Tag Archives: natural gas

Drillinois!: Is Fracking Coming to the Land of Lincoln?

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by Whitney Pitcher

Over the last week, I’ve posted a few posts on the AGU/O4P Illinois4Palin page on some state legislation that is being discussed in Springfield right now-namely conceal and carry and pension reform. Additionally, our state is considering legislation outlining regulation of fracking. While the regulation is very strict, it is a far cry from a New York like moratorium. I wanted to share this post here because, if passed, it may be one of the few bright spots in our mess of a state. It would allow the creation of thousands of jobs in southern Illinois, an area of the state politicians too often ignore. Imagine that; energy development and economic improvement going hand-in-hand? Sounds familiar.

Illinois often doesn’t seem to produce much more than corrupt politicians,but behind the graft and crime, Illinois ranks 11th in energy production in the country. According to the Energy Information Administration, Illinois produces more nuclear energy and ethanol than any other state in the country.  Beyond the reactors and car booze, Illinois runs in the middle of the pack (twenty-sixth) when it comes to development of natural gas. That could change with the new technology that is booming in places like Texas and Pennsylvania –fracking.

In December, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce released a study indicating that fracking for natural gas could has much as a nearly ten billion dollar economic impact and bring tens of thousands of jobs to southern Illinois.  Fracking has yet to be even tested in the New Albany shale of southern Illinois, but the Chamber hopes that their research will provide the necessary impetus to move things forward legislatively. The study evaluated drilling costs, but not specifically the cost of regulations, royalties or taxes, nor did it assess any oil that may be present in the shale.

A few months ago, a southern Illinois Democratic legislator, energy developers, and environmental groups sat down to draft a plan that would aim to appease all involved:

After years of clashing over the drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the oil industry and environmentalists have achieved something extraordinary in Illinois: They sat down together to draft regulations both sides could live with.

If approved by lawmakers, participants say, the rules would be the nation’s strictest. The Illinois model might also offer a template to other states seeking to carve out a middle ground between energy companies that would like free rein and environmental groups that want to ban the practice entirely.

[…]

The Natural Resources Defense Council supported a failed attempt at a fracking moratorium last year. So with lawmakers clearly ready to allow fracking in southern Illinois, the NRDC wanted to ensure there were significant safeguards, including making drillers liable for water pollution, requiring them to disclose the chemicals used and enabling residents to sue for damages.

“One of the positive things here has been the table to which a wide range of interests have come … to address the risks in an adult way,” said Henry Henderson, director of the NRDC’s Midwest office. “We have gotten over the frustrating chasm of ‘Are you for the environment or for the economy?’ That is an empty staring contest.”

Negotiations took place over four or five months, primarily at the Statehouse in meetings led by state Rep. John Bradley, a Democrat who lives in the area where fracking would occur, participants said.

Bradley whittled negotiators down to a core group — four from industry, four from environmental groups, plus representatives from the attorney general’s and governor’s offices, regulatory agencies and lawmakers, said Mark Denzler, vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

That group was pared even further for the toughest negotiations, which included discussions with outside technical experts on complicated issues, said Ann Alexander, an NRDC senior attorney.

“I won’t say there weren’t times that voices got raised a little bit, but … it’s a very good model of cooperation,” Alexander said. “It beats the (typical) model of having drafts furtively circulating … or emerging at the last minute when nobody has had a chance to read them.”

A bill with robust bipartisan support is currently being discussed in committee the Illinois House. The bill has extensive regulatory provisions on permitting , environmental restrictions and liability, and transparency of development. Governor Quinn has even voiced is support for fracking in his budget speech onWednesday.

The bill still needs to pass through committee, the House as a whole, and the Senate before arriving at the Governor’s desk. To be sure, the bill does includes rather strict regulation that will impact producers. However, it has the potential to produce clean natural gas and provide jobs for many–something that states like with fracking moratoriums, like New York, have yet to do. For a state known for ineptness, this could be a small step in the right direction.

Useful links:

HB 2615: Hydraulic Fracturing Regulation Act

House member contact list

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Governor Palin and Forward Focused Leadership–Part I

by Whitney Pitcher

President Reagan once said, ” to grasp and hold a vision–that is the very essence of successful leadership”. One of the keys to leadership is being forward focused. This involves seeing beyond the next release of one’s polling data, seeing beyond the next budget, and beyond the next election. It involves seeing the possible barriers and knowing how to address them based upon the successes of the past while also seeking for ways to address problems in the future. However, so often politicians make decisions based upon their own selfish myopic vision or a vision based upon yet to be proven ideas. True leadership involves making decisions in light of what’s best for both the present and the future. When we look in particular at energy, we can certainly see that Governor Palin has exhibited forward focused leadership.

We aren’t energy independent, and energy prices are high because politicians have not had the political will to drill in America, which would both make us more independent and help increase the worldwide oil supply so that it is not so dependent on unstable countries. A forward focused politician like Governor Palin understand this very well. To address an energy price crisis, you must prepared for the crisis. You can’t be floundering looking for companies and speculators to demonize, nor be unable to offer true solutions. One major way to combat a potential crisis is essentially to prevent it and/or mitigate its effects. It is simple supply and demand economics, as Governor Palin discussed last night. If supplies are decreased and demand is held steady or increased, prices are going to go up. Unrest in oil rich countries like Libya have decreased supplies, which has influenced President Obama to call for the Saudis to ramp up their production. Additionally, he has praised and funded drilling in Brazil in hopes of helping America to be one of Brazil’s “best customers”. Neither of those supposed solutions bring America any closer to energy independence, nor are they the result of a forward focused plan.

Of course, the better option is to have been drilling here in America which would add to the supply of oil internationally in addition to adding to the economic, monetary, and the national security strength nationally. Governor Palin, of course, has been a strong and longtime proponent of drilling in places like ANWR. In 1996, President Clinton vetoed a bill that would have allowed drilling in ANWR. Liberals often poo poo such notions as drilling because it would supposedly take ten years for oil to be produced. Of course, it has now been fifteen years since President Clinton’s veto. Oil producers in Alaska could have been developing for at least five years by now, which recent estimated would result in oil production at a minimum of around a half million barrels per day.

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary since President Obama put a moratorium on offshore drilling following the Gulf oil spill. Although he has lifted the moratorium, he has been very slow in issuing permits, and the EPA, an additional regulatory arm of the Obama administration, has been antagonistic to offshore drilling. Governor Palin also has been very critical of President Obama’s offshore drilling moratorium. In fact, in response to a question on what she would do to help ease oil prices, she mentioned that she would not have instituted the drilling moratorium:

I never would have done what President Obama did and that’s engage in that moratorium after the tragedy in the Gulf with the spill. He should have been more sensible in figuring out what the problem was, what the solution was to the gulf spill but not take it out on the rest of the country and prohibit drilling onshore and offshore is what he did. 97% of our offshore area locked up after that and there still is a quasi-moratorium because the EPA is making it virtually impossible for drillers to be out there extracting responsibly the God-given resources that we have domestically.

[…]

Now the President is engaged now in what he wants to get to the bottom of with whether it be collusion, or price fixing, or speculators, what else is driving up the cost. Well he can look at other states like Alaska. We already did a study to find out was it collusion? Was it speculators? What was driving up the last big spike in gas prices? And we found that no, more than anything it is a supply-and-demand, a very basic economic principle, supply-and-demand.

These are not the words of a woman who is merely engaging in armchair politicking. Governor Palin was forward focused during her tenure a Governor. In addition to being a strong proponent of expanding energy development to help make America more energy independent through drilling for oil, she also acted to move development of natural gas forward through the development of a pipeline that would bring natural gas from Alaska to the Lower 48. As Governor, she moved a natural gas pipeline project further than any of her predecessors. A New York Times hit piece in March tried to attack AGIA, but all of the evidence points to AGIA as being right on target:

The New York Times also questions the progress of Governor Palin’s natural gas pipeline project–the Alaska’s Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA)–which will bring natural gas from the North Slope of Alaska through Canada to the Lower 48 as an additional means of achieving energy independence. Governor Palin’s pipeline project was done in a transparent free-market friendly manner with proposals available for public consumption— a far cry from the behind-closed-doors pipeline discussion with oil companies that were commonplace and unsuccessful in previous administrations. The New York Times argues that neither gas suppliers nor federal permits had been obtained for the project.

However, at the end of the first open season for bidding by gas suppliers this past summer, there were “several major players” who had submitted bids. Additionally, the pipeline company TransCanada and oil company ExxonMobil, both partners on AGIA-backed pipeline project, have had discussions with BP-ConocoPhilips to work together on the project. Additionally, the permitting process with both American and Canadian regulatory agencies has made “significant progress,” and the progress is right on track with time projections.

Following one of the early successes of this project nearly two years ago, Governor Palin was interviewed by Matt Lauer, where he questioned the need for the pipeline as natural gas prices were low at the time.Governor Palin called such an idea “short sighted” (see especially at the 2:15 mark and following):

Governor Palin is right about the need to make America energy independent when it comes to both oil and natural gas. She also was right to note the short sighted nature of evaluating future energy development entirely upon current prices. The most recent natural gas futures were at $4.58 per MMBtu (million British thermal units). When Governor Palin was interviewed in June of 2009, natural gas futures were at $3.56 per MMbtu. Prices have increased. Governor Palin was right to note that it would have been short sighted not to proceed when natural gas prices were low. As you can see in this chart here, natural gas prices are volatile, just as oil prices are. What is the best way to deal with both? Ensure that there are sufficient supplies produced in the United States. Increased domestic supplies soften the blow when instability in other energy producing nations affect the world energy market. Additionally, such efforts would provide jobs and protect America’s national security.

Critics may claim that someone who is forward focused on energy would be looking to green energy initiatives as President Obama has focused on green energy in his last three weekly addresses and in much of attempt to deal with the current high energy prices. Governor Palin has been rightly critical on the overemphasis of such initiatives, pointing to the failure of green energy in Spain that has crippled employment and contributed to their massive debt problem. Meanwhile, President Obama is pushing for electric cars that have proven to have major problems and are mostly re-charged on energy derived from fossil fuels like coal. Governor Palin recognizes that in the desire for energy independence, knowing what doesn’t work is just as important as knowing what does.

Part of leadership involves solving problems, but another part of leadership involves having the foresight to both prevent problems from happening in the first place and mitigate the effects when there are problems. This is why Governor Palin warned that not seeking energy independence would result in the federal government being tempted to tap into our strategic petroleum reserves. That is why Governor Palin has been a very vocal proponent for expanding offshore drilling and drilling on land in the United States. That is why she championed the natural gas pipeline to bring Alaska’s abundant natural gas to the Lower 48. That is why she has the justified skepticism with the social engineering disguised as “green energy” focus of the Obama administration. Governor Palin has shown that she has the leadership skills to be both a problem solver and a problem preventer.

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Sarah Palin’s Natural Gas Pipeline: A Dream Moving Forward As TransCanada Announces Open Season

Sarah Palin, like all politicians, made many campaign promises when she ran for Governor in Alaska. Unlike many politicians, Sarah made good on all of hers. And while that is remarkable unto itself, no campaign promise made was more important to the Alaskan people than building a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the lower 48.

So important, and so desired by the people, is the construction of this pipeline that promising to get it built was a staple on the Alaskan campaign trail for over 30 years!

As Sarah noted in her book, Going Rouge, An American Life on page 111:

Our campaign would focus on cleaning house in government and facilitating the private-sector development of energy resources, specifically ramping up production of America’s energy supplies and building the 3,000 mile, $40 billion natural gas pipeline that other administrations had been promising to build for decades. It could ultimately go from the North Slope to hungry Midwest markets out of a Chicago hub. No more time wasted recycling the same old arguments and excuses as to why it couldn’t be done. I was determined that Alaska was going to start contributing more to the nation.

If you notice, there is a very important element to Sarah’s plan for development: “facilitating the private-sector development of energy resources.” This is Sarah recognizing that in most cases government is not the solution to any given situation, it’s the problem. Politics had stood in the way of getting this pipeline built for over 30 years, so Sarah, using common sense, sought to have as minimal government involvement as possible, and maximum private-sector participation. A refreshing change of pace, and a model for all governments to follow.

On her very first day on the job as Governor, Sarah set the wheels in motion to get this project rolling. From page 125 of Going Rogue:

Ethics reform was already underway, with some lawmakers already under arrest, so to kick off the Palin-Parnell agenda, we started with the natural gas pipeline on our first day in office.

For Alaskans, the term “gasline” is as familiar as “irrigation” is to Californians or “Wall Street” is to New Yorkers. Except that Californians and New Yorkers already reap the benefits of these economic lifelines, while Alaskans have been waiting for more than fifty years to realize the benefits of the state’s vast reserves of natural gas. At least 35 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves lie untapped on the North Slope, and geologists say there are hundreds of trillions more both on- and offshore. Our oil and gas supplies would be enough to provide 10 years of total energy independence for the entire country.

Below Governor Sarah Palin Lt. Governor Sean Parnell and officials from TransCanada are seen at the signing ceremony where TransCanada was awarded the license to build the natural gas pipeline:

As one can see, the stakes are high, and the rewards, for the entire nation, substantial. After talking about the fact that heavy government interference, labor and environmental restrictions had driven producers out of the country and over to foreign supplies of oil and gas, Sarah Adds:

It was unfortunate that our government’s well-meaning polices had driven producers to other parts of the world where there were no restraint’s on their activities. That was no way to protect the environment or heat the economy.

With my background, I understood the concerns of all of the parties: as a free-market capitalist I understood the bottom line for the oil producers; as the spouse of an oil worker I understood the Slopers and their families’ reliance on oil jobs; as a mayor I understood the communities’ dependence on oil’s economic contributions; as a lover of the land I understood as well the environmentalists’ and Alaska Natives’ concerns.

Sarah goes into further details of her thought process in the book, including how CEO look to maximize profit for their shareholders, and how as CEO of Alaska, it was her job to maximize the benefits to the Alaskan people. I’ve found, over the last few years that many people don’t understand the unique relationship the people of Alaska, as well as the state government, all have with the oil companies.

In Alaska, the Constitution dictates that the oil, natural gas, and other energy resources belong to the people, the citizens of the state. So, just like anyone who buys shares in a publicly traded company, the Alaskan people are shareholders in the Alaskan energy business. As Governor, Sarah took many steps to maximize the values of those shares to the Alaskan people, just as any good CEO would do.

Much has been written about the processes of how the natural gas pipeline project came to be, but the bottom line is this: By creating a market driven process, with great emphasis on the private-sector, Sarah was able to move this pipeline project from 50 years worth of talk, to reality, in just a few short years. I suggest those who are looking for more detailed information on the process read Sarah’s book, and check out the archives at US4Palin, where editor and publisher Ron Devito has carefully documented the entire process.

In this video from Canadian TV Sarah discusses the processes as well as leadership:

OK, now that we have some of the background out of the way, let’s get to the latest updates on the process that will see the completion of the gasline by 2020.

From Yahoo Finance Canada:

CALGARY/ANCHORAGE (Reuters) – TransCanada Corp and partner Exxon Mobil Corp boosted their cost estimates for a planned line to carry Alaska gas to southern markets by up to 58 percent on Friday, as the two ready plans to sign up shippers for the massive project.

The companies said the cost of the 1,700 mile pipeline carrying at least 4.5 billion cubic feet of gas daily from Alaska’s North Slope to Alberta will range between $32 billion and $41 billion, up from a previous $26 billion forecast.

The line, mulled for more than a generation, would be among the largest and most expensive civil engineering projects ever undertaken in North America, requiring years of planning and construction and massive financing.

No matter how you measure it, the Alaska Pipeline Project would be an exceptional world leading project and one of the largest private investments in the history of North America,” Paul Pike, Exxon Mobil’s senior project manager for the line, said on a conference call.

For Alaska, which depends on oil for nearly all its state operating revenues, a natural gas pipeline is seen as economically crucial. North Slope oil production has dwindled to a third of the 2 million-barrel-a-day peak reached in 1988, and continues to decline.

Some political leaders hailed Friday’s announcement as a big step toward reaching the gas pipeline goal.

Bringing Alaska’s gas to market presents a tremendous economic opportunity for the state,” Alaska Governor Sean Parnell said in a statement. “Alaskans have waited 30 years to advance this project, and today’s news marks a significant milestone in achieving this opportunity.”

A smaller line, running from the gas fields of the North Slope to a separately built liquefied natural gas facility near Valdez, Alaska, would cost between $20 billion and $26 billion and could be built instead of the larger project if shippers chose the option.

The backers said their cost estimate rose over initial projections because of an extension of the line to the Point Thomson field on Alaska’s North Slope, an expanded gas-processing plant and more detailed engineering than first available.

OPEN SEASON PLANNED

The new estimate for the lines, which could be in service by 2020, came as the partners filed plans with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to hold an open season to attract potential shippers.

This open season will test potential customers’ interest in utilizing the Alaska Pipeline Project to transport their natural gas to market,” said Tony Palmer, TransCanada’s vice-president of Alaska development.

Calgary-based TransCanada is the state of Alaska’s preferred pipeline sponsor and holder of a state license under the Alaska Gasoline Inducement Act (AGIA).

It added U.S. energy major Exxon Mobil, one of the three major North Slope natural gas producers, as a partner to its proposal last year. The other two producers, BP Plc and ConocoPhillips are backing a rival pipeline plan of their own and Exxon itself has yet to commit its gas to the line.

However the two partners expect that they’ve squeezed the cost for shippers down, making their proposal attractive. They plan to a 20 percent capital risk in the project, reducing the costs needed to be covered by customers by between $6 billion and $8 billion.

As well, they’ve cut their planned return on equity to 12 percent instead of the 14 percent return TransCanada had forecast in its AGIA filing.

Including those cuts and other smaller factors, the partners expect shippers who commit during the open season will pay $500 million less per year on tolls than forecast in the AGIA application.

Assuming that FERC approves our plan as filed, and … the customers commit their gas in that initial open season, they will see lower tariffs,” Palmer said. “They will see lower tolls to their account on the order of $500 million per year.”

Still, the rival Denali project, backed by BP and Conoco, is going ahead as planned, with its own open season scheduled to launch in April.

I am confident that we will have an attractive commercial offer for our potential customers,” said Bud Fackrell, Denali’s president. “Today’s announcement by TransCanada and Exxon doesn’t change anything for us. We’re on track.”

TransCanada has offered BP and Conoco an equity stake in its project, saying the support of all three producers, as well as the state, is needed before its project proceeds. However negotiations with the rival producers have yet to take place .

TransCanada and Exxon filed plans for the open season with FERC, which has 90 days to approve the proposal. A separate open season will be staged for the Canadian portion of the line.

Along with Governor Parnell’s positive reaction to the news, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski added:

This marks the first time Alaska has seen a major producer come together with a pipeline company to solicit binding commitments for the transport and delivery of North Slope natural gas to markets in the Lower 48.

The bottom line is this. While there is still some work to be done, Sarah Palin, as well as her capable administration, and the folks at TransCanada and Exxon-Mobil prove the point that private-sector, free market solutions to major issues just make sense.

The fact that this is a viable project, and a solid approach, is underscored by the existence of a competing project in the mix. In the end, everyone will benefit from this competition.

Once again Sarah Palin proves to be a visionary leader who uses common sense solutions to complex issues. Energy independence is both an economic and a national security issue. With the economy in a slump, and wages stagnant, a good reliable supply of cheap, clean, and green natural gas is essential. Using our own resources, rather than enriching nations, and leaders who may not like us very much, is vital.

This is something Sarah Palin has been talking about for years, and unlike most, has used her leadership qualities and negotiation skills to actually make something happen. This is what true leadership is all about.

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Sarah Palin Hammers Obama Over His Continued Lack Of Coherent Energy Policy

After slamming Barack Obama last year, in a Facebook note that was favorably quoted around the world, Sarah Palin is once again asking Barack Obama just what is he thinking.

While Obama has wasted an entire year pushing an unconstitutional government take over of health care, and globe trotting… chasing Olympic glory, Nobel Peace Prizes, all the while bowing to the world’s leaders and apologizing for America’s very existence, he is neglecting his job..

Obama also took time to try and garner support for the climate change crowd, further trying to promote the global warming fairy tale, the greatest lie ever told.

As we have written over and over, Obama and his cronies stand to make billions off of the global warming scam with a carbon credit trading scheme. And of course, Obama had also hoped to line the pockets of all of his corrupt Chicago buddies, by bringing the Olympics home.

Of course, while the most corrupt President in our nation’s history was trying to enrich his cronies, he was totally and completely ignoring his real job. First and foremost, Obama has totally failed on national security issues.

We’ve had no less than three major terrorist attacks on American soil since Obama took the reigns of Government. In a sane nation this man would have already been removed from office and replaced with someone who was competent.

The other important thing Obama has neglected while he has been more interested in enriching his buddies and feeding his massive ego, is the economy. To say we have a problem with the economy would be an understatement, for sure.

The biggest neglect though has been energy. Obama and his band of communists have no coherent energy policy whatsoever. Oh, they talk about mythical green jobs, but that’s all they are a myth. Pie in the sky.

Energy is the lifeblood of any economy. We can’t run without it. In our world, energy = oil. It’s a fact of life, and no amount of wishing that away is going to change things.

With that said, Sarah Palin again asks Obama just where his head is at:

Where’s the Oil in Our National Energy Policy?

America’s energy challenges are getting more and more serious every day, and yet the Obama administration just doesn’t get it. Please see this informative article that sheds light on one aspect of the president’s problem. It starts by explaining our energy demand will increase, and oil will be part of that demand.

Well, what do you know? The Obama administration, whose entire energy posture going back into the presidential campaign has been both ideologically and practically stridently anti-oil, both as an industry and as a form of energy, has suddenly become “concerned” about China’s oil grab.

This is, to say the least, disingenuous.

The U.S. government under Barack Obama has yet to acknowledge once, in spite of widely held estimates, that oil will continue to account for 40% of world energy demand 25 years from now — this while total world energy demand will increase by 50%, at least.

Read the rest here. I look forward to hopefully hearing President Obama acknowledge America’s need to ramp up domestic energy production, including oil and natural gas developments, during Wednesday’s State of the Union address. Let’s hope his advisers advise him accordingly.

– Sarah Palin

The report Sarah is talking about is from Investor’s Business Daily and is included below:

White House Needs New Look At Energy

By MICHAEL J. ECONOMIDES

It was a rubbing-the-eyes-in-disbelief headline even from an administration whose energy secretary, Steven Chu, suggested that America’s energy dilemma could be solved by painting roofs white, and whose interior secretary, Ken Salazar, talked of garnering 3,000 megawatts of wind-power capacity off the East Coast. (The current total electricity capacity from all U.S. energy sources is about 1,000 megawatts.)

Under the title “U.S. raises concern over China oil policy,” David Shear, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told the House Armed Services Committee on Jan. 13:

We are pursuing intensive dialogue with the Chinese on the subject of energy security, in which we have raised our concerns about Chinese efforts to lock up oil reserves with long-term contracts.”

Shear was responding to Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, who said he was “worried that the Chinese were aggressively buying up oil all over the world and might not share it with other countries in the future.”

Well, what do you know? The Obama administration, whose entire energy posture going back into the presidential campaign has been both ideologically and practically stridently anti-oil, both as an industry and as a form of energy, has suddenly become “concerned” about China’s oil grab.

This is, to say the least, disingenuous.

The U.S. government under Barack Obama has yet to acknowledge once, in spite of widely held estimates, that oil will continue to account for 40% of world energy demand 25 years from now — this while total world energy demand will increase by 50%, at least.

Nor has the administration, mired in Kyoto and Copenhagen global climate rhetoric, acknowledged that fossil fuels, oil, gas and coal will still account by then for over 85% of world energy demand, a largely unchanged contribution from what it is today.

Instead there is constant rhetoric about solar (the president’s favorite during the campaign), wind and “advanced biofuels” which, when combined, are not likely to account for more than 1% or 2% of the world energy demand over the next several decades.

In a Newsweek editorial last April 4, Chu expressed the administration’s energy philosophy and policy: “We must move beyond oil because the science on global warming is clear and compelling: Greenhouse-gas emissions, primarily from fossil fuels, have started to change our climate. We have a responsibility to future generations to reduce those emissions to spare our planet the worst of the possible effects.”

The Americans should not be surprised by the Chinese moves. A far more pragmatic nation, China is acutely aware that energy, in short domestic supply, will be the “choke point” in its future development unless resources are secured throughout the world.

That’s why the very capable Chinese oil companies — CNPC, Sinopec and CNOOC — have fanned out in dozens of countries, making hundreds of billions of dollars of oil and gas investments, including in America’s backyard, Argentina, Venezuela and Canada and a country America presumably dominates, Iraq. Their quest does not preclude unsavory countries such as Sudan or Iran.

The major Chinese oil companies have the full support of the Chinese government and, very importantly, they are admired and praised by the vast majority of Chinese people.

In discussions with Chinese intellectuals, government officials and company executives, the Chinese are often incredulous, all asking essentially the same question: Why is America letting us have a free and uncontested ride in all these energy ventures?

In contrast, American “Big Oil,” (ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Chevron — the only companies really able to play along and compete with the Chinese) not only are not supported or encouraged by the U.S. government, they’ve been routinely vilified by politicians. To the sizeable portion of the American public that’s unaware of the role energy plays in the modern world, they are the devil incarnate.

What the world is witnessing is the largest peaceful transfer of power in history. Energy means power, and while the U.S. is consumed by environmental ideologies and climate rhetoric, it is committing economic hara-kiri in the process. China, riding on energy acquisitions with little competition, will propel itself into the economic stratosphere.

The U.S. should be concerned, but doing something about it will require an unlikely sea of cultural change in the Obama administration.

• Economides is a professor at the University of Houston and the author of “Energy: China’s Choke Point.”

This is quite outrageous, to say the least! This is a direct threat to America’s national security. A threat just as sure as the one we face from al Qaeda or any other terror group. In fact, it’s a quite larger threat, as this threat is being carried out, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done to stop it from happening.

Look, this is pretty simple. Anyone with a pulse understands that no matter what, we are going to need oil and natural gas into the foreseeable future. In fact, natural gas can be a true alternative to burning so much gasoline in automobiles and trucks. It’s a real clean and green fuel.

Energy independence is a national security issue. That should go without saying. Securing our energy supply, developing our own God given natural resources should be job one for any administration. Economic prosperity and national security go hand in hand when we talk energy.

We have more than enough oil and natural gas to be totally energy independent. In fact, we are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. We have an estimated 200 plus years worth of coal reserves, and we haven’t even started talking about nuclear energy.

What say you Mr Obama? Are going to finally quit pushing your radical Marxist agenda on a nation that has soundly rejected it and start doing your job, and put together a coherent energy policy? Or…are you going to continue to send this nation over a cliff and toward certain destruction?

It’s time to choose buddy…time to choose!

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Why The Latest Terror Threats Prove Beyond A Shadow Of A Doubt That Sarah Palin Is Right About Energy Independence For America

The terror attack on Christmas Day has brought out all sorts revelations about just how pathetic our terror fighting abilities truly are. I mean this deal was a comedy of errors and it was only by the grace of God almighty himself that this Islamic mad man’s Underbooms © failed to explode and take the plane down.

Not only was Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab on several watch lists, and from a real hotbed of al Qaeda terrorist activity, the guy’s own father warned the embassy that his son had become radicalized by militant Islamic fanatics. Never mind Abdul showed up with no luggage, tried to board with no passport, and paid for the one-way ticket to Detroit in cash. Who goes to Detroit without a ticket out of there anyway?

As bad as all of this is though, and this is a serious indictment on our entire terror fighting process, it also highlights another issue, energy independence.

Long before Sarah Palin made “death panels” a household word, long before she was even picked as the John McCain’s running mate, Sarah made energy independence a centerpiece of her message, her career. Sarah didn’t just talk the talk either, within hours of stepping into her new office as the Governor of Alaska, she began working on making the decades long dream of a natural gas pipeline to the lower 48 a reality.

It was Sarah’s dream to get Alaska’s 100’s of trillions of cubic feet of clean burning natural gas out of the ground and into use. She was able to work out all of the issues and now the pipeline is on track to become a reality.

Of course, Sarah’s message on energy independence isn’t just an economic one. Now it’s true, we send between $700 billion and $1 trillion dollars annually overseas. The problem is many times it’s to nations that not only hate us, but use our own dollars to fund efforts to undermine us as a nation. In other words, they use our dollars to fund terror, world wide, against the United States, and our allies.

Even worse, we are forced to act gingerly, even timidly, on many issues, lest we cause major problems with big oil producing nations like Saudi Arabia. We make those guys mad, and they can shut us off, or raise prices to the moon, destroying our already devastated economy. (That is if Obama and the rest of the democrat/communists don’t beat them to it!)

Brian Ross, from ABC News, has this little gem on two of the planners of the Christmas Day attack:

Two al Qaeda Leaders Behind Northwest Flight 253 Terror Plot Were Released by U.S.

Former Guantanamo Prisoners Believed Behind Northwest Airlines Bomb Plot; Sent to Saudi Arabia in 2007:

Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an “art therapy rehabilitation program” and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.

Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.

Art therapy rehabilitation program. Really? Who’s running our war on terror efforts, Pee Wee Herman? This of course, just points out the absurdity of our entire approach to this issue. It should also be the final nail in Obama’s grand scheme to move Gitmo to Chicagoland, and make his corrupt buddies richer off of tax payer dollars that it will take to basically convert an unused prison into a “supermax” job.

There are issues with much of the Middle East, for sure, but by far, Saudi Arabia is the biggest problem, and a hot bed for radicals. Well funded radicals. But we are powerless, because we need them for the oil they have, so we must “play nice” with them.

There are other nations, such as Venezuela, who are teaming up with bad actors like Iran, and Russia, forming alliances that will further weaken the United States, and her allies. These relationships will also allow Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez to exert power over weaker South American states, thus spreading communism and further destroying what freedoms people in that region have. It will be a disaster.

I know Obama and his group of thugs, along with Al Gore, the Bernie Madoff of the climate change hoaxers, are doing their level best to keep Americans from using their own God given natural resources, all in an effort to enrich themselves, and their friends, by lying to the American people.

First they create a “crisis” in the name of the totally laughable claim of “global warming,” then, they just so happen to have ready made solutions, and the promises of completely non-existent “green jobs” that will “grow the economy,” if only we will allow them to destroy the one we have now.

These are really just schemes to enrich themselves, and their closest friends. We’ve already written about the Chicago Climate Exchange an already in place carbon credit trading scheme, where billions of dollars worth of carbon credits will be traded on the open market. Owing to the fact this thing is in Chicago, does one even need to ask if there is any corruption, or “friends of Obama” involved in this deal?

Al Gore has already made millions off of his hoax, and stands to make billion through the cap and trade schemes. Past that, big Obama supporters like General Electric, which owns NBC/Universal, will also clean up, so to speak, as they make many of the implements of the global warming scam.

There is more mass corruption, that we can get to in a minute, but this editorial from Investor’s Business Daily is critical reading, and reminds us that fossil fuels are here to stay for the foreseeable future:

No Substitute For Fossil Fuels

Energy: Earlier this year, Congress approved a scheme to pour $80 billion — on top of the tens of billions already spent — into renewables. A government report released last week indicates the money will be wasted.

Renewable energy is the shiny gem that everyone wants but no one can have. Not even a president. Campaigning last year in Lansing, Mich., President Barack Obama said that it was his goal for the U.S. to generate 10% of its electric power from renewable sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025. But he cannot, by the force of will or executive order, change the laws of physics and economics.

America has long relied on fossil fuels to power its economy. Oil, natural gas and coal provide about 84% of the nation’s energy.

And for good reason. They are plentiful and typically easy to retrieve, and, consequently, cheap.

At the other end of the spectrum are renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal. They supply only about 4% of our energy, the remainder coming from hydro and nuclear power.

An axis of environmentalists and Democrats want to change this ratio, because, according to the usual complaint, we depend too heavily on the fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide.

Trouble is, the market for renewables is poor. Few want to use the inefficient, unreliable and expensive sources. But that hasn’t slowed the renewable energy campaign, which has succeeded in persuading the public that renewables are a sensible energy source and convincing Congress to fund supporters’ daydreams.

The government can continue to “invest” in renewables, and the dreamers will keep using public money to find the magic formula. But little will change over the next 25 years.

The federal Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook says in 2035, demand for liquid fuels will increase by almost 10% over 2008 levels, natural gas by nearly 7% and coal by 12%.

While use of renewables will increase as well — by 81%, including hydropower — they will still be unable to unseat our dominant energy source. Fossil fuels’ share of consumption will fall by only six percentage points, from 84% to 78% by 2035. Renewables will provide about 8%.

It’s clear that renewables, which have benefited from government subsidies far in excess of what fossil fuels have received, can’t compete in today’s market and won’t be faring much better a quarter century from now, according to the government’s own reckoning.

It’s just as clear that throwing taxpayers’ dollars at renewables has produced little progress.

Spain provides perhaps the best lesson. The government there has spent $43 billion on solar energy projects, yet solar provides less than 1% of the country’s electric power. It was a bad investment.

Chasing the wind is just as ineffective. When Congress temporarily eliminated wind power credits in 1999, 2001 and 2003, the number of new turbine projects fell sharply. The Texas Public Policy Foundation says that providing a modest level of wind power in that state would cost taxpayers at least $60 billion through 2025.

Biomass is also a poor substitute. It’s both primitive — its sources are wood and trash — and an environmental nightmare, devouring in some cases as much as 10 times the land mass than needed to create a wind farm. And wind farms themselves are big land eaters.

Geothermal energy, considered “free” energy from the earth, is also a space eater that requires heavy capital investment, which is often hard to recoup. In California earlier this month, a geothermal project was abandoned, despite a $6 million grant from the Energy Department and roughly $30 million in venture capital.

Geothermal has, as well, some environmental drawbacks. The day before the California project was closed, Swiss government officials permanently shut down a geothermal project in Basel because, the New York Times reports, “of the damaging earthquakes it produced in 2006 and 2007.

Maybe some of these renewables will one day be cheap and reliable. Technological advances will help. But today they are neither cheap nor reliable, and, based on the government’s report, won’t be for another generation.

Until they can compete, the country has to rely on proven sources: fossil fuels and nuclear power. To force cutbacks on these so that renewables can get a bigger market share, and to continue to fund projects with public money, is foolish and irresponsible.

This is a huge waste of tax payer dollars, something that Congress is very good at. Spain, by the way, promised millions of “green jobs” but instead saw only increases in the unemployed, once again proving that if one listens very closely to what the liberals recommend, and then does the exact opposite, things will usually work out much better. Spain’s quest to be “green” has destroyed their economy. Cap and trade schemes have crippled the entire European Union, as well.

It would be one thing if the United States wasn’t sitting on massive oil reserves, reserves that rival the biggest oil producing nations, as well as a century’s worth of natural gas, and several hundred years worth of coal. But we are, and it’s criminal that we aren’t using these resources.

As a practical matter, anyone care to guess what the effect of keeping an extra $700 billion to $1 trillion in the American economy would do for the American people? How about how it would effect state sponsors of terror, who rely on American dollars to fund these efforts?

But of course, there is major corruption going on in these industries, and, as usual, you can trace this back to Barack Obama and his puppet master, former Nazi collaborator, and multi-billionaire, George Soros. Soros, the self proclaimed “owner of the democrat party,” funds many of the left wing organizations that drive the democrat/communist party machine. They are truly too many to mention, but groups like MoveOn.org, and even ACORN benefit from his billions. Suffice it to say, if there is a prominent democrat/communist cause, or group, you will find Soros involved.

With that kind of money comes power and influence. And Soros wields incredible influence over his hand picked puppet, Barack Obama. Back in August the big talk was Petrobas, and the huge deal Obama made with the Brazilian Oil Giant. Obama “loaned” Petrobas $10 billion American tax payer dollars so they could drill offshore, something Obama and his thugs fight tooth and nail against in our own country.

America is rich in oil, right off our own coast line, but we are told we will literally destroy the world, and all of mankind, plus all of the fishes in the sea, and the polar bears, of course, if we dare to drill for that oil.

This made me wonder why, if drilling for our oil would be such a disaster, could one drill off the coast of Brazil without such harmful effects. Are the waters magical down there? Is there some sort of fairy dust that floats in the air that keeps the evil oil companies from destroying everything? Nope, turns out the answer is a lot simpler, and well, a lot more predictable.

You see literally just days before our most corrupt president in the nation’s history was so generous with our money, his boss, George Soros, became the major stockholder in Petrobas! In fact, it became Soros’ largest holding. Funny how having Soros involved made all of the environmental concerns go away, huh? You can read more, including a statement from Sarah, here.

But wait, there’s more! Remember the Copenhagen sham of a conference? Well, our buddy George was over there as well, causing all sorts of problems for those who wish to bring clean, and dare I say “green” natural gas to market. Under the guise of “saving the planet” Soros, and his enablers, sought to block all efforts.

Investor’s Business Daily has this:

Get The Frackin’ Gas

Energy: An oil company wants to invest its profits in clean-burning American natural gas. A Hungarian billionaire and a “green” politician want to stop it. This is the real Climate-gate scandal.

While the greenies of the world united in Copenhagen to talk about the weather, emitting a Third World-country-size chunk of greenhouse gases to gather there, the world’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobil, was doing something about it.

On Dec. 14, Exxon agreed to buy XTO Energy, a natural gas firm, in a deal valued at $41 billion. XTO is one of the leaders in something called “fracking” technology, in which water, sand and additives are pumped into the ground to unlock trillions of feet of natural gas previously thought to be unobtainable.

This is what energy companies really do with their profits. They find more energy, then sell it to you.

While the technique is not new, the technology exploiting it is.

XTO has helped develop new technologies that let it drill a single well 9,000 feet and then bore horizontally through shale formations to unlock the natural gas trapped in the porous rock. The rock is fractured and the gas is pushed into accessible pockets whence it can be extracted with a minimal surface footprint.

Because of these new technologies, it is estimated that the U.S. sits on 83% more recoverable natural gas than was thought in 1990.

The Barnett Shale rock formations of Texas and Louisiana, the Bakken Shale formation in Montana and North Dakota, and the Marcellus Shale formation running through New York and Pennsylvania and other states may hold as much as 2,000 trillion cubic feet of this clean-burning, domestically produced fuel.

We are the Saudi Arabia of shale.

At current use, we have an estimated 90-year supply, if we are allowed to get at it.

Slam dunk? Hardly. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., one of the sponsors of the job- and economy-killing Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill and no fan of domestic energy, wants to hold hearings on the alleged environmental dangers of the new technology.

There’s been an organized campaign to discredit fracking as an environmental danger to the nation’s water supply. Ed Lasky at American Thinker has traced a tangled web of deception that rivals the “hide the decline” campaign by the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.

A media group called Pro Publica has done what it calls “investigative journalism” and exposed the alleged dangers of fracking in a series of stories it has provided free to cash-starved media outlets and newspapers. The first expose was an attack on energy companies developing the Marcellus Shale.

Pro Publica was started by billionaires Herbert and Marion Sandler, who, along with billionaire George Soros, funded the left-wing Center for American Progress, run by John Podesta and touted as the Obama administration’s “idea factory.”

Soros owns a major stake in a company called InterOil, a company that has discovered a large natural gas field in Papua, New Guinea, with which American shale resources would compete.

Soros would rather have us import his liquefied natural gas than develop our own. His allies in the media, the environmental movement and the Democratic caucus are all too eager to exploit public fears to do it.

Roger Willis owns a hydraulic fracturing company in the Pennsylvania town of Meadville. He says thousands of frack jobs have been done in rock formations above and below the Marcellus Shale in New York state with no aquifer damage.

This 60-year-old technique has been responsible for 7 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas,” according to Sen. James Inhofe, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “In hydraulic fracturing’s 60-year history, there has not been a single documented case of contamination.”

Whether some are trying to hide the decline in global temperatures or the abundance of clean-burning domestic natural gas, it’s a scandal. If we’re serious about both carbon emissions and energy independence, let’s stop this nonsense and get the fracking gas.

Another story, another corrupt democrat/communist, and another case for severely limiting the amount of time one can “serve their country” in Washington. Let’s face it, crooks and usurpers like Gore, Obama, and Soros would have a harder time influencing policy if Congress worked as the founders intended, and actual citizens served a term or two, and then went home, forced to live under the laws, and conditions, they help to create. But that’s another story for another day.

I know this started out as a discussion of energy and national security, but as one sees, all of this is intertwined. As they say, “it’s complicated!

Doesn’t have to be though, that’s for damned sure! First, we must get rid of the corruption in Washington, no matter how hard it is, how much time and effort it takes. We all know this entire global warming scam is nothing more than a way for a select few to enrich themselves on the backs of normal hard working people world wide. Greed and corruption has been with us since the beginning of time, but the current president and Congress have certainly set the bar at a whole new level for future politicians to shoot for.

Heads need to roll and jail cells need to be filled. Say,…. maybe we CAN buy that prison in Chicagoland after all. That way Obama will feel at home while he serves out his sentence after he is convicted of his High Crimes and Misdemeanors. He will have a lot of company there if we do this right! Gore could be his cell mate!

Next we need to look at the suggestions that Sarah Palin has been making for years now. Sarah has an incredible commonsensical approach to the whole problem that will work. Obviously, we need an “all of the above” approach to the energy issues at hand. And well, we also would like to have clean energy, please.

We are now spending not millions, not billions, but trillions of dollars, amounts of money that are so large that no one can really comprehend fully them. Obama and his corrupt Congress have spent more money in one year than all of our previous presidents and congresses have in the nation’s 233 year history, COMBINED! For what? For failed programs that do little but put us further in debt, and cost more jobs. Nothing is created, we might as well just pile the money up and burn it. At least it would keep us warm this winter!

For what we are throwing away on all of these idiotic programs we could start a crash program that would guarantee energy independence, and our national security for the foreseeable future. We need a program similar to the one that saw us go from small rockets that blew up more often than not, to walking on the surface of the moon, in less than a decade. We need a serious “all of the above” approach.

We have the oil, and we know how to get it. Stop the bureaucratic nonsense and “drill baby drill” make it a matter of national security, and tell all of the crazed groups who would try and stop it through law suits, and what have you, to go take a powder.

Next, get that natural gas to market, and instead of wasting efforts on silly things like electric cars, work on converting the fleet to natural gas. I could write a book on why natural gas is the right solution for much of our automotive needs, but will save that for later. Suffice it to say, for now, that this is well proven technology. The Big 3 automakers, Ford, GM, and Chrysler, have made cars, trucks, and buses that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) for decades. With today’s engine management technology, coupled with exciting new things like direct injection for gasoline engines, the time is right to move from using gasoline exclusively for motorfuel. As a bonus, diesel engines can be converted to run, and run well, on CNG too. Natural gas burns very cleanly and would reduce (actual) harmful emissions greatly as well as extending engine life.

What people forget about electric cars is the fact that the have been around since the invention of the automobile. They were actually relatively popular in the early years, especially among women, as the first Model T Fords were a serious pain to drive, and maintain. By the 1920’s though, the manufacturers,, and the public, came to realize they just weren’t the practical solution to transportation needs. Ever since, a dedicated few have sought to prove the consensus wrong. The results:

After billions spent, and Lord knows how many attempts, the mechanics of it all, and the results are really no different than the were 100 years ago. An all electric vehicle is still no more practical. It still has a very limited range of travel, top speed, and driveability. Oh, and they cost a lot of money, and since they must be plugged in to the existing electrical grid, they use the same “dirty” electricity that all of the greens are losing their minds over today!

Oh sure, you can buy a hybrid, but they are underpowered, overpriced, and only work because they also have a gasoline engine for when you actually want to drive them somewhere. Other than making yourself feel better, and lightened your bank account unnecessarily, you’ve accomplished absolutely nothing. Oh, and those batteries? Major environmental hazzards. Wait till the landfills start filling up with those deals. Talk about pollution!

Natural gas fixes this problem. It’s proven technology that’s been with us for decades. It works, and would take minimal effort to get the infrastructure in place to make it happen. Many larger municipalities already run most of their city owned fleet on CNG, and other countries have retail outlets that dispense the product, such as this one in the Czech Republic:

Of course, any discussion that talks energy, must talk nuclear. We must do it. France gets nearly 80 percent of it’s electricity from nuclear energy. France! If France can do it, the United States, the most powerful nation on earth, most certainly can.

It always amuses me: We actually aid rouge nations, nations who want to develop nuclear weapons to destroy the world, by helping them set up civilian nuclear plants “to generate electricity,” and yet, we are absolutely verboten from building our own cheap, safe, and really clean sources of nuclear power. It is the very definition of insanity.

Again, move the enviro-nuts out of the way and start expediting the process. Instead of wasting billions on “cash for clunkers” or trillions trying to destroy the best health care system on the planet, lets make it our goal to get 80 percent of our electricity from nuclear power, in say, a decade!

In the mean time, it is said that we have several hundreds of years worth of coal. It is actually our most plentiful source of energy in this country. It goes without saying that we need to develop clean coal technology to it’s fullest.

Now, while all of this is going on, we absolutely should look at other ways to generate energy, and power our cars and trucks. That quest should never stop. But we need better ideas than what we have now, because so far, we don’t have true workable solutions, solutions that can work in a free market. In other words, solutions that will work without billions, or trillions in tax payer funded subsidies.

Now the other benefit from all of this is Joe Biden’s favorite three letter word “J-O-B-S.” And I’m not talking the Barack Obama style temporary jobs, or jobs in government. I’m talking quality, durable jobs. Jobs that will pay Americans a good wage for a good days work, the kind of jobs that built America in the first place.

Energy is the single most important issue to society in general, and the United States in particular. The entire world runs on energy. We simply can’t function without it. Even more important, something that most folks overlook, even if we stopped using oil today, as a source of fuel, almost every product you use, every medicine you take, has some form of petroleum in it’s base. Oil isn’t going away!

We need to get serious for many reasons. A realistic energy policy, one like Sarah Palin has been touting for years, will not only give us economic security, but security from terrorism, as well. It will make America independent and able to look out for her own interests rather than having to bow before ruthless dictators world wide, just to keep the flow of our economy’s lifeblood coming. We will no longer fund terror, and we will no longer have to be gentle with nation states who continue to sponsor terror.

A coherent and comprehensive energy policy will create millions upon millions of well paying, durable jobs, for generations to come. The push to attain this goal will stimulate our economy right now, and create real jobs, right now.

It’s time to “Drill Baby, Drill” and do “all of the above” as well.

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The Real Sarah Palin Story Of The Past Week: Energy Independence

Quick, what was the biggest Sarah Palin story of the past week or so?

Was it her rousing introduction of Michael Reagan in Anchorage where she eloquently spoke of his father, President Ronald Reagan, and took on President Barack Obama, and his big government policies, head on?

Maybe it was her trip to Auburn, NY where she celebrated the life of former Secretary of State William Seward, in conjunction with Alaska’s 50th year of statehood, an event that saw Palin draw over 20,000 people. Seward is the one who pushed for the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

Palin gave a stem winding policy speech in Auburn that saw her again take on the current administration’s big government policies, it’s want to apologize for America when overseas, it’s military readiness, and foreign policy.

It could be the over $500,000 Governor Palin raised for several charities, including autism research and assisted living while in the state. You might even think that it was the crass and tasteless remarks made by a late night talk show host, aimed a Palin and her 14 year old daughter, and the ensuing calls for his firing and his show’s loss of sponsors.

All of these are big stories, for sure. But as usual, the real story got lost by the media.

While in Auburn, Governor Palin spoke at length about America’s need for energy independence and promised a huge bit of news would come out within the week concerning this..

And true to her word, in Dallas, Texas Governor Palin announced to the world of the huge progress on AGIA, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.

Governor Palin announced that in a historic agreement, Exxon-Mobil had joined with Trans-Canada to make what some have called a “pipe dream” a reality.

Audio of the announcement from Exxon-Mobil and Trans-Canada officials is available here.

For those not familiar, Alaskans have tried for over 30 years to build a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48. Previous Governors have tried to make this happen, and Alaskans have went back and forth on how it should be done.

Governor Palin made this a centerpiece of her administration. Within weeks of taking office, the wheels were set in motion to get this done. The AGIA legislation was passed 57-1 through Alaska’s legislature.

Of course, there were plenty of critics, this was a big undertaking. At $126 billion, the 1712 mile pipeline is the largest infrastructure project in history.

Many thought that Governor Palin had just bit off more than she, or anyone else could chew. There were worries about the market for natural gas. But the demand for the fuel is expected to rise as much as 40 percent by the year 2030.

Obama administration officials who had nothing to do with this, like Energy Secretary Ken Salazar, have rushed to claim credit for all of this. A pretty good endorsement of Governor Palin’s efforts.

Investor’s Business Daily, gives high praise to Governor Palin, and points out that Exxon-Mobil has some very strict guidelines for investment. Their standards are high. Marty Massey, U.S. joint interest manager of Exxon Mobil Production Co. Had this to say about his company’s involvement:

“We evaluated all the options and it came down to our belief that this approach with TransCanada and Exxon Mobil was going to be the most successful project.”

Massey went on to say that Exxon might look at expanding it’s role in the project.

As the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act Trans-Canada and Exxon Partnership materials point out, this is a privately funded project. Which obviously makes this deal a win-win for the state. The purpose of AGIA is to protect the interests of the state of Alaska as the project moves forward.

The bottom line in all of this, is the pipeline will be built. Trans-Canada is one of the world’s most respected pipeline construction companies, and Exxon-Mobil is certainly a well respected oil and gas company.

For those that don’t understand the real impact of all of this, let’s talk about natural gas and it’s uses.

Natural gas is one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels we have. Most Americans use it every day. We heat with it. We cook with it. But there are other uses. One of the more promising uses of natural gas is as a leading motor fuel.

Compressed natural gas (CNG), along with propane, has been used for decades to power automobiles, trucks, and buses. In fact, many large and medium sized U.S. cities already have fleets of cars, trucks, and buses that are powered by CNG. The reasoning behind this, of course, is the fact that an engine that burns CNG instead of gasoline, will see some of it’s harmful emissions reduced by as much as 90 percent. And with the addition of the latest engine management computer technology CNG has never been a more viable fuel.

Something else that makes CNG so promising is the fact that diesel engines can be made to run on the fuel as well, greatly reducing their emissions. And while some may tout electrics as the future of the automobile, that technology, will not work on long haul trucks, the 18 wheelers you see every day as they haul goods all over America. The battery technology just isn’t anywhere close to making it viable for that application.

Even better, every single one of the Big 3: Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors build cars, trucks, and buses that run on clean burning natural gas, and have for decades. So it would be a no brainer to produce more vehicles to run on CNG. Honda is also building CNG powered versions of it’s most popular models that are available to Americans right now.

Many countries use CNG powered vehicles extensively for transportation.

There are even companies that make units that people can install in their home garages that compress the natural gas, and allow someone to refill their car at home.

As a 30 year veteran of the automotive industry, and a certified “car guy”. This writer is very excited about the possibilities of CNG.

Alaska has an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. That is enough to make America very independent when it comes to energy. And that’s the real story here. Once the pipeline becomes operational, in less than a decade, America will be more secure, and energy independent.

Texas oil billionaire T Boone Pickens has been advocating a plan for some time that would see much of America’s vehicles converted to run on CNG, and see wind and solar become a more prominent source of electrical generation. In the Pickens Plan, the wind and solar would replace the natural gas we are currently using to produce electricity, freeing it up for transportation use.

Natural gas is a real win-win for America. It’s very plentiful. We have more than the equivalent of all of the world’s oil reserves in American natural gas. Natural gas is a very clean fuel. The environmentalists like it. And, this is not some newfangled experimental fuel. We have used natural gas for a long time to cook and heat with, and automakers have built vehicles that use it as a fuel for almost a century.

If automakers were to convert much of their production to vehicles that run on CNG, it would be cost effective, as the technology is already in use, and proven, as compared to all of the billions that have been invested in technology that still hasn’t produced a practical mass production car that people will actually buy and can use for more than short trips to the store.

This announcement from Governor Palin is indeed big news. This is a game changing effort that will not only help make America energy independent, but has the potential to change every American’s lives for the better with a clean, American produced fuel.

The national security benefits in all of this should not be lost either. The less money we send overseas to purchase oil, the less money regimes that don’t necessarily like America will have. America sends nearly one trillion dollars a year overseas to buy crude oil.

Governor Palin has again lived up to her billing as an authority on energy. The Governor who previously was chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, as well as the chair of the National Governor’s Association Natural Resources Committee, and the Chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, is uniquely qualified to lead on energy independence. And she is most certainly using her industry experience to move America in that direction.

Sarah Palin hit a grand slam home run last week. This will truly make America stronger.

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