Newspaper logo  
 
 
  US Energy Policy: The Devil Is in the Details

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS:

US Energy Policy: The Devil Is in the Details

by Fred Cederholm

example refinery
We can’t process/refine the oil that we already have. We haven’t opened a new refinery capable of processing 200,000 barrels per day in almost 25 years.
I’ve been thinking about energy. Actually I’ve been thinking about Jimmy Carter, national policy, Alaska, Yucca Mountain, base recycling, and legacies. In a speech given on April 18th, 1977, then-President Carter identified the crisis we now face. His ten points of actions/considerations are just as relevant (if not more so) today, but few if any were implemented.

You see, even though 28+ years have transpired, this nation still lacks a comprehensive national energy policy. While President Bush has identified it as a priority of his second term, so too had Carter, but not much materialized. Carter’s Middle Eastern triumph of Camp David was more than eclipsed by the gas rationing/lines when Uncle $ugar domestically produced 70% of our energy needs and 30% was imported, and America was held hostage in Iran. What could/should we expect now that those percentages are reversed, and America is held hostage in Iraq?

There are rumblings from Capitol Hill and the Rose Garden that there must be action on an energy plan before this Congress returns home for the July recess, but I fear there will be little substance and any action will be far from comprehensive. At the least we can expect a rubber-stamping/lip service to the Bush proposals that have surfaced thus far. Remember: a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, and the devil is always in the details.

This nation has an untapped/non-accessed repository of natural resources--oil, gas, coal, oil shale, timber and minerals. Many rest undisturbed on Federal lands protected by Executive Orders of numerous Presidents. But... what one presidential order has "protected," a later one can place on the auction block. In responding to why he had so acted on another (unrelated to energy) matter, Lyndon Johnson responded " Because I’m the President, and I can!"

There's still an oil glut from Prudhoe Bay, but there's no ready infrastructure to share it with the Heartland, East, and South.

Months back, we learned how Bush intends to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for energy exploration. We’re told the oil and gas are there, and we need them. Will its implementation (which is years away) solve our problems? And while we're thinking about that, we need to ask if the proposed pipeline(s) to the "lower 48" will pass through recently hyperactive earthquake sectors of South and Central Alaska.

Consider this: We can’t process/refine the oil that we already have! Since 1981, US refineries have decreased from 324 to 153--a reduction of 52%. We haven’t opened a new refinery capable of processing 200,000 barrels per day in almost 25 years. There's still an oil glut from Prudhoe Bay, but there's no ready infrastructure to share it with the Heartland, East, and South.

The President has suggested increasing our nuclear power generating capabilities. My electricity comes from a nuclear plant less than 30 miles from my home. There are presently 103 such plants operating in the continental US (11 in Illinois alone). The problem with such generation rests with what to do with the radioactive by-products/waste. The promised national storage site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, has been debated for almost two decades. Despite what has already been done/spent, it would be 2010 (at the earliest) before it could accept any such multi-millennial refuse. Radioactive materials are now "temporarily" stored at the 103 reactor sites. Add to those the "temporary" storage locations for similar materials from labs, medical facilities, and military sites... the solution to the radioactive pollution of these hazardous materials is NOT dilution. We need the national storage sitefirst.

Bush and VP Cheney have a unique opportunity to build a lasting legacy of energy security for the US. No predecessors shared their first-hand knowledge of (and connections to) the energy industry.

Also on the table: Recycling closed military facilities for "energy independence" and using them for additional refineries, liquid natural gas (LNG) portals, and nuclear power facilities. The conversion of such Federal sites will surely cut through a lot of red tape. But... who will hold title to the real estate? What price would be paid? Would Federal exemption from property tax levies flow to the new occupants, thereby costing local government units (and schools) millions in foregone tax revenues?

President Bush and VP Cheney have a unique opportunity here for building a lasting legacy. No predecessors shared their first-hand knowledge of (and connections to) the energy industry. Will the American people be the beneficiaries this time, or will this prove yet another twisted opportunity in Uncle $ugar’s long history of rewarding insiders, friends, and contributors in our times of need?

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.





Copyright © 2005 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on June 16, 2005.

 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

11.22 Hinkley Point C subsidy has dealt consumers 'a bad hand', say MPs [even ignoring the possibly huge costs of nuclear calamities in the future...]

11.22 Renewables will drive 'steep decline' in wholesale electricity price in Australia – report [with a steep decline in air pollution too!]

11.22 Too right it's Black Friday: our relentless consumption is trashing the planet

11.22 Poor sperm quality linked to air pollution

11.21 Jet fuel from sugarcane? It’s not a flight of fancy

11.20 Replacing Liddell coal plant with clean energy $1.3bn cheaper – analysis

11.20 Battered by extreme weather, Americans are more worried about climate change [graphs]

11.20 Luxury Socialized Medicine

11.20 Keystone XL pipeline decision: what's at stake and what comes next? [the public's water is at risk]

11.20 A civil rights 'emergency': justice, clean water and air in the age of Trump

11.19 27-Year Study Finds the Amount of Insects Flying in the Air Has Declined 75 Percent

11.19 'My eyes are burning': Delhi holds half marathon despite pollution warning [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

11.17 'We should be on the offensive' – James Hansen calls for wave of climate lawsuits

11.17 Keystone pipeline leaks estimated 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota

11.17 For Damage Done and Transition Needed, 50+ Groups Demand Global Fossil Fuel Tax

News Media Matters

11.22 RIP net neutrality: FCC chair releases plan to deregulate ISPs [like the end of The Fairness Doctrine for the news media under Reagan, we expect content and practices to tilt further to favor monoplies and 'conservatives']

11.18 The Paradise Papers: How Ridiculously Easy It Is For The Rich To Avoid Taxes [birds of a feather flock together]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.22 Christian Theocracy, Authoritarianism, And The Blind Support Of Roy Moore

11.22 Can Republicans Stem the Tide of Women Abandoning Their Party?

11.21 Why is Donald Trump launching a withering attack on nonprofits?

11.21 Lies, Incoherence and Rage on Tax Cuts

11.21 Inequality Out of Control: The Average 1% Household Is Over $2.5 Million Richer in the Past Year

11.21 World’s Cheapest Solar Power in Mexico a Coal-Killer [Trump's obsession to help the coal industry and power plants is obviously stupid in many ways]

11.15 GOP Tax Bill Would Trigger $25 Billion in Cuts to Medicare, Warns CBO

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

11.18 US, European Nations Slammed for 'Complicity' as Humanitarian Groups Demand Aid for Yemen

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.20 Monaco builds into the Med to house new throng of super-rich [Can we ever have laws to fully prosecute $Billionaire tax dodgers if the courts and government are bribed? If not, can we have a civilized anarchy instead?]

11.19 The Design Flaw at the Core of Humanity's Malaise

11.18 'All Out Class War': GOP Bill Cuts Taxes for Private Jet Owners, Hikes Taxes on Students

International & Futurism

11.22 The long read: After the liberation of Mosul, an orgy of killing

11.22 Coup in Zimbabwe: A win-win for China – for now

11.22 Vladimir Putin briefs Donald Trump on plan to end Syrian civil war [in the forthcoming agreement, we presume that all of the oil and gas wealth (from pipeline decisions, etc.) will go to the warlords du jour, with only nice words for the people of the region who have suffered so much...]

11.21 The Saudi System And Why Its Change May Fail

11.21 Saudi Billionaires Look for Ways to Protect Assets From Any Government Purge

11.20 Zimbabwe is not the banana republic of western fancy. After Mugabe, it can thrive [let's all pretend like he really did resign...] [when it's safe, create and grow a government sovereign wealth fund with national mineral wealth mining profits—like Norway did—to facilitate becoming a stronger society, improve public services and build a world-class economy]

11.20 EU to push for 40% quota for women on company boards

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: