The Obama Administration’s energy policy is all about providing special government (taxpayer) favor for energies that consumers would otherwise reject as too expensive and/or unreliable. Ethanol, wind power, and on-grid solar power, indeed, have been artificially constructed by government largesse and face a downsizing along with the federal budget. “Bubble government jobs” might just become a wikipedia term before long.
In the real world, recent news headlines offer good news about the future of consumer-driven energy—the oil, gas, and coal that continue to improve and represent our sustainable energy future. My hometown paper, the Houston Chronicle, regularly reports on recent market developments.
The south Texas Eagle Ford play, part of a national shale oil boom, has gotten much attention this year.
The Chronicle reported on a new $30 million operations center to be built by oil field supplier Baker Hughes to support the shale oil boom at Eagle Ford. More than 400 new jobs are expected. “Already, Baker Hughes is looking to fill some high-paying jobs in San Antonio, including for geologists and petroleum engineers, according to the company’s website.”
Another Chronicle feature describes how Eagle Ford has been a godsend for Valero’s Three Rivers Plant. “Using more locally produced crude oil will enable the Valero refinery to reduce costs and boost profit margins,” the article explains. “The less expensive Eagle Ford crude will, as its use increases, replace more expensive foreign oil that arrives at Gulf Coast ports such as Corpus Christi and is then sent by pipeline to the refinery.”
On another front, the Chronicle reported on a new collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study new and better ways to extract oil and gas in challenging environments “that may soon play a bigger role in the global energy mix.”
Oil and gas from offshore Arctic areas and from dense shale rock formations are two frontiers that need to be addressed by best practices, technical, legal, and otherwise. The idea for the collaboration came from the BP oil spill, which is remindful of what the late sustainability expert Julian Simon emphasized: Our problems can make us better is we learn from them—even better than if the problem had not occurred.
Many more stories are the regular fare in the real energy world. There is a technology boom going on from the wellhead to the burner tip with oil and gas in particular—all part of the natural market process.
Maybe Obama and his energy advisors should decamp outside of the Beltway to better see where the consumer-driven markets are headed. They might have some new federal budget cuts to recommend as a result.