Sunday, October 14, 2018

Emerging U.S. Energy Powerhouse

The United States is emerging as the world’s energy powerhouse. Two months ago, the United States became the largest producer of crude oil. Exports of crude oil, oil products and natural gas are rising rapidly. The “keep it in the ground” movement is losing ground.

U.S. crude oil production in August reached 10.8 million barrels per day, more than double the 5 million barrels per day produced in 2008. Last February, U.S. output surpassed that of Saudi Arabia. In August, U.S. production exceeded that of Russia, making the United States the world’s largest producer of petroleum.

U.S. natural gas production is up 40 percent from 2007 to 2017. The U.S. surpassed Russia as the world’s leading producer of natural gas in 2011.

Driving American energy dominance is the hydrofracturing revolution. Over the last two decades, U.S. geologists and petroleum engineers perfected the techniques of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, permitting cost-effective extraction of oil and gas from low-permeability shale rock formations. U.S. companies hold about a 10-year experience lead in shale extraction techniques over international competitors.

In 2000, only about 7 percent of U.S. natural gas came from hydraulically fractured wells. Today, about 70 percent of U.S. gas production and over 50 percent of crude oil production comes from fractured wells. Fracking operations are active in more than 20 states.

U.S. oil and gas production surged despite strong opposition from environmental groups. For more than a decade, green advocates have opposed drilling, fracking, pipeline transport, export terminals, and even investments in oil and gas. But the “keep it in the ground” movement is being trampled by the U.S. energy juggernaut.

Along with the rapid rise in production, U.S. oil and gas exports are exploding. U.S. exports of refined petroleum products increased by a factor of five from 2004 to 2017. Our nation became a net exporter of refined petroleum products in 2011. In 2015, the Obama administration lifted a 40-year ban on U.S. crude oil exports. Crude exports rose by 400 percent since 2014. The U.S. still remains a net importer of crude oil, but oil imports have dropped to the lowest level since 2000.

In 2017, the United States became a net exporter of natural gas, with Mexico the largest customer. Prior to 2010, terminals were under construction to import liquefied natural gas. But the fracking revolution produced a huge volume of gas at one-half of the price of gas in Europe and one-third of the price in Japan. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals started operation in 2016 at Sabine Pass in Louisiana and in 2018 at Cove Point in Maryland. Four other new LNG export terminals are scheduled to come on line by 2020.

Propane, a hydrocarbon fuel used for heating and cooking, is a notable example of success. Prior to 2010, the United States was a net importer of propane. But U.S. propane field production doubled since 2010 and exports now approach 1 million barrels per day.

About 3 billion people around the world do not have modern fuels for heating and cooking. India has a program to get liquid propane gas to 80 percent of households by March 2019. Exports of U.S. propane are meeting this need in India, along with needs in China and other nations. The Panama Canal expansion completed in 2016 allows supertankers to deliver U.S. propane and natural gas to Asia.

A major benefit of U.S. energy resurgence is an improved balance of trade in energy. In 2011, U.S. energy imports exceeded exports by $325 billion. With growing production of oil and gas and rising exports, the US trade imbalance in energy fell to $57 billion in 2017. Energy plays a major role in the strength of today’s U.S. economy.

The U.S. plastics industry now enjoys a large cost advantage in global markets. U.S. oil and gas refineries produce the lowest-cost ethylene and propylene in the world, the basic materials for plastics. U.S. natural gas also provides a cost advantage for chemical and steel firms. Gas fuels generation of cheap electricity for aluminum, cement, paper, and other industries.

Despite environmental opposition, the United States is emerging as the world’s energy powerhouse. U.S. energyproduction is not only good for U.S. industry and the U.S. economy, but exports increasingly provide low-cost energy for Europe, Asia and the rest of the world.


Video: World to End Again: This Time They're Serious

Bill Whittle has heard this climate change warning before, and he has an answer.

The United Nations climate change panel’s new report says global temperatures climbing in just a decade will raise the oceans by feet (not inches), devastate almost all of the coral reefs, and otherwise ruin your day. They have a solution, but few of us will survive it. Bill Whittle thinks he’s heard this before. He has an answer.

Climate Alarmists Admit They Want to Dismantle Our Free Enterprise System

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is warning that the dire costs of climate change are going to be here sooner than we think.

The planet is close to reaching its alleged 1.5-degree Celsius warming threshold, and civilization only has 11 years to fix it.

Oh, yeah, and the solution is to tear down the global free-enterprise system responsible for human flourishing and raising levels of prosperity for billions of people.

Don’t take my word for it.

A writer for the eco-friendly Grist tweeted, “The world’s top scientists just gave rigorous backing to systematically dismantle capitalism as a key requirement to maintaining civilization and a habitable planet.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report itself warns: “There is no documented historical precedent” for the transformation (aka de-development) necessary to curb global warming.

The Associated Press reported:

A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.

Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of ‘eco-refugees,’ threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program.

He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.

The year 2000? Oh, wait a minute. The AP article is from June 30, 1989. Scratch that last warning from nearly three decades ago.

The reality is that, though the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and proponents of dismantling the free-enterprise system have been shockingly honest in revealing their true intentions over the past few days, the sentiment is not new.

In fact, three years ago, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres made similar remarks in a push for the Paris climate accord.

Figueres said, “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”

The current economic development model that reigns supreme does so for compelling reasons.

People that freely exchange ideas and products, that have protection from government coercion and that have well-defined and protected property rights because of a strong rule of law have done quite well for themselves.

Free, competitive energy markets drive innovation and provide the affordable, reliable energy that families and businesses need, and yield a cleaner environment.

Conversely, international efforts to combat climate change have been centrally planned boondoggles. They’ve resulted in wasted taxpayer money, higher energy prices, and handouts for preferred energy sources and technologies—all for no noticeable impact on climate.

Eighty percent of all energy consumed by Americans comes from conventional sources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. About 80 percent of the world’s energy needs are met by these natural resources, which emit carbon dioxide when combusted.

Levying a price on carbon dioxide will directly raise the cost of electricity, gasoline, diesel fuel, and home-heating oil. But the economic pain does not stop there.

When considering the impact of a carbon tax on individuals, it is important to note that carbon is intertwined in all parts of life. Energy is a necessary component for just about all of the goods and services consumed, so Americans would pay more for food, health care, education, clothes—you name it.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report suggests policy proposals that would be economically cataclysmic.

It proposes a carbon tax of between $135 and $5,500 by 2030. A $5,500 carbon tax equates to a $50-per-gallon gas tax. An energy tax of that magnitude would bankrupt families and businesses, and undoubtedly catapult the world into economic despair.

Importantly, an extreme climate policy would also divert resources away from pressing environmental concerns, such as investing in more robust infrastructure to protect against natural disasters or new, innovative technologies that improve air and water quality.

Are those costs worth it? After all, having wealth, health, and affordable power don’t mean all that much if people don’t have a planet to live on. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates the climate costs could total $54 trillion without action.

But is there any new revelation in the scientific literature that makes climate doom imminent?

Not according to climatologist Judith Curry, a former chairwoman of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Curry asserts that the main conclusion from the report is that “things would be a little better at 1.5C relative to 2C.”

Furthermore, she notes, “Over land, we have already blown through the 1.5C threshold if measured since 1890.

“Temperatures around 1820 were more than 2C cooler.  There has been a great deal of natural variability in temperatures prior to 1975, when human-caused global warming kicked in any meaningful way.”

Another critical point Curry highlights is the fact that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change largely disregards the lower thirds of likely climate sensitivity values between 1.5C and 4.5C.

Equilibrium climate sensitivity attempts to quantify the earth’s temperature response to carbon dioxide emissions, answering the question: How does the earth’s temperature change from a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

There is a lot of scientific debate about equilibrium climate sensitivity within the climate literature, with a fair amount of uncertainty. And, as Curry mentions, “Much of this problem goes away if ECS is actually 1.5 to 2C.”

What about natural disasters? The University of Colorado’s Roger Pielke Jr., who specializes in analyzing extreme weather trends, emphasizes that “the IPCC once again reports that there is little basis for claiming that drought, floods, hurricanes [and] tornadoes have increased, much less increased due to [greenhouse gases].”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s politicization of policy actions presents another problem, and it is evident in the way the report treats nuclear energy.

Nuclear power provides nearly 60 percent of America’s carbon dioxide-free electricity, yet the climate panel engages in fearmongering about its expanded use. One would think that if climate change were an existential crisis, the world would need all the nuclear power it can get.

While the report acknowledges that any pathway to meeting carbon dioxide-reduction targets will include increased nuclear buildout, the report says more nuclear “can increase the risks of proliferation, have negative environmental effects (e.g., for water use), and have mixed effects for human health when replacing fossil fuels.”

Writing in Forbes, Michael Shellenberger documents the IPCC’s historic bias against nuclear power. Yet, the report unabashedly supports expanded wind and solar development and offers personal lifestyle changes to reduce the planet’s carbon footprint, such as air-drying laundry, eating less red meat, and biking to work.

Regardless of the cause, there are undoubted challenges from a changing climate.

Investing in coral reef protection or in preparation for extreme weather events can be worthwhile. However, the combination of fearmongering and offering solutions that would require a takeover of the global economy are unrealistic and counterproductive.


Researchers Argue Benefits of CO2 Outweigh the Harm

Global climate change gained a new urgency for world leaders when a new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that it would take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming as early as 2030. The IPCC warns that without draconian emissions cuts far above what the world has been able to achieve thus far, global warming will surpass the 1.5°C limit which global leaders have been discussing for years. Is that such a bad thing, though? Some say no, arguing that the benefits of industrialization have improved human life far more than global warming has harmed it.

According to the IPCC report, the situation is grim–global warming is unstoppable unless consumers start traveling less, ridesharing, eating less meat, and increasing the energy efficiency of their homes. Although the IPCC’s report speaks mostly of likelihoods and probabilities, the authors fret over harms that “will persist for centuries to millennia” unless action is taken now.

Even so, not everyone is ready to settle down to sitting at home with a vegetarian burger. Joseph Bast and Peter Ferrara, two senior fellows at the Heartland Institute, researched the human benefits of industrialization on the request of a California judge hearing the state of California’s lawsuit against BP and other energy companies. The evidence the two researchers found argues that it was better to industrialize and warm than not industrialize at all.

“Fossil fuels are lifting billions of people out of poverty, reducing all the negative effects of poverty on human health,” they write. “Fossil fuels are vastly improving human well-being and safety by powering labor-saving and life-protecting technologies, such as air conditioning, modern medicine, and cars and trucks.”

They explain that, for much of human existence, just keeping fed and warm required large amounts of time and labor. Not until the Industrial Revolution–and the introduction of coal, the first fossil fuel–were people able to improve their productivity and standard of living. Energy allowed for factories, cheaper goods, and a new, higher standard of living.

The same trend continues today. Cheaper energy allows for more economic growth and the creation of new businesses and new wealth, reshaping everything from manufacturing to farming. In fact, food production has been one of the less-publicized, yet still crucial benefits of fossil fuel production. As efficiency gains led farmers to trade their horses and mules for tractors, crop yields increased even as fewer and fewer people were needed to work in the fields. In the course of two centuries, some 80 percent of the developed world’s population left agriculture for other industries.

And the benefits don’t stop there. Ammonia fertilizer is produced from natural gas, allowing higher yields from less farmland. Talk of transitioning away from a “fossil fuel economy” often ignores these tertiary benefits in favor of a discussion of harms yet to be seen. Despite the predictions of inevitable famine, crop productions have continued to rise globally, sometimes even benefiting from warmer temperatures.

In fact, higher CO2 levels in the air actually boost plant growth, functioning like airborne plant food. Bast and Ferrara studied the impacts of predicted crop gains due to higher CO2 levels, arguing that they are likely to be significant enough to offset predicted harms.

“The benefits of CO2 fertilization are so great they exceed the entire “social cost of carbon” claimed by the Obama-era EPA. And even these estimates do not include the benefits realized by the timber industry, outdoor recreation, and other industries that benefit from the general greening of the Earth,” they wrote.

In light of the benefits of fossil fuels, the sort of dramatic efforts pushed by the IPCC to curb emissions start to look even more grim. Halting global warming would require the sacrifice of technology that has allowed the world’s population to surge in size while becoming richer. While western nations could perhaps absorb the cost of shifting their energy sources, severe cuts in global emissions would likely hurt the world’s poorest citizens.

“The bottom line is that an enormous increase in energy supply will be required to meet the demands of projected population growth and lift the developing world out of poverty without jeopardizing current standards of living in the most developed countries,” concluded one group of social ecology professors in a recent paper for BioScience.

If the cost of abandoning fossil fuels is so high, should it still seriously be considered as a policy goal?

The argument may become increasingly relevant as international and domestic policymakers are forced to grapple with the reality that it may not be feasible to limit warming to 1.5°C. Even the IPCC’s report mulled over this reality:

“There is no single answer to the question of whether it is feasible to limit warming to 1.5°C and adapt to the consequences,” the IPCC wrote.


There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

Bob Brown is Australia's best known Greenie.  Bob doesn't know the meaning of compromise or moderation when it comes to his causes.  One suspects that he has a genuinely paranoid belief in global warming

Today’s IPCC report is mealy mouthed and dangerous because it fails to tackle the world’s political delinquents like Australia, Bob Brown said today.

“Governments like Australia’s Morrison government will feel relieved that this stodgy panel of scientific conservatives has flagged that there may be more time than previously thought to take the drastic action required to turn around global heating. It is a mistake to give politicians subservient to the fossil fuel industry the message that things aren’t as bad as was thought, especially as the real impacts of global heating - coral death, cyclonic storms, bushfires, droughts, glacial melting, super-heated cities - is so obviously getting worse.”

As NATURE reports today: In the meantime, the newer and larger carbon budget could send the wrong message to policymakers, says Oliver Geden, a social scientist and visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany. He fears that the IPCC report undersells the difficulty of achieving the 1.5 °C goal. “It’s always five minutes to midnight, and that is highly problematic,” he says. “Policymakers get used to it, and they think there’s always a way out.”

“The global heating emergency is upon us and the IPCC is sending the wrong signal to assuage political fire. In the lifetimes of our children the blame for the massive cost of this failure, in terms of dollars and security, will be sheeted home not just to the fossil fuel industry but to powerful groups like the IPCC who hedged their bets,” Brown said.

Media release from Jenny Weber [] of the Bob Brown organization



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