No Viable Substitute For Oil, Gas
September 14, 2011 by John Myers
A couple of years ago, former oil maverick T. Boone Pickens launched an $82 million national advertising campaign to promote the Pickens Plan, an energy policy aimed at reducing the American addiction to foreign oil.
The public gobbled up the TV and print ads, along with the stories Pickens told. His tour even included appearances before Congress and town hall meetings.
Pickens’ message to America: “I’ve been an oilman my entire life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.”
Pickens’ age-spotted hands still scribble futuristic plans on old blackboards. Even though he is in his 80s, it hasn’t stopped Pickens from hammering home his message: We are at the mercy of peak oil (the point in time at which the world has reached the maximum production rate of petroleum); and, because of that, the United States is vulnerable to Muslims, mullahs and sheiks.
In the 20th century, Pickens built one of the U.S.’s largest independent oil companies, Mesa Petroleum. Later, he became a successful entrepreneur and then a media darling. Today, Pickens wields power through his energy fund, BP Capital. With it he champions new energy policies to replace petroleum, yesterday’s fuel, which Pickens claims will only further enslave and bankrupt America.
Pickens faces only one problem: There is no viable substitute for oil and gas — at least not yet.
But that is no bother to people like Pickens who have always liked cash more than crude.
That is the conclusion of Robert Bryce in his 2010 book, Power Hungry: The Myths Of “Green” Energy And The Real Fuels Of The Future:
All the blather about ‘green’ has fostered the delusion that we can get our energy on the cheap without any environmental impacts at all. Again, that’s just not true. Sure, the idea of wind turbines might have a certain charm, and arrays of solar panels might make our cities and towns look like settings for science-fiction films. And if only we could just get a few coal-fired power plants to belch a rainbow every once in a while, they might look kind of pretty, too. But the hard truth is that energy production is not pretty, cheap or easy.
I was reading about Pickens while I was on vacation last month in Kingston, Ontario. Kingston is Toronto’s poorer cousin. It is located at the intersection of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Just a few miles from Kingston is the Wolfe Island wind facility, the site of 86 gigantic wind turbines. That gives Kingston the second-largest wind-generated energy station in Canada. There was just one problem the day my wife, Angie, and I were there: The wind wasn’t blowing.
Those hulking windmills stood motionless. I don’t know how the city and the surrounding area got its energy that day, but it wasn’t from the wind.
At a nearby park I talked to an old-timer who told me he hated the propeller monstrosities, that they had ruined what had once been a picturesque shoreline.
“Bird killers, that’s what those things are,” said the man wearing a faded Toronto Blue Jays cap.
That caught my attention. Just last year, the Greens were gloating over the conviction of Syncrude Canada Ltd., which was slapped with a $2.9 million penalty after 1,600 ducks died in a company tailings pond in 2008.
The Financial Post indicated that in just the first eight months of operation, the Wolfe Island windmills killed nearly 2,000 birds and bats. “Such numbers earned wind power generators the moniker ‘Cuisinarts of the Air,’” according to the Post.
Yet there was no indictment against the windmill operators on Wolfe Island. It seems that as long as Green machines are doing the killing, it really isn’t a big deal.
An Inconvenient Truth
Men like Pickens and former Vice President Al Gore don’t seem bothered by such setbacks, at least when the end goal is saving the planet. They and the liberals are willing to bet your money and future on renewable energy — and with good reason: The profit potential for them is enormous.
Between now and 2030, the International Energy Agency expects that $5.5 trillion will be spent on renewable energy products. After all is said and done, renewable energy could produce 10 percent of the world’s primary energy needs.
Two key phrases in that last paragraph are “could” and “$5.5 trillion dollars.”
I have a minor in geology and have yet to spend a single day working for an oil and gas company. But I am willing to bet that if you give me $5.5 trillion, I can generate a lot more than 10 percent of the world’s energy needs in the next 19 years.
Why am I so confident about what I can do with more than $5 trillion? Consider that Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s biggest publicly traded oil company, spends about $5 billion per year on new exploration projects. If it can replace its oil by spending $100 billion over the next two decades, I bet I can do better with $5 trillion.
Yet Greens keep selling their ideas. No matter how silly some renewable energy idea sounds, investors and the Federal government are hell-bent on backing it. Forget that we are in a recession and may be headed for a depression. Forget that real unemployment is 16 or 17 percent. Forget massive trade and budget deficits. The only thing that seems important is that fossil fuels are bad and going Green is good.
This mantra is repeated for two reasons:
- Being Green gets votes. People love the “save the planet” candidate.
- If you are pro-environment, you have a good chance of getting rich with few questions asked. Bernie Madoff’s mistake wasn’t that he was a crook. It was that he was an old-fashioned crook. If he had conned people into building windmills and solar panels, Al Gore would probably have hosted a dinner for him.
My Father’s Dying Dream
It is easy to hate Big Oil, and it isn’t hard to dislike some of the people in the business. I suppose that is why some Personal Liberty Digest® readers have accused me of being pro-petroleum. So I want to share this story with you about my father, Vern, and how he spent the last year of his life.
My father was hoping that America had found a way out of its energy predicament. He was 78 years old, and he had been diagnosed with two primary cancers. He had come a long way from the farm boy that graduated with a gold medal in geology in 1930. He had earned the opportunity to cover the great oil booms: first in North America and then in the Middle East. The Petroleum Age made him wealthy and famous.
Yet he continued to hope that inventors would come up with an alternative to fossil fuels. Even though he was ill, he attended the renowned press conference given by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in 1989, a presentation on their experiments with cold fusion. The two scientists promised that they had discovered a limitless and inexhaustible source of clean energy requiring only seawater as fuel.
My dad died a few months after attending that conference. Until the end, he hoped those two men held the key to a better and cleaner future.
I, too, hope for that future. But until I see something better than the false promises by the likes of Gore and Pickens, I am going to continue to be an advocate for petroleum.
Yours in good times and bad,
Editor, Myers’ Energy & Gold Report