“All-of-the-above” – Obama, 4/17/12
In a Rose Garden speech Tuesday, President Obama describes his energy policy as an “all-of-the-above” strategy. He was flanked by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Justice Department Secretary Eric Holder.
The policy has two flaws:
- It isn’t “all-of-the-above”
- Fracking messes up Obama’s long-term strategy
Every Presidential action, including Tuesday’s remarks and last Friday’s energy executive order, follows a master plan outlined back on March 30th, 2011. It is called, “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future“.
Everything you ever wanted to know about President Obama’s energy policy is spelled out in the blueprint.
In this article, the blueprint is reviewed in terms of Obama’s current campaign trail claims that his energy policy is an “all-of-the-above” strategy that develops EVERY U.S. energy resource. Fracking will be examined separately in later detailed articles.
President Obama on Energy Policy
In the blueprint, the President rightly looks ahead to a future time when non-renewable fossil fuel resources are gone. He is to be commended for that.
Funding energy conservation and investing in alternative energy today in preparation for tomorrow is smart policy.
When introduced a year ago, President Obama made these remarks about the blueprint:
I talked about reducing America’s dependence on oil when I was running for President, and I’m proud of the historic progress that we’ve made over the last two years towards that goal
Today, I want to announce a new goal, one that is reasonable, one that is achievable, and one that is necessary. When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third.
– President Obama, America’s Energy Security, 3/30,2011
The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity and security on a resource that will eventually run out. Not anymore.
– President Obama, Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, 3/30/2011
The General Strategy
The blueprint outlines a three-prong energy strategy:
- Develop and Secure America’s Energy Supplies
- Provide Consumers With Choices to Reduce Costs and Save Energy
- Innovate our Way to a Clean Energy Future
“Develop and Secure America’s energy supplies ” is the leg of the energy policy tripod that speaks most directly to whether or not the Obama Administration policy is an “all-of-the-above” strategy or not. Its 6 pages long.
In the other two sections, 29 pages, it defines how conservation and innovation will develop renewable, eco-friendly and greenhouse gas reducing energy alternatives that America will love.
Forecasting the Future
Taken from the blueprint, the above graphics show the current energy situation in several sectors and projects future energy growth.
For example, by 2030, batteries for electric cars are forecast to cost 1/10th their current price and the cost per kilowatt of solar energy will drop to 1/5th.
Combined, renewable sources are forecast to grow by 140% in just four years from 2008 to 2012!
The Future of Oil, Coal and Natural Gas
Understandably, in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the blueprint emphasizes the safe development of oil and natural gas resources. The section on it is titled, “Expand Safe and Responsible Domestic Oil and Natural Gas Development and Production”.
For all fossil fuels the blueprint sets environmentalism, worker safety and CO2 emissions (global warming) as its primary targets.
The Obama blueprint calls for more regulatory oversight and controls through these newly created agencies:
- Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR)
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Managment (BOEM)
- Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)
ONRR’s purpose is “ensure the full and fair return to the American people of federal and Indian royalties and other monies owed for the utilization of public resources”. Mostly it collects leasing royalties.
BOEM “conducts and oversees world-class research and environmental reviews to support decision-making regarding offshore conventional and renewable energy development.” BOEM further touts that “BOEM is leading the nation toward a renewable energy future.”
This is the agency that oversees offshore energy development such as deep water drilling.
BSEE “works to promote safety, protect the environment, and conserve resources offshore through vigorous regulatory oversight and enforcement.”
According to the EIA, coal represents about 24% of total energy use in the United States. It is projected to remain near that level through 2035.
The only mention of it in the blueprint is R&D investment into clean coal technologies to curb global warming. $3.5 billion in ARRA funds went to global warming friendly CO2 emission recovery and storage for coal.
Unlike all non-fossil fuel energy sources, the blueprint does NOT set production goals for oil, natural gas or coal!
The U.S. has vast reserves of undeveloped coal. Through the new technology of fracking there are vast recoverable reserves of both petroleum and natural gas that could be developed.
In fact, through fracking, those reserves are being developed on private and state lands right now today. It is why U.S. oil and gas production is increasing. Public land development of these resources is in decline.
According to the EIA, 82% of total U.S. energy came from oil, natural gas and coal in 2008. The EIA projects that percentage to remain the same through 2035 with a small amount coming from renewable biodiesel.
Fossil fuels will supply most of this country’s energy for many decades to come… even without fracking.
Fossil fuel environmental and worker safety concerns are of paramount importance. It is well covered in the blueprint. The Deepwater Horizon taught us that lesson.
The problem with the blueprint is that is all it ever covers.
When your nation’s long-term energy plan imposes restrictions on but does not set production goals for 82% of your nation’s total projected energy use over the next 23 years then something is seriously wrong.
Note that in the President’s remarks he emphasizes “reducing America’s dependence on oil” over “reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil”.
There is a subtle distinction.
There can be only one logical conclusion… Obama’s energy policy is not an “all-of-the-above” strategy.