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Monday, December 09, 2019

Energy

President Joe Biden

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President Joe Biden "shut down American energy," Rep. Steve Scalise hollered with great confidence. The Louisiana Republican was nominating Kevin McCarthy for House speaker when he appended some commentary unburdened by facts.

Scalise painted a sad, sad picture of American families "who can't even afford to put gas in their tanks." They can't "make it to the grocery store because we have such horrible energy policy," he said.

The evidence fails to support the melodrama. "National gas prices drop to 18-month low," Forbes reported on Dec. 20, "and could hit $3 By Christmas."

In Louisiana, a gallon of regular now averages $2.90. This reality may be spied in the prices hanging outside Baton Rouge gas stations. And if we're not mistaken, Biden is still president.

Scalise went on to warn of threats to our energy security. "There's absolutely no reason that we need to rely on foreign countries to produce our energy," he stated.

Scalise is right about that. We don't need to rely on others to produce energy. But guess what, we don't.

"Exxon, Chevron Focus on Oil Projects in the Americas," read a Wall Street Journal headline that very day. The growth of U.S. shale has eased Western oil companies' concerns about securing oil, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Exxon is now spending big to raise oil and gas production by 500,000 barrels a day by 2027. It is selling assets in Africa and the Middle East and plans to expand in the Permian Basin of New Mexico and West Texas — and elsewhere in this hemisphere. The U.S. has just granted Chevron a new license to again pump oil in Venezuela.

Measuring energy independence by exports-minus-imports, 2021 saw our highest level of energy independence in history. Biden was president, then, as well.

Is Biden set on moving us to new low-carbon technologies? He is, and Exxon and Chevron say they are planning to expand in that direction, too. We can assume they know the energy business.

Natural gas prices in Europe have fallen below what they were before Russia invaded Ukraine. Fears that cutoffs of Russian energy would freeze much of Europe this winter have not materialized. Why? Because giant ships carrying U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) are sailing to Europe from ports in Louisiana and Texas.

"U.S. LNG has become a foundation for European energy security," said energy historian Daniel Yergin. Warmer weather helped reduce demand, for sure, but American natural gas more than met the demand.

The United States is now the world's biggest producer of natural gas. Cooling it to a liquid state makes it a lot easier to transport long distances.

LNG shipments to Europe more than doubled last year. As a result, gas storage facilities in Germany, once very dependent on Russian natural gas, are now near full. And lower energy prices helped France's inflation rate fall to 6.7 percent.

America's biggest LNG terminal is located near the Sabine Pass River, between Louisiana and Texas. There are others in Louisiana, with more on the way. U.S. exporters enjoyed record revenues in 2022, meanwhile, and expect more of the same this year.

If Scalise and his Republican colleagues limited their complaints to Biden's border policy, they might have had a point. But they kept beefing about rising gas prices that were actually falling — and higher food prices that were also going down. Not distinguishing yesterday's news from today's news is something we've gotten used to. We don't expect much in the way of updates tomorrow.

But Joe Biden is definitely president. And there is zero evidence of his "shutting down" American energy, at least for those of us stuck in the world of reality.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

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Gov. Greg Abbott

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Before and on Christmas Day 2022, much of the United States suffered extreme weather — from record snowfall and blizzard conditions in Buffalo to severe cold in Colorado and Kansas. Temperatures fell to 9F in Atlanta, 8F in New York City and 12F in Washington, D.C. Thousands of flights had to be canceled, and weather-related fatalities occurred everywhere from upstate New York to Tennessee.

Texas suffered effects from the weather as well, bringing back memories of the February 2021 blackout and once again reminding Texans of the vulnerability of their energy grid.

On Christmas Day, Newsweek’s Fatma Khaled reported, “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is facing a grid ‘emergency’ this holiday weekend due to an electric energy shortage as an arctic blast causes failures at power plants in the state. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Friday, (December 23) declared that an emergency exists in Texas ‘due to a shortage of electric energy, a shortage of facilities for the generation of electric energy, and other causes.’”

On December 23, according to Khaled, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) “requested” an “emergency order” that it be allowed to “exceed the usual federal air quality restrictions” that day because of the weather and the energy demands it was facing.

In February 2021, Texas suffered a major crisis when it experienced unusually cold weather and a widespread blackout occurred — leaving millions of Texans without heat or electricity during freezing temperatures. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and other far-right media pundits claimed that green energy caused the blackout because it couldn’t handle the colder weather, which was nonsense; the vast majority of Texas’ energy comes from fossil fuels, not green energy.

Moreover, Scandinavian countries that typically get much colder than Texas during the winter months use green energy extensively without any problem. Texas’ problem in 2021, rather, was that its power grid had not been properly winterized. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Texas’ 2022 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, sounded the alarm about Texas’ energy problems during his campaign and stressed that GOP incumbent Abbott was dropping the ball; regardless, Abbott was reelected, defeating O’Rourke by 11 percent.

Khaled reported that on December 23, “Reliant Energy, which serves over 1.5 million Texans, urged its customers to reduce their energy usage by limiting the use of large appliances. Temperatures in some parts of Texas reached a low of 1 degree by Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Meanwhile, wind gusts reached up to 40 miles per hour in areas in North Texas, The Texas Tribune reported.”

Khaled added, “Many Texans experienced power outages on Friday amid strong winds and the brutally cold temperatures, with more than 77,000 customers losing power, according to PowerOutage.us. As of Sunday afternoon, a little more than 5000 customers were without power. Still, Texas officials assured residents that the power grid is up and running despite the challenges, and that the grid will not be severely impacted as it was in February 2021 when three severe winter storms and frigid temperatures stressed the grid.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.