March 23, 2012

THE ALGAE THAT DIDN’T BARK: New York Times: U.S. Inches Toward Energy Independence. As reader Michael Costello writes: “Not one word about algae, windmills or solar panels.”

UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes:

Great article. Hope you savored these parts:

“The Bush administration worked from the start on finding ways to unlock the nation’s energy reserves and reverse decades of declining output, with Mr. Cheney leading a White House energy task force that met in secret with top oil executives.”

Remember the caterwauling about Cheney’s “secret meetings” with oil industry executives? Now we know what it was about: plotting a path toward energy independence. The horror!

“The Bush administration also opened large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico and the waters off Alaska to exploration, granting lease deals that required companies to pay only a tiny share of their profits to the government.

“These measures primed the pump for the burst in drilling that began once oil prices started rising sharply in 2005 and 2006.”

What? They managed to help transform an industry without lending anyone a gazillion dollars of taxpayer money? Who knew?

Heh. Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Clark Taylor writes:

Adding onto Dr. Clark’s comments about the irony of Cheney’s secret meetings allowing for drilling to expand…

I keep seeing advertisements from Obama about how great it is that oil production started going up once he was in office. This means, the central advertisement for keeping Obama in office right now is … Cheney’s secret meetings with oil executives causing the economy to grow! Heh.

To preserve Dick Cheney’s legacy — Vote Obama!

Plus this reader email on gas prices:

If you choose to publish this, please do it anonymously.

I work for a company that does work for major refiners doing capital expansions. Something to keep in mind when we talk about gas prices is how much it costs refiners to get their facilities to make fuels compliant with EPA mandates. I am proud of the work we do to remove benzene from gasoline or sulfur from deisel, but it is expensive work. The cost gets handed right back to customers at the pump. If it is any consolation, you are getting a better quality product in terms of health and environment than you were when you were paying $1.50 a gallon.

I think I’d go for the buck-and-a-half gas. But it’s an important point that refining capacity matters as much as crude oil production.