Michelle Bachmann recently promised that, if elected President, she would get gasoline prices back down to $2 per gallon, She reminded us that gas was $1.79 when President Obama took office.
Was this foolish campaign-speak? Probably not. An administration really dedicated to producing more U.S. energy could quickly make lots of progress—and probably encourage similar energy efforts world-wide.
The starting point: Presidential emphasis that the UN’s global warming models have already proved false. Instead of exponential man-made warming, we’ve had a normal step-change in the earth’s long, normal climate cycle: Roman Warming, Dark Ages, Medieval Warming, Little Ice Age, Modern Warming. The U.S. Solar Observatory now predicts a slow global cooling during the next Presidential cycle. That implies only another 0.5 degrees of natural cyclic warming over the net several centuries. Then earth will get another “little ice age” that will make people long for global warming again.
Millions of Americans might not believe such a statement—but just as many now would. Public belief in man-made warming has plummeted during the recent non-warming years. Bachmann could present the climate cycle evidence from the ice cores and fossil pollen—and from the new high-quality cosmic-ray experiment at CERN in Geneva. Her statements could force our major media to present a broader climate picture than they have.
Next easy step: Restart normal government permitting for oil and gas drilling. Exxon has three big new oil finds in the Gulf that could be the biggest Gulf field ever. Exxon can’t get production permits; Ditto for Shell in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska. Go back to permitting “normal” drilling permits on federal lands ashore. Should we drill off the U.S. East Coast?
More controversial: Rescuing mountain-top coal mining in West Virginia. The “environmental” case against this is trivial. Underground mining continues to risk miners’ deaths and more unemployment. Unlike Obama’s bankrupt solar panels, this would keep working long-term, even though it is visually ugly.
On to shale gas and oil, the new wunderkinder of world energy: The U.S. has a great deal of both, most of it just beginning to be tapped. The New York Times recently crowed that the latest estimate of U.S. shale gas potential is less than the 410 trillion cubic feet estimated this year by our Energy Information Administration.
Even the new estimate, however, is still vastly higher than we thought it could possibly be until the past couple of years—thanks to horizontal drilling and “fracking.” The new U.S. Geological Service estimate is that the Marcellus Shale formation alone, which stretches down the mountains from New York to West Virginia, may hold 84 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas. It may be 141 trillion. The forecast in 2002 was virtually zero.
We’re also starting to tap the equally-important potential of the shale oil in the Bakken Formation under the Dakotas, Montana, and Alberta.
The environmentalists claim fracking threatens our drinking water. But thousands of feet of soil separate the fracking zones from the surface water tables. Moreover, the fracking liquids are 90 percent water, 9.5 percent sand, and half-a percent of mostly table salt and citric acid.
The phenomenon of shale is happening world-wide, especially in energy-short countries like Poland and China. Bachmann’s example would encourage Britain to keep its coal-fired generators, rather than suffering long, needless EU-imposed rolling blackouts.
Would a Bachmann administration actually see gasoline at $2 per gallon? I doubt it. Especially since such policies would also stimulate the overall economy, boosting economic growth, stock values, employment, and gasoline demand. But nobody would care about the “failed” promise. She—or any other likely GOP candidate—would have cut real energy costs and shifted the nation from despair to enthusiasm.
DENNIS T. AVERY, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of “Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years”.