The President’s Remarks About Energy and Climate Change

Those who haven’t seen my writing elsewhere may be surprised to learn that I’m a self-described proud, Liberal progressive Democrat who enthusiastically supports President Obama. Last night’s speech had a lot in it that I liked–and I’m well aware that many of my readers will disagree. But like I say, it takes all kinds…

Official_portrait_of_Barack_Obama

He spoke on energy and climate–and some of the things he said were to my liking, while others I disagree with. So let’s favorably Fisk that part of the State of the Union Address.

“Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. And today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.”

Nope. Nanotechnology, biotechnology and robotics hold more promise than investments in American energy. I don’t care if all the solar panels in the world are made in China and/or Belgium. I care how much they cost, how much they’re subsidized and where they are put up. Same with wind turbines and biofuel. We’ve placed our bet on intellectual property–there’s not enough of it involved in renewable energy to power our economy.

“After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.”

All true and all a good thing. I join our President in congratulating America. So, where do we go from here?

“But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.”

I agree we must do more to combat climate change. Not because we’re convinced it’s a planet buster, but because it makes good common dollars and cents to do so. However, it’s trivially true that 12 of the last 15 years were the hottest on record–but the record is short and temperatures have ‘stalled’, to use the term of James Hansen. And I think it’s just sad that the President is citing Xtreme Weather in defiance of the IPCC, which says there is no connection between them and climate change. That is the overwhelming judgment of science, Mr. President–and you’re ignoring it. You have a lot of company, however.

“The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

I’m sure the President will use executive authority via the EPA to continue the nudge from coal to natural gas, and what incentives he can muster to encourage renewables. He’s already been doing it for four years and there’s no real reason for him to stop. And I like a market-based solution as well. I prefer a carbon tax, but I also supported cap and trade until my party loaded it up with so much pork as to make it unrecognizable. Sigh.

Let me describe a carbon tax that would be effective: Start with a low fee–I suggest $12/ton. Make the carbon tax revenue neutral with the money raised used to lower Social Security taxes. We do want this to pass, right? Incorporate a review every decade with the power to raise, lower or rescind the tax based on objective measurements of our emissions and global temperatures.

Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. We’ve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year – so let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.

Except for the last sentence, I largely agree. With the proviso that we locate renewables where they are appropriate, not convenient. As for us keeping up with the Joneses, that part of it is just a vanity contest. I don’t care where it’s manufactured. Heck, most of the jobs are in installation anyhow.

“In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.”

I want more specifics about understanding what’s in fracking chemicals and better plotting of potentially affected aquifers. I’m not sure we need to be rushing so fast for natural gas–especially when the market is glutted.

Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long. I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.

What’s not to like about any of this? The only thing I don’t like in this last paragraph is we could and should have been doing it during the Eisenhower administration.

So–these are my top of mind reactions to a very effective speech from a President I support. I think this part of the speech had more that I disagreed with than any other section. I agreed with him about what he said on the economy, immigration, gun control and foreign affairs.

But nobody bats a thousand.

62 responses to “The President’s Remarks About Energy and Climate Change

  1. Tom,

    You say,

    And I think it’s just sad that the President is citing Xtreme Weather in defiance of the IPCC, which says there is no connection between them and climate change.

    I don’t think that is a fair representation of what the IPCC is saying. For a start here is a quote from the SPM

    There is evidence that some extremes have changed as a result of anthropogenic influences, including increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. It is likely that anthropogenic influences have led to warming of extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures at the global scale. There is medium confidence that anthropogenic influences have contributed to intensification of extreme precipitation at the global scale. It is likely that there has been an anthropogenic influence on increasing extreme coastal high water due to an increase in mean sea level.

    Furthermore they point out that in some cases there are difficulties in attribution due to lack of reliable data about past events, which mean it is not possible to say with confidence that there is a genuine increasing trend in certain kinds of event. And we know that finding a direct link between climate change and any individual event is very difficult. Saying particular events cannot be attributed to climate change is not the same as saying “there is no connection between them and climate change”.

    • Hiya Andrew

      I think we’ve had this discussion before–happy to extend it here. The relevant quote I would offer from the IPCC is here: ““There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change.” (IPCC Report on Weather Extremes).”

      I believe that droughts were worse in the U.S. in the 30s and elsewhere at other times. I don’t believe either hurricanes or tornadoes are getting either more frequent or more destructive. I think much of what is perceived as increased precipitation in the tropics is actually down to the take-up of better measurement technologies and best practices for monitoring.

      • Hi Tom,

        So we have different quotes from the IPCC, some of which support attribution of some extreme events, some which don’t. IMHO that is to be expected – attribution is difficult, we don’t have good data for some past events and in any case one wouldn’t necessarily expect that the effects of climate change would clearly manifest themselves until further into the future. But as I said before, saying it is not currently possible to link extreme events to climate change is not the same as saying there is no link.
        To pick up on some of the specific points you raise, one of my favourite books is “The Grapes of Wrath” so I’m aware of the dustbowl conditions that existed in the 1930s. My understanding is that the problem was exacerbated by poor farming methods but it’s also true that it coincided with a period of high temperatures in the US. So this would seem to me to be a cause for concern, rather than a comfort, especially given the conditions we have seen in Texas recently.
        Regarding hurricanes and tornadoes, I’m not sure that they are expected to become more frequent, rather the expectation is that they will become more powerful, and there is the added danger of higher sea levels increasing the danger from storm surge. But I expect that it will be a while before a significant trend in this respect is established.
        I don’t agree with your view regarding increased precipitation. The SREX report is conservative in its conclusions and specifically states where establishing a trend is difficult due to the inadequacy of past records, so I see no reason to think their view is overconfident in this area.

      • Hi Andrew

        I’m starting a new series on Xtreme Weather. One of the issues I am exploring is data availability. I’ve seen a lot of press regarding Hansen’s PNAS paper but I cannot find the data he used. I don’t know how he defines a 3 sigma event nor the sources he used in classifying them nor a frequency list. Do you know where I can find them?

        I intend to explore headline events that have been attributed to climate change in terms of length or severity and classes of event as well.

        When in your opinion did human impacts on climate begin to influence weather and weather events? 1880? 1945? 1976?

      • Hi Tom,

        That’s a very difficult question to answer because such impacts may not necessarily be perceptible – we could be getting weather which is different from what we would have otherwise had but is still within the bounds of our normal expectations. My best answer would be that during the time when the human influence on global temperatures has become really apparent, ie the last few decades, I would guess there has been some influence on weather events, even if it hasn’t been noticeable. It’s only in the last few years that we have had reason to start thinking that we could be seeing a perceptible change in our climate and weather patterns, but I don’t pretend to be any kind of authority on this – others may have different views.

      • Andrew, can you understand why skeptics would react so strongly to Trenberth’s assertion? Hell, I react strongly to it…

    • “Saying particular events cannot be attributed to climate change is not the same as saying “there is no connection between them and climate change”

      B.S.

      Obama just flatly stated that “the overwhelming judgment of science” is that the recent specific events are attributable to AGW. You can wordsmith if you like, but that is the message.

      In most cases here there is not even a correlation, and the way you seem to think is that this is all that is necessary. Attribution is much harder even after a correlation is found. Ever heard of a spurious correlation? The path from tailpipe to Sandy is treacherous connection to make. The science is clearly not there yet, you can choose to believe otherwise.

      • Tom Scharf,

        Well I was commenting on a particular point made by Tom, not on Obama’s speech, so quoting Obama doesn’t disprove the point I was making.

        I didn’t say that correlation is all that is necessary to prove a link, you obviously need a physical mechanism which would explain such a correlation. I think our understanding is sufficient that we could say that a correlation between certain types of event and rising temperatures would be strong evidence of a link to AGW but I agree that establishing that such a correlation exists (or indeed that it does not) can be difficult and in some cases can’t yet be demonstrated.

    • there are difficulties in attribution due to lack of reliable data about past events

      This implicitly assumes that more reliable data would certifiy the anthropogenic connection. There is no reason to make that assumption.

      • Jimmy,

        I think better data would make it easier to determine whether an anthropogenic influence exists. In principle it could work either way – it could demonstrate there is no such influence.

  2. Tom not to get off subject. I work as an engineer for a Marcellus drilling company in PA as of now we only have 2 hazardous chemicals on our frac sites in quantities that are reportable (>10,000) LBS and those 2 chemicals are HCl acid 30% and sand. There are other additives but they are added in quantities measured as gallons per thousand gallons fresh (typically 1 – 2.5 gpt) There are several sites with full listings of nearly every chemical ever used when people talk about “thousands of chemicals” they do not realize at most a specific job will use a dozen but typical is 3 a friction reducer, bio-cide and scale inhibitor plus acid sand and water.

    As far as fresh water protection that is a drilling and casing issue not an actual issue with the frac job. To prevent contamination a ~18 hole is drilled to a depth between 40 and ~200′ at least into solid bedrock then a ~16″ steel casing string is set this is then incased in cement. Then a ~15″ hole is drilled through the plug of cement at the bottom this is drilled to ~50 feet below the deepest freshwater 400 -~1000′ then a ~11.75″ string of steel is run and cemented like the first string. This is followed by an 11″ hole with ~8.625″ string to 1200-4000′ this is also cemented to surface. Finally a ~7.875″ hole is drilled to depth and the curve is built and the lateral section drilled to total depth then a “long string” or production casing of ~5.5″ is run all the way to the end and cemented at least to the point the 8.625″ casing was run but we try to get it to surface and if we do not then we pump down the back side to fill it.

    Thus you have 4 strings of steel and 4 strings of cement separating the inside of the well form the surrounding rock. Also keep in mind that the formation we produce from is ~ a mile down this video is old and does not show everything I talked about but is at least somewhat instructive.

    http://marcelluscoalition.org/2009/01/drilling-process-video/

    • “I work as an engineer for a Marcellus drilling company in PA ” You are getting rich destroying the area I grew up in. You have zero credibility. I’ve seen your sites and met your crews. You are not welcome here.

      • For the record I was born in Pittsburgh and have lived here all my life excluding when I was in the army. Turn off your heat you are not welcome to use it you also should not use any plastic products as they are petroleum based and ohh any clothing or food or home goods that were transported by train/truck/boat we will let you keep your electricity so you can still have the internet then maybe you will have some credibility. Do organic farmers use diesel tractors?

        My degree is in environmental geology try actually learning something.

        Then again have you ever seen a rare earth element mine needed to make solar panels? or how about a steel mill for the wind turbines? Maybe even your “green” power needs fossil fuels and you can’t even keep your electricity.

        Try to join the real world and offer something constructive instead of useless drivel with no basis. Take your NIMBY attitude some place with no resources at least you will fit in.

      • I’ll bet if you all toned it down just a bit you could learn quite a bit from each other. I’d actually bet a lot on that.

    • Hi Ben

      Thanks for this. It’s useful. I hope you and Marty can continue this conversation at some length.

      • I will happily share what ever I can with anyone interested but telling me I am not welcome in my own home while simultaneously enjoying the benefits of the industry I am currently employed in is a quick way to make me hostile.

        Marty if you would like to have a civil discussion about the gas industry in PA I will be here. I fear you would not believe anything I say but would love to have the chance to share what I know.

        Tom any specific questions let me know and I will give you an email I actually check.

    • Hoping that Ben comes back to answer a question.

      I am trying to figure out how much gas a typical Marcellus well produces. The only information I have found is for a well in the Barnett Shale. Gas production 1,600 million cubic feet per day for the first three months, after a year’s time down to 800 million cubic feet per day and down to 200 million cubic feet per day after seven years. Is that similar to a Marcellus well? I thought I heard that the well pads in NE PA had more than one well. How many?

      If I can figure that out then I can figure out the difference in land needed between wind energy and gas energy development.

  3. Hi Tom, since you loudly proclaim socialism and on Valentines
    Day you post (almost Pravda-like) a picture of Dear leader, so I share some snarky progressive idioms:

    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    Your Government subsidizes crops so we can burn them
    In our autos and needlessly cause food prices to skyrocket
    For those least able to afford it..
    ================================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    You can get arrested for expired tags on your car
    but not for being in the country illegally.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    You have to have your parents signature to go on a school field trip
    but not to get an abortion.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    Your government believes the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt
    is to spend trillions more of our money.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    A seven year old boy can be thrown out of school for calling his teacher “cute”
    but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is
    perfectly acceptable.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    The Supreme Court can rule that lower courts cannot display the
    10 Commandments in their courtroom,
    while sitting in front of a display of the 10 Commandments.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    Children are forcibly removed from parents who appropriately discipline them while children of “underprivileged” drug addicts are left to rot
    in abusive and filth infested cesspools of a “home”.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    Hard work and success are rewarded with higher taxes and government intrusion
    while slothful, lazy behavior is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks,
    food stamps, subsidized housing, and free cell phones.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    The government’s plan for getting people back to work
    is to provide 99 weeks of unemployment checks (to not work).
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    Being self-sufficient is considered a threat to the government.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    Politicians think that stripping away the amendments to the constitution
    is actually protecting the rights of the people.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    The rights of the Government come before the rights of the individual.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    You pay your mortgage faithfully while denying yourself comforts and luxuries
    and your neighbor defaults on his mortgage while buying i-Phones, TV’s and new cars and the government forgives his debt and reduces his mortgage with your tax dollars.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    Being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you “safe”.
    ====================================
    You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…
    You can write a post like this just by reading the news
    headlines==============================

    • Fred from Canuckistan . . .

      Perfect summary of life in BamBam Land

    • “Hi Tom, since you loudly proclaim socialism” Come off it already. Did you read the article? Do you know what socialism is?

    • Hiya Bob–I’m not a socialist and don’t recognize much of the country you describe. In the climate debate, the political activists want to group together all of their opponents under the invented label of ‘deniers.’ They’ve done it to me for years. I’m a progressive liberal democrat–if you want to call me a socialist, why not go all in and call me a communist?🙂

      • Tom it wasn’t meant as an insult. I find it unconvincing, that anyone could distinguish a progressive liberal from a socialist. Most of the leaders in Europe, including the Prime Min of France call themselves socialists. Most of western Europe can be described as socialists. It is a political philosophy, which I personally find repugnant to individual dignity, and not something you should take offense at. Communism is mush harsher on the progressive scale I certainly did not refer to you as such. Did you notice I put a snark label in the first sentence. Why do most bristle at be called a socialist?

      • Don’t worry, Bob–I don’t feel insulted. Hey, I added a smiley face! Doesn’t that cover all manner of sins?🙂

  4. Fred from Canuckistan . . .

    “Those who haven’t seen my writing elsewhere may be surprised to learn that I’m a self-described proud, Liberal progressive Democrat who enthusiastically supports President Obama. ”

    We all have our crosses to bear, yours is just bigger, heavier and more politically useless than other people’s burdens.

  5. Tom, interesting article. I hope Obama reads it.

    • I have experience in the de-regulated New York electricity market and believe that Harrywrt2’s description of the situation is spot on. The carbon tax theory is great but politicians are involved. The RGGI carbon tax was supposed to be used exclusively for projects to address climate change but that did not stop Governor Patterson from raiding that pot of money for a temporary budget “fix”. Washington would probably do it sooner and more frequently.

      I agree with Harry’s description of the demand risk factor. Again the New York market will be instructive because the problem of no one wanting to build fossil units to replace the coal and oil capacity that is not profitable and the old gas turbines will come home to roost sooner rather than later.
      One other thing the total cost of intermittent and diffuse renewables is not comparable using the levelized cost unless you include the cost for storage and transmission to make them available on demand relative to a fossil unit that is available on demand.

  6. Tom,

    I’m sure will have to agree to disagree…but a Carbon Tax in the US will be useless.

    It’s been fairly useless in Europe and their average coal price is double the US average coal price and their natural gas prices are 3-4 times US natural gas prices.

    The biggest problem we have in the US and in Europe is demand risk.

    That means building any ‘capital intensive’ energy infrastructure has the risk of never being utilized fully.

    If I go over to US EIA and look at levelized costs of various technologies a small carbon tax will have a big impact if

    1) I don’t include the cost of abandoning a perfectly good generating resource
    2) I can guarantee the new resources will be utilized fully.

    A $10 or $20 CO2 tax does neither.

    The marginal cost of production a KWh of electricity in a 30 year old coal fired plant with a $20/ton CO2 tax in the US ranges from 3 cents to 7 cents.

    In a free market grid environment…’1st on’ goes to the lowest marginal cost producer.

    Anyone that has to make mortgage payments on their generating capacity in the US can not possibly achieve ‘1st on’ status when competing against a resource with no mortgage payment.

    Since the new asset isn’t going to be able to compete against existing assets then no one will risk their capital.

    We see this if we watch the negotiations in the UK over trying to entice investment in New Nuclear. The numbers being bandied about for the ‘carbon tax’ floor in the UK in order to make nuclear power viable are substantially higher then the projected operating cost of the VC Summer nuclear plant in South Carolina. (Wind is a confounding factor in the UK as well)

    South Carolina is a ‘regulated’ electricity market and new nuclear is viable at a cost consistent with existing electricity rates.

    The UK ‘pretends’ it is an unregulated market and attempts to regulate the electricity market thru various subsidies and penalties for various generating technology which IMHO has resulted in substantially higher overall consumer costs.

    When we look at building ‘new capacity’…almost every utility in the US already considers the possibility of a $10-$20 carbon tax as well as a range of price increases in the cost of fossil fuels over the life of the plant into the calculus.

  7. I was actually surprised to hear him say that Sandy=AGW was “the overwhelming judgement of science” and that China has gone “all-in on clean energy.” Since neither of those statements was close to true, he and his advisors had to know the fact checkers would be on it. That made the whole section of the speech ring to me as read meat lip service to a special interest group.
    The Energy Trust sounds interesting- it would be a good place to put the lease money and other existing revenues the government gets from oil and gas drilling. Existing being the operative word.
    Why would you rebate a carbon tax to Social Security payment decreases? Lop it off income taxes and add it to EITC if you’re going to do it. But, there again, you aren’t punishing the use of carbon (the purpose of the tax) if you rebate it.
    Agree with Harry on a general carbon tax. Harry, thoughts on gas tax (not that it will happen while gas is $4/gallon)?

    • Hi JeffN, perhaps I’m not explaining well. The idea of revenue neutral regards the government–they don’t end up with extra money to spend as a result of the tax. If we collect $50 billion in taxes from emitters of carbon and give it back in EITC or lower social security taxes, the government doesn’t have extra money to play with. That’s why I’m hoping it would attract conservative support.

      It would certainly take money out of the pocket of utility companies that choose to generate power with coal plants and they would save some of that tax burden by changing their fuel portfolio to greener sources.

      We haven’t changed the federal gas tax for a bazillion years–I think it’s $0.18 / gallon. I think we could bump it up a nickel.

      Most importantly, I don’t think there’s ‘bleed-over’ from what I think are misstatements about energy to the rest of his speech. As I said above, I liked it overall and thought that this was the weakest part. But I still liked the rest. A lot.

      • If you rebate it in the form of a SS tax reduction it will not be revenue neutral to the government or the individual. The difference between what SS takes in and what it sends out is handed over to the treasury in return for an IOU. Your plan would simply increase the deficit. This is why conservatives have supported tax changes that are neutral, by reducing income taxes.
        It won’t take money out of the pockets of utility companies, they’ll pass it on to rate payers, who will only be able to avoid it if they have the money and good credit to be able to buy efficiency improvements (cars, windows, etc). Replacing a functioning coal plant with a gas plant also increases rates. This is why the Boxer Sanders proposal is DOA- there is no such thing as a magical tax that doesn’t increase the price of the thing taxed, but they can’t bring themselves to admit this.
        This isn’t a political blog so I won’t say much about the rest of the speech. I find it interesting tho that his guests for the gun issue lost their daughter to a gang banger who had been arrested and let go last year for gun violations. They “deserve a vote” but perhaps more than that they deserve a liberal movement that cares enough to vote on something that would help. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-13/news/ct-met-hadiya-pendleton-investigation-20130213_1_rival-gang-gang-members-gangster-disciples

      • That’s why I’m hoping it would attract conservative support.

        Tax and Refund punishes suburban/rural dwellers and rewards urban dwellers. It’s basically a ‘lifestyle’ tax.

        If you look at a voting map by population density ‘conservatives’ are basically suburban/rural dwellers.

        Proposing a lifestyle tax on conservatives generally doesn’t garner their support.

  8. “We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it.”

    “We”…..hmmmmm…

    I think its fair to say that the greens have been dragged kicking and screaming the whole way with the fracking boom. They still outright oppose it. There is three feet of irony that this is a primary driver for reducing emissions, and mostly driven by the private sector oil and gas industry at no direct cost to the consumer. Emission reduction scorecard – Oil and Gas: 1, Greens 0. Embarrassing.

    • I think it’s probably fair to say that Barack Obama is green because of pragmatic recognition of the needs of his coalition rather than personal predilection. If greens are fighting fracking, it isn’t Obama leading that charge.

      • I would agree that Obama is pragmatic with regards to energy in many ways. He has let the gas boom go by without much as a whimper, and that is telling. He doesn’t ignore the economics. Now this is politically expedient of course. He also supports nuclear, but has been quiet on that subject lately.

        Trying to keep the greens happy is impossible, but I recognize he needs to throw them some bones every now and then.

        Being pro-jobs and anti-Keystone doesn’t add up though (union jobs!). My guess is the economy will win this argument. RPJ’s iron law.

    • “I think its fair to say that the greens have been dragged kicking and screaming the whole way with the fracking boom.”

      If you’re talking about the actual Green Party types, sure – but there are a surprisingly large number of Democrats/centrists who like nuclear power and fracking.
      Of course, those probably overlap pretty well with the group who’d vote for an Eisenhower Republican – and Eisenhower himself might well get called a “commie” if he were running for office these days. The parties change quite a bit over time.

  9. Sandy is a result of AGW?

    This fact is so patently false if you track hurricane statistics (I do, I live in FL) that it surprising he would say it out loud. It is like tossing a softball to the skeptics.

    Check the NOAA, IPCC SREX, RJP’s blog, etc. There is no evidence to support this. You definitely have to “choose to believe” this, because it is definitely based in faith, not facts.

    Of course what is interesting, and not very surprising, is the lack of any climate scientists rushing out to correct this mistake. These are the things that “confirm my bias” that climate science is on the take politically. Has anyone taken issue with this?

    • It’s funny, Tom–there actually is a climate argument to be made about Sandy–not the one we’re discussing here, obviously. But over at Judith Curry’s she made the statement that the low extent of Arctic ice contributed to the blocking event that caused Sandy to turn left onto U.S. shores.

      But nobody has picked up on that. Curious.

      • I haven’t heard that. Maybe. All the directional pushes on a hurricane come from surrounding weather, so it’s possible. This is not the meme that is being pushed though. Blanket statement have to include statistical trends and proven causal link. Sandy linkage is like tabloid news of climate science. It’s distressing that they (science?) would use this type of tactic, but I think it will ultimately only work against them in the long run.

      • Slightly off-topic, but I’d seen someone ask how warming could cause increased extreme events. Something like “in a warmer world, there’ll be less of a polar-equator temperature differential, and differentials drive storms, so how would this work?”

        The mechanism I’ve heard works more-or-less like this:

        – Normally, the temperature differential between the poles drives the west-to-east movement of the Rossby waves (the dips in the Jet Stream) and keeps these further north.
        – As the poles warm faster than the equator, the Rossby waves move slower and dip further south, leading to them getting “stuck” – i.e., blocking patterns.
        – With the Jet Stream stuck in place, a given area is likely to get the same weather for months and months – either all rain or no rain.

        ‘Course, this is just about droughts and floods, not about hurricane Sandy. But you could see it also in.. 2007, I think? That was the year when hurricane after hurricane veered away from the US due to the blocking pattern over Greenland (IIRC). I kinda worry about the year when we have a blocking pattern that *attracts* hurricanes.

      • Yeah, just wait until we have a normal hurricane year. We are in the longest known stretch (in over a hundred years) without a Cat3 hurricane landfall in the US. About 7 years and counting. When’s the last time you heard that stat from the MSM?

        It’s so dry that Sandy had to be used for FUD. The timing of Sandy with high tide was a big factor in the damage, but stuff happens.

        And yet many still trot out the “more frequent and more powerful storms” mantra. This has truly become dogma.

        As far as I can tell the only supportable argument is increased rainfall showing about a 4% global increase, with a causal connection of warmer air carrying more water.

        The rest of droughts and floods is very difficult to trend. There is a lot mixed results and since the events are rare you need a long time series. Declaring AGW causes both more floods and droughts is also a bit non-intuitive, and without evidence, it just seems a bit too politically convenient.

      • Tom, I agree with you about Xrtreme Weather being dogma. I would go further and suggest that it has great potential to boomerang upon its users. I intend to post on this in the very near future.

      • Tom, I agree about the severity/frequency of storms. We don’t have enough data to say much of anything about that, yet.

        But I’ll note that the frequency of hurricane formation really doesn’t have much to do with how many hurricanes make landfall. It’s not a given that more hurricanes = more damage to the US.. not if they never make landfall.
        So, saying that “the US hasn’t had a major hurricane landfall in X years” is a weak ‘skeptical’ point, since it doesn’t really address the predictions of more hurricanes (and let’s face it, even the climate scientists don’t agree on predictions re: hurricanes). At the same time, it raises another question: “if we have more hurricanes, does it matter?”

        Anyways. As far as I can tell, the mechanism explaining why we’d get increased droughts/flood under AGW is pretty solid. It goes a long way towards explaining the strange weather of the last few years – droughts two years running, record heat waves, record cold snaps in winter in Florida.. Now we just need to see if this is climate or weather.

      • Well, I just put up the opening salvo of what will be a series of posts about Xtreme Weather.

  10. If the President bases his policy on frakking with the same quality of thinking that led him to claim we import less oil now than we did 20 years ago, we are in for even more stupid, irresponsible and failed polices than he has given us so far. Think of the Obama adminstration and bad policy as “11” on the Spinal Tap amplifier.

  11. Dear Readers, Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t think that Obama is a socialist or that fracking is the solution to everything? If you’re there, please post a short comment.

    • Marty for the record I don’t think fracing is the solution to everything I do not see how it helps with border control a needed step before any amnesty. I also do not see how it will stabilize social security and medicare/medicaid so that they can still be functional. I do not see how it can solve the problem of entitlement and interest payments being the entire federal budget in ~15 years. In fact the only way fracing could be the solution to everything was if Obama was actually a socialist and took over every oil and gas field and company in the country and use all of the revenue to keep every fat happy and quiet. He would also need to take over a few more industries but why stop at one. For the record any redistributive policy is a form of Socialism Lite so in many way we are as a nation partially socialist. You may want to actually research what that means before you get all offended by it.

    • Marty,
      Obama is not a socialist per se, he is just a Chicago thugocrat. What do you mean by “everything”? And how can natural gas in plentiful long term supply solve “everything”?

      • Now, Hunter, tsk tsk. Thugocrat? That’s uncalled for with Obama (although if you used it for Rahm Emanuel even he would probably smile). Play nice regarding the President, please.

      • Tom,
        Yes, sir. ;^)

      • I think simply calling him an Illinois politician is sufficient labelling

      • Yeah–worked for Abe Lincoln, didn’t it?

      • Yes, the irony that one of our greatest Presidents came from what is today the most corrupt and financially irresponsible state is amazing. And that we have a President from the most violent and corrupt large city in that state and in America goes to show that 19th century greatness can turn into 21st century failure all too easily.

  12. Tom, Forget about who is commenting here. Think about who isn’t and ask why.

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