Obama Out-of-Touch Energy Policy

Natural gas and crude oil continues to reshape the U.S. energy economy
Annual Energy Outlook for 2014 (pre-release), EIA, 12/16/2014

On 12/16/2013 the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a remarkable upgraded assessment of the U.S. energy future in a spashy (for the EIA) media pre-release of its Annual Energy Outlook for 2014. It came complete with a live web broadcast.

The biggest news is the EIA forecasts that U.S. crude oil production will again match it’s all-time record high of 9.6 million barrels a day later this decade. That hasn’t been seen since way back in 1970. It’s made possible by new drilling technology that can tap oil locked up in previously inaccessible “tight oil” shale deposits.

Cheap, clean burning natural gas is already well into its own technology driven golden era of record-setting production. It will surpass dirty coal as the nation’s largest source of electricity by 2035.

The EIA’s key findings for 2014:

  • Growing domestic oil and gas production is reshaping the U.S. energy economy
  • Light-duty vehicle use is declining in miles traveled while MPG is up
  • Natural gas will become the largest source of U.S. electric power by 2035
  • Exports will go up for oil, natural gas and liquid natural gas (LNG)
  • Improved efficiency will keep CO2 emissions below 2005 levels through 2040

Natural gas electric power has already contributed greatly to lowering U.S. CO2 emissions and other nasty pollutants. It will contribute even more over the next several decades.

Light-duty vehicle fuel consumption will decrease from 59% to 42% of total demand. That is a faster decline than forecast last year. The EIA says it’ll be brought on by a combination of less driving and better fuel efficiency.

Total U.S. energy production will go up by about 25% between now and 2040.

Natural gas will lead the way gobbling up 7% more of total U.S. production than it holds today. Renewables will pick up 1% while oil, coal and nuclear will all decrease.

Total U.S. electricity production is where renewables will make their largest gains. EIA forecasts they will up their contribution by 4% to 16% by 2040. Nuclear, coal and other petroleum products will all decrease. Natural gas, however, will increase by 5%  to 35% of the total. It’ll provide more than twice as much production as renewables and the total energy gap between them will continue to widen.

Obama Energy Policy Misdirected

So how does the President’s green-energy, climate change based energy policy fit into America’s energy future? Answer: Not very well. Pretty much everything appealing about it in 2009 has changed.

Fossil fuels, thought then to be in serious decline and threatening national defense, have since been booming due to new drilling techniques that have gained access to vast shale reserves.

Dependence on foreign oil is a thing of the past.

According to the EIA, the U.S. became a net energy exporter in 2011 and energy exports are forecast to double by 2040. That’ll reduce trade deficits.

Global warming leveled off about 15 years ago. Even the IPCC has backed off on its dire catastrophic forecasts.

Using more clean burning natural gas in electric power plants has done far more for reducing U.S. CO2 emissions than all the Administration’s efforts costing over $100 billion tax dollars combined. Declining total motor vehicle miles driven by Americans has also contributed. Energy conservation has been the Administration’s most effective contribution.

Government investments in green energy technologies since 2009 have left a wide swath of bankruptcies and will have only a small impact on energy production before 2040.

In the early 2000s ethanol blended gasoline was mandated to reduce foreign oil dependence as a national security concern. The Administration morphed it into a way to fight global warming.

Ethanol (which is ‘carbon neutral’) doesn’t burn as clean as good old-fashioned gasoline, raises both gas and food prices, and it reduces MPG because it stores less energy per unit volume.

Conclusions

Administration energy policy has failed to recognize and respond to rapid changes in the U.S. energy outlook.

The EIA’s latest 2040 projections show that the Administration’s green-centric (and mostly “stimulus” funded) energy policy is both misdirected and dying on the vine.

Fossil fuels, though non-renewable, will remain in plentiful supply globally for many more decades to come. The need for their immediate replacement for national security or economic stimulus no longer exists. The EIA’s 2014 energy outlook predicts fossils will still supply 80% of all U.S. energy needs in the year 2040.

Especially significant is the explosion of natural gas production. Using it to replace coal-fired electric power generation and replace oil in manufacturing and in transportation will hold the line on CO2 emissions through 2040 and beyond.

That allows for economically feasible green energy technologies to be developed in a timely fashion. That is as opposed to the Administration’s now-unnecessary, very expensive helter-skelter plunge in all directions into a plethora of unproven energy technologies.

Administration policy is failing to leverage the advantages of natural gas.

To add insult to injury, Obama policies will actually increase instead of decrease atmospheric CO2 emissions by restricting and slowing the use of natural gas!!

Most of Obama’s damaging energy policies can and will be undone after he is out of office. By then, though, energy economics will suffer from misdirected efforts.

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About azleader

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Posted on Dec 23, 2013, in Climate, climate change, economics, Economy, Energy, environment, geology, Global Warming, Government, nature, news, Opinion, Politics, science, technology, Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Imagine where we would be and what the forcast for the future would be if the government’s policy had been to open federal lands for oil ans gas production the last five years?

  2. I’m unsure the total effect if Federal and Indian lands had been opened more. There would have been more production, for sure, but probably would not have made it dramatically more.

    There are other effects, though, that do matter. For example, The Navajo Generating Station (2.2 megawatt) is a coal-fired power plant on Navajo Indian land managed by the federal government. It is near Page, Arizona and has been there for decades.

    The EPA recently gave the Navajo two choices. Install expensive BART (Best Available Retrofit Technology) technology to reduce emissions, or shutdown. As you probably know… commercial grade technology to do that does not yet exist.

    The plant employes 530; mostly Navajo Indians. It provides power to pump water through the Central Arizona (water) Project and electricity to the southwest.

    It is just one example how the EPA is being used as a hammer for Obama misguided energy policy.

    Under Obama, it is doubtful that fracking and horizontal drilling will ever be allowed on federal managed lands.

  3. So Obama’s policy I have heard causes coal fire plants to be replaced by natural gas fired. You say Obama is standing in the way of natural gas. You show no examples. Your article seem to be very lacking on information that supports your theory.

    • The Obama Administration, through the EPA, is targeting both coal-fired and natural gas-fired electric power plants. The new rule will limit coal-fired plants to something like 1,100 tons of CO2 emissions and natural gas to 1,000.

      Coal plants produce about 40% of all U.S. CO2 emissions. The average coal plant emits about 2,200 tons and natural gas averages a little over 1,100.

      The fact that clean natural gas has to meet a tougher standard than coal is proof that the Administration is targeting all fossil fuels, imho.

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