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Power Breakfast: Lose It!

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Friday, 11 March 2011 05:37

Yes, this horrible segment on my local NPR affiliate WAMU repeated the same nonsense as yesterday. It told listeners that the key policy choice facing the country is whether we will just let the Martians take over the planet, as advocated by President Obama, or stand up and fight, as demanded by the Republicans.

Okay, that was not quite how the segment ran, but it is pretty damn close. The segment told us that the main energy choice facing the country is whether we focus on producing oil and gas in the United States or we focus on switching over to alternative energy.

This is not true. There is no option to make the country independent of foreign energy by increasing domestic production of oil and gas. Let me repeat that so that even a top reporter at  a major news outlet can understand it.

There is no option to make the country independent of foreign energy by increasing domestic production of oil and gas.

The reason is simple, the United States does not have enough oil and gas to replace the amount that it imports even if we drilled every last barrel out of every environmentally sensitive region in the country. Just as the city of Tokyo does not have enough oil to be energy self-sufficient, neither does the United States have this option.

There are zero, nada, no projections that show that oil and gas reserves in the United States are large enough to allow the country to replace the fossil fuels that it imports. It currently imports about 11.5 million barrels a day, down from its pre-recession level of 13 million. Its domestic production is about 5.6 million barrels a day, and dropping. (It had been around 10 million a day thirty years ago.)

Projections from the Energy Information Agency show that if we drill everything in sight, we may be able to increase domestic production by 1-2 million barrels a day (it would take a decade to get this gain). That would mean that we would be very lucky to reduce dependence of foreign oil by even 20 percent.

Given the reality, the correct response of a real reporter to a politician who wants us to have "red, white, and blue" energy by drilling everywhere is to ask him if he has any idea what he is talking about or whether he is deliberately saying things that are not true.

A real reporter does not pass along an untrue statement to listeners and compare it to a true statement and make it a "he said/she said" for listeners. Reporters have the time to evaluate the truth of statements by public officials -- that is their job -- listeners do not.

Comments (11)Add Comment
Only Liberals Report Conclusions: Real Reporters Report Facts
written by izzatzo, March 11, 2011 7:09
A real reporter does not pass along an untrue statement to listeners and compare it to a true statement and make it a "he said/ she said" for listeners. Reporters have the time to evaluate the truth of statements by public officials -- that is their job -- listeners do not.


Any economist knows that reporting is a matter of overcoming transaction costs to get at the correct information. All reported truths are waiting to be found out the same way truth about differences in consumer appliances are sought out by consumers before a purchase.

As Hayek proved years ago, it is not possible for reporters, like consumers, to know everything. Only the market itself knows all.

If all reporters did was report the truth, the we-report you-decide model would fail because there would be no role for Obamanesque competition to allow opposing forces to push information to its highest valued use and separate truth from fiction.

This is why investigative reporting died out long ago. By relying on he-said she-said sources that compete in a Hayekian market structure, reporters have increased annual productivity ten-fold with more reports produced and truths decided in the same amount of time.

Stupid liberals.
Natural Gas diverges from Oil
written by AndrewDover, March 11, 2011 8:31
People should be aware that the situation in Natural Gas differs from petroleum:
http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/energ...large.jpg

...
written by Michael Radosevich, March 11, 2011 9:51
"Capital Connection" and the "Power Breakfast" only exist because officials at WAMU, including Jim Asendio the news director, wanted to help the spouse of one WAMU official make money.

"CNC is owned by the wife of one of the station's top managers ... CNC founder and owner Melinda Wittstock [is the] wife of WAMU programmer Mark McDonald."
http://currentpublicmedia.blogspot.com/2011/01/wamu-fm-to-drop-capitol-news-connection.html

WAMU "is purchasing programs from a company operated by McDonald's wife, Melinda Wittstock, thus benefiting McDonald in the process. CNC, in turn, benefits from its presence on WAMU's schedule. As one of the most popular stations in the Washington area and one of the largest public radio stations in the country, WAMU's contract represents a powerful calling card for CNC, as the service markets its programs to other public stations around the country. CNC's Web site even includes a promotional quote from Jim Asendio, WAMU's news director and McDonald's underling, calling it "irreplaceable and unmatched."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/06/AR2010090603733.html

...
written by bmz, March 11, 2011 11:33
"There are zero, nada, no projections that show that oil and gas reserves in the United States are large enough to allow the country to replace the fossil fuels that it imports"

Incontrovertibly wrong! We have the world's largest reserves of natural gas, which are growing rapidly. Natural gas can do just about everything oil can do more cheaply and cleanly. If we switch the current subsidy from useless corn ethanol production to natural gas vehicles and transportation infrastructure, we could be energy independent within 10 years.
But Wait BMZ
written by Paul, March 11, 2011 11:43
Do you have any idea how many Senators there are from corn-growing states that are now completely dependent on ethanol subsidies? One thing CNG can't do is mix with ethanol as fuel. Therefore, your plan is nonsense.
...
written by Bill H, March 11, 2011 12:24
Yes, but, we could release the national oil reserve and use a "gasolinge tax holiday" and our energy problem would be solved, so I don't know what you're getting so excited about.
...
written by Matt, March 11, 2011 2:30
@BillH: Yep, and lighting one's house on fire is a great way to keep warm as well. There's a *slight* problem in the long run, though...
Count In Canada?
written by Melissa, March 12, 2011 9:10
Could the US in theory be "energy independent" if you count the imports from Canada as domestic rather than foreign? I think most Americans who care about "foreign" energy are concerned about the "bad" countries/regions (Middle East, Africa, Venezuela) so if the US could reduce its dependency down to just Canada, they'd be happy with that. But I don't know the numbers - how possible is that?
STRATEGIC RESERVE
written by RobW, March 12, 2011 8:10
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't one reason we purposefully limit domestic oil production to maintain a long-term reserve? You know, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is called that for a reason, yes? What do these "drill, baby, drill" people propose we do when that reserve is gone and we find ourselves with no alternative but to import 100% of our oil? Isn't it better to import now while the price is still relatively low, let the big OPEC nations run out FIRST then let the US become an exporter again when it's gotten so rare as to be worth a lot more? And develop, you know, some energy sources other than petroleum in the meanwhile?
...
written by Aeiden, March 13, 2011 6:23
@bmz

I thought your statement sounded a bit enthusiastic, and it turns out that the US has NO WHERE NEAR the largest natural gas reserves in the world (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2179rank.html). I guess ranking 5th in the world is something, but still, we are about 40 TRILLION cubic meters behind Russia. And then there is Iran and Qatar with quite a bit as well.

The United States should be pushing forward a much more aggressive research agenda into renewable technologies. It is pretty clear I think to all observers that fossil fuels are on the way out. It is also equally clear that solar is just in the beginning stages of being fully optimized. I don't see any reason to believe that solar cannot achieve great gains in efficiency with increased R&D, just like all the other energy forms we have used for the last few hundred years. Things like dye based solar cells and net generation solar cells could allow easy application in large quantities at cheap cost (given the right incentive structure). This, combined with the gains achieved by shedding the hugely inefficient grid system (since solar works on a microsite level), can lead us to real energy independence.
Conservation Will Be Forced Down Our Throats Eventually
written by Paul Yarbles, March 13, 2011 10:08
Maybe we could be energy independent if we weren't so profligate when it comes to energy. Our offices and homes leak like crazy and we have too many people driving SUVs. We have an absurd number of working people driving absurdly long distances in their daily commutes. And our mass transit system sucks.

We should plan ahead before the sh*t really hits the fan with double dung balls of export decline and increasing demand. Unfortunately I don't think we will. We have become use to our wasteful ways and childish in our dismissal of the reality that we can't get everything we want.

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Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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