Thursday, August 23, 2007

One predictor of energy pricing is how much the enivronmental agenda shapes policy

In today's WSJ:

Just about everyone claims the U.S. must urgently become "energy independent," yet at the same time just about every policy that may actually serve that goal is met with environmentalist opposition. That contradiction has impeded the Bush Administration's attempts to increase domestic energy production. And even the modest progress so far may be blocked because litigation is driving the conflict out of politics and into the courts.

To see this trend at work, look north to Alaska, where lawsuits are blocking an offshore drilling program. Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay that will suspend all operations until at least September, when the court will hear full arguments. The decision noted that the litigants -- environmental pressure groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council -- had shown "a probability of success on the merits." Uh-oh.

This is bad news for Shell, whose three-year exploration program in the Beaufort Sea was green-lighted by the Department of the Interior in February. The company planned to sink up to four temporary wells this summer to determine the available resources. But there's a limited open-water window before the winter ice moves back in, so the Ninth Circuit could delay work for a year, even if it decides in Shell's favor.

The public interest in this case is domestic energy. The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that chooses to lock up its natural resources. Since 2003, the Administration and Congress have lifted the federal moratoria on a few select areas of the Outer Continental Shelf. The Beaufort basin, which is estimated to hold 27.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 8.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil, was one of those. A successful exploratory program could open a new frontier of energy.

That public purpose is what drives the greens bonkers, so they're trying to create a legal backstop to prevent any Administration from doing what President Bush has done. The Shell case shows that even a long and expensive effort to address every conceivable concern can still be undone by lawsuits. If anyone wants to know why we're still "dependent on foreign oil," this is it.

UPDATE: James Taranto says this, quoting Der Speigel on Norwegian carbon emissions:
"Norway is concerned that its national animal, the moose, is harming the climate by emitting an estimated 2,100 kilos [4,630 pounds] of carbon dioxide a year through its belching and farting," reports Der Spiegel:

Norwegian newspapers, citing research from Norway's technical university, said a motorist would have to drive 13,000 kilometers in a car to emit as much CO2 as a moose does in a year.

So not only man but animals cause global warming. Apparently the only way to preserve life on earth is to wipe out life on earth.

UPDATE: Good stuff, courtesy of Greenpeace!

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