Readers Forum: Keith Bailey: Nation needs traditional energy sources
BY KEITH BAILEY
Saturday, January 21, 2012
1/21/12 at 4:35 AM
The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it was denying a permit required for the construction of the proposed Keystone crude oil pipeline, which would have delivered Canadian crude oil to the refining complexes on the Gulf Coast of the United States.
Most of the media commentary and political response to this cast the issue as one of the Republicans attempting to pit the interests of the unions, which support the job creation this project would bring about, against those of the environmentalists, who seemingly oppose any project of this type on principle.
While there is certainly truth in this characterization, I believe it misses the larger objective that has been consistently pursued by this administration at all levels. That is the desire on its part to dramatically reduce the amount of hydrocarbon-based energy consumed in this country irrespective of the cost or the impact on the economy.
The administration is very open about its interest in so-called "green energy." What it is much less open about is its willingness to pursue its objectives irrespective of the impact on the U.S. economy. The evidence in this regard is abundant.
As recently as five years ago, the consensus was that the U.S. was on the verge of having to import natural gas in addition to the oil it needs to meet our energy needs. Shale drilling technology changed that apparent reality to the degree that, if we are able to fully develop the potential domestic reserves that exist in shale formations, we now have a virtual century's worth of supply.
That same drilling technology is also increasing our domestic supply of crude oil, evidenced by the output of a single state (North Dakota) producing more crude oil from the Bakken Shale formation than is being produced by some of the smaller OPEC nations.
That ability to increase low-cost domestic supplies threw a proverbial monkey wrench in the administration's arguments in favor of its green energy agenda. Not only were we not faced with increasing imports from unreliable suppliers, the abundance of the new domestic supply was reducing, not increasing, the delivered cost of these fuels.
So what is the answer if your goal is to move away from the use of these fuels as the administration's clearly is?
The answer is to do everything you can to limit the access to those supplies and increase the costs of producing them. The EPA, Bureau of Land Management and Department of the Interior policies are doing just that. The State Department's denial of the Keystone pipeline application does just that. The fueling of paranoia around the technology of fracking does just that. When confronted with judicial or legislative constraints, the willingness to pursue its objective anyway through other means or "executive order" is just that.
It would make much more sense to applaud the energy industry's ingenuity and ability to continue to find and produce new sources of traditional fuels and support the domestic jobs those create.
It would make much more sense to recognize that our country is the OPEC of coal reserves and that half of our electric energy is efficiently and economically produced by coal-fired plants (which have reduced the emission of greenhouse gases dramatically in the past two decades).
It would make much more sense to challenge our scientific community to improve combustion efficiency in all the various ways we consume energy.
But instead, the administration is trying to take all options other than those emerging and currently uneconomic alternatives it supports off the table, either by regulation, increasing costs, or limiting access to supply.
That makes no sense to me and I doubt that it does to most of the American people who realize our over-arching advantage in the world economy is the abundance of traditional hydrocarbons and the leadership of the industry to produce them efficiently, safely and with minimal environmental impact.
Original Print Headline: Nation needs traditional energy sources
Keith Bailey is former president and chief executive officer of the Williams Cos.
Keith Bailey: Our over-arching advantage in the world economy is the abundance of traditional hydrocarbons.