By Alan Caruba
Watching the events unfold in the Middle East, it occurred to me that, if we had a president who had even the slightest grasp of energy facts, we could be living in a nation that is not dependent in part on Middle East oil.
Instead, we have a president who will not allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be extended from Canada at no cost to American taxpayers while providing thousands of jobs, short and long-term and whose administration denies access to the nation’s vast energy reserves.
Why? Some observers say President Obama is trying to maintain his bona fides among environmentalists and it’s important to keep in mind that virtually every major environmental organization opposes any and all forms of energy development. I suspect the President simply sees the pipeline as symbolic of his overall attack on America’s ability to have sufficient energy to meet its needs and provide for growth. It is an attack on our economy.
Billions of gallons of crude oil is used daily in America and the nation has an extensive network of pipelines to transport it; approximately 55,000 miles. In addition there is also an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 miles of small gathering lines, located primarily in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Wyoming with small systems in a number of other oil producing states. Right now, hundreds of miles of Keystone XL pipe sit idle on 83 acres of leased land outside Gascoyne, North Dakota.
Testifying in April before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Dan Simmons of the Institute for Energy Research, said that both America and our neighbor Mexico are energy rich countries with total recoverable oil reserves that exceed 1.7 trillion barrels. At our current rate of use, that is enough for the next 242 years.
In terms of natural gas, North America has approximately 4.2 quadrillion cubic feet, enough for 176 years at the current rate of use. U.S. recoverable coal reserves are estimated at more than 497 billion short tons; enough for nearly 500 years at our current rate of use.
As events in Egypt are reported, commentators note the importance of the Suez Canal through which much of the oil the West uses must pass, but given the U.S. oil reserves our nation could function independent of that imported oil.
Ironically, we will have to build more pipelines to transport it internally and we need to build more liquid gas facilities to export our huge reserves of natural gas. This is not likely to occur over the remaining years of the Obama administration, nor will the shutdowns of coal-fired plants in a nation that is the Saudi Arabia of coal cease. Coal in federally controlled land is estimated to be worth $22.5 trillion to the U.S. economy, but it remains barred from mining.
Not only could the U.S. be energy independent, but could be a major exporter to other nations because oil, natural gas, and coal will comprise almost eighty percent of the global energy supply in 2040. Energy demand is expected to grow by fifty-six percent between now and 2040, mostly due to the economic growth of nations such as China and India.
The nation remains mired in an economy that is barely growing at two percent annually and part of that is due to the energy policies of the Obama administration. As this is being written, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Department, and other agencies have quietly raised their estimated “social cost” of carbon emissions from $21 per ton to $35 per ton. The increase was not debated in Congress, nor available for public review. Instead, its announcement was buried in an unrelated Energy Department regulation on microwave ovens!
Having been defeated in its efforts to impose a tax on carbon emissions, the Obama administration is engaging in the outright fraud of claiming that carbon emissions are causing global warming/climate change. As part of its war on energy provision the Obama administrated wasted billions on wind power, solar power, and electric car company failures throughout its first term. Without mandates and subsidies, none of these enterprises could remain in business or be competitive.
The U.S. economy should be booming given the huge reserves of natural gas and oil that exist nationwide, but instead it remains hostage to nations such as Saudi Arabia. At the same time a major oil exporter, Iraq, has seen its exports reduced due to the turmoil that has escalated since the U.S. military was withdrawn. Sanctions on Iran affect its oil exports. Expect the cost of oil to remain high for years to come.
The U.S. is suffering from the attacks on its energy sector by the major environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth at the same time the Obama administration continues its regulatory attacks to reduce the coal mining industry and restrict access to oil reserves. In states and on privately owned lands, there is a boom in natural gas extraction.
Every American who fills up his auto’s gas tank, air conditions or heats their home or apartment, and whose livelihood is directly affected by the cost and availability of energy is being held hostage by the Obama administration, forced to pay higher costs and forced to suffer the loss of opportunity in a nation whose access to its own vast energy reserves is being denied.
© Alan Caruba, 2013