Perry's Energy Plan Offers More of the Same When America Needs Innovation

Governor Rick Perry made a big display of presenting his energy policy last Friday. He positioned it as a bold new plan for America, but this drill, baby, drill approach to energy was already stale when Sarah Palin stumped for it three years ago.

It’s is déjà vu all over again. We've had a Texas oilman in charge of our country's energy policy: it worked out a lot better for Big Oil than it did for the American people. We wound up paying $4 a gallon at the pump while Exxon walked off with $45 billion in profits.

Now Perry is offering more of the same. I think the familiarity is part of the appeal. His campaign is going for the safe, tested messages here—the proven buzz words that poll well across a broad spectrum of the Republican Party.

When you have seriously considered succeeding from the union and you deny the existence of climate change, your Tea Party credentials are pretty secure. To win in the general election, however, you need the conventional GOP voters too. Perry can pick and chose from this “all of the above” approach to energy to appeal to whichever audience he is speaking to at the time: the mainstream and the radical fringe.

That may be savvy campaigning, but it doesn’t do much for America.

Perry’s plan calls for pursuing fossil fuels to the ends of the Earth. He wants companies to drill miles under the Arctic Ocean for oil and inject fracking chemicals deep into people’s backyards to bring up natural gas.

We can look in new and more extreme places for fuel, but Perry’s plan boils down to this: burning rocks to create energy. It’s the same technology we’ve been using for 200 years. Where is the innovation? Where is the vision that will carry America into the 21st century? Where is the leadership?

The rest of the world is racing to design the most cost-effective solar panels and most reliable wind turbines, because they know clean technologies will generate clean power AND lots of money. Worldwide clean energy investments were valued at $243 billion in 2010.

Perry’s plan disregards these market realities, and by doing so, hands over dominance of the clean energy market to China. He selling America short in a field we could actually lead in favor of one we never will: oil production.

Perry’s call for homegrown energy has a great ring to it, but when your home only has 1.6 percent of the globe’s proven oil reserves and you consume 26 percent of the world’s supply, there is a limit to what you can achieve—no matter how many wells you sink. That's not politics; it's geology. And no bumper-sticker slogan can change it.

America is already drilling more than we have in decades. Perry claims that President Obama has blocked domestic oil production, but companies drilled almost 21,000 oil wells in the first eight months of this year—the highest number in almost 30 years. That’s nearly double the amount drilling the same period last year, and nearly triple the number drilled in 2009.

Yet none of this protected us from $4 a gallon gasoline this spring. Nor will it protect us from China’s growing demand, Middle Eastern politics, or any of the other forces the shape the global oil market.

That’s where the innovation comes in. Better performing cars will reduce our oil dependence, and smarter policies will encourage technological advances. This summer President Obama’s announced new fuel efficiency standards. By 2025, new cars and light trucks in this county will go about twice as far, on average, on a gallon of gas, compared with today’s vehicles. The difference will save Americans $80 billion a year at the pump. It will also reduce our oil use by 3.1 million barrels per day by 2030 and cut automobile carbon emissions in half.

Now that’s a new direction for America, a way to move into greater energy security, cleaner air, and more prosperity. Perry’s plan is a retread. Sticking to the energy sources we have used for two centuries may help his campaign, but it won’t do much for our country.

Perry's Energy Plan Offers More of the Same When America Needs Innovation

Governor Rick Perry made a big display of presenting his energy policy last Friday. He positioned it as a bold new plan for America, but this drill, baby, drill approach to energy was already stale when Sarah Palin stumped for it three years ago.

It’s is déjà vu all over again. We've had a Texas oilman in charge of our country's energy policy: it worked out a lot better for Big Oil than it did for the American people. We wound up paying $4 a gallon at the pump while Exxon walked off with $45 billion in profits.

Now Perry is offering more of the same. I think the familiarity is part of the appeal. His campaign is going for the safe, tested messages here—the proven buzz words that poll well across a broad spectrum of the Republican Party.

When you have seriously considered succeeding from the union and you deny the existence of climate change, your Tea Party credentials are pretty secure. To win in the general election, however, you need the conventional GOP voters too. Perry can pick and chose from this “all of the above” approach to energy to appeal to whichever audience he is speaking to at the time: the mainstream and the radical fringe.

That may be savvy campaigning, but it doesn’t do much for America.

Perry’s plan calls for pursuing fossil fuels to the ends of the Earth. He wants companies to drill miles under the Arctic Ocean for oil and inject fracking chemicals deep into people’s backyards to bring up natural gas.

We can look in new and more extreme places for fuel, but Perry’s plan boils down to this: burning rocks to create energy. It’s the same technology we’ve been using for 200 years. Where is the innovation? Where is the vision that will carry America into the 21st century? Where is the leadership?

The rest of the world is racing to design the most cost-effective solar panels and most reliable wind turbines, because they know clean technologies will generate clean power AND lots of money. Worldwide clean energy investments were valued at $243 billion in 2010.

Perry’s plan disregards these market realities, and by doing so, hands over dominance of the clean energy market to China. He selling America short in a field we could actually lead in favor of one we never will: oil production.

Perry’s call for homegrown energy has a great ring to it, but when your home only has 1.6 percent of the globe’s proven oil reserves and you consume 26 percent of the world’s supply, there is a limit to what you can achieve—no matter how many wells you sink. That's not politics; it's geology. And no bumper-sticker slogan can change it.

America is already drilling more than we have in decades. Perry claims that President Obama has blocked domestic oil production, but companies drilled almost 21,000 oil wells in the first eight months of this year—the highest number in almost 30 years. That’s nearly double the amount drilling the same period last year, and nearly triple the number drilled in 2009.

Yet none of this protected us from $4 a gallon gasoline this spring. Nor will it protect us from China’s growing demand, Middle Eastern politics, or any of the other forces the shape the global oil market.

That’s where the innovation comes in. Better performing cars will reduce our oil dependence, and smarter policies will encourage technological advances. This summer President Obama’s announced new fuel efficiency standards. By 2025, new cars and light trucks in this county will go about twice as far, on average, on a gallon of gas, compared with today’s vehicles. The difference will save Americans $80 billion a year at the pump. It will also reduce our oil use by 3.1 million barrels per day by 2030 and cut automobile carbon emissions in half.

Now that’s a new direction for America, a way to move into greater energy security, cleaner air, and more prosperity. Perry’s plan is a retread. Sticking to the energy sources we have used for two centuries may help his campaign, but it won’t do much for our country.

As gas prices rise, public seeks alternatives to oil

(Cross-posted from Think it Through.)

Guest post by Emma White.

With gas topping $4 a gallon in many places, the prevailing wisdom in DC suggests that calling for more domestic oil drilling is a political winner for politicians, and those who oppose new drilling will pay a political price.  President Obama embraced this perspective last week, offering his own plan to expand offshore oil drilling in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic seaboard.

It is certainly true that many Americans are open to increasing offshore drilling in the U.S.  The Pew Research Center found in March, when gas prices had already risen sharply, that 57% favor allowing increased oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters.

There's more...

Dirty Money for Dirty Laws

What can nearly $80,000 buy these days? Judging from recent campaign filings, it can buy a handful of oil friendly bills in Congress.

During the first quarter of 2011, ExxonMobil contributed $79,000 to members of the two main House committees that are driving the assault on President Obama’s clean energy policies. About 97 percent of ExxonMobil’s money went to Republicans, according to POLITICO.

ExxonMobil isn’t the only polluter spreading money around. One year after the blowout on the Deepwater Horizon, BP wrote out checks totaling $29,000 to the campaigns of House Republican leaders.

Energy companies are getting a good return on their investment. Last month, Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA) introduced three bills that would:

  • Mandate drilling off the entire coast of the United States, including the Arctic, and eliminate in perpetuity the ability of U.S. presidents to decide not to drill in these areas.
  • Accelerate offshore permitting, making the regulatory process even weaker than it was before the BP disaster.
  • Compel the Obama Administration to hold lease sales in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia and block the courts from challenging the Environmental Impact Statements made by the companies vying for the leases.
It’s hard to understand why oil companies need a helping hand right now. ExxonMobil made nearly $11 billion in the first quarter. And drilling in the federal Outer Continental Shelf has increased by more than a third in the past two years.

According to data from the nonpartisan Energy Information Agency, even if we dramatically expanded offshore drilling, we wouldn’t see an impact on gas prices until 2030, and even that it would be a matter of just five cents.

These Hastings bills are not about the public good. Nor are they about responding to what voters want. A new poll conducted from NRDC Action Fund found that only 29 percent of respondents would vote for a candidate calling for more offshore drilling instead of one who supported cleaner ways of dealing with America’s oil addiction.

No, these bills are about expanding profit margins for the oil industry.

And unfortunately, they aren’t the only polluters getting into the act. A new website created by a coalition of environmental groups (including our sister organization, the NRDC) makes it easy to find out which lawmakers are voting on behalf of the polluters who helped finance them.

Coal companies, for instance, are also using the legislative process on behalf of their own self interest. Last week, the largest coal-burning utility in the nation shopped around a bill that would exempt utilities from a host of pollution rules; some lawmakers supporting the bill even acknowledged the bill was drafted by the company.

Meanwhile, Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee drove through a bill that would undermine the Clean Air Act and prevent the EPA from reducing dangerous carbon pollution. Polls show that Upton’s constituents didn’t support this bill; they know it is bad for their health. But then again, less than 10 percent of Upton’s donations actually come from his constituents, while he has collected tens of thousands of dollars from out-of-state polluters like ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and Peabody Energy Corps. So I wonder whose bidding he is doing here.

Injecting money into the political system gets results. Until Congress passes a law to prevent these kinds of dirty quid pro quos, our only defense against deep-pocketed polluters is the coal opposition of citizens.

ExxonMobil seems to be spreading as much money around as possible to get its way in Congress these days, and so far it has no reason to be disappointed with the results

Dirty Money for Dirty Laws

What can nearly $80,000 buy these days? Judging from recent campaign filings, it can buy a handful of oil friendly bills in Congress.

During the first quarter of 2011, ExxonMobil contributed $79,000 to members of the two main House committees that are driving the assault on President Obama’s clean energy policies. About 97 percent of ExxonMobil’s money went to Republicans, according to POLITICO.

ExxonMobil isn’t the only polluter spreading money around. One year after the blowout on the Deepwater Horizon, BP wrote out checks totaling $29,000 to the campaigns of House Republican leaders.

Energy companies are getting a good return on their investment. Last month, Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA) introduced three bills that would:

  • Mandate drilling off the entire coast of the United States, including the Arctic, and eliminate in perpetuity the ability of U.S. presidents to decide not to drill in these areas.
  • Accelerate offshore permitting, making the regulatory process even weaker than it was before the BP disaster.
  • Compel the Obama Administration to hold lease sales in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia and block the courts from challenging the Environmental Impact Statements made by the companies vying for the leases.
It’s hard to understand why oil companies need a helping hand right now. ExxonMobil made nearly $11 billion in the first quarter. And drilling in the federal Outer Continental Shelf has increased by more than a third in the past two years.

According to data from the nonpartisan Energy Information Agency, even if we dramatically expanded offshore drilling, we wouldn’t see an impact on gas prices until 2030, and even that it would be a matter of just five cents.

These Hastings bills are not about the public good. Nor are they about responding to what voters want. A new poll conducted from NRDC Action Fund found that only 29 percent of respondents would vote for a candidate calling for more offshore drilling instead of one who supported cleaner ways of dealing with America’s oil addiction.

No, these bills are about expanding profit margins for the oil industry.

And unfortunately, they aren’t the only polluters getting into the act. A new website created by a coalition of environmental groups (including our sister organization, the NRDC) makes it easy to find out which lawmakers are voting on behalf of the polluters who helped finance them.

Coal companies, for instance, are also using the legislative process on behalf of their own self interest. Last week, the largest coal-burning utility in the nation shopped around a bill that would exempt utilities from a host of pollution rules; some lawmakers supporting the bill even acknowledged the bill was drafted by the company.

Meanwhile, Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee drove through a bill that would undermine the Clean Air Act and prevent the EPA from reducing dangerous carbon pollution. Polls show that Upton’s constituents didn’t support this bill; they know it is bad for their health. But then again, less than 10 percent of Upton’s donations actually come from his constituents, while he has collected tens of thousands of dollars from out-of-state polluters like ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and Peabody Energy Corps. So I wonder whose bidding he is doing here.

Injecting money into the political system gets results. Until Congress passes a law to prevent these kinds of dirty quid pro quos, our only defense against deep-pocketed polluters is the coal opposition of citizens.

ExxonMobil seems to be spreading as much money around as possible to get its way in Congress these days, and so far it has no reason to be disappointed with the results

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