Mar 22, 2012

Mom says -- "It's a Mess"

"If you just glance at it, it's a mess, isn't it?" Those wise words came from my mother today, after I showed her the scratch diagram below. We were discussing Obama's getting anything done on fossil fuels reform. She rightly pointed out that Obama's support for more domestic oil production,(1) more domestic job creation,(2) and meaningful environmental protections makes him seem duplicitous. I suggested my diagram re: America's confusion over climate science reasonably summarizes a few of the factors Obama is balancing as commander and chief of a divided nation.

Click to enlarge

What's probably most interesting about my diagram is simply that it's mine. One man's shorthand about why America can't get major media to present a more balanced representation of climate science and how to respond. What would yours look like? (I'd love to hear reader comments below.)

Probably less interesting are some snippets from my recent reply to a (passionate and well-informed) reader concerned about Obama acting "bi-polar" on energy policy. Rather than incorrectly summarize his thoughts, I'll simply cut & paste my own:
Thanks for your excellent input and comments - I was unaware of much of what you've shared. As far as my view, and quoting from the excellent Forbes article, I think Obama's nature is to be somewhat two-faced on all of this. (3)

The size and aggressiveness of the Oil&Gas Industry is daunting. Based on my research, I would go so far as to say O&G has influenced a lot of legal code, if not political, media, and social culture, and certainly they've been benefited from (if not commandeered) our military's investment in Iraq, and other wars.

My understanding of the Keystone issue, as an enviro, is it's "game over" for the planet if it goes thru. But my understanding from a business perspective is -- it's the future of the Petroleum Industry -- quite possibly the world's most powerful industry right now. What's more, even if Obama were to oppose Keystone directly, I'm not sure the American people would. I suspect that's the calculus he's trying to balance.

Meanwhile, Obama keeps opening up more domestic drilling because more jobs and more domestic fuel production are popular. Unfortunately Obama is not an environmentalist president, as I wish he were. An enviro pres would call for full sale investment in clean fuels development -- but as a pragmatist president, quite possibly to our detriment, Obama investing significant funds into a nascent clean fuels industry (a clean fuels "bail out" if you would) would almost certainly cause political firestorms and is perhaps a battle his Admin can't see fighting.

So, maybe the call to end Big Oil subsidization is a chess move that tests the awareness and will of the broader American public for change? If you look into the data, it's an open and shut case -- we're subsidizing the world's wealthiest people, essentially. Maybe the Obama hope is that this $4 Billion a year change would pave the way for broader reform - putting a price on pollution, making polluters pay, thus incentivizing the market (which in this case is worth Trillions and Trillions of dollars of global influence) to develop cleaner fuels today.

That's my hope. And my guess.

(1) i.e. Natural Gas (Shale Gas) fracking in North Dakota, TX, OK, etc. is currently producing a very profitable surplus of marketable natural gas and oil. Obama delayed confirmation of the Keystone pipeline, which would bring bituminous crude from Alberta Canada to Beaumont TX, but approved a segment of it yesterday in Oklahoma. He also stands behind higher fuel efficiency standards -- in the year 2025, climate legislation ASAP, and killing $4 Billion worth of annual/federal subsidies for big Oil. 
(2) "Create more jobs" in part thru things like permitting the Keystone XL pipeline and opening up expansion of more domestic Oil & Gas production. Note: Oil & Gas jobs tend to pay pretty well these days.
(3) Simply put -- Obama seems to be playing both sides to move the middle (mass) towards using less fossil fuels.  

No comments: