Monday, September 28, 2015

Obama’s Not Anti-Fossil Fuel Enough for Hard-Core Environmentalists

President Obama’s recent Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approval of a Shell Oil drilling project in Arctic Alaska drew criticism from hard-core environmentalist enemies of fossil fuels.

One such critic, the writer of a New Jersey Star-Ledger letter, wrote in part:

The [New Jersey] Star-Ledger's September 4 [2015] editorial lauds President Obama's efforts at curbing carbon dioxide emissions, but backs his decision to allow oil drilling off the Alaska coast, claiming we would burn the same amount of oil if the drilling were halted. This flies in the face of common sense, [because] it would slow efforts at energy efficiency and transitioning to alternative energy.

Market forces affect energy use. If a steadily increasing fee were placed on fossil fuels at their source, and the money collected were returned to all American households equally, we could cut carbon dioxide emissions to half of 1990 levels in the next 20 years.

I left these comments:

There is no equivocation between a federally enforced carbon fee and market forces.

Market forces are based in voluntary choices. A carbon tax-and-redistribution scheme is aggressive government force; which means guns, since disobeying laws will result in armed government agents seizing you, your property, or your freedom. A carbon fee and redistribution scheme is not a market force. It is an anti-market force designed to override by government aggression Americans’ voluntary energy choices.

And for what reason? Precisely because, as Philippa Solomon readily acknowledges, continued oil exploration and drilling will “slow efforts at energy efficiency and transitioning to alternative energy.” Why will oil production slow the transition? Because, as implied in Solomon’s acknowledgement whether she chooses to see it or not, alternative energy—so-called green energy—is expensive, unreliable crap. Left free from government force like carbon fees, consumers will choose the best energy for their needs, which means fossil fuels.

Obama’s approval of Alaskan oil drilling—and the Star-Ledger’s stated support for that decision—may “fly in the face of common sense” to an environmentalist wedded to the anti-human standard of value that puts non-impact on nature above human well-being. But, despite his legacy-craving utopian crusade to manage the world’s climate at the expense of Americans’ economic and energy well-being, perhaps Obama is not so cruel as to disregard the reality that you can’t completely stifle fossil fuel development—the energy workhorse of modern industrial society and thus the driver of people’s flourishing lives—until so-called “renewable” energy proves its ability to carry the load. And that will not happen—if it can ever happen—until a fully free energy market is established so that innovators can compete on a level playing field; i.e., without government efforts to prop up green energy with subsidies and the like or government efforts to throttle fossil fuel energy.

Americans are currently enjoying much cheaper oil and gas prices, thanks to the heroic ingenuity of the oil and gas industry in generating a production renaissance right here at home. Only an anti-development, prosperity-hating climate witch doctor would want to strangle that renaissance with carbon fees.

[UPDATE: The Associated Press reported late on 9/28 that “Royal Dutch Shell is giving up on its expensive and controversial push to produce oil in Alaska's Arctic waters . . . ‘for the foreseeable future’ because it failed to find enough oil to make further drilling worthwhile.”]

Related Reading:

Call for "Carbon Fee" is a Call for a Tax on Human Well-Being

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