Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Protesting

With very little planning and a last-minute text to my parents, I hopped a flight from London City Airport to Washington D.C. The reason, of course…to save the planet! With no lounges open, and the risk of delayed takeoff, I thought I should at least grab a bottle of water, and so I did. Hello Boots… one Volvic please!  Only to be reminded that London had launched  something they are calling ‘Plastic Free City’.

They sold me the water alright, but it came with stares from all the really good people—each one of them making silent commentary, and staring at the offending bottle. You’d have thought I’d been going round the globe shoving plastic straws into the brains of dolphins.

Meanwhile, they kept flaunting their refillables like they were iced-out Rolexes. Oh knock it off! I wanted to scream. My entire life is dedicated to green pursuits but when it comes to placing the mouth of a bottle that I’m going to drink from, under the spigot of the community trough—I draw the line. Besides I can’t very well save the planet if I am sick.

Every litter bit helps!

The terminal was lined with bright blue water stations, and I walked to my gate with the gurgle-gurgle of people refilling all around me.  Luckily I had only thirty minutes before boarding and so I stuffed the contraband into my bag before choosing a spot in which to loiter. The airport was mobbed and every announcement was getting on my last nerve. Just then a text from my client…

‘Can we fix this?’ Followed by a picture of the detritus from the Glastonbury Climate Festival. It was disgusting—trash and abandoned tents everywhere. It looked worse than a San Francisco public park. 

‘What is it you WANT me to do?’ I texted back.  And before he could respond I texted: ‘Headed to DC…boarding now’.

I could see he was trying to text me something else but I powered down my phone before it came through. Having found my seat I tore off the plastic wrap from my quilt and put my headphones on. I placed the wrap within easy reach of the flight attendant but despite several passes she didn’t pick it up. Why is the whole world plastic-shaming me today?

When we arrived in D.C. our gate wasn’t ready and we had to be towed in. Another delay! I know that towing vs taxiing saves quite a bit of fuel but this delay defeats the purpose of flying from City Airport!

As soon as I powered on my phone the texts started rolling in. Apparently, if you sign up for even one protest they assume it’s your lifeblood and include you in every update. I only wanted the EPA protest. What a mess.

That's telling 'em!

My driver did his best to get me right where I needed to be but it was hopeless. Pride marches, GenX, and half a dozen abortion marches. Finally, I headed toward a group in green bandanas knowing this would be my group, but it was not. This was made readily clear by a “Viva la Vulva” sign. I stepped out of the throng and asked a woman why green for pro-abortion?

‘Marta tells us that the colour of nature was chosen because it signifies life’, she said.

Abortion means  life? I dared not ask. And who was Marta? Turns out Marta is the founder of Catholics for Choice, 'a nonprofit organization that lifts up the voices of the majority of Catholics who believe in reproductive freedom'. I squinted my eyes and walked away.  So far I had accomplished exactly nothing.

Then my phone rang. It was my father.  ‘OH HEY!’ I said, yelling into my iPhone.

‘Are you at a club?’ he asked.  

‘You bloody well know I am not at a club!’ I responded. I am in Washington, protesting the EPA ruling!'  

‘Well how’s that going?’ he asked.

‘I haven’t found them yet… this is all rather confusing. But I do have a question, I got a text about the Glastonbury Climate Festival… I see electric- car chargers in the middle of… nowhere. So how do they get powered?’ 

Diesel’, Daddy replied.  

Glastonbury '22: nobody tell Greta!

Diesel??’ I shrieked. ‘How does…?’ UGH! I knew he was stifling a laugh. 

‘Yes, as you said, all very confusing. Listen, sweetheart, do you really think protesting is a good use of your time…?'

‘How would I know?  ‘I haven’t even been able to even locate my protest'.’

‘Strange that, Marxists are generally so good at organisation’.

I didn’t have the strength to fight him. It was beginning to rain and I decided to keep quiet in case he had one more zinger in him.  FINALLY I could see my EPA group and I ran to catch up with them, only to ask myself why had I bothered? I was sweating under my trench, my shoes were soaked, we all looked stupid, I felt stupid—this was stupid.

‘You win, Daddy', I said into the phone. 'This was a dumb idea. I will schedule some meetings and ask my clients how I can be useful while I’m here’. 

‘Excellent', he said. 'And you might advocate for the continued operation of Line 5 up in Michigan —it's an essential  pipeline for Eastern Canada and the U.S.’ 

‘And they will listen to me because—why?’ I asked. 

‘Because you’re the voice of reason on this. It’s a win for everyone.  And you’re still advocating for the environment - just without the Marxist slant’.

‘And if it doesn’t work?’

‘Oh, just tell them they’re all going to freeze—they don’t even have enough energy to get through next year…’

‘I don’t think they want to hear that’. 

‘Oh I disagree, Jennifer. Fear-mongering is the only thing you green-niks understand'.

I hung up and looked around. The rain was pelting harder. Everybody looked miserable. And they wonder why I never bring anyone home!

Nationalize 'Big Oil'? Are You Crazy?

Since the Biden regime is busy reviving every bad idea from the late 1970s such as stagflation, the energy crisis, price controls, and weak foreign policy, it was inevitable that one of the worst ideas from that era is also trying to make a comeback: nationalizing “big oil.”

Back in the 1970s the proposal to nationalize the oil industry found support from some otherwise sober-minded figures such as Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, while today the idea is being flogged mostly by predictably radical figures such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and deep green climate alarmists, such as William S. Becker. But with President Joe Biden, surrounded in the White House by true believers in the climate mania, menacing the oil industry with demagogic charges of “profiteering,” it is not hard to see the idea gaining traction with the progressive left desperate to avoid electoral disaster in November.

And help us freeze to death.

Back in the 1970s, the premise behind nationalizing “big oil” was that the federal government could manage oil production better than private industry in the interest of consumers by stopping “profiteering” and smoothing out production epicycles. The proposal never got very far for the simple reason that most Americans didn’t think the same people who run the Post Office monopoly would be competent at running the oil industry. The record of foreign nations that have government-owned and run oil industries is pathetic. Consider for example the 75 percent decline of Venezuela’s oil production since Hugo Chavez expropriated private and foreign oil companies. The steady decline in production of Mexico’s ample oil reserves under Pemex finally prompted Mexico to open its oil industry to foreign private companies.

It is an unappreciated fact that over 90 percent of the world’s oil reserves are government-owned, rather than privately owned, and this contributes to instability in the long-wave oil price cycles. It is not the oil majors that manipulate oil for political reasons; it is governments. The world and the oil market would be better off if it privatized oil resources.

The argument today is quite different. Writing in The Hill, Becker deserves credit for being explicit: his purpose is nationalizing oil companies is to put them out of business: nationalizing the oil industry “would allow the government to manage the industry’s drawdown, a process the private sector is ignoring... The federal government typically nationalizes companies to save them. In this case, it must nationalize Big Oil to save us all from a future we don’t want.” Translation: the oil industry isn’t committing suicide fast enough to suit the environmental fundamentalists.

Windfall profits? What windfall profits?

To be sure, the major oil companies invited some of this with their ill-considered pledges to be “carbon-neutral” by 2050, no doubt thinking that the latest climate policy euphemism for “we don’t really mean it”—“net-zero emissions”—leaves plenty of wiggle room for creative emissions accounting. Rather than thinking they could appease the climate campaign with these virtue signals, they’d be better off straightforwardly defending their industry in the manner of Chris Wright, CEO of Liberty Oilfield Services. Wright argues: “If you look at the bigger picture, our industry causes a dime of damage to the world and a dollar of benefit. The benefits versus the costs are enormously larger.” Or the oil industry could simply cite all of the official international government forecasts that conclude that the planet will still depend substantially on oil, natural gas, and coal in 2050.

The plight of Europe since the outbreak of the Ukraine War shows the folly of suppressing our own oil and gas sector and making ourselves wholly dependent again on foreign suppliers to fill the gap when “green” energy inevitably falls short of its extravagant (and extravagantly expensive) promises. Europe is already looking for face-saving ways to back away from its sanctions against Russian oil and gas while cranking up coal power, the most hated energy source. Germany faces a non-trivial possibility of running out of natural gas next winter. Meanwhile President Biden is groveling cap-in-hand before the oil sheiks of the Middle East, who may be no more inclined than Putin to help out the person who the day before, in the case of Saudi Arabia, labeled them human rights monsters. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize how much worse off the U.S. would be if we forcibly shut down our own oil companies.

"Fracking Damages Our Beer." OK, then!

To the contrary of claims that the oil industry is reaping “obscene” profits, we should entertain the proposition that the industry needs much bigger profits. It is tedious, but necessary for the slow learners on the left, to repeat some elementary facts about the oil industry. Its profit margin is close to the average for all manufacturing companies (and less than half the profit margin for tech companies like Apple), and often sees its profit margin collapse in the regular epicycles of global oil prices. Given that the Biden Administration and woke Wall Street have been constricting the oil industry’s access to capital, the industry is more reliant than ever on generating internal capital—not only for continued exploration and production, but for the investment necessary to develop new technologies that actually mitigates emissions, such as carbon sequestration or carbon air capture.

The oil majors, especially ExxonMobil and Chevron, did push back politely against Biden’s oil demagoguery. Chevron was the most candid: “Unfortunately, what we have seen since January 2021 are policies that send a message that the Administration aims to impose obstacles to our industry delivering energy resources the world needs.” If they really want to make progressive heads explode, they should follow up with the argument that they need larger profits.

Biden Mistakes Demand For Supply

Gas prices continue to average around $5.00 per gallon nationally, which is a major factor in our ongoing issues with inflation. Democrats, with the upcoming midterm elections in mind, are freaked out. And all the more because President Biden's approval rating, according to two new polls, is down to 32 percent. Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds predicts that that number will continue to drop, commenting "He has only begun to fail."

How, you ask, could a Democratic president, in our hyper partisan age, with the media always in his corner, fall much further than 32 percent? By refusing to address this problem in any meaningful sense. That's exactly what we're seeing -- the president's response to rising oil prices thus far has been to blame "greedy" oil executives (we're meant to believe that they were overwhelmed by greed only after Biden took office, and not during the plutocratic Trump administration) and Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine (never mind that prices had been rising steadily for months before Russian hostilities began), while maintaining the same anti-oil and gas policies he's held to since the day he entered the White House.

No one is buying it, of course, so Team Biden has moved onto gimmicks which they hope will distract the voters. Earlier this week, the president called for a temporary suspension of federal gasoline and diesel taxes. Such a move would shave somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 or 20 cents per gallon off of your local fill-up price.

Now, we'd all like to pay less for gas, but this isn't going to work. We've even seen the same play fail not long ago. As Saagar Enjeti recently explained,

On June 1st, New York suspended its motor fuel tax of eight cents a gallon, as well as its four cent sales tax on up to two dollars a gallon. The average price of gas that day was $4.93 cents. Two weeks after what is, in effect, a .16 cents per gallon tax holiday went into effect in the State of New York, the price of gas was $5.04 per gallon!

Fundamentally, the problem we're facing now is one of supply, and that is being choked off both by our limited refinery capacity (which is itself a product of environmentalist policies that make it nearly impossible to build new refineries) and Biden's anti-resource-sector positioning. By goosing demand -- people will drive somewhat more if gas prices are somewhat lower -- Biden's proposal arguably exacerbates the problem.

And no federal taxes!

As things stand, the opposite is happening. The Wall Street Journal reports that the demand for gas this spring and summer is down between 5 and 8 percent from the pre-pandemic average, a significant drop. "Drivers have begun consolidating trips or filling up their tanks with only as much fuel as they need to get by for a few days. Some are carpooling or taking mass transit, while others are working from the office for fewer days each week, analysts said."

This might not be such a bad thing -- the WSJ quotes OPIS head Tom Kloza as saying, “You have to have some demand destruction to give supply a chance to catch up.” It is, essentially, a case of the market adjusting to demand outstripping supply. But the less driving there is, the fewer goods and, especially, services are consumed. An economic slow-down will be the consequence of this, and very likely, a recession.

Pray that our house of cards doesn't tumble from the shock, and that our leaders -- Biden included -- correct course before things go too far. But don't count on it.

THE COLUMN: Dead on Arrival

At the opening of the 1950 classic film noir, D.O.A., Edmund O'Brien strides purposefully into a big-city police station, proceeds down long, endless corridors, and finally arrives at a door marked Homicide Division. "I want to report a murder," he says to the head detective. "Who was murdered?" asks the cop. "I was," replies O'Brien.

In this, year two of the dreadful administration of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., we Americans know just how he feels. From the moment this blustering blowhard of a United States senator of no accomplishment from a meaningless state took office in January 2021, he has been busily poisoning the country for the simple reason that he can, he wants to, and there is no one to stop him.

The beneficiary of the hinkiest election in modern American history thanks to the illegal changes in balloting occasioned by the unnecessary Covid panic, and given the narrowest possible margins of control in both the House and the Senate, the superannuated chief executive has done everything in his power to show his contempt for the American people, to damage our patrimony, and make our lives increasingly miserable. 

And yet, like O'Brien, we're not quite dead yet, and still staggering around trying to catch our murderer before time runs out. Barring the hand of God, the first opportunity we'll have to put Biden out to pasture won't come until November 2024, and while the congressional elections this fall could possibly remove both houses of Congress from the geriatric clutches of the bibulous Nancy Pelosi and the baleful Chuck Schumer, that can only stanch but not stop the country's internal hemorrhaging. Like the hapless Frank Bigelow, desperately searching in his last hours for the psycho killer who poisoned him before the "luminous toxin" kills him, we're unsure whom to trust, with both friends and foes suspects alike. 

"This can't be happening," we think, but it is. Under the cloak of Covid "emergency"—the punitive lockdowns, the destruction of our education system, the loss of social contact, the delusion that our fellow humans were carriers of a deadly disease who needed to be shunned or even imprisoned—Americans' constitutional freedoms were summarily abrogated without a shot being fired, and we were consigned to effective house arrest (and worse in places like Australia and Canada). Our freedom of movement—essential to life in a country as large as the United States of America—was drastically curtailed and our transportation system deliberately wrecked. Meanwhile the "climate change" canard continued apace, and the push for electric vehicles was intensified, even as the nation's electric grid was tangibly collapsing.

Since Robinette took office, gas prices have more than doubled, part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has been emptied, our hard-won energy independence achieved during the Trump era has been frittered away, and we've been reduced to begging erstwhile enemies like the "kingdom" of Saudi Arabia to do the jobs Americans just can't be allowed to do. If this looks like a conspiracy to you, don't worry: it is. And one that the conspirators have been quite open about for decades. They're a suicide cult, hell-bent on killing us as well as themselves:

Analysis has now shown that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production, if allowed to run its course, would take us beyond the globally agreed goals of limiting warming to well below 2˚C and pursuing efforts to limit to 1.5˚C. The global carbon budgets associated with either temperature limit will be exhausted with current fossil fuel projects, and in fact some currently-operating fossil fuel projects will need to be retired early in order to have appropriately high chances of staying below even the 2˚C limit, let alone 1.5˚C.

Therefore, we, as over 400 civil society organizations from more than 60 countries, representing tens of millions around the world, call on world leaders to put an immediate halt to new fossil fuel development and pursue a just transition to renewable energy with a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry.

The first step in this effort is a simple one: Stop digging. No additional fossil fuel development, no exploration for new fossil fuels, no expansion of fossil fuel projects. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Just about every word in this screed is either a false premise or an outright lie. The notion of keeping global temperature increases to under 2℃ is purely arbitrary, while the idea of carbon being a pollutant is anti-humanism at its most pernicious, since we are carbon-based life forms who breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide—the very stuff of life for the green trees and fields the Left constantly celebrates, the concept of symbiosis being apparently beyond them. The unsightly forests of Brobdingnagian windmills currently uglifying landscapes around the world testify to the success of their monomania. 

Their blatantly dishonest attempts to link "climate" with weather, however, have had their intended effects on public opinion, pushed largely by propagandistic media outlets such as NPR and the New York Times, which has a whole "hub" devoted to the subject as well as a regular section on "climate and environment." It's important to note here that the Times's reach extends far beyond its direct readership, since its news judgment sets the table for every other media outlet in the country, while your tax dollars subsidize NPR's increasingly deracinated fixations on "climate change," race, and trannies. And naturally you know who's on board with the whole thing:

So those high prices for gasoline and the long, chaotic lines and canceled flights at the airports are not a bug, they're the lynchpin of the whole scheme, which is itself part and parcel of the entire Great Reset project (about which much more tomorrow; watch this space). In order for the Lords of Davos to control you they must first curtail and control your freedom of movement, and what better way to do that than to make the price of oil prohibitively expensive? First your cars stop moving, then the trucks that deliver almost everything of value, including food, to the stores. An inability to move freely and without government oversight will vanish as computers take over your automobiles and which, when they are fully electric, can be disabled at will. As they like to say: You'll own nothing, and you'll be happy
 
What better metaphor, then, for the parlous state of our national affairs than the sight of Biden on his keister after toppling off his bike over the weekend. This frail, thoroughly nasty man with some very peculiar tendencies and an immediate family that might best be described as Caligulan in its behavior, not only embarrassed himself but the country he pretends to lead. "I'm good," he said after his tumble, which may be his biggest and most brazen lie of them all.
 
In the the meantime, we keep rushing around in the dark, trying to figure out why this happening and who is doing it to us. We know the answer, but feel there's nothing we can do about it. Like Bigelow, we'd like to see the man in charge, but nobody is, not really. We can breathe and we can move, but we're not alive because we took that poison, and nothing can save us. We know who the psycho killer is, half our fellow countrymen voted for him, and the murder is taking place in full view from sea to shining sea.
 
Unless a miracle happens, we're D.O.A. and our final destination is dead ahead. 

Behold, the Biden Energy 'Brain Trust'

In an effort to redirect Americans' frustration about the price of gasoline and consumer prices that have hit a four-decade high, President Biden Wednesday sent a letter to seven oil refiners calling on them to produce more gasoline and diesel. It was an attempt by the administration to blame refiners for the economic conditions his energy policy has created. While absurd to suggest that refiners wouldn’t have already thought to increase production, the letter was more a publicity stunt than an earnest attempt to repair the damage his administration's policies have created.

President Biden began his effort to dismantle the oil and gas sector on his very first day in office with the now infamous cancellation of the XL pipeline, even though construction was already underway. By so doing, he single-handedly reduced future oil and gas supply. Had the pipeline been completed, it would have had the capacity to move nearly 830,000 barrels per day to refiners. That decision, so smugly made and celebrated by the administration back in January, 2021 was demonstrative of the cynical energy policy for which the American people are now paying.

So dedicated was the administration back then, to ushering America into the still-undefined "transition to a net-zero [carbon] future," that they neglected to have anyone on their team who had even a modicum of actual oil and gas experience. After all, if one is going to dismantle one system and construct a replacement, one needs the requisite understanding of how the first system functions in order to successfully design its replacement. The administration forgot to give a damn.

Understanding America’s energy sector, and its connection to the broader economy is essential for any administration's success, let alone an administration that exhibits so much hostility toward the oil and gas sector, and by extension toward the American people. Understanding the sector would have informed the leadership that following the environmental policy initiatives of old, white European Socialist bureaucrats was not going to work in America. America’s global dominance has been made possible because of the fossil fuel industry, not in spite of it.

By examining the team that President Biden chose to lead his 'energy transition' and related regulatory initiatives, the seemingly failed strategy begins to look quite different. Far from higher prices and inflation being proof of a failed energy policy, as many on Capitol Hill suggest, it turns out… this is the policy. The market reality with which Americans are living is precisely what the administration intended when President Biden entered office. He repeatedly and infamously described his intentions, promising he would “end” the oil and gas industry.

So fervent is the administration’s belief in the transition to a net zero future, one might mistake it for religious fanaticism. They have been willing to harm the economy and the economic lives of millions of Americans. Though gob-stopping in its darkness, this is the world they envision. This is what they intended all along.

Who are these people? Instead of being confused and frustrated, a review of the crew steering this ship actually brings clarity and understanding:

Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Energy Secretary
While presenting via video feed in May 2021 at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, only months after joining the administration, attendees were aghast at her stunning lack of knowledge about the sector she had been tasked to lead. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she had been the Attorney General of Michigan, and then governor until 2011, with a quick stint as a member of Barrack Obama’s transition team in 2009; she was unsurprisingly ill-suited for an industry-focused position. Between the cancellation of the XL pipeline 90 days prior to her speech, her incorrect use of industry vernacular and her disingenuous assurances that she was on a shared journey with the industry she would be working to dismantle, the audience was left deeply dissatisfied.

When asked Wednesday at what point do gas prices become unsustainable?" Granholm responded, "Yeah, I think the prices are unsustainable… there's not a quick fix. However, your point about also accelerating our progress toward clean energy is very, very important."

Lurching toward renewables with John Kerry.

John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
Perhaps best-known for his service in Vietnam, Kerry was also in the U.S. Senate for many years before serving as secretary of state under Barack Obama. Since then he has been jet-setting (via fossil-fuel powered jets) to Davos and other destinations in Europe speaking about the threat of fossil fuel to the planet.

Speaking at an event hosted by the University of Southern California's Center of Public Diplomacy last Friday, Kerry said that energy security concerns are  driving complaints that the U.S. needs to perform more domestic drilling and return to coal. Annoyed, he said that the U.S. "absolutely" does not need to drill for more oil and gas amid inflation and record-high gas prices.

Gina McCarthy, National Climate Advisor
Rounding off the energy triad is a former Obama-era EPA administrator.  Her role in the Biden administration was seen as a domestic counterpart to John Kerry's job on the international front. According to reports,  McCarthy was described as the chief architect of Obama's climate regulations, overseeing the drafting and passage of limits on what she referred to as, "planet-heating pollution" from power plants, vehicles and fossil fuel producers. Following a stint as a professor at Harvard University, she became the president and chief executive of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She recently defended censorship of news sites that deny "climate change" or other accepted orthodox pieties of the Left:

We have to get tighter, we have to get better at communicating, and frankly, the tech companies have to stop allowing specific individuals over and over again to spread disinformation. That’s what the fossil fuel companies pay for.

Like characters from a Mission Impossible movie, Biden’s energy sector leaders are true villains. They are dedicated to the destruction of the U.S. energy sector and wish for a lower quality of life for us that they themselves have no intention of living. The question before the country now is simple: are we going to let them do it?

Success: Biden Gets the High Gas Prices He Promised

For decades now, the Democrats have painted gas and oil producers as whipping boys for the failure of their own party’s policies. This year as pump prices have skyrocketed and every single facet of our economy is suffering from the shortfalls in production, they once again seek others to blame. Sticking with their playbook that nothing is ever their fault, despite the fact that the record is clear that it is, President Biden casts the blame on Putin and the producers.

The record is clear, however, that the shortfalls are the direct result of the administration’s policies. And Exxon’s response to Biden’s blame shifting is telling but incomplete. Noting that the company has been in “regular contact with the administration” it describes the steps it has taken to increase production and expand refinery capacity, something the administration has obviously ignored:

We increased production in the Permian Basin by 70 percent, or 190,000 barrels per day, between 2019 and 2021. We expect to increase production from the Permian by another 25 percent this year. We’re spending 50 percent more in capital expenditures in the Permian in 2022 vs 2021 and are increasing refining capacity to process U.S. light crude by about 250,000 barrels per day – which is the equivalent of adding a new medium sized refinery.

We reported losses of more than $20 billion in 2020, and we borrowed more than $30 billion in 2019 and 2020 to support our investments in production around the world. In 2021, total taxes on the company’s income statement were $40.6 billion, an increase of $17.8 billion from 2020.

The Forbes writer, David Blackmon, goes on to note:

The president of the United States is simply lying to us. The reality is that Exxon and other oil companies are drilling and investing, on a massive scale, both in the United States and worldwide. They pay many billions in local, state and federal taxes. And if the government doesn’t think it’s enough, then Congress can change those laws.

Penury by design.

Here are some significant specific actions the administration has taken to reduce gasoline supply, something they expressed pride about as it in their words, will speed the transition to “renewables.” And this cockamamie plan certain to raise gas prices was cheered on by the major media 

  1. Cancelled the Keystone pipeline  bringing crude oil from Canada to U.S. refineries
  2. Pulled three offshore oil lease sales and curbed new drilling this year
  3. Failed to appeal a judicial ruling revoking drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico
  4. Limited fracking
  5. Issued regulations that strained our already too-limited refinery resources
  6. Promoted new taxes on oil and gas production

Last month, before the consequences of this lunacy became fully apparent to voters, Biden bragged about these deliberately destabilizing policies. Try diagramming this jumbled thinking:

Out of touch as ever, President Biden celebrated record-high gas prices Monday, gushing that the pump pain was part of “an incredible transition” of the US economy away from fossil fuels. “[When] it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over,” Biden said during a press conference in Japan following his meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The president then insisted that his administration’s actions, rather than increasing the price of gas, had actually been able to “keep it from getting worse — and it’s bad.” Only then did Biden pay lip service to millions of Americans who have found themselves spending thousands of extra dollars to fuel up their vehicles.

The oil industry is fighting back. On Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute sent the letter below directly to the White House, rebuffing Biden's disgraceful demagogic attacks with facts. Have a look:

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Oklahoma senator James Lankford is one who does understand what the major media do not, and smashes the ball right back into Biden’s court:

Twenty-four percent of the oil that we get in the United States comes from those federal leases. So when he has now, still, not re-opened the short-term moratorium on federal leasing, he’s cutting off the future of oil into our country. And it continues to accelerate prices….. And literally, this week, the Biden Administration announces that they want more American companies to do more production, but then this week they release they’re budget after saying to American companies, ‘Why aren’t you producing more oil,’ the Biden Budget has 15 brand-new tax proposals that they’ve got on the production of oil and gas.

And the production is just part of the picture. The petroleum has to be refined. Forty-two years ago I co-authored a book, noting the refinery shortfalls and the need to upgrade and build more refinery capacity. Spoiler alert: we didn’t.

No worries, I'm off to Delaware for the weekend.

As the editors of the Wall Street Journal report, the president has finally noticed we are short of refinery capacity to process crude, and “a major culprit is U.S. government policy.” When the government insists on an abrupt shift from fossil fuels to tackle a largely imaginary problem of "climate change," it’s hard to justify spending more to upgrade refineries to process crude oil. And then there’s the EPA, which has tightened permitting requirements and demanded steeper mandates for biofuels. But there’s more: having to blend more ethanol requires that refiners must purchase regulatory credits to comply and those credits have increased in price driving some refineries out of business.

If the President wants “concrete ideas” to immediately increase capacity and production, maybe he should reverse policies that are designed by his administration to put producers and refiners out of business? Well, that’s just a thought. The people in this crowd who can’t master the simple math of supply and demand are unlikely to be able to follow this line of reasoning.

Biden's Bottomless Energy Foolishness

President Joe Biden followed up his War on Energy—which began the day he took office with his abrupt and malicious cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline— with a direct threat wrapped in the flag on Wednesday, demanding in a letter to oil industry CEOs that they increase production while complaining about their profit margins: “There is no question Vladimir Putin is principally responsible for the intense financial pain the American people and their families are bearing. But at a time of war, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto Americans are unacceptable.”

His verbally-challenged press spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre followed up with a vague threats that Biden might invoke the Defense Production Act or some other executive powers if the oil industry doesn’t “voluntarily” comply. The fate of President Harry Truman’s seizure of the steel industry in 1952 (declared unconstitutional by a pro-New Deal Supreme Court) must have fallen out of the Biden White House history books, along with any reference works on economic literacy. The facts are these:

It is impossible to exaggerate the ignorance and hubris—and greed—of the Biden leftists about energy. The Financial Times reported a startling detail a few days ago: “When the White House started calling around in a panic, they thought shale oil production could grow sharply in the near term — like in a matter of months or quarters,” said Bob McNally, head of consultancy Rapidan Energy. “They were shocked to learn that that’s like asking for blood from a stone. It’s almost impossible.”

But it's easy to be shocked when you’ve lost your grip on reality. A CEO of a major American transportation company who agreed to serve on Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness back in 2011 once privately told me that he asked Obama why we didn’t encourage more domestic production of oil and natural gas. Obama’s answer stunned him: “Stephen Chu [the Nobel Prize-winning Secretary of Energy] tells me we’ll be well on our way to a transition to renewable energy by 2016, so we don’t need more oil and gas.”

"I did that!"

President Biden seems even more self-deluded about oil and gas than Obama, peddling the same dreamy nonsense about energy. Last month Biden said that high gasoline prices were part of the “incredible transition” toward a world of “renewable” energy that won’t need fossil fuels. But the inexorable rise of gasoline prices has set off political alarms in the White House, prompting the administration to try to make nice with domestic oil and gas—and even with the Saudis, otherwise a pariah state for this administration—in hopes they will increase oil production and relieve Biden’s political gas pains.

But Biden’s grasp of the oil and gas industry is as simplistic and confused as every other aspect of his doddering administration. Having demonized the oil and gas industry as required by environmentalist orthodoxy, Biden now thinks he can get the industry to bail him out of his self-induced political and economic crisis.

There are two primary reasons why domestic oil and gas can’t be turned on or off like a water faucet in your kitchen. The first is long-wave oil market cycles. The second is political and regulatory risk. The oil and gas industry has at length figured out how to adapt to the first problem. The second problem—political and regulatory risk—is out of their hands, and is the one thing Biden and his gang refuse to acknowledge or consider changing.

There’s an old adage that the solution to high oil prices is high oil prices (and vice versa), and ever since the first oil shocks of the 1970s we’ve seen several epicycles of world oil markets in which the price soars, slowly collapses, and then slowly soars again, drawing oil entrepreneurs into the market with some inevitable bankruptcies among the weaker firms later on. We saw this cycle with a vengeance over the last decade, as rising oil prices in the “oughts” (2000-2009 or so) combined with technology leaps to produce America’s wonderful domestic oil and gas boom.

Opening new or expanding existing resources requires considerable up-front capital investment. Both the industry and its investors have become more disciplined over the last decade to avoid the boom-and-bust cycle, and it is now largely oriented to developing oil and gas assets that can remain profitable at any reasonable price point in a typical epicycle, instead of chasing after large profits during price spikes.

A bigger problem for the industry is political risk. After years of open hostility to the industry from Democrats, why would the industry now put its neck on the line to rush new production when it is certain that Democrats will resume their old hostility to the industry once prices and profits start to come back down? In the 2020 campaign Biden said he’d halt further oil and gas production on public land, while encouraging Wall Street to cut off capital to the industry. He’s more than made good on that promise—until just the last few weeks—and the increasingly woke capitalists on Wall Street were happy to go along. (In a nod to reality, several of the big Wall Street banks have recently reversed their position and say they will now provide financing for fossil fuel companies.)

If Biden wanted to secure a robust and consistent supply of domestic hydrocarbons that his own Energy Department says we will need to use for decades to come, he’d call off the left’s political war on the sector. But fossil fuels are the primary Emmanuel Goldstein of the left, a main target of their daily two minutes of hate.

Beneath these endless confusions and contradictions is the cognitive dissonance of Biden’s variety of leftism. Over the years the left has considered high gasoline prices the acme of enlightenment, because it would force people to switch to “renewable” energy and electric cars. A whole volume of the Encyclopedia of Leftist Errors could be filled with statements of envy over Europe’s tax-driven high fuel prices, along with the open wish that we should follow their example. The aforementioned Stephen Chu said during the Obama years, “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

And yet when market conditions deliver price spikes, as happens on a regular basis, Democrats explode: Price gouging! Collusion! Greedy oil companies! We must investigate! Every government investigation of high gas prices since the 1970s has failed to find any evidence of price fixing or collusion in the oil industry, because there isn’t any. The lesson here is plain: for the left, high gasoline prices are only good when it comes about through a government tax rather than market forces. Actually the U.S. government already makes more on each gallon of gas than oil companies and refiners do, but you never hear that inconvenient fact reported, because apparently the government can never be “greedy.”

The dramatic revolution in domestic oil and gas production that began about 15 years ago falsified two of liberalism’s most persistent clichés—that we had reached “peak oil,” and that the U.S. couldn’t “drill our way” to energy independence. One politician who quietly figured this out a decade ago was Barack Obama. By degrees during his second term, Obama started endorsing an “all of the above” energy policy, which represented a de facto truce with domestic oil and gas. It is telling that Biden can’t even bring himself to say “all of the above,” and this silence is all the industry needs to know as it weighs the enduring problem of political risk so long as the left is in power.

All Part of the Plan

It's almost as if President Biden has generously agreed to film opposition-research ads for the RNC in the lead-up to the midterm elections:

That was Biden's response when he was asked during a press conference in Japan earlier this week about the possibility of an American recession. The obvious implication of this statement is that high gas prices are not an unfortunate byproduct of events that are beyond the Biden Administration's control, but in fact are the intended outcome of the president's policies. Of course, this conflicts with Biden's defensiveness about gas prices in the same statement, as when he said,

And what I’ve been able to do to keep it from getting even worse — and it’s bad.... But we have released over two hundred and, I think, fifty-seven thousand — million barrels of oil, I should say. Us and the rest of the world we convinced to get involved. It’s helped, but it’s not been enough.

Well "helped" is a strong word, Mr. President, as those "two hundred and... fifty-seven thousand — million barrels of oil," had only the slightest impact on the price of petroleum products, just as we predicted when their release was announced:

Meanwhile, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which exists for a true national emergency -- not to arrest the president's tumbling poll numbers -- is now emptier than it has been in nearly 40 years and the federal government will have to purchase oil at a much higher rate per barrel to replenish it.

Still, this seems like a shift in approach from the administration, of a piece with their decision to cancel already scheduled oil and gas lease sales. Those leases were announced with an eye towards tamping down on exploding gas prices. Canceling a not-insignificant number of them after their sale had been announced was likely done to placate Biden's environmentalist supporters, but it also demonstrated the White House's growing realization that none of its proposed half-measures were going to get pump prices down to an acceptable level. Nothing short of a total about-face would move the needle in the right direction, and their attempts to spit on an intensifying conflagration were just making them look weak.

So what solution did they come up with? Lean into high prices. This is Putin's doing, yes, but it is also part of the glorious green energy transition which will leave us all better off! That is to say: Don't worry, this was all part of the plan. It's a desperate move and it isn't going to help them in November. But it will result in a rough economic summer just as American's were gearing up for a post-Covid party.

Start prepping for that recession.

America's Economic 'Bad Luck' Began with Keystone

President Joe Biden’s inauguration day decision to shut down and cancel construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada is even more shocking when it is recognized that environmentalism has moved on to an ominous new phase. For the last two generations at least, the political battle over energy in the U.S. has revolved around the left’s attempts to strangle the oil, gas, and coal energy that generates 80 percent of America’s total energy supply. The typical move was challenging every drilling permit application, and having Democratic presidents seal off more federal land from exploration and production through the executive fiat of designating more “wilderness areas.”

Environmentalists wrapped their intransigence against domestic oil and gas with the lie that America’s oil and gas supplies were so limited that we couldn’t “drill our way out” of our dependence on foreign supplies, mixed with happy talk about the fantastic “renewable energy revolution.” While windmills and solar panels are spreading like kudzu grass throughout the land (thanks to lavish subsidies), strangling oil and gas production hasn’t worked fully worked out.

A funny thing happened on our way to the new green utopia—we did drill our way out of foreign oil and gas dependence, much to the fury of the left. Dramatic improvements in technology, especially precise directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) unleashed a revolution in domestic oil and gas production. Much of this revolution occurred by stealth, and on private or state land, largely during the anti-oil Obama Administration. If the political class in Washington had known this revolution was under way, they would have moved aggressively to stop it.

By degrees environmentalists have become open and explicit about their goal, with the more honest slogan, “Leave it in the ground.” Environmentalists have long enjoyed considerable success in blocking or delaying oil and gas exploration and production even in the region of Alaska quaintly called the “National Petroleum Reserve,” let alone the oil-rich Alaska Natural Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and many offshore areas. The offensive has broadened, with success in getting Wall Street and several federal bureaucracies such as the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and others to make life more difficult for domestic oil and gas production.

But while the environmental crusaders may hamper, they cannot entirely strangle, domestic oil and gas production. We can see this dynamic in action in real time right now. Between the typical epicycle of oil prices and the disruptions in the global market the Ukraine war has caused, suddenly we desperately need increased supply from our domestic producers. Credible predictions of $8 a gallon gasoline and rolling electricity blackouts this summer have had a sobering effect. While Wall Street may look down its nose at oil and gas companies in their public pronouncements, their capital allocation tells a different story. The oil and gas sector’s value has soared over the last year as capital seeks the best return, while the rest of the stock market is in bear territory.

Our domestic hydrocarbons are not going to stay in the ground in these circumstances. But there is another way for environmentalists to achieve their objective of strangling it—one that is a lot simpler and more effective than opposing every drilling permit application. In a variation of the old gangster approach to a protection racket, environmentalists have settled upon a new tactic: “Nice little oil well you have there; good luck getting any of it to a refinery.”

This is preface for understanding the deeper meaning of Biden’s decision to cancel Keystone. The decision made no sense on the merits, and seemed heedless of basic politics. The Obama Administration had concluded that Keystone would have no effect on "climate change" (because that Canadian oil is going to go somewhere regardless), and canceling it angered our largest trading partner and leading foreign oil supplier—this from a person who said he’d repair relations with foreign nations that President Trump supposedly trashed. It was also an unprecedented abuse of presidential power: no president has ever shut down a private-sector construction project—unionized, no less—already under way absent clear malfeasance or illegality.

Keystone should be seen therefore as a capstone to the strategy environmentalists have embraced by degrees in recent years of seeking to block pipelines and other infrastructure necessary for a flourishing hydrocarbon sector. The Dakota Access Pipeline, proposed in 2014 and under construction in 2016 after clearing the usual concerns from state governments and native American groups, suddenly faced a late vigorous protest movement that went national, supplementing spurious environmental claims with a heady mix of identity politics. The Obama administration intervened late to halt Dakota Access, but Trump swiftly gave it the green light upon taking office in 2017.

Meanwhile, the successive governors of New York (David Paterson, Andrew Cuomo, and now Kathy Hochul) have not only refused to allow production of ample supplies of natural gas in economically sluggish upstate, but refuse permission for a pipeline to send natural gas from Pennsylvania and Ohio to northeastern states that otherwise now have to import it from, among other places, Russia. (Massachusetts generates two-thirds of its electricity with natural gas.) Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to tear up an existing pipeline from Canada, and while the effort is temporarily in abeyance, no doubt the idea will come back if Whitmer is re-elected.

The point should now be obvious: Biden’s Keystone decision was a political rather than a serious policy decision. Message: Don’t even think about proposing any new pipelines in the U.S. Keystone isn’t just one pipeline; it is all pipelines. And even if a future Republican administration approves construction of a new pipeline, we’ll tear up the permit and expropriate your project the next time we’re back in office. Who is going to risk billions on new pipelines with this kind of political uncertainty? (Little noticed in the media is that international rating firms now place the United States as one of the highest risk countries for oil and gas investment.)

They hate you. They really hate you.

Blocking hydrocarbon infrastructure is only one part of the strangulation strategy of environmentalists. We haven’t built a new major oil refinery (with capacity over 100,000 barrels a day) in the U.S. since 1977. Modernization and expansion of existing refineries have been able to keep up with market needs, but the strain is starting to show and the limits of this patchwork adaptation are being reached. Refining constraints explain a lot of the reason gasoline in California now costs $2 more than the national average, but good luck proposing to build a new or expand an existing refinery in California.

The point is clear: blocking the infrastructure to transport and process hydrocarbon energy reduces the need to block production at the well. It’s like saying automakers can make all the cars they want, but taking away the roads. (Actually environmentalists want to do that, too.) The long-running argument about whether to drill more at home has become a classic misdirection. It represents a revival of the mid-20th century socialist strategy that sought to control the “commanding heights” of the economy (steel, autos, rail, etc.) so as to control everything else, and it is fitting that the pipeline that makes this keystone strategy vivid is called Keystone.

This problem won’t get fixed until there is fundamental reform of basic laws and regulations that allow this kind of obstruction to gain traction. GOP 2024 candidates take note.

In Alberta, the Kenney Era Draws to an End

Earlier this week Alberta Premier Jason Kenney stunned the Canadian political world by, first, winning a majority in a contentious leadership review and then promptly announcing his resignation as leader of the United Conservative Party.

The surprise notwithstanding, this does seem to have been the right decision. After all, Kenney had received just a bare majority of support -- only 51.4 percent, and this after he and the U.C.P. board had fiddled with the rules of the review while it was ongoing to make it more favorable to the premier. And there was precedent for his decision -- longtime Alberta premier Ralph Klein resigned in 2006 after getting 55 percent of the vote in a leadership review. It would have looked bad had Kenney insisted on staying in office after attracting less support than Klein.

It also seems like a wise move -- going in, poll after poll had Kenney's province-wide approval rating was below 30 percent and the party as a whole was polling behind the socialist N.D.P., whose win in the 2015 provincial elections was the impetus for the formation of the United Conservative Party in the first place. A return of Rachel Notley and the N.D.P. to power in Edmonton in next year's election could very well endanger the project Kenney has dedicated himself to since he left federal office in 2016, that of uniting the right in Alberta. Kenney's personal unpopularity could be temporary, a product of unfavorable circumstances, but stubbornly dragging his party to defeat would make him a pariah on the right in Alberta and beyond.

A new dawn in Calgary.

It is worth looking briefly at both the positive and negative aspects of Kenney's tenure. Sean Speer discussed the former in a piece for the National Post:

The Kenney government has cut the province’s corporate tax rate by a third, reduced regulatory requirements by about one-quarter and maintained flat or declining program spending on a sustained basis. The result is the fastest-growing economy in the country and the province’s first balanced budget in more than a decade. But its most important and lasting contribution to centre-right governance is in its policy innovation.... This includes: major curriculum reform and expanding school choice; national leadership on internal trade and labour mobility; a series of initiatives such as the first-of-its-kind Indigenous Opportunities Corporation to help Indigenous peoples fully participate in the Alberta economy; and meaningful reform to the province’s health-care system through a significant shift of surgeries to private clinics and hospitals.

He has also been an outspoken ally for the oil and gas industry, the lifeblood of Alberta and perhaps the most significant single sector of the Canadian economy. Kenney fought admirably for pipelines, especially Keystone XL, and against the Federal Carbon Tax (until the Supreme Court ruled against him), while continually pushing back on the anti-oil and gas policies of the Trudeau government in Ottawa. While he sometimes raised red flags on this file, as when he asserted that a "gradual shift from hydrocarbon-based energy to other forms of energy” would be necessary in a speech in Washington, DC, for instance, or when he appointed pro-carbon tax activist Mark Cameron as Deputy Minister of Policy Coordination, the good outweighed the bad.

Still, there are areas where the negatives dominate. Alberta's Covid restrictions in particular rankled the province's conservative base. While Speer dismisses these complaints, saying that "Alberta had the lightest restrictions in the country as well as a death rate below the national average," Albertans couldn't help but compare their restrictions to those in the United States rather than to the ones in Ontario and Quebec. What's the point of being the Texas of Canada if, when the chips are down, your government acts more like that of Massachusetts or New York?

And, relatedly, Albertans have been turned off by Kenney's kingly attitude. In 2017, he parachuted in to provincial politics from Ottawa as a self-styled savior, dazzling both right-of-center parties. He also stepped on a lot of toes. His victory seemed to many a bit too scripted, a suspicion that has been reinforced by the on-going investigations into alleged voter fraud and illegal campaign practices during his leadership campaigns. And as the actual governance of the province became difficult -- particularly during the pandemic and its economic fallout -- Kenney was quick to expel M.P.P.'s like Todd Loewen and Drew Barnes from the party for criticizing his policies in public. He also booted Culture Minister Leela Aheer from cabinet for the same offense, and he's been accused of petty acts of retribution, like seating his critics within the party in the back rows of the government benches, as far as possible from the action and the exits.

For his part, Kenney has argued that he's been "far too tolerant of public expressions of opposition" to his decisions as leader, and that the party "must be united, and unity requires a degree of discipline.”

Keep to the right, Alberta.

While Jason Kenney has announced his intention to resign as party leader, his intention is to stay on as premier until a permanent successor can be selected and he hasn't ruled out standing for leader again. Former Wildrose leaders Danielle Smith and Brian Jean have already announced their intention of replacing him, while members of Kenney's cabinet including Jobs Minister Doug Schweitzer and Finance Minister Travis Toews are said to be mulling a run.

Whoever the next leader might be, however, he will have quite the job of continuing Kenney's good work while avoiding his negatives, and holding together the two warring factions he pulled together under one banner. It will be tough, but necessary work for keeping the N.D.P. out of power in Alberta. The future of Canadian right-of-center politics, and of Canada itself depends on his success.