Robert Samuelson: Energy Pipe Dreams

By June 21, 2010Energy

The Washington Post’s opinion columnist, Robert Samuelson, once again indulges himself in facts and reality in covering political rhetoric versus practical reality. Darn him, the dreamers curse.

From “Obama’s Energy Pipe Dreams“:

Just once, it would be nice if a president would level with Americans on energy. Barack Obama isn’t that president. His speech the other night was about political damage control — his own. It was full of misinformation and mythology. Obama held out a gleaming vision of an America that would convert to the “clean” energy of, presumably, wind, solar and biomass. It isn’t going to happen for many, many decades, if ever.

For starters, we won’t soon end our “addiction to fossil fuels.” Oil, coal and natural gas supply about 85 percent of America’s energy needs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects energy consumption to grow only an average of 0.5 percent annually from 2008 to 2035, but that’s still a 14 percent cumulative increase. Fossil fuel usage would increase slightly in 2035 and its share would still account for 78 percent of the total.

Unless we shut down the economy, we need fossil fuels.

China is not taking the lead on “clean energy” technology, and the Presidents’ six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling isn’t justified, Samuelson further argues, again inconveniently using facts instead of wishful thinking to make his points.

Also cited, Robert Bryce’s new book, “Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future.”

UPDATE Another op-ed columnist burdened with facts is Charles Krauthammer, and he, too, works on the leader as dreamer theme, “Barack Obama, Dreamer in Chief“:

“Part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean,” said Obama, is “because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.”

Running out of places on land? What about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or the less-known National Petroleum Reserve — 23 million acres of Alaska’s North Slope, near the existing pipeline and designated nearly a century ago for petroleum development — that have been shut down by the federal government?

Running out of shallow-water sources? How about the Pacific Ocean, a not-inconsiderable body of water, and its vast U.S. coastline? That’s been off-limits to new drilling for three decades.

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