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Power Breakfast: Presents Debate on Evolution and the Shape of the Earth

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Thursday, 17 March 2011 04:37

The Power Breakfast segment this morning on WAMU, my local NPR affiliate, told listeners that the debate on reducing the country's dependence on foreign energy was between people who wanted to increase supply by increased drilling and those who favored conservation. This is not true. There is not enough reserves of oil or gas to make more than a small difference in U.S. dependence on imported energy.

A news organization would point this fact out, since it is the job of reporters to know this fact. Unlike listeners, they are paid to know this information. Unfortunately, Power Breakfast led listeners to believe that the country has an option of being energy independent if it were only willing to put its environment at risk. While increased drilling may be able to wreck the environment it can have no noticeable effect on the country's need for foreign oil. Reporters old enough to remember the BP spill in the Gulf understand what is at issue.

Comments (4)Add Comment
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written by izzatzo, March 17, 2011 6:13
... the country has an option of being energy independent if it were only willing to put its environment at risk.


Join TIMBY (Teabaggers In My Back Yard) to remove repressive socialist zoning laws and distribute the beneficial externalities of homemade libertarian oil wells to the community while saving the country from dependence on foreign wars and oil.
Odss against.
written by James Maiewski, March 17, 2011 7:51
The degree of ignorance and false belief in the general population (which includes reporters), is dishearteningly high. While local media engage in a contextless obsession over gas prices, opinions like the following op-ed in my local paper proliferate:

"Immediately open land areas in our country for the exploration of natural gas, oil and coal. Immediately update our present refineries and start constructing new plants for sources found. If this action is announced and begun immediately, I would almost guarantee the price of energy worldwide will drop! It is a win-win situation! We will not be dependent on foreign energy supplies and, I believe the domino effect would result in jobs across our nation! This action would give our inventors and brain trusts the time and opportunity to find other means of clean, safe and, economical energy. "

When people feel that they can profess to believe utter nonsense like this and not be embarrassed, the failure of the media is put into stark relief.
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written by bmz, March 17, 2011 12:41
"There is not enough reserves of oil or gas to make more than a small difference in U.S. dependence on imported energy."
"A news organization would point this fact out, since it is the job of reporters to know this fact. Unlike listeners, they are paid to know this information."
Wow; how do we get you to check your facts? The United States has the world's largest reserves of natural gas. Moreover, natural gas can be substituted for just about everything we use oil for. Finally, all we have to do is take the current tax subsidies given to the oil industry and the subsidies for corn ethanol and redirect them towards converting to a natural gas transportation sector, and we will be energy independent within a few years. Physician, heal thyself.
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written by skeptonomist, March 17, 2011 1:38
Drilling for oil will not make the U.S. energy independent unless major new reserves are found, larger than any now being exploited. But the U.S. does have natural gas as other commenters pointed out, and enough coal and other things (oil shale, oil sands etc.) to supply energy for many years. Most estimates of the cost of converting coal to liquid fuel make it economic at current oil prices, though nobody is going to assume that oil prices will remain high or that there will not be sanctions on coal conversion. Obviously there are heavy environmental costs for these other sources. We don't hear so much about these other sources, likely because oil production in the U.S. is so profitable and oil companies have so much to spend on politics and the media.

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About Beat the Press

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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