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Obama Fracks, Greens Sulk

Greens widely hailed President Obama’s decision to block the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, but was that move just setting up a pivot toward brown? Following his State of the Union address, the President announced plans to increase demand for natural gas by supporting infrastructure that makes use of it, as well as by opening up millions of acres of offshore real estate to new drilling. This policy could yield several political benefits. For starters, green industry has yet to become the job-creating dynamo Obama promised; brown jobs, meanwhile, are there for the taking. Even better, America’s expanding  production and vast reserves of shale gas mean less reliance on foreign sources of energy.  Natural gas is also both greener and cheaper than oil at current prices. Cheap, greener, and locally produced: What’s not to love?

Plenty, say the implacable greens. Despite all the upsides, they have criticized the plan, citing the fact that more and more American natural gas is produced via fracking and offshore drilling, two of their greatest bugbears.  A little gratitude for the President’s politically risky call on the Keystone decision would seem to be in order, but that is not how the green lobby works. Yes, yes, they say, we know you fell on your sword for us over Keystone, but what have you done for us lately?

The President could use some nicer friends.

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  • Kenny

    Call a spade a spade.

    The Greens believe that America already consumers too much energy and that we and the world would be better off — in their minds, at any rate — if U.S. energy was more expensive.

    That Obama is somewhat favorable to fracking only shows the power of a pending election.

  • a nissen

    WS Heard on the Street 1/26/12J LIAM DENNING:

    “If his latest State of the Union address is anything to go by, President Obama has found religion on natural gas. Don’t expect the gas industry or its investors to rejoice.

    The success of the exploration and production, or E&P, sector in developing America’s unconventional gas has crushed prices. This is good for bill-paying voters, so the White House would like to encourage it. Problem is, what is really needed is more demand. The oil price is now about 40 times the price of gas. On an energy-equivalent basis, oil should be only six to 10 times higher. The market is saying use less oil and more gas.

    Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. The anticipated switch from coal-fired electricity to more derived from gas is proving gradual. Increased gas exports, if they happen, remain years off. Converting vehicles to run on natural gas is another strategy. But Joe Petrowski, chief executive of fuel distributor Gulf Oil, estimates there might be an extra 300,000 gas-fueled vans and trucks on the road this year, boosting gas demand by just 2%.

    If gas is to strengthen anytime soon, it won’t be due to surging demand, but reduced supply. Chesapeake Energy, the biggest independent U.S. gas producer, issued on Monday an effective “pre-buttal” of the president’s speech, announcing drilling cutbacks….”

  • Kenny

    The conversion of power plans from coal to natural gas will happen a lot faster than Nissen thinks, especially with coal under intense attack from the Obama Administration.

    Just today, First Energy said that they’re closing three coal fire plants in Ohio

  • Michael Caton

    It seems like this kind of thing happens a lot – left-leaning groups with “general election tunnel vision” on their issue – and it’s probably a result of the nature of left and right coalitions. Right coalitions (these days) are motivated by team-player ideals, and people look past the substance on the issues for the most part as long as their guy sounds like them and goes to the right church. While this isn’t a good way for a voter to expect results, it’s great for the political party, which moves with a unity that the left can’t muster. As for the left, people are much more oriented toward issues, often single issues. So in this case, even though Obama lost points for “falling on his sword” over Keystone, the environmental groups don’t want any compromise at all, and don’t care that a 100% environmental focus would mean no second term. This is true of most leftish causes. The emergence of a single- or few-issue/no compromise group on the right (i.e. the Tea Party) has so far not been a win for the GOP and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re seeing some of the most vicious campaigning of modern times in the first post-Tea Party GOP primary.

  • mesquito

    This is a true story.

    An oil company exec and an NRCC functionary were taking a break from from a meeting of one of the regulatory boards that have all but replaced our democracy. The conversation was amiable, and the exec asked the NRCC guy what the enviromentalists’ ultimate goal was. “To prohibit the use of fossil fuels, of course.”

    “Well,” said the exec. “What are we going to replace them with?”

    “Oh, that’s your problem.”

  • Randy

    Dr. M,

    The Puffington Host link is from last April. Might need to flog some interns.

  • a nissen

    That was Denning, not Nissen doing the thinking. I (and a few others) introduce new riffs in hopes of improving the improvisation whenever commenters again and again parrot WRM, i.e,, “reading the pudding” vs a mutual admiration society.

    Michael C.,
    Very interesting! Obama will lose because of selfish environmentalists and the GOP will lose because of the vicious campaigning compelled by the no-compromise Tea-Party. This puzzler leads to but one conclusion—at last, the long awaited Third Party arises and WINS! No? Shucks.

  • Walter Sobchak

    And us brown’s don’t trust him either.

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