Warren Buffett, the Keystone Pipeline, and Crony Capitalism

Warren Buffett, the Keystone Pipeline, and Crony Capitalism

By Joe
Herring

A decades-long crusade by the environmental left to
convince us that oil is evil, unsustainable, and destroying our planet has yet
to accomplish its goal of eliminating oil as a fuel, but it has succeeded in
making oil damned expensive.  However, new technologies for the extraction and
transport of previously unrecoverable oil promise to reverse that
trend.

One such project is the TransCanada Keystone XL
pipeline, which will transport bitumen from the oil sands of Alberta to the
refineries and ports along the Gulf coast.  It will also feature a spur that
will pick up oil from the vast Bakken oil formation in North Dakota.  The
benefit to our economy and energy security is obvious.

I live in Nebraska, one of the states that will be
host to a segment of the pipeline. We have witnessed a remarkably contentious
debate locally regarding the construction of the Keystone XL, revealing some
rather disturbing attitudes regarding truth and its role in public discourse.  I
suppose it was naïve to think that the wild-eyed excesses of the radical leftist
environmental movement would find little purchase in the commonsense plains of
Nebraska, but the insupportable claims and charges being tossed about by the
anti-pipeline crowd have proven that green insanity can take root even in our
generally sensible state.

The opposition, led most loudly by a group called BOLD
Nebraska, claims a catastrophic risk of contamination to the Ogallala aquifer
should the pipeline suffer a breach.  The aquifer underlies virtually all of
Nebraska, and several other states, and supplies drinking water and irrigation
to millions of people.  It is understandable that reasonable people would
express concern over potential hazards to such a valuable resource, and it is
this reasonable concern that BOLD Nebraska is exploiting with a combination of
half-truths, innuendo, and outright lies.

As required by law, an Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS) has been prepared for this project.  The science reflected in the
statement is sound, and it illustrates a comprehensive examination of the
project’s effects, likely risks, and reasonable alternatives.  The EIS arrives
at a conclusion supported by recognized scientific method and was conducted by
top experts in their fields.  The proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline
is, in fact, the safest of the available routes.

The reality of the geology and hydrology underlying
the proposed pipeline route precludes any wholesale contamination of the
aquifer.  To understand why, it is important to understand what an aquifer is –
and what it isn’t.  It is a geological formation that is structured in
such a way as to hold water in quantity.  It is not an “underground
lake.”  It is a vast filter system consisting of layer upon layer of sedimentary
rock, silt, clay, and sand that in Nebraska lies much closer to the surface on
the western portion of the aquifer than on the eastern
portion.

For this reason, the water flow within the aquifer is
easterly, making it a physical impossibility for any oil leaked along the
proposed route to flow “uphill” to the 75%-80% of the aquifer that lies to the
west of the pipeline.  Additionally, both the oil and the chemical additives
that make it easier to pump are lighter than water and would not emulsify.
Leaked oil will simply migrate toward the nearest substrate, remaining
localized.

This is according to Professor James Goeke, a
hydro-geologist who retired from the University of Nebraska earlier this year
after a forty-year career of studying the Ogallala aquifer and the Sand Hills
region that overlies it.  He is the foremost expert on the aquifer,
and he informs us that the geological structure of the formation precludes any
possibility that oil could travel for more than a few hundred feet in any
direction before encountering substrate.  Quite simply, the aquifer and the land
above it are not in any real danger from this project.

Given that the science clearly shows the that pipeline
opposition is persisting in perpetuating a demonstrable falsehood, it is
reasonable to question the opposition’s motives.  According to their own website
postings and
editorializing in
newspapers across the nation, their ultimate aim is not to reroute the pipeline,
but rather to halt its construction now and forever.  The thinking is, if the
pipeline is halted, then the oil will stay in the ground, thereby protecting the
earth from the ravages of such a “filthy fuel.”  Their tactic is to suggest a
simple rerouting around the aquifer for the sake of safety.

The environmentalists well know that changing the
route at this stage will result in the invalidation of the existing EIS (the
real aim of the protests), thereby creating a need to begin the entire process
anew.  This time, leftists are confident that they will be able to demagogue and
politicize that process sufficiently to preclude another approval, resulting in
the exercise of a “green veto” despite the clear conclusions of sound
science.

So what happens if the pipeline is never built?  Well,
to fully explore that, it is instructive to look at the players in this game.
One can find the usual suspects among the hysterical left: Hollywood
environmentalists such as Daryl Hannah and progressive agenda-driven scientists
like global-warming alarmist James Hansen of NASA.  These, however, are merely
the “useful idiots” in the process, and not the actual players.  I mentioned
BOLD Nebraska earlier.  This group is funded almost entirely by Dick Holland,
who has been a close friend and business associate of Warren Buffett since the
1960s.

Holland was an original investor in Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway, and the two have remained close friends ever since.  Buffett
and Holland also share a similar political philosophy, both being liberal
Democrats, with Holland giving exclusively to the Democratic Party.  So why does
this matter?  It potentially answers a few questions about the recent behavior
of Buffett and Obama, and perhaps the real reason behind the Nebraska-centric
animus toward the pipeline.

A year after the election of Obama, Warren Buffett
bought a giant railroad, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
The BNSF has more than 32,000 miles of track and
right-of-way in this nation, running from the west coast and through the
agricultural heartland of America.  It is also hauls coal from the mines in
Montana and Wyoming and is the railroad with the best existing north-south
infrastructure.  In fact, it’s quite well-situated to perform precisely the task
for which TransCanada has proposed to build a pipeline.

Should the pipeline fail, the oil will still be
extracted, but it will then
be transported by rail
,
and Mr. Buffett, thanks to the efforts of his friend Mr. Holland, will be
uniquely situated to derive a fortune from that business, as well as enhance the
value of his holdings in Conoco-Phillips petroleum.  Is it possible that Warren
Buffett’s assistance to Obama in both policy and public relations lately may be
his way of trying to tip the regulatory scales in his favor?  After all, nothing
says “I love you” to a Democrat better than a public plea for more
taxes.

In any case, the opposition to the pipeline is not
only tainted, but intellectually and scientifically bankrupt.  BOLD Nebraska are
correct when they screech that there is an agenda being served here, but it is
not big oil, environmentalism, or even green energy; it appears to be
garden-variety crony capitalism, an Obama administration
specialty.

The author writes from Omaha, NE and welcomes comments
at his website http://www.readmorejoe.com

Obama’s Energy Power Grab

Obama’s Energy Power Grab

Posted By Rich Trzupek On December 30, 2010 @ 12:43 am In FrontPage | 9 Comments

The USEPA announced its intention to deliver yet another body blow to the power and petrochemical industries, piling on another layer of unneeded, unwanted and economically disastrous regulations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States. Before we consider the agency’s latest move, let’s take a moment to consider all that has been done and will be done in the name of fighting the non-existent problem of global warming. States and the feds are already moving forward with at least six major regulatory programs designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels and thus decimate the energy sector:

  • New CAFÉ  Standards – This is arguably the least bad of the bunch, because the due date for the new 35.5 miles per gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard is at least a few years out (2016). Nonetheless, the new CAFÉ standard [1] will make automobiles more expensive – as even the White House admits – less safe (lighter cars don’t do as well in accidents as compared to heavier ones) and will do almost nothing to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Renewable Portfolio Standards – More than thirty states, encompassing about three quarters of the population of the United States, have adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards [2]. These standards require using ever decreasing amounts of electricity generated by the combustion of fossil fuels.
  • Regional Trading Programs – States in three parts of the country, the east coast, the west coast and the midwest, have formed partnerships to create regional cap and trade programs. The east coast cap and trade program [3] has been up and running for two years. The west coast and midwest programs will “go live” in the near future.
  • Permitting of Greenhouse GasesRecent USEPA guidance [4] directed state permitting authorities to treat greenhouse gases as regulated pollutants when considering the construction of new major sources and major modifications to existing sources. Permitting authorities are further directed to apply the Best Available Control Technology standard to the control of greenhouse gases from these sources.
  • New Ambient Air Standards – The USEPA’s new ambient air standards [5] for “traditional” air pollutants are so ridiculously low that it’s virtually impossible for any new facility to comply with them. This is thus a back-door way of ensuring that no new fossil fuel fired power facilities can be built.
  • New Hazardous Air Pollution Rules – The USEPA’s new rules limiting emissions of hazardous air pollutants from industrial boilers [6] are also draconian. Again, the net effect will be to ensure that new industrial boilers powered by fossil fuels are just about impossible to construct.

So, contrary to what environmental groups and leftist politicians would like you to believe, we’re already doing an awful lot to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use – far too much in my opinion – and we will continue to pay the economic price for these disastrous policies. Yet, the USEPA isn’t content. They have decided to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act and that legislative framework demands the construction of even more regulatory layers. The latest will be New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) which will, for the first time, create numerical limits on greenhouse gas emissions generated by fossil fuel burning power plants and oil refineries.

Despite the use of the adjective “New” in the acronym, NSPS standards apply to both new and existing sources of air pollution emissions. Typically, the agency uses a specific date in time to distinguish between new and existing sources. Sources built before the cut-off date have one emission limit to meet and sources built after have a different, more stringent limit. Given the record of Lisa Jackson’s USEPA so far, we can expect that the agency will adopt greenhouse gas emission limits on existing sources that will force some facilities to close and the rest to spend billions in retrofits. And the new source limit? Expect that to be so ridiculously low that nobody will even think of building a fossil fuel fired power plant or new oil refinery in the United States ever again. Of course, given the list of the other onerous regulatory initiatives provided above, building new energy or petrochemical infrastructure is no longer a feasible option anyway.

USEPA announced its intention to develop greenhouse gas emission limitations for the power sector and oil refineries as part of two proposed settlement agreements [7] between the agency and several states and environmental groups who filed suit against the USEPA over greenhouse gas issues. As part of the settlement agreements, USEPA promises to have greenhouse gas emission limitations in place for the power industry by May 2012 and limitations on petroleum refineries in place by November 2012. The agency describes this as a “common sense approach” to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and maintains that it is setting “a modest pace” in developing this massive new regulatory structure. More amazingly, USEPA administrator Lisa Jackson had this to say [8] about developing new greenhouse gas standards:

 

 

We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce GHG pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans, and contributes to climate change,” Administrator Lisa Jackson said. “These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home.

This is of course the same Lisa Jackson who believes that the Clean Air Act is solely responsible for American economic growth [9] over the last forty years. This latest statement by the delusional director shows that she’s drifted even farther into a green fantasyland. Eliminating America’s ability to use a cheap, domestically plentiful source of energy to power industrial growth isn’t going to attract a dime of private investment. Undercutting America’s ability to turn crude oil into refined products isn’t going to create one good job at home. Jackson is spinning yarns, utilizing all the right buzzwords, like threats to “health and welfare,” “attract[ing] private investment,” and “creat[ing] good jobs,” but those words are as hollow and meaningless as any ever uttered by the most cynical of professional politicians. The actions of Jackson’s USEPA and Congress’s continued unwillingness to rein her agency in guarantee that economic recovery and job creation will continue to be an impossibility as long as the Obama administration is in charge.

The Runaway General

The Runaway General

Stanley McChrystal, Obama's top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, works on board a Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft between Battlefield Circulation missions. 

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O’Donald/NATO

By  Michael Hastings

Jun 22, 2010 10:00 AM EDT

This article appears in RS 1108/1109 from July 8-22, 2010, on newsstands Friday, June 25.
‘How’d I get screwed into going to this dinner?” demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It’s a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He’s in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies – to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actually have allies. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany’s president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. McChrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who have lost more than 40 soldiers in Afghanistan, from going all wobbly on him. 

“The dinner comes with the position, sir,” says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn. 

McChrystal turns sharply in his chair.

“Hey, Charlie,” he asks, “does this come with the position?”

McChrystal gives him the middle finger.

More on General McChrystal

1 ⁄ 3

Hastings on Replacing McChrystal: Can Petraeus Win the War?

Photos: On the Ground with the Runaway General

Revolt of the Troops: Hastings Reports In From Afghanistan

The general stands and looks around the suite that his traveling staff of 10 has converted into a full-scale operations center. The tables are crowded with silver Panasonic Toughbooks, and blue cables crisscross the hotel’s thick carpet, hooked up to satellite dishes to provide encrypted phone and e-mail communications. Dressed in off-the-rack civilian casual – blue tie, button-down shirt, dress slacks – McChrystal is way out of his comfort zone. Paris, as one of his advisers says, is the “most anti-McChrystal city you can imagine.” The general hates fancy restaurants, rejecting any place with candles on the tables as too “Gucci.” He prefers Bud Light Lime (his favorite beer) to Bordeaux, Talladega Nights (his favorite movie) to Jean-Luc Godard. Besides, the public eye has never been a place where McChrystal felt comfortable: Before President Obama put him in charge of the war in Afghanistan, he spent five years running the Pentagon’s most secretive black ops.

 “What’s the update on the Kandahar bombing?” McChrystal asks Flynn. The city has been rocked by two massive car bombs in the past day alone, calling into question the general’s assurances that he can wrest it from the Taliban.

“We have two KIAs, but that hasn’t been confirmed,” Flynn says.

McChrystal takes a final look around the suite. At 55, he is gaunt and lean, not unlike an older version of Christian Bale in Rescue Dawn. His slate-blue eyes have the unsettling ability to drill down when they lock on you. If you’ve fucked up or disappointed him, they can destroy your soul without the need for him to raise his voice. 

“I’d rather have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner,” McChrystal says.

He pauses a beat.

“Unfortunately,” he adds, “no one in this room could do it.”

With that, he’s out the door.

“Who’s he going to dinner with?” I ask one of his aides. 

“Some French minister,” the aide tells me. “It’s fucking gay.”

The next morning, McChrystal and his team gather to prepare for a speech he is giving at the École Militaire, a French military academy. The general prides himself on being sharper and ballsier than anyone else, but his brashness comes with a price: Although McChrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict. Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as “shortsighted,” saying it would lead to a state of “Chaos-istan.” The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the fuck up, and keep a lower profile

Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. “I never know what’s going to pop out until I’m up there, that’s the problem,” he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner. 

“Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal says with a laugh. “Who’s that?”

“Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: Bite Me?”

When Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately set out to deliver on his most important campaign promise on foreign policy: to refocus the war in Afghanistan on what led us to invade in the first place. “I want the American people to understand,” he announced in March 2009. “We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” He ordered another 21,000 troops to Kabul, the largest increase since the war began in 2001. Taking the advice of both the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he also fired Gen. David McKiernan – then the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan – and replaced him with a man he didn’t know and had met only briefly: Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It was the first time a top general had been relieved from duty during wartime in more than 50 years, since Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the height of the Korean War.

Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked “uncomfortable and intimidated” by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. “It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”

read full

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/119236

Federal Gov’t Halts Sand Berm Dredging

Federal Gov’t Halts Sand Berm Dredging

Nungesser Pleads With President To Allow Work To Continue

 

POSTED: 5:37 pm CDT June 22, 2010
UPDATED: 9:21 am CDT June 23, 2010

 

NEW ORLEANS — The federal government is shutting down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The berms are meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has concerns about where the dredging is being done. 

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who was one of the most vocal advocates of the dredging plan, has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading for the work to continue. 

Nungesser said the government has asked crews to move the dredging site two more miles farther off the coastline. 

“Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil,” Nungesser wrote to Obama. “Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil. 

Nungesser has asked for the dredging to continue for the next seven days, the amount of time it would take to move the dredging operations two miles and out resume work. 

Work is scheduled to halt at midnight Wednesday. 

The California dredge located off the Chandelier Islands has pumped more than 50,000 cubic yards of material daily to create a sand berm, according to Plaquemines Parish officials. 

Nungesser’s letter includes an emotional plea to the president. 

“Please don’t let them shut this dredge down,” he wrote. “This requires your immediate attention!” 

 

More misdirection from the White House

More misdirection from the White House

Aaron Gee

The headlines this morning are all about General McChrystal and an article in Rolling Stone.  My prediction is that this episode will extend far longer than it should, and will be used as much and as often as possible to separate Obama from his failures in Afghanistan.  It also serves to remove the oil soaked pelicans from the front pages of the major news site this morning.  

This mornings headlines follow this Administration’s pattern of continually moving from “crisis” to “crisis”, real or imagined, in an effort to stay ahead of the perception that our President views his time in office as just an extended golf getaway from teaching in Chicago.

For those of you that think my criticism is unfair, I would remind you that the President didn’t take any interest in the gulf oil crisis until commentators started asking too many  questions on the White House’s role in offering Federal jobs to primary candidates.  Obama suddenly had to take charge of the gulf oil spill.  The problem was that Obama simply seems incapable of taking charge of anything more strenuous than a tongue lashing or an apology. 

To date the US administration has turned down offers from 13 countries to help with the clean up.  The Administration has refused to wave environmental regulations or streamline the process to allow building protective barriers.  The reliance on a bureaucratic apparatus has halted clean up efforts, and forced BP at great expense in time and money to modify clean up ships to not run afoul of the protectionist twenties era legislation known as the ‘Jones Act‘. 

With this kind of action, it’s no wonder that General McChrystal was called to Washington.  Obama can use the distraction for the next few news cycles to keep people’s eyes off from the disaster in the Gulf and a corrupt Congress.  Talking to McChrystal plays to Obama’s one strength, and we will know if Obama’s really on top of his game if he dresses down the General without a teleprompter.

Will Obama Be the ‘Jimmy Carter of the 21st Century’?

06/17/2010 03:14 PM

The World from Berlin

Will Obama Be the ‘Jimmy Carter of the 21st Century’?

Can US President Barack Obama lead America away from fossil fuel dependency? German commentators don’t think so. Some say he is in danger of turning into an idealistic, one-term president like Jimmy Carter.

US President Barack Obama’s address from the Oval Office on Tuesday was supposed to be a moment of leadership during the worst environmental disaster in American history. But critics from across the political spectrum wondered afterwards whether he’d shown leadership at all. The geyser of oil in the Gulf of Mexico seems, technologically, to lie beyond anything either BP or the US government was prepared for, and Obama failed to mention any specific new ideas.

“The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean-energy future is now,” he declared, without offering policy details. Of course, it wasn’t a policy speech. But the fact that Obama failed to outline a clear path toward this clean-energy future seems to have disappointed a lot of people. “He didn’t boldly push an agenda,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, to Politico, the Washington-based news website. “I think a lot of people took that to mean lukewarm support for anything big.”

One immediate result of White House talks with the American arm of BP, though, was a series of concessions on Wednesday. BP Plc agreed to set aside $20 billion (€16.1 billion) in escrow to cover damage claims by shrimpers, restauranteurs and other Gulf-Coast residents hurt by the spill. The energy giant also said it would suspend shareholder dividends until 2011, when it expects to have a clearer notion of the catastrophe’s costs. Another $100 million (€80.8 million) will be set aside for compensation to BP workers hurt by the spill.

These gestures from the energy giant are the most tangible form of good news local residents have heard in the two months since the spill began. German commentators on Thursday think BP’s concessions are genuine as well as worthwhile — but they warn that Obama will need to paddle harder to realize the shining future he promised in his speech on Tuesday.

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“Obama wants to lead the US out of its dependence on oil. Absolutely right. In fact it’s the very thing people have been wanting to hear from Obama for weeks.”

“But how cautious he seems, and how vague his suggestions. In 1961 President Kennedy declared a national mission to place a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Obama has chosen not to name concrete goals. No numbers, no time frame. He doesn’t dare mention how things will have to change to favor the climate. Professor Obama waits for new ideas and looks forward to a public debate. He doesn’t dare push the Senate to settle on a climate-change bill. This president won’t lead America out of a crisis this way — and he certainly won’t usher in a new era.”

The left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung argues:

“International markets have started to take environmental problems seriously. BP stock has fallen by almost 50 percent since the start of the oil catastrophe. Ratings agencies have downgraded its creditworthiness to near-junk status. And banks have stopped sealing long-term contracts with BP.”

“This situation is new. When oil companies in the past soiled the Niger Delta or the Amazon, markets tended to reward them — because corporations that skimped on security also increased their profits, to the detriment of the environment and the public interest. Now the costs of environmental damage have started to weigh on the balance sheet, with consequences extending to the possible bankruptcy of a multinational.”

“This new environmental sensibility has been possible not through a sudden display of reason on the markets, but through political decision-making. President Barack Obama made it clear (in early June) that BP won’t be exempt from criminal investigation. He’s also maintained a moratorium on new oil exploration on the deep-ocean floor, and looks determined to end corruption in federal oil agencies.”

The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

“The oil company could be prosecuted by shareholders for paying billions upon billions into a fund for damages without being legally required to do so … It’s therefore a good thing that the US government has not asked for a blank check to cover damages. With the high sum (of $20 billion), the government can now offer quick and unbureaucratic First Aid (to people living near the Gulf).”

“But the firm can’t just run free now that an arbitrary sum has been set. What the final cost for damages might be, and which mistakes were made by whom, have yet to be determined. Civil and criminal complaints against BP have to remain an open possibility. This fund is just a first step toward stopping the holes that the oil catastrophe has ripped in the finances of many affected people.”

The conservative daily Die Welt writes:

“When Obama surprised people by lifting his opposition to offshore drilling, just before the , he meant it as one part of a package deal: Citizens who worried primarily about high fuel prices were meant to be placated by expanded domestic oil production — as a gambit to win more acceptance for the core of his new-energy agenda. This strategy is marked by a typical American pragmatism, unlike Europe’s forces of climate protection. The emphasis rests on incentives to save energy, on building more nuclear-energy plants and on developing new ideas in renewable energy.”

“This is the right way to make America independent of problematic nations. Going forward, the mix will also have to include exploitation of (America’s) domestic energy resources, even if it also means heavier regulation to avoid a new disaster. But if this oil shock accelerates America’s shift to new energies, and moves the West away from a dangerous dependency on fossil fuels, then the catastrophe will have at least one positive outcome.”

The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes:

“If Barack Obama isn’t careful, he will become the Jimmy Carter of the 21st century.”

“In his speech, Obama tried to make a virtue of an emergency. He said a shift to new energy sources was now a ‘national mission.’ Just as the nation once mobilized its powers for World War II, now it needs to conquer its devilish dependence on fossil fuels … If Obama wins this debate, and achieves a true shift in energy dependence, then his name will perhaps be mentioned again in the same breath with great American presidents.”

“Politically, though, it’s fraught with risk. His opponents have already charged Obama with using the Gulf catastrophe to advance his climate agenda in Congress. Republicans rely on the tendency of Americans to prefer cheap fuel and big cars with a certain level of power. Over 30 years ago, after all, another president called for smarter American energy policies in a televised speech from the Oval Office. He wanted to know, ‘Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?’ That president’s name was Jimmy Carter.”

– Michael Scott Moore

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2010

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