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U.S. eyeing Alberta oilsands
(The party’s still on!)

Sheldon Alberts, CanWest via Edmunton Journal
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy is predicting crude oil from Alberta’s oilsands — not alternative energy sources such as biomass ethanol — will help halve America’s dependence on overseas oil within two decades.

The assessment, in a report to be released later this month, follows President George W. Bush’s challenge this week for the U.S. to sharply reduce its oil imports from unstable nations in the Middle East.

According to data obtained by the Reuters news agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates America’s oil imports from Canada will almost double by 2025, from 1.6 million barrels a day to 2.7 million barrels a day.

The vast majority of that increased production will come from Alberta’s oilsands, which are expected to produce as much as three million barrels a day by 2020.

On Friday, Cheney stressed that Bush’s call for a shift away from oil would not mean any government-imposed solution to reduce consumption.

“This notion that we have to ‘impose pain’ some kind of government mandate, I think we would resist,” Cheney told a radio interviewer.
(5 February 2006)
The quote from VP Cheney tells us that conservation and efficiency are still taboo — the party’s still on!

America will fall harder if oil prices rise again

Martin Feldstein, Financial Times (UK) via NY Times
…The powerful effect of mortgage refinancing on consumer spending was a very happy coincidence for the American economy at a time when oil prices were depressing consumers’ real incomes. If oil prices were to rise again in 2006 or 2007, the adverse effect on consumers’ real incomes would not be offset by increased mortgage refinancing. Mortgage refinancing has now peaked and is declining. The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates again to counter the inflationary pressures that remain from the rise in energy costs. And individuals no longer have the large amounts of household equity against which to borrow.

A rise in the oil price could happen again at any time. There is little spare capacity in global oil production and oil demand is rising rapidly in China and other Asian countries. A shock that reduced the production or shipping of oil could drive its price sharply higher. Speculative forces could compound this problem. The US was lucky after 2003 to escape the contractionary effect of an oil price rise even without an explicit change in monetary or fiscal policy. It would not be so lucky if a big oil price increase happened again now.

The writer is professor of economics at Harvard University and president of the US National Bureau of Economic Research
(2 February 2006)

Nigeria is a mess and getting worse

Dave, The Oil Drum
…Let’s take an in-depth view of the the ever-worsening potential oil shock in Nigeria and its implications for US imports and world oil prices.
(5 February 2006)

A visionary President that “gets” energy policy

Jerome a Paris, Daily Kos
…It is scary how prescient this speech [by Presient Carter] is. He is describing exactly what is taking place today. Coal and nuclear becoming desirable again. Competition with China and others for resources. Threats to “free institutions”. All of which could have been avoided with sustained effort at conservation.

…This is a President who has vision, who has the best interests of his country and of ALL his citizens in mind, who has ambitious goals and did not shy from asking for all to contribute to them. In essence, he was launching a “Manhattan Project” for energy (and that was after having already created the Strategic Oil reserve, launched house insulation efforts, kickstarted solar energy development, and reinforced CAFE standards). He said it would require efforts and sacrifices from all, but that it would be worth it in terms of efficiency, quality of living and jobs – and freedom.

That was almost 30 years ago. 30 wasted years …

…If Carter had been listened to, maybe it would not have been necessary to waste thousand of lives, hundreds of billions of dollars and the worldwide reputation of the USA in a reckless foreign adventure, maybe GM and Ford would not be in the crisis they are in now, maybe the USA would be the world leader in wind and solar energy instead of Germany and Japan, maybe sprawl would not have extended so far as to make public transport totally impractical.

But no, he was “naive” and “weak”. I say he was right. He was a visionary. He will stand the test of history a lot better than his successors. But it’s still time to follow his lead, to dust off his policy proposals and act on them NOW. It’s going to be harder than it would have been 30 years ago, but it will still be easier than if we wait longer. It is still possible, barely, to be in control of events rather than being pushed around by them.

He is the only President to have succeeded in reducing wasteful consumption and energy dependence, and his successor blew that “windfall” pretty quickly instead of making it permanent. It is high time to rehabilitate him and his proposed policies instead of being ashamed of them.
(5 February 2006)