockets of the country. The price is expected to keep heading up. This pain is being felt by a public still dazed by recession.

Who says green energy doesn’t create jobs? Larry Eisenberg wasted $10 million on blueprints for renewables, but don’t worry he has $5.7 billion more in tax payer money to ‘invest’ Los Angeles Times (3/6/11) reports: As head of a $5.7-billion, taxpayer-funded program to rebuild the college campuses, Eisenberg commanded attention. But his plan for energy independence was seriously flawed…He overestimated how much power the colleges could generate. He underestimated the cost. And he poured millions of dollars into designs for projects that proved so impractical or unpopular they were never built…These and other blunders cost nearly $10 million that could have paid for new classrooms, laboratories and other college facilities, a Times investigation found…The problems with Eisenberg’s energy vision were fundamental. For starters, there simply wasn’t room on the campuses for all the generating equipment required to become self-sufficient. Some of the colleges wouldn’t come close to that goal even if solar panels, wind turbines and other devices were wedged into every available space.

George Will warns of the gravy train — it’s all about central planning and control over the individual Wall Street Journal (3/5/11) reports: Generations hence, when the river of time has worn this presidency’s importance to a small, smooth pebble in the stream of history, people will still marvel that its defining trait was a mania for high-speed rail projects. This disorder illuminates the progressive mind…Forever seeking Archimedean levers for prying the world in directions they prefer, progressives say they embrace high-speed rail for many reasons—to improve the climate, increase competitiveness, enhance national security, reduce congestion, and rationalize land use. The length of the list of reasons, and the flimsiness of each, points to this conclusion: the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism…To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they—unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted—are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make…Time was, the progressive cry was “Workers of the world unite!” or “Power to the people!” Now it is less resonant: “All aboard!”

Rail projects are expensive and inflexible, but Bus Rapid Transit is much more affordable. Guess which one the President (or greens) supports? New York Times (3/6/11) reports: B.R.T. is far less expensive than light rail, which has been coveted by many U.S. cities with growing populations. And many cities can forget about building new underground trains. Costs for building B.R.T. can run $1 million per mile, or per 1.6 kilometers, compared with $1 billion per mile for subways…For decades, most U.S. commuters have maligned buses as noisy, dirty and much slower than cars in city traffic, since they make many stops…But about 120 cities in developing economies from Colombia to China that have invested in high-technology systems known as bus rapid transit, or B.R.T., have taken the transport mode to a higher level.

IER’s Dan Kish explains the connection between Alaska and Libya — turns out size does matter Human Events (3/3/11) reports: As Americans watch the price of gasoline skyrocket and average families wonder how they’re going to make it to the end of the month, we are reminded that because of our short-sighted energy policies, what happens in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East affects the very economic strength of the United States.  We could do much to reduce the effect of foreign entanglements on family budgets and the price of everything from food to clothing to government itself, but the government deliberately and publicly stands in the way of reducing our dependency.  As Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problem, it is the problem.”…The revolt in Libya has raised serious questions about Libya’s ability to export about 1.4 million barrels of oil per day to the world.  Meanwhile, the largest pipeline in America—the trans-Alaska pipeline system or TAPS—is currently using less than one-third of its original capacity, meaning that if our government would allow it, Alaska could send 1.4 million barrels more per day to consumers in the U.S.  Alaska is hugely rich in energy resources, but unfortunately the government owns most of the land and all of the offshore waters, and it won’t permit development of new resources.

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