Saturday, July 23, 2022

"The Sun Has Riz"

"The Sun Has Riz"
Soaring temperatures prompt the president to 
declare war... on energy independence.
by Joel Bowman

“The sun has riz, the sun has set, and here we is in Texas yet.”
~ Old hobo saying

Austin, Texas -  "We’re on the road today, dear reader, headed west from the Lone Star State’s largest city, Houston, toward her quaint capital, Austin. It’s a fine day for a road trip... even as the sun beats down mercilessly overhead. The mercury will rise to 103 degrees Fahrenheit by high noon.

Happily, we are not making the journey in a horse-drawn wagon. Or riding the rails. Or traipsing it on foot, with or without a ball and chain around our ankle. Instead, we drive a modern automobile... with an internal combustion engine capable of producing the power of 300 horses (give or take a few old Jacks and Rubys). Our ride gets 25/miles to the gallon on the broad, open highways; 19 in the city. It’s comfortable, easy going. And most importantly, we’re not likely to fall from our saddle, landing face down in the dirt, dazed and confused with heat exhaustion.

Moreover, in an embarrassment of riches that is none of our own making, we enjoy air conditioning, regular pitstops for beef jerky, iced coffee and bottled water, plentiful, potable and transported to the middle of nowhere from some far off natural spring. The station attendants are friendly, loquacious, and wish us well on our journey. And when we mount our ride once more, a cheerful soundtrack spurs us on toward the horizon...

"You see I've been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can't remember your name,
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.

(Granted, our view from the window was of the piney woods blending into hill country... with nary a desert in site).

Such are the myriad pleasures, amenities and conveniences afforded us in the modern world. The industrial revolution, aided in no small part by cheap, plentiful, energy-dense oil, catapulted man into an age that would have been unrecognizable to all but the wealthiest kings and sultans of bygone eras.

The Gift Horse’s Mouth: What does Modern Man do, having been gifted this incredible bounty? Does he pause, even for a moment, to consider how difficult his life might be without... oh, say... fertilizer for his crops, fuel for his jet planes, grease for his factories, even buttons for his shirt? And what about his medicines? Petrochemicals are used to manufacture his analgesics, antihistamines, antibiotics, antibacterials. Even his solar panels depend upon petroleum-based resins and plastic components in their photovoltaic cells. Any “gee, thanks for that” or “isn’t this pleasant, not freezing to death or frying alive”? Nah...

As of Friday, President Joe Biden had stopped short of declaring a full blown “climate emergency,” but signaled to democratic lawmakers that, in the absence of congressional support, he would forge ahead on his own. From the Associated Press: "Washington (AP): [A Climate Emergency declaration] would allow Biden to redirect spending to accelerate renewable energy such as wind and solar power and speed the nation’s transition away from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. The declaration also could be used as a legal basis to block oil and gas drilling or other projects, although such actions would likely be challenged in court by energy companies or Republican-led states."

Meanwhile, the administration has moved to block oil and gas production on federal lands - where a quarter of American oil is produced – and introduced a five year offshore lease plan that would effectively block offshore drilling in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Even on private land, the regulatory landscape is hardly conducive to free-flowing energy independence. From RealClearEnergy: "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lacks the authority to ban fracking, but is considering regulating America’s most productive and cost effective oil field into irrelevance. The Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico accounts for 40% of America’s oil production and 15% of its natural gas production. Undeterred by the Supreme Court’s recent rebuke of its industry-remaking regulations, the EPA is contemplating using ozone standards to force Texas and New Mexico to curb oil drilling, potentially jeopardizing 25% of America’s gasoline supply."

And yet even if the administration encouraged more domestic drilling (in contrast to the president’s repeated calls for OPEC to pump more oil), that oil must be refined to turn it into gasoline and diesel fuel. However, in the face of increasing renewable fuel mandates, gasoline and diesel refining capacity in the United States has been declining for years, as many refineries are either closing or converting to biofuel refineries.

American workers/voters/drivers who wish to raise the question of energy independence – and $5 per gallon gas prices – with their elected president will have to catch him when he’s not off fist-pumping the Saudi Crown Prince or sending delegations to Venezuela to make hat-in-hand requests. “Please, Mr. Maduro... can we have some more?”

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