Thursday, March 17, 2022

Stop Biden's war on oil, gas – fight Putin by making US, Europe energy independent

US can again be global energy leader, providing reliable energy for Americans and our allies

Last summer, Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world watched President Biden’s embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan that abandoned thousands of Americans behind enemy lines, as well as our Afghan allies, and allowed the Taliban to quickly take control of that country while leaving them more than $80 billion in the world’s best military equipment. That decision certainly helped convince Putin that he didn’t need to fear America under the Biden administration.

However, the roots of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine go much further back. It was the Obama-Biden administration that did not help Ukraine push back Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea. It was that same Obama-Biden administration that began a war on American energy that continues to this day. During that same time, Russia was using its energy resources to dominate Europe and finance a major military buildup around Ukraine.

Scalise blasts Biden's push to ban oil and gas: 'It's devastating' Video
When Putin violently annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine looked to the United States for help. Unfortunately, the Obama-Biden administration rejected their request for lethal assistance like Javelin anti-tank missiles because they were afraid of offending Russia and only provided non-lethal assistance like blankets.

In direct contrast with his predecessor, President Trump approved the sale of $47 million worth of lethal aid to Ukraine in December 2017. This included more than 200 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 37 missile launchers that, over the past two weeks, have proven vital in the Ukrainian military’s defense against overwhelming Russian forces. 

As Russia steadily massed its military forces on Ukraine’s border in 2021, a $200 million security assistance package for Ukraine went to President Biden for consideration. However, just like the failed decision of the Obama administration, President Biden delayed the actual delivery of the assistance for crucial months. 

The equipment in this security package was just being delivered to Ukraine in February as Putin was launching his invasion. Stinger surface-to-air missiles, a top priority for Ukraine, were left out of the first package and not authorized by the Biden administration until after Russia’s assault on Ukraine began. While Putin inflicts increasing numbers of civilian casualties by bombing schools and hospitals, President Biden is still failing to heed President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s calls for help.

Putin’s barbaric attacks on Ukraine can be traced to Europe’s scorn for fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Europe did not become energy-dependent on Russia overnight. Putin’s barbaric attacks on Ukraine can be traced to Europe’s scorn for fossil fuels and nuclear power. Through his efforts to make the United States more like Europe, President Biden has ensured that European countries cannot turn to our abundant resources to drive down natural gas prices and cut free from Russian energy. 

Biden has played into Putin’s hands by ending American energy independence and renouncing U.S. oil and gas resources. While the U.S. could meet all of Europe’s energy needs, Europe receives nearly 40% of its natural gas from Russia. Without alternative energy suppliers, European families will suffer from over-reliance on Russia because of European leaders’ shortsighted Green New Deal policies. 

The United States should not follow Europe’s failed approach. We can again be a global energy leader, and provide reliable, low-cost energy for American households and our friends around the world.

Last week, Republican leaders, including more than 80 members of the House Energy Action Team (HEAT), sent a letter to President Biden laying out specific actions he can take immediately to reverse Russia’s leverage on Europe and the United States. Before he invaded Ukraine, Russian energy sales to the U.S. and Europe were providing more than $700 million a day to fund Putin’s war. We called on the Biden administration to ramp up U.S. energy production to lower prices for American families, eliminate Putin’s revenue stream, and ensure greater energy security here at home and to our allies overseas.

President Biden last week finally agreed with us to ban Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports. However, instead of turning to American energy producers to replace that tyrant’s oil, President Biden issued more attacks on American energy companies and instead turned to dictators in countries like Venezuela and Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, to meet our energy needs.

President Biden needs to stop begging foreign dictators to sell us their oil and, instead, finally say yes to American energy production.

All Americans should ask – why won’t Biden unleash America’s energy industry? In his first days in office, the president killed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have employed thousands of Americans and provided a crude oil source from Canada instead of Putin’s Russian crude. Democrats love to talk about how they are committed to reducing carbon emissions but fail to admit that the United States emits much less carbon to produce oil and natural gas domestically compared with the other countries that President Biden is begging to produce energy because we have much higher standards than those adversarial countries. 

President Biden’s disastrous leadership has crippled the United States’ power and influence on the world stage. When the United States is no longer energy independent, our country and the world become more vulnerable and more dependent on bad actors.

Sadly, we are seeing now how the Biden administration’s far-left energy policies have made Russia richer and emboldened Vladimir Putin.

Under President Trump, the United States demonstrated strong leadership at home and abroad. President Biden can act now to unleash American energy and turn the tables on Russia so that the United States and our allies re-establish the energy security we deserve.


Battery system capital costs, energy losses, and aging

Articles often assume low turnkey capital cost of battery systems at $350/kWh, delivered as AC (which needs to be stepped up to distribution or high voltage system voltage, about a 1% loss)

A more realistic value would be about $500/kWh, by 2025, based on five annual EIA surveys of battery cost trends.
The EIA is an agency of the Department of Energy.
The EIA has collected turnkey capital costs and operating data of the energy sector for many decades.

Here are some details of the annual EIA reports for 2020 and 2021

Starting in 2015, EIA has prepared annual reports regarding site-specific, custom-designed, grid-scale battery systems.

The data revealed, the average duration of battery discharge increased from 0.5 h in 2015 to 3.2 h in 2019, because they are increasingly used to absorb midday solar output bulges and deliver that electricity during peak hours in the late-afternoon/early-evening

Excluded Costs from the EIA Estimates

Any project has an upfront turnkey capital cost, and ongoing annual operating and maintenance costs and periodic renovations, the same as a house, or a battery system. Some of the annual financing cost, O&M cost, etc., are listed below:

1) Financing costs assumed at about 3.5%/y for 15 years. This is a significant annual expense.

2) Owners return on investment of about 9%/y, which is a standard return utilities make on their investments. This is a significant annual expense

3) Battery system throughput loss of about about 20%, which increases with aging, as measured from distribution grid or high-voltage grid, AC-to-AC. This is a significant anneal expense. See Appendix

4) All other battery system operating and maintenance cost. The total is a significant annual expense

5) Cost benefits of subsidies, such as grants, tax credits, accelerated depreciation, loan interest deductions, waiving of state and local taxes, fees and surcharges, waiving of real estate taxes, etc.

The net effect of subsidies is to shift capital and operating costs from owners to others, by about 45%.

This enables the owner to offer battery services at a much lesser cost/kWh of battery system throughput.

This makes the use of batteries look politically attractive.
Any shifted costs are paid by ratepayers, taxpayers and added to government debts

No cost ever disappears, per Economics 101


1) Are expensive per delivered kWh, about $700/kWh in NE, in 2019, with little prospect of a significant decrease.

2) Last at most 15 years, if operated between 15% full and 80% full, and in a temperature-controlled enclosure.

Some experts claim between 20% full to 80% full is better

3) Age at about 1.5%/y (the capacity loss would be about 25% in year 15)

4) May catch fire, i.e., high insurance costs.

The combination of above conditions would add about 20 to 30 c/kWh to the cost of any electricity passing through the batteries (such as highly subsidized, high-cost, midday solar electricity), if costs of 1) owner’s annual return on investment (about 9%/y), and 2) annual loan servicing, and 3) O&M, and 4) battery energy loss were included.


Green policies have fatally enfeebled the West

At the Cop 26 climate conference held in Glasgow last November, almost 200 countries ‘committed’ to the rapid phasing out of fossil fuels, especially coal. Conspicuously, two major powers did not.

While China was circumspect, Russia was unambiguous. Moscow said it had no plans to rein in its fossil fuel production in the coming decades. As the world’s second biggest natural gas producer and the third largest oil producer, accounting for about 10 per cent of global supply, the Kremlin understands its comparative advantage.

Meanwhile, Beijing forges ahead with 43 new coal-fired power stations and 18 blast furnaces, promising the Green faithful, as it boosts annual coal production from its Inner Mongolian mines by almost 100 million tonnes, that it will be CO2 neutral by 2060. Although hardly reported in the West, China’s emissions are growing by 15 per cent a year and comfortably exceed the developed world’s total output.

Last month, Moscow and Beijing agreed to partner on energy. Russian president Vladimir Putin confirmed a deal with Chinese president Xi Jinping, to supply 10 billion cubic metres of gas per year to China via a new pipeline. This helps secure China’s energy supply and makes Europe less important to Moscow.

Their approach is in stark contrast to President Joe Biden’s Pollyanna view of the world. To appease green activists, he renounced energy independence by halting oil and gas drilling on public land and by revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit which was to carry crude oil from Canada to the United States.

The Green Left has also succeeded in capturing Europe’s policymakers. They continue to phase out coal and nuclear energy and have now identified biomass, which accounts for nearly 60 per cent of EU renewables, as climate unfriendly. These policies leave Brussels increasingly dependent on Moscow. Over the last five years alone, imports of Russian natural gas which account for 41 per cent of Europe’s total supply, have increased by 40 per cent.

Yet, for 30 years Russia’s relations with the West have festered over Moscow’s contention that Nato’s expansion breached a 1990 agreement. Tensions boiled over in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia. Six years later, as Nato watched on, President Putin illegally annexed Ukrainian Crimea. Not even when Nato began equipping and training the Ukrainian armed forces prior to membership, did Brussels seek to lessen dependence on Russian gas. It’s not as though Europe was unaware of Moscow’s hostile response which made a full scale invasion of Ukraine highly likely.

Four years ago, President Trump called out Europe’s complacency. To universal condemnation, he said Nato members were spending too little on their own defence. But Trump was right. Even now, only one-third of Nato members spend the agreed two per cent of their GDP on defence.

Trump was also right when he claimed ‘Germany is a captive of Russia’. Chancellor Angela Merkel, countered she was ‘in a better position to judge her country’s dependence than the current US president’. Yet so dependent is Berlin on Moscow, it initially baulked at sanctions to suspend the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and, the proposal to exclude a number of Russian banks from the Swift payment system.

Eating his former chancellor’s words, German finance minister, Christian Lindner cautioned, if the EU took such a step, ‘there is a high risk that Germany will no longer be supplied with gas or raw materials’.

Now Germany is saying it will bring defence spending above two per cent of GDP and will create a strategic gas reserve. Do we hear stable doors closing?

Russia’s extraordinary power belies the reality that its economy is only slightly bigger than Australia’s. However, its military budget as a percentage of GDP is twice as big. Of course, it possesses nuclear weapons. But, it is no Soviet Union. Its relative power comes not from the size of its economy, its military hardware or troops on the ground. It comes from intent and the incompetence and naivety of its adversaries. Time will tell how effective the latest sanctions are and how Moscow retaliates.

That EU policymakers consciously opt for climate change over national security raises legitimate questions about their rationality. It’s as though Europe’s ‘Green Deal’, which aims to reduce inequality by changing the economics of energy, construction, agriculture and taxes to incentivise ‘decarbonisation’, was framed by the Russians and Chinese. Either that, or it was devised by modern Walter Mitty types.

But then EU policymakers appear to inhabit the same delusional world as US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry. Despite Moscow’s unashamed declaration that it has no intention of reining in production of fossil fuels, Mr Kerry told the BBC he hopes when Russia’s invasion is complete, ‘President Putin will help us stay on track with respect with what we need to do for the climate’. No doubt Ukrainians will be cheered by that.

One thing is certain. Presidents Putin and Xi are not taking orders from Greta Thunberg. Rather they have been emboldened by their adversaries’ weak defence and reluctance to put troops on the ground. They are realists and not governed by hope. Of course they are also dangerously hierarchical and prone to over-reach. But they are deliberate.

By contrast, rather than action, the West resorts to symbolism, like US members of Congress sporting Ukrainian colours. It smacks of impotence; like chanting ‘Je suis Charlie’ after the Paris Charlie Hebdo slayings. Certainly, it is unlikely to deter China from its Taiwan ambitions. Beijing boasts the world’s second largest economy and wields the largest military. It dominates the United Nations and is intent on global hegemony. Biden’s record of incompetence and the West’s lack of intent only offer encouragement.

For too long the West has banked on hope. It’s where the deluded, the naive and the complacent take refuge from reality. But it is a dangerous asylum in which its leaders are unaccountable and its believers unprepared. Inevitably, reality will prevail. But can a rational mindset?


PM: Australia must ADAPT to climate change'

Scott Morrison has called for more dams and a better approach to managing fuel loads in forests to handle natural disasters worsened by climate change.

After major floods in NSW and Queensland this past fortnight, the Prime Minister on Sunday said that Australia is becoming a harder place to live due to climate change.

But Mr Morrison said the nation's approach to climate needs to focus on resilience and adapting to climate change, as well as bringing down carbon emissions.

“Let's talk about bushfires in that context. You want to deal with resilience on bushfires, you have to do fuel load management,” he said.

“You want to deal with floods, you have to build dams. Now, it hasn't been the Coalition that has been against reducing fuel loads.”




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