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So this is what the vigorous and free exchange of ideas has come to? Our dear friend is running around with a blowtorch in a hayfield …

As a result, U.S. oil production has risen significantly over the past three years, reversing a decline over decades, while natural gas production has exploded.

Given this expansion, it’s hard to claim that excessive regulation has crippled energy production.

It’s funny how this amounts to data. Anti-energy activists HATE fracking. Sure. But then ask why is it that fracking is the preferred method of choice today and not something else? Could it have anything at all to do with the fact that 85% of the coastal waters are off-limits to drilling? The answer for the activists is that no drilling, anywhere, by any means, is OK. I am fine with that. Just stop dressing it up.

The reality is that far from being hobbled by eco-freaks, the energy industry has been given a largely free hand to expand domestic oil and gas production, never mind the environment.

Ask our dear author how much fracking is happening in NYS right now.

First up, oil prices. Unlike natural gas, which is expensive to ship across oceans, oil is traded on a world market — and the big developments moving prices in that market usually have little to do with events in the United States. Oil prices are up because of rising demand from China and other emerging economies, and more recently because of war scares in the Middle East; these forces easily outweigh any downward pressure on prices from rising U.S. production. And the same thing would happen if Republicans got their way and oil companies were set free to drill freely in the Gulf of Mexico and punch holes in the tundra: the effect on prices at the pump would be negligible.

Well, notice the contradiction – he just told us that oil companies are not yet free to rape the Alaskan tundra and the Gulf of Mexico. But beyond that, is he arguing that since small changes at home have little impact on global markets that this is reason to stop these things? What is his point? We have no idea if these current small changes will lead to even bigger ones, that’s the point of early development and exploration. Would we have not imagined that the first fracked well 50 years ago would have no impact on future energy supplies? And how come our dear author focuses the question on oil and not on natural gas? After all, natural gas is traded in a world market, with big developments around the world impacting prices. He didn’t show this chart, did he?

I bet that Mark Perry is just a lackey of the oil companies and made up this chart to suit his funders’ interests and therefore ought to be flat out ignored.

Meanwhile, what about jobs? I have to admit that I started laughing when I saw The Wall Street Journal offering North Dakota as a role model. Yes, the oil boom there has pushed unemployment down to 3.2 percent, but that’s only possible because the whole state has fewer residents than metropolitan Albany — so few residents that adding a few thousand jobs in the state’s extractive sector is a really big deal.

I thought you believed in multipliers? Those few jobs created encourage those guys to spend money, which encourages others to spend money which … which, well, what? Even so, the fact remains that this HAS been an enormous boon to North Dakota. But I guess since not many people outside of perhaps Grand Forks read the NYT, we don’t care about prosperity coming to any of them. Would our author have made the same comment about the auto-bailouts? At best, the auto bailouts saved 100,000 jobs (I doubt even that many) – at least temporarily in the auto sector. But we have an employment level of about 142 million. Letting 100,000 jobs disappear would not dent the employment rate a bit – after all the US is a big country, and the auto sector is much smaller than people think – so losing a few tens of thousands of jobs in that sector is really not a big deal. I’d have been laughed off the internet by him for making that comment. What’s different?

And this tells us that giving the oil companies carte blanche isn’t a serious jobs program. Put it this way: Employment in oil and gas extraction has risen more than 50 percent since the middle of the last decade, but that amounts to only 70,000 jobs, around one-twentieth of 1 percent of total U.S. employment. So the idea that drill, baby, drill can cure our jobs deficit is basically a joke.

So you see, 70,000 jobs is a joke to him. But he supported the auto bailouts, didn’t he? BTW none of this ought to be about jobs, but politics is so off the deep end that we cannot leave this point.

And here let the hatchet job commence:

Why, then, are Republicans pretending otherwise? Part of the answer is that the party is rewarding its benefactors: the oil and gas industry doesn’t create many jobs, but it does spend a lot of money on lobbying and campaign contributions. The rest of the answer is simply the fact that conservatives have no other job-creation ideas to offer.

And intellectual bankruptcy …

First of all, I HOPE the oil and gas companies are lobbying to have regulations eased and their permit processes streamlined. They would be idiotic NOT to. Second, is it really a useful debating strategy to say, “you do it too!”? That’s where this goes. After all, it would be unconscionable to think that the green energy sector, the teachers unions, and so on spend ANY money at all on lobbying and campaign contributions. And it would be beyond the pale to suggest that Solyndra and the others had anything to do with rewarding favors. At least when the oil and gas guys are being paid off, we end up getting products that we want. And the final comment about conservatives having no job creating ideas to offer, well, again that is 4th grade playground rhetoric. We wouldn’t expect a Nobel Prize winner to actually engage in anything more serious than that. So while folks like Tabarrok are running around talking about patent reform, and Sumner is running around talking about NGDP targeting and a host of people are talking about fairer taxes (I have a doozy of a personal story to share, to illustrate precisely the brilliant way our tax code creates jobs) and sensible people are working up meaningful proposals for regulatory reform, our Platonist gets to sit high above it all casting stones at the unwashed masses.

What was that about civility?

2 Responses to “Yup, I’m Supposed to Be Charitable to This”

  1. Speedmaster says:

    Love it.

    On solar power, isn’t that the antithesis of “local” as the sun is something like 150 million kilometers away?! 🙂

  2. Rod says:

    Okay, North Dakota is a small state. In Pennsylvania, unemployment in northern parts of the states is nil, and wealth gets created continually in giant increments. As for the multiplier effect, it’s clear that all that work with its attendant money-making has created thousands of non-energy jobs.

    Fracking has not despoiled the environment up there. Temporarily, while a gas well is dug and fracked, cars, trucks and construction equipment create the mess of a construction site, but when that well is hooked up to a pipeline, the pipeline right of way will become a narrow open area in the middle of a big woods.

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