14 January 2018
From energy and spending, to climate and debate – silencing all dissenting voices is essential
You’ve got to admire the full frontal audacity of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, and their union and pressure group comrades in arms. Their hypocrisy, fraud and tyranny are boundless, especially on fiscal, energy and climate change issues.
Amid the seventh year of a “New York is open for business” advertising campaign that has spent $354 million thus far, they are presiding over tax and regulatory regimes, mountains of debt, intransigent public sector unions, anti-nuclear, anti-fossil fuel energy policies that are anything but business friendly – and press conferences that promise more of the same for state businesses, taxpayers and pensioners.
As Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn notes, Cuomo and his fellow warriors against Trump and Republicans will do almost anything – “except address the root problem by lowering their taxes and spending. Because to do so would require taking on the public unions that drive much of state spending and debt, and are the key constituency of the 21st-century Democratic Party.”
Across the river in New Jersey, unions resist any reforms to their payrolls or pensions just as fiercely. The NJ pension system is already $90-billion short of what it needs to pay future benefits, says the Manhattan Institute. The state will collect some $35 billion in 2018 taxes, but any new revenue will go to pension payouts and spending on new government programs. Connecticut is in the same boat.
Meanwhile, electricity prices continue to climb: In New York 18.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for families, 15.0 cents for the businesses the state is so eager to attract, and 6.2 cents for its few industries. In Jersey, 14.7, 11.4 and 9.6 cents, respectively. In Connecticut, a whopping 21.3, 16.8 and 13.5 cents per kWh!
On the Left Coast, similarly exorbitant electricity rates pummel California businesses, families, factories, farms, hospitals and schools – while neighborhoods confront monstrous mudslides, resulting from winter rains in the wake of fiery hillside-denuding conflagrations. The fires and floods have destroyed nearly 9,000 homes, killed over 60 people, and devastated entire forests and neighborhoods.
Golden State forests have 129 million dead trees, and enough dry brush to fill LA Memorial Coliseum several times. But state regulators, environmentalists and judges make it impossible to remove any. It’s more “natural,” “sustainable” and “climate friendly” to have it erupt in 1,400 to 2,200 degree F infernos.
Compare those fiscal and environmental train wrecks to results thus far of the deregulation, tax reduction, pro-fossil fuel policies of President Trump and congressional Republicans: new jobs, higher wages, nice bonuses, a coming repatriation of trillions of now overseas dollars to fuel new investment and innovation, the lowest black unemployment since recordkeeping began, and the DJIA stock market reaching a record high of 25,575 January 11, following a record 92 closing highs since President Trump was elected.
Compare that to Nobel Prize winning Blue economist Paul Krugman’s dire prediction after the election: the markets will crash and “never” recover, amid a long “global recession.” Meanwhile, multi-multi-millionaire Nancy Pelosi belittled the $1,000 bonuses as “crumbs.” Tell that to families bringing in $25,000 to $50,000 a year. The House Minority Leader is completely out of touch with average families.
The Democrats need bogeymen, scapegoats, distractions – to deflect attention away from this lunacy. That’s the best way to explain the Cuomo and De Blasio press stunts this past week.
Rather than confronting public sector unions and rabid greens – or supporting onshore and offshore drilling and fracking that would create jobs and improve economies in poor counties far from Albany and Manhattan, generate tax revenues, and reduce electricity prices – the gov railed against the new $10,000 cap on how much of their state and local taxes “the rich” NY residents can deduct on their federal forms.
Mr. Cuomo proposes to transform personal income taxes into corporate payroll taxes, or even charitable deductions! California is trying the same ploy. Friendly IRS auditors will be busy shutting that down.
Meanwhile, Mayor De Blasio went on a rant against fossil fuels – announcing that the city is suing five major oil companies for billions of dollars in “climate damages,” and insisting that the Big Apple must divest its police, teacher and other public pensions from any and all fossil fuel stocks.
Energy stocks are leading the latest US stock market rally, fossil fuels will continue providing 75-80% of US and global energy for decades to come, resurgent economies overseas are booming thanks to coal, oil and natural gas, and forecasters are predicting $80-per-barrel oil in 2018, as demand surges. So Liberal Logic says it’s time to divest from fossil fuels – and maybe switch to ideologically sympatico holdings, like subsidized wind turbines or booming economies like Argentina, Venezuela and North Korea.
Greenhouse gas emissions produced disasters like Superstorm Sandy, De Blasio railed. “I remember those days. I remember how desperate it was, how much fear and confusion there was. This tragedy was wrought by the actions of fossil fuel companies.” Now New York needs $20 billion “to build resilience against rising seas, more powerful storms and hotter temperatures.”
Nice try, Mr. Mayor. But blaming sub-hurricane-strength Sandy for the actions and incompetence of city and state officials won’t cut it. As environmental consultant Pat Moffitt and I explained in great detail in a three-part series (here, here and here) several months after the storm pounded the NYC area, fossil fuels and GHGs had zero to do with the damages – any more than they did for Harvey, Irma or other storms.
They likewise played no role in California’s wildfires and mudslides, despite Governor Jerry Brown’s scapegoating insistence that GHG emissions are responsible for that too. It’s all self-serving fraud.
Fuel oil and natural gas got millions of New Yorkers and New Englanders through the recent record cold snap, while wind turbines froze up, solar panels went AWOL, and Al Gore blamed the cold on global warming! But who are we to argue with Hizzoner da Mare about fossil fuels, dangerous manmade climate change, Sandy or divestment? He might sic his RICO attack dogs on us again.
Indeed, such prosecutions are part and parcel of the new leftist-fascist world order, under which partisans, politicians and professors shut down debate, impose uniform thinking, decree corporate policy, and even punish intolerable contrarian views with physical violence when those views threaten their “safe spaces.”
It’s not yet as dicey as getting into a Moscow elevator. But one climate doomsayer wants to ship climate chaos skeptics to a Kerguelen Island gulag off Antarctica, where he probably assumes they could watch the entire continent melt – from GHG emissions, if not from the volcanoes and magma beneath its ice.
Antifa leftist-fascists have learned well from their predecessors and contemporaries, but are now employing their technological prowess as well. Google and Facebook use clever algorithms to steer searches and help liberal news and views reach audiences, while conservative perspectives get shunted to the “back pages.” Google now displays “fact checks” next to Daily Caller and other conservative views, though not with liberal leaning stories; Snopes says its fake news, but others say it’s absolutely true.
Twitter allegedly uses “shadow banning” algorithms to make users think their tweets have been posted, when in fact they’ve been sent to cyber oblivion. And talk show host Dennis Prager is suing YouTube for using “restricted mode filtering” to keep PragerU educational videos from reaching audiences. The LA Times and other liberal papers won’t even publish letters to the editor challenging climate alarmism.
Former Colorado Democratic Governor Richard Lamm would instantly recognize these tyrannical tactics. In 2005, Mr. Lamm said they were integral parts of an eight-step program to “destroy America.” (This audio of the talk on YouTube must have escaped their censors.)
The future of our free speech and other democratic safeguards and institutions is at stake. So is the future of sound, evidence-based science, on climate and other topics – and of reliable, affordable energy.
Blue State officials, unions and activists may be delighted with how their agenda is “progressing.” The rest of the United States … and world … are not so happy.
01 January 2018
Tax bill provision opens ANWR, to bring more oil online and keep Alaska pipeline operating
Way back in 1980, Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, establishing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and making numerous other land use decisions for our 49th state. Section 1002 of the act postponed a decision on managing ANWR’s 1.5-million-acre coastal plain, which has enormous oil and gas potential and is [an] important summertime wildlife habitat.
For four decades, environmentalists blocked legislation that would have opened the coastal plain to leasing and drilling. In 1995 President Clinton vetoed a pro-drilling bill that had passed both houses.
At long last, the tax-cut legislation just passed by Congress allows America to benefit from the petroleum resources that experts predict will be found in a small section of the plain, along Alaska’s northern coast. The legislation directs the Interior Department to hold at least two lease sales over the next 10 years, for a maximum of 2,000 acres opened to drilling. Analysts say the sales could fetch as much as $2.2 billion.
The area contains an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil, says Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Others put the petroleum potential even higher.
The U.S. Geological Survey and Congressional Research Service say it’s 95% likely that there are 15.6 billion barrels of oil beneath ANWR. With today’s exploration, drilling, fracking and other technology, up to 60% of that may ultimately be recoverable.
At $50 a barrel, that represents $460 billion that the USA would not have to send overseas; tens of billions in Alaskan and United States royalty and tax revenues; and thousands of jobs in oilfield, manufacturing and many other sectors.
After the IRS, oil company oil and gas royalty payments represent the single largest contribution to the U.S. treasury. Companies that produce from federal onshore and offshore leases pay royalties of up to 18% of wellhead prices, and then pay corporate taxes on profits and sales taxes at the pump. Workers pay income taxes, instead of receiving unemployment and welfare checks.
Every step in the leasing, drilling, production and pipeline process will require extensive environmental reviews. Unfortunately, each step will likely generate lawsuits and delays.
As they have since long before 1980, activists continue to claim that any drilling would destroy the entire ANWR area’s wilderness character and threaten its caribou, polar bears, birds and other wildlife. In all too typical hyperbole, League of Conservation Voters president Gene Karpinski claimed the tax law provision will “turn one of our last remaining wild places into an industrial oilfield.” That’s absurd.
Alaska alone has 57 million acres (more than all of Utah) set aside as wilderness, plus tens of millions more wild acres off limits to drilling in national park, wildlife refuge and similar designations. Nationwide, land several times the size of California is protected in these and other land use categories.
ANWR is the size of South Carolina: 19 million acres. Of this, far fewer than 2,000 coastal plain acres would actually be disturbed by drilling, roads and other development work. That’s 0.01% of ANWR; one-twentieth of Washington, DC; 20 of the buildings in which Boeing manufactured its 747 jetliners.
To claim this minimal impact will despoil the entire refuge is like saying a few farms and airports scattered along South Carolina’s northern border would kill wildlife and ruin scenery throughout the state.
The potentially oil-rich coastal plain is actually flat, treeless tundra, 3,500 miles from Washington, DC – and 50 miles from the beautiful Brooks Range mountains that feature so prominently and deceptively in Sierra Club and other anti-drilling campaigns.
Even more telling, the same environmentalists never object to forests of 400-foot-tall wind turbines installed in or next to forests, grasslands, wildlife sanctuaries, migratory bird flyways and other sensitive areas – where they slice and dice eagles, falcons, geese, bats and other magnificent flying creatures day after day, year after year.
During some eight months of winter, when drilling will take place, virtually no wildlife are present in the coastal plain. Food is buried under snow and ice, and temperatures plummet as low as minus 40 F. The tundra turns rock solid. Spit, and your saliva freezes before it hits the ground.
But the nasty conditions mean exploratory drilling can be done using roads, “drill pads” and even airstrips that are all constructed with ice and snow. Come spring, all of this will melt, leaving only puddles, little holes and a few permanent facilities. The caribou will return – just as they have for years at the nearby Prudhoe Bay and Alpine oilfields – and do what they always have: eat, hang out and make babies.
In fact, the Prudhoe Bay oilfield’s Central Arctic caribou herd is over 20,000 today, compared to 5,000 in 1975. Arctic fox, geese, shore birds and other wildlife also return each spring, along with the Alaska state bird: giant mosquitoes. [That is a joke Anna. The Alaska state bird is really the Willow Ptarmigan.]
If oil is discovered, modern Arctic drilling technologies from small gravel pads will ensure minimal land impacts, as other North Slope operations have demonstrated. Each drill pad will support multiple wells, and modern “directional” and “extended reach” drilling technologies will allow companies to punch multiple holes a mile deep and five miles long in any direction, steering drill bits to penetrate multiple oil zones and hit distant targets far below the surface, without disturbing the tundra high above.
Coupled with the ability to fracture rock formations and stimulate them to produce far more oil and natural gas liquids than previously possible, this accuracy means a series of small sites totaling less than 2,000 acres could produce up to 15 billion gallons of petroleum annually.
That’s far better than producing 15 billion gallons of ethanol annually from corn grown on an area larger than Iowa: 36 million acres – via a process that also requires massive amounts of water, pesticides, fertilizers and fossil fuels, to create fuel that gets one-third less mileage per gallon than gasoline. [at an average cost of about an extra $0.87 to provide the same travel distance as pure 87 octane gasoline. The US Dept. of Energy is still making the false claim that ethanol use reduces pollution and produces a net increase in energy.]
Inuit Eskimos who live in or near ANWR have supported drilling by an 8:1 margin. They no longer want to live in poverty – especially after having given up their traditional land claims for oil rights that Congress, greens, presidents and courts have repeatedly denied them.
Gwich’in Indians have opposed ANWR drilling, and some were paid by environmentalist groups to appear in anti-drilling commercials. However, they actually live hundreds of miles away on the other side of the Brooks Range. And they leased many of their own tribal lands to generate revenue. Their leased areas were close to a major caribou migratory route, where caribou often birth their calves before arriving in ANWR. Unfortunately for the Gwich’ins, no oil was found.
Drilling in ANWR will also ensure sufficient production to keep the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in operation. Right now, declining North Slope production threatens to reduce oil in the pipeline to a point where it cannot stay sufficiently warm to flow under months-long winter conditions.
The pipeline needs between 250,000 and 350,000 barrels of oil per day to stay open. If there are inadequate supplies, because ANWR or other deposits are not developed, the pipeline will be shut down – leaving millions of barrels and billions of dollars behind. That makes ANWR oil doubly important.
Adding to the complexities, $50-per-barrel oil prices, shale development in the Lower 48, and decades-old seismic data mean relatively few oil companies may be interested in leasing acreage in the remote, frozen area. But America’s long-term strategic interests require a thorough look at ANWR’s potential.
Spending U.S. or Alaskan funds to pay an independent company to conduct high-tech modern seismic and other surveys of the coastal plain would ensure that energy companies and American citizens have the best possible information on which to base decisions on leasing and exploring those 2,000 scattered acres.
ANWR’s energy belongs to all Americans. It can and should be produced safely, to generate tremendous oil, gas, job, revenue and other bounties – in yet another huge benefit from this tax reform legislation.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of many books and reports on energy and environmental issues.