14 October 2009

A Silent Revolution

The most remarkable aspect of the evolving U.S. debate over climate legislation is how quickly it is evolving in the direction of Republican policy preferences while Democrats, especially the most left-leaning, are silently accepting this revolution, if not helping it along.

Here is Joe Romm on Republican proposals to expand U.S. oil drilling about one year ago:
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
Not with a bang but a chant of “Drill, baby, Drill.”
Apparently Romm believes that now we can save the world from ending through drilling, he writes this week:
. . . we have always drilled, we are drilling now, Congress has repeatedly opened up more acreage to drilling in the last few years, and it's going to open up even more when the price of oil goes back to record levels . . .
And here is Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Tom Strickland, an Obama appointee, violently agreeing at a recent Senate hearing on the need to more aggressively pursue conventional energy resources on public lands and offshore:

The climate bill is rapidly moving from a bill that would move money around and do little to reduce emissions, to a bill that will move money around and accommodate a Republican-preferred "all of the above" energy policy that is very carbon intensive. The take over of climate policy by the Republican agenda is the most over-looked aspect of this entire debate. Perhaps those covering the horse race can't see the forest for the trees.

I wonder what will happen if drilling in ANWR were to become an explicit part of the climate bill negotiations? Are left-leaning Democrats willing to give that away in silence as well?

If Republicans want to blow up the bill, they probably just have to press loudly for this provision. However, given how well things are going for them, why would they want to blow it up at all?

Stay tuned.


  1. Roger, perhaps you can explain why anyone would have an objection to drilling for oil in the nasty, brutish hell hole that has been suggested in ANWR. It's the world's armpit.

  2. Dr. Pielke,

    Just a note of thanks for your analysis of this activity in particular and for your blog in generally. Frankly, it is difficult for this lay person to follow these machinations and your analysis is the most informative, constructive, and objective available.

    sincere thanks,

  3. It is common for Democrats to insist that:

    1. AGW is an already in-progress cataclysm and

    2. The proposals currently under consideration will stop that catastrophe.

    If this is false, then the current proposals should be scrapped, or at least reconsidered.

    If this is true, then drilling in ANWR seems like a very small price to pay.

  4. Hi,

    I agree that drilling for oil doesn't do anything to reduce CO2 emissions.

    But I would strongly argue that drilling for natural gas can indeed reduce CO2 emissions. Here is a graph of U.S. electricity production from various sources.

    Note that natural gas (green triangles) has been rising sharply since ~1988. That's a good thing, if it means that fewer coal-fired power plants were built, because the electricity instead came from natural gas.


  5. I wonder how many Americans know that:

    1) ANWR alone -- according to the USGS -- would likely increase our proven reserves by an estimated 48%.

    Click here for the chart.

    2) The area proposed for development is 1/100th of one percent of the total ANWR area.

    Click here to more fully substantiate points 1 & 2 and far, far more.

    3) In 1995, Congress approved drilling in ANWR. Bill Clinton vetoed it.

    Had Clinton signed that legislation, ANWR alone could have prevented the gasoline price spikes of 2008.

    Click here to fully substantiate this quantitative fact and far, far more.

  6. Howsabout we just drill for oil off the lower 48 and scrap the capping and the trading? That's been a good idea for decades now. We can buy oil drilled off the Nigerian coast, but we can't drill off Florida? It's like an alcoholic quitting buying himself drinks, but going to bars every night and sitting until someone buys him a shot.

  7. If peak, or more likely, plateau oil is correct, then it makes sense to drain the Middle East of oil and preserve our own reserves. It's even better when we give them soon to be worth much less dollars for something actually useful like oil.

  8. If the Democrats are serious about limiting co2 then they should join with Republicans and push nuclear. If they want vastly cleaner nuclear they should push for LFTR development at the same time.

    Dr. James Hansen (father of AGW) has already joined the push for next generation much cleaner nuclear LFTR.

  9. With as lame as the Cap and Trade portion of this bill has become, is this going to end up a oil/natural gas drilling bill under the guise of a Climate Change bill?

    I find this patently hilarious.