Germany Becomes the New Poster Child for Climate Change Hypocrisy

Climate hypocrisy is nothing new.

Celebrities cruise around the world in their private jets, eating filet mignon while telling you to pack a salad and bike to work to reduce your carbon footprint.

So, color me not at all surprised that Germany, a vocal critic of the U.S.’ decision to exit the Paris climate accord, is preparing to abandon its 2020 climate targets.

Strong economic growth is a critical reason why Germany is very likely to miss its target.

Germany has an aggressive plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020. Last November, a leaked document from the country’s Environmental Ministry projected the country would miss the mark by 8 percent without additional action.

In other words, even with generous subsidies for renewable power, the Germans would have to implement some form of economy-restricting policy to curtail emissions. So much for the “go green and grow the economy” mantra.

The Environmental Ministry said the failure would be “a disaster for Germany’s international reputation as a climate leader.” One would think a stronger economy would be cause for celebration, not demonization.

Germany’s abandoned 2020 targets are the latest domino to fall in what is failed international climate policy. Many proponents of action argue that even though the Paris climate accord is nonbinding, with no repercussions when a country fails to comply with its nationally determined contributions, the agreement was an important first step.

The parties that have entered into the Paris accord sure have a funny way of showing they’re committed to it.

Despite bashing the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord, all of the industrialized countries are not on schedule to meet their respective targets. Germany is not alone in the European Union.

An article published last summer on Nature.com argues that the EU “faces a big gap between words and actions.”

Even if the United States and the rest of the developed world meet their intended targets, it wouldn’t make any meaningful impact on global temperatures. Carbon dioxide reductions from the developing world, many of whose people are still living without dependable power, are necessary to move the climate needle.

However, developing nations set targets so lax that they likely won’t change any behaviors. Paris proponents can brag all they want about China taking the lead in solar power, but turn a blind eye to the massive amounts of new coal power generation moving forward in China, India, and the rest of the developing—and, in some cases, developed—world.

The Financial Times recently reported, “Between January 2014 and September 2017, international banks channeled $630 [billion] to the top 120 companies planning to build new coal plants around the world, according to research by campaign groups, including the Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, and Friends of the Earth.”

And yet, those who want stringent climate mitigation say the Paris targets are only approximately one-third of what is needed to allegedly keep global warming in check.

Paying attention to what you perceive as positive action on climate (e.g., Paris, subsidizing renewables) while ignoring the realities of new coal build, retiring nuclear power plants, and global economic growth around the world is a curious strategy.

“Do as I say, but don’t pay attention to what I actually do” is the trademark of climate change policy. The Trump administration took a different approach and told it like it is: Paris is a costly, meaningless non-solution.

The reason countries such as Syria, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea have entered into the accord is not an indication of global commitment to act on climate. It is an indication of how toothless and meaningless the agreement is.

The rest of the world can act high and mighty on climate, but when the rubber meets the road for action, it’s a different story.

The post Germany Becomes the New Poster Child for Climate Change Hypocrisy appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Al Gore Blames the ‘Climate Crisis’ for Cold Weather. But Actually, It’s Just January.

Remember when global warming meant the planet was supposed to, well, warm up? Temperatures would rise, and all manner of ecological calamity would ensue?

Me too. So it was surprising to find myself shivering, like other Americans, through several days of arctic chill and extreme cold, only to hear Al Gore blame it on global warming.

He didn’t use the w-word, though. “It’s bitter cold in parts of the U.S., but climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann explains that’s exactly what we should expect from the climate crisis,” Gore tweeted on Jan. 4.

See, it’s a “climate crisis” now. But it’s hard to blame him for trying some rebranding. After all, prediction after prediction has come to naught.

But no matter: Like other Doomsday prophets, Gore just acts like the last missed deadline didn’t happen and comes up with a new one.

Which is why it’s important to remind ourselves of what Gore has said in the past.

Consider, for example, how he said global warming would cause the north polar ice cap to be completely free of ice within five years. When did he say that? Nine years ago.

News flash: The Arctic still has ice. Indeed, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, “ice growth during November 2017 averaged 30,900 square miles per day.” Oops.

So how about the evidence for the latest cold snap?

Gore’s source, Michael Mann, says the ultra-chilly temps we’ve been enduring are “precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.” As the planet warms, he says, we’ll see more cold snaps and “bomb cyclones.”

Seems counter-intuitive, but Mann suggests this is because warming is “causing the jet stream to meander in a particular pattern” that leads to these cold spells.

I use the word “suggests,” however, because this is simply a theory—one that other scientists are not sold on. (Gore and the rest of the climate-crisis crowd often act like their ideas are universally accepted—that the scientific community is in complete agreement with them. But there is more room for doubt and disagreement than they care to admit.)

Just ask Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“Winter storms are a manifestation of winter, not climate change,” he recently told the Daily Caller. “The Arctic is greatly affected by climate change, and it has a feedback effect—but not in winter.”

Even if Gore and Mann are correct about the link between global warming and cold snaps, the record works against them there, too.

“The frequency of cold waves have decreased during the past 50 years, not increased,” University of Washington climatologist Cliff Mass says. “That alone shows that such claims are baseless.”

The term “bomb cyclone” is new to most of us, but it’s been around for a while. Climatologist Judith Curry recently told the Caller that it was coined almost 40 years ago by Fred Sanders of MIT, who spent a lot of time studying such storms.

Moreover, there are about 50 or 60 bomb cyclones every year, but most of them occur too far out to sea for us to notice.

Gore and his fellow travelers may have trouble admitting that they could be wrong. But their never-look-back crusade isn’t helping scientific research.

“It is very disappointing that members of my profession are making such obviously bogus claims,” Cliff Mass said. “It hurts the science, it hurts the credibility of climate scientists, and weakens our ability to be taken seriously by society.”

That’s what happens, though, when we bend facts to fit theories—and not the other way around. And remember, Al, as the old song goes, “Baby, it’s cold outside.”

Originally published by the Washington Times.

The post Al Gore Blames the ‘Climate Crisis’ for Cold Weather. But Actually, It’s Just January. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Al Gore Blames the ‘Climate Crisis’ for Cold Weather. But Actually, It’s Just January.

Remember when global warming meant the planet was supposed to, well, warm up? Temperatures would rise, and all manner of ecological calamity would ensue?

Me too. So it was surprising to find myself shivering, like other Americans, through several days of arctic chill and extreme cold, only to hear Al Gore blame it on global warming.

He didn’t use the w-word, though. “It’s bitter cold in parts of the U.S., but climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann explains that’s exactly what we should expect from the climate crisis,” Gore tweeted on Jan. 4.

See, it’s a “climate crisis” now. But it’s hard to blame him for trying some rebranding. After all, prediction after prediction has come to naught.

But no matter: Like other Doomsday prophets, Gore just acts like the last missed deadline didn’t happen and comes up with a new one.

Which is why it’s important to remind ourselves of what Gore has said in the past.

Consider, for example, how he said global warming would cause the north polar ice cap to be completely free of ice within five years. When did he say that? Nine years ago.

News flash: The Arctic still has ice. Indeed, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, “ice growth during November 2017 averaged 30,900 square miles per day.” Oops.

So how about the evidence for the latest cold snap?

Gore’s source, Michael Mann, says the ultra-chilly temps we’ve been enduring are “precisely the sort of extreme winter weather we expect because of climate change.” As the planet warms, he says, we’ll see more cold snaps and “bomb cyclones.”

Seems counter-intuitive, but Mann suggests this is because warming is “causing the jet stream to meander in a particular pattern” that leads to these cold spells.

I use the word “suggests,” however, because this is simply a theory—one that other scientists are not sold on. (Gore and the rest of the climate-crisis crowd often act like their ideas are universally accepted—that the scientific community is in complete agreement with them. But there is more room for doubt and disagreement than they care to admit.)

Just ask Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

“Winter storms are a manifestation of winter, not climate change,” he recently told the Daily Caller. “The Arctic is greatly affected by climate change, and it has a feedback effect—but not in winter.”

Even if Gore and Mann are correct about the link between global warming and cold snaps, the record works against them there, too.

“The frequency of cold waves have decreased during the past 50 years, not increased,” University of Washington climatologist Cliff Mass says. “That alone shows that such claims are baseless.”

The term “bomb cyclone” is new to most of us, but it’s been around for a while. Climatologist Judith Curry recently told the Caller that it was coined almost 40 years ago by Fred Sanders of MIT, who spent a lot of time studying such storms.

Moreover, there are about 50 or 60 bomb cyclones every year, but most of them occur too far out to sea for us to notice.

Gore and his fellow travelers may have trouble admitting that they could be wrong. But their never-look-back crusade isn’t helping scientific research.

“It is very disappointing that members of my profession are making such obviously bogus claims,” Cliff Mass said. “It hurts the science, it hurts the credibility of climate scientists, and weakens our ability to be taken seriously by society.”

That’s what happens, though, when we bend facts to fit theories—and not the other way around. And remember, Al, as the old song goes, “Baby, it’s cold outside.”

Originally published by the Washington Times.

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New Offshore Drilling Plan Will Reverse Obama Restrictions, Unleash US Energy Dominance

America is moving forward in its march toward energy dominance, and the Trump administration just took an important step forward in achieving that goal.

In unveiling its draft five-year Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan on Thursday, the Interior Department is reversing the Obama administration’s “Keep it in the Ground” anti-energy policy.

An abundance of untapped energy lies beneath America’s ground and off the coasts. For six years, America has been the world’s largest petroleum and natural gas producer, supporting more than 10 million jobs and contributing more than $1.3 trillion to the economy.

The increase in energy supplies has lowered prices for households and businesses. Families are saving hundreds, if not more than $1,000 each year on electricity bills and home-heating costs, and paying less at the gas pump.

It also means companies around the country devote less money to paying energy bills and more to investing in labor and capital.

All of these benefits have accrued to Americans, despite the fact that the Obama administration made a majority of America’s coastal waters off-limits to natural resources exploration and production.

In fact, 94 percent of federal offshore acreage is off-limits to development. The United States is the only country in the world that has placed a majority of its territorial waters off-limits to natural resources extraction.

Until now, that is.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s draft plan is the first part of a multiyear process that would make more than 90 percent of the total federal acreage available, which includes 98 percent of the undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in the Outer Continental Shelf.

As highlighted by Interior’s press release:

The Draft Proposed Program … includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas—19 sales off the coast of Alaska, seven in the Pacific region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and nine in the Atlantic region. This is the largest number of lease sales ever proposed for the National Outer Continental Shelf Program’s five-year lease schedule.

The 47 potential lease sales top the number of sales listed in President Ronald Reagan’s two submissions of 41 and 42.

At several points in time, offshore drilling was not such a partisan issue. When President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, made his 1979 energy speech, he said, “We will step up exploration and production of oil and gas on federal lands.”

As a result, the Carter administration’s Interior Department proposed 36 lease sales. As recently as 2013, both Democratic senators from Virginia offered legislation to open parts of the Atlantic to offshore development.

It’s understandable why.

Offshore drilling is a critical component of the Gulf of Mexico economy, one of the limited areas where offshore activity takes place in federal waters.

Recognizing that offshore resource exploration is systematically safe, the energy industry has a very strong relationship with the seafood and tourism industries. In fact, Louisiana hosts a Shrimp and Petroleum Festival each year.

Despite the Deepwater Horizon incident that adversely affected the Gulf environmentally and economically, there was a broad recognition among these three industries that the blanket drilling moratorium was bad policy and bad for the region as a whole.

The economic benefits of realizing America’s true energy potential could be significant. Opening the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelves and the eastern Gulf of Mexico could create more than 800,000 jobs by 2035.

Increased supplies, which could equate to as much as 3.5 million barrels of oil per day, would lower prices for families.

Furthermore, federal and state governments would stand to benefit as well, since increased production would increase revenues from bonus bids (for new leases), royalties, rents, and increased economic activity.

By 2035, the federal government could collect more than $200 billion in revenue. With the country burdened with massive amounts of federal debt, policymakers should welcome the potential for revenue generation.

No one knows where oil prices will be once the Interior Department finalizes the plan. Therefore, it’s difficult to fully project where the industry will invest.

Nevertheless, the market will determine what areas the oil and gas companies will pursue. The federal government should not stand in its way.

It’s encouraging to see Interior take a hatchet to a long-standing barrier to energy dominance and improved economic well-being.

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Georgia’s Nuclear Woes Should Catch Congress’s Attention

The drama continues with two of the four nuclear power reactors being built in the U.S. today. On Thursday, the Georgia Public Service Commission voted on measures to continue financing and building the Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors. The project has faced years of schedule delays and billions in cost overruns. The news comes even as two reactors in South Carolina have been indefinitely stalled.

Many feared that had Georgia halted construction it would have sent a chilling signal about the future of nuclear power in the U.S. In fact, Vogtle’s struggles have only served to underscore some of the deep seated problems in America’s approach to nuclear power.

Southern Company applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to construct and operate in March 2008, following Congress’s passage of a production tax credit for new nuclear plants in 2005. The project was expected to be finished in 2018, but is now targeted for no later than June 2022 according to the Georgia Public Service Commission’s recent decision. This is despite being awarded $6.5 billion in federal loan guarantees and the promise of federal tax credits once the reactors were up and running.

The last reactor to have come online was the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar 2 in 2015, after a 20 year hiatus in any new nuclear power construction. People were hailing it as a banner day for nuclear power with a glimmer of hope for the nuclear renaissance that had been expected after the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Back then The Heritage Foundation wrote of the predictable story to follow:

A few more [reactors] may trickle in as billions in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees still remain through Department of Energy loan programs—the key word being “trickle.”

But more government handouts do not equate to a thriving industry, whether in commercial nuclear power or any other industry. Instead of bringing about a nuclear renaissance, subsidies have tied nuclear energy investment and innovation to political whims rather than smart business decisions, common sense, and good ideas.

An industry dependent on government favors can limp along provided the promise of more subsidies remains; but an “industry that grows out of the free market will be stronger over the long term.”

Far too many politicians and bureaucrats have supported federal tax credits and other subsidies for nuclear power, as if nuclear were an approved energy technology of the right just as wind and solar power are the golden children of the left that ought to be subsidized. But nuclear power can thrive only if Congress stops compensating for bad federal policy with a patchwork of subsidies.

If there is to be hope for a thriving commercial nuclear industry in the U.S., Congress needs to address the underlying policies that have mired down the U.S. nuclear industry over the last several decades. Chief areas among them are the burdensome federal licensing process, an overly prescriptive and costly approach to regulation, and nuclear waste management, the abysmal mismanagement of which has created uncertainty for the existing and future nuclear industry. Heritage has an abbreviated list of things the Trump administration and Congress can do that don’t involve more government handouts.

The benefits of nuclear power are myriad and the American nuclear industry has the potential to do more in the 21st century. Congress and the administration need to get to the hard work of addressing the government-induced barriers to a thriving nuclear industry so that Georgia’s story doesn’t become the norm.

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A State Agency’s Crusade Against Seawalls Erodes the Rule of Law

“Pacific” means peaceful. But the ocean that bears that name doesn’t always live up to it.

Ask any oceanfront resident who has weathered the damaging storms and waves that winter can bring. Combined with relentless tides, they can threaten homes by eating away the land underneath.

How can oceanfront homeowners safeguard their property, even their lives, from the erosive power of the Pacific?

Over the decades, many residents on the California coast have built seawalls of rock, concrete, or other sturdy material to protect their homes. In a sense, they share a kinship with the people of Holland, who have spent centuries defending their livelihoods by holding back the North Sea. But while the Dutch pushed back the waters to “reclaim” the land beneath them, California’s oceanfront residents simply want to protect the dry land that is already there–their own private property.

This understandable desire has solid grounding in the law. The California Coastal Act recognizes the right of homeowners to use seawalls to protect their homes against erosion. The guarantees of property rights  in the state and federal constitutions offer additional support.

However, the California Coastal Commission, which oversees land use in coastal regions, is another story. The commission has a notorious tradition of disrespecting property rights. Its policy on seawalls is particularly troubling.

That policy can be reduced to a phrase: The commission is against seawalls. The hostility is expressed in technological terms, focusing on concerns about rising ocean levels and shrinking beaches. But instead of analyzing specific impacts of specific seawall proposals, the commission has imposed one-size-fits-all restrictions that smack more of ideology than scientific rigor.

For some years, when homeowners have sought permits to repair or replace existing seawalls, the commission has come back with harsh demands such as time limits on  a permit–leaving the owners in fear they’ll have to tear out their seawalls and abandon their homes in the future.

The agency has gone further by imposing heavy-handed conditions on new residential development. If you own a coastal lot and want to build, you must promise never to put in a seawall to protect your future home from the ocean’s force.

This edict is a direct threat to owners of oceanfront property, of course. But it should concern all of us, no matter where we live, because it is an example of a powerful state agency abusing its authority.

When regulators propose a policy like this, California law says they must give notice to the public, conduct hearings, and allow public comment. The commission did none of this. It imposed its anti-seawall restriction by fiat.

The commission skirted the legal and procedural requirements that are designed to keep bureaucrats accountable to the Legislature and the public. Indeed, one of the underpinnings of a free society is the assurance that those who write laws and regulations are answerable to the rest of us who must live under them.

Ultimately, this means lawmaking is the role of elected legislators. To the extent that writing regulations has been delegated to administrative bodies such as the commission, their decision-making must be fully open to public review and participation. Yet, the seawall policy was developed without input from property owners or anyone else outside of a cloistered circle of staffers and commissioners.

Foisting this edict on the public through raw bureaucratic power is especially galling because the scheme is so sweeping and the apparent end  game is so radical. The commission has embraced a strategy of allowing the whole of California’s shoreline to give way gradually to erosion.

“Planned retreat” is its euphemistic name. But no euphemism can obscure the reality. What would “retreat” is the land, homes, and dreams of real people. Over time, their property would disintegrate, all under a scheme that never has been signed off on by the Legislature or even run through the barest safeguards of the rulemaking process.

“For some spots, 50 years from now, houses may be lost,” as the mayor of Pacific Grove put it to a reporter, discussing how his city is working to implement what the California Coastal Commission calls its shoreline management directives. “And planning for that is very, very difficult. Because nobody wants to volunteer and say OK, let the ocean take my property.”

Pacific Legal Foundation, the public interest law firm where we work, recently asked state officials to acknowledge formally that the Coastal Commission acted unlawfully in implementing its “no seawalls” rule for new residential development. A courtroom legal challenge may follow.

The Coastal Commission’s rogue behavior in its anti-seawall crusade must be checked–not just for the sake of property rights along the coast and everywhere else in California, but for the stake that we all have in the rule of law.

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5 Ways Energy Dominance Can Bolster Trump’s National Security Strategy

The Trump administration’s new national security strategy emphasizes the importance of a strong economy to enhance national security.  “America’s central position in the global energy system as a leading producer, consumer, and innovator,” the report says, “ensures that markets are free and U.S. infrastructure is resilient and secure.”

As a global energy leader already, the United States has demonstrated both the broad and household economic benefits of increased access to natural resources, innovation, competition, and choice.

President Donald Trump’s first national security strategy highlights five ways for the U.S. to improve its energy standing in the world: reduce barriers, promote exports, ensure security, attain universal access, and further our technological edge.

Some detail on how Congress and the Trump administration have a unique opportunity to capitalize on U.S. energy abundance:

Reduce barriers. In response to Trump’s executive order on “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior. and Department of Energy released reports documenting agency actions that burden the safe development of domestic energy sources.

In many respects, these documents provide a useful road map to rolling back costly, ineffective regulations and expanding opportunities for new resource development and energy infrastructure. To provide the energy industry with more certainty, Congress should codify changes so they can’ be undone by an administration that is more hostile to energy production.

Promote exports. Providing more energy choices to both producers and consumers will generate jobs and grow the economy. Expediting the permitting process for liquefied natural gas exports is a commonsense reform that would improve national security by increasing global energy supplies and reducing the ability of any one nation to use its control of energy resources to threaten U.S. interests.

Embracing energy dominance should  include imports, whether  imported oil, ethanol, or solar panels. Cheaper imports would make American businesses more competitive and successful.

Ensure energy security. Many policies that harm consumers have been implemented in the name of improving energy security. Government planning, quotas, subsidies, tariffs, and other market-distorting policies have promoted favoritism, not energy dominance.

Competition and diversification can improve energy security, and the Trump administration should reduce impediments that thwart the private sector’s ability to properly protect the electricity grid and energy infrastructure.

Attain universal energy access. Energy touches every aspect of our lives, from providing a daily sense of comfort to powering the global economy. So having an energy platform that provides choices at competitive prices would only enhance the well-being of families and businesses across the country.

Given America’s energy wealth, the U.S. should be a major supplier to meeting energy needs in the developing world, where more than 1.2 billion people (17 percent of the global population) don’t have access to reliable electricity.

Further America’s technological edge. As demonstrated with smart drilling technologies, innovation unlocks new resources, supplies affordable power, and generates new employment opportunities. Government favoritism, however, is one major source of pumping the brakes on technological innovation.

When the government picks winners through the tax codes or bails out uneconomical power plants, companies focus more on obtaining the next handout and less on reducing costs to be competitive in a market without subsidies.

A variety of energy sources and technologies provide Americans with dependable electricity and transportation fuels. Whether it is conventional fuels, nuclear power, renewable technologies, batteries, or a concept still developing in a lab, America’s entrepreneurial spirit will drive innovation forward without the help of Washington.

As my Heritage Foundation colleague Nile Gardiner writes, Trump’s national security strategy reasserts American leadership.

Thanks to the free market, the U.S. is already a global energy leader. These policy reforms will ensure that America stays there.

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Tax Reform Bill Would Give Back Alaskans Control of Their Energy Future

In a compromise tax reform package, Senate and House negotiators have agreed to include language to open Alaska’s coastal plain for energy exploration and production.

If passed, the bill would finally give Alaskans more control over their energy future by opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The entire Arctic refuge comprises roughly 19 million acres on Alaska’s North Slope region. Through the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, Congress and President Jimmy Carter set aside 1.5 million acres on the North Slope (known as Section 1002), recognizing the possibilities for oil and natural-gas development.

The energy potential of Section 1002 is enormous, while the industry’s footprint would be minimal.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that between 4.3 billion and 11.8 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil lies underneath Section 1002. Importantly, the Geological Survey also notes, “nearly 80 percent of the oil is thought to occur in the western part of the [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] 1002 area, which is closest to existing infrastructure.”

Oil produced in refuge could relieve potential technological challenges that the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System faces if the current supply becomes too low.

The area is not a designated wilderness area and is without sunlight for 15 percent of the year.  The Department of Interior highlights that the refuge’s Section 1002  has no trees, deep-water lakes, or mountain peaks.  The entire refuge gets fewer than 1,000 visitors per year.

Once companies drill exploratory wells, there will be a better sense of just how much oil and natural gas the area holds.  The surface-area footprint would be limited to 2,000 acres—a bit more than 1/10th of 1 percent of Section 1002 and 1/100th of 1 percent of the whole refuge.

Opponents of domestic-energy production have criticized the decision, claiming that oil prices are too low to generate any interest in the area. The market will determine the economic viability of Alaskan resource development, not politicians in Washington.

Furthermore, no one has any idea where oil and natural-gas prices will be 10 months from now, let alone in 10 years.

For instance, in July 2008, the Wall Street Journal asked a variety of energy experts to anonymously predict where the price of a barrel of oil would be at the close of the year. Answers ranged from $70 to $167.50 a barrel. Instead, a number of market factors caused the price to plummet to $44.60.

Whether it’s a market crash, a natural disaster, or technological innovation, there are unknowable circumstances that exist in energy markets.

To opponents, however, there is never an opportune time to increase domestic natural-resource production. Whether oil prices collapse or the price at the pump surpasses $4 per gallon, environmental activists argue opening new areas to exploration will take too long for the fuel to reach the market to have any impact on prices.

Energy policy should not be predicated on what analysts or members of Congress think is going to happen, but rather, on opening access and establishing the framework for competitive markets, while ensuring the protection of property rights and the environment.

Opening access now will ensure that businesses can be more responsive to changes in prices, rather than waiting for Congress to react after prices become politically uncomfortable.

Importantly, Alaskans should be in charge of the decisions to develop new resources. Alaskans understand that energy development, tourism, recreation, and wildlife protection harmoniously co-exist.

Oil revenues have been a critical component of the state’s economy for decades, as have the tourism, seafood and timber industries.  As Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, recently tweeted, “There is no question that development & environmental protection can and do exist in Alaska.”

It’s long past time that Congress empower the people who have a direct stake in the wise management of land, natural resources, and the environment.

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Trump Can Use Liquefied Natural Gas to Bolster Key Alliances. Here’s How.

The Trump administration has spoken adamantly about U.S. energy dominance.

To outsiders, the phrase “energy dominance” may elicit fear and conjure images of Russian-like influence in using energy for political manipulation.

The reality in this case, however, is just the opposite: American energy dominance will help our allies break free from Russian dependence. By pursuing new energy export opportunities, the United States will reap both economic and geopolitical dividends.

In the past half-decade, the U.S. has become the world’s largest producer of natural gas. When combined with liquefaction technology, natural gas can easily be traded across oceans.

American exports of liquefied natural gas are surging. The Trump administration can make good on its promises to expand liquefied natural gas exports by expediting the licensing process, allowing U.S. liquefied natural gas to reach more partners.

The United States has the opportunity to bolster security relationships in many regions with energy exports, including Asia, India, and Eastern Europe.

With access to energy being more secure for these allies, they will be less vulnerable to manipulation by countries such as Russia or Iran, two major suppliers of natural gas.

Japan and South Korea are two American allies and trading partners who share our democratic values, as well as our interest in limiting China’s power.

They are also both heavily dependent on foreign sources of energy. Japan supplies only about 6 percent of its own energy needs, forcing it to turn to other countries, many in the Middle East, to power its economy. In recent years, liquefied natural gas’s share of Japan’s energy supply has increased to 44 percent in 2014.

South Korea is even more dependent on foreign sources than Japan, importing 98 percent of its needed energy supplies and is the second-biggest importer of liquefied natural gas, behind Japan.

India is another key strategic partner of the United States, with a population increasingly dependent on foreign energy. Given that India is the fastest growing major economy, and poised to overtake China as the most populous nation in the next decade, its need for energy will only increase.

India also shares strategic concerns with the United States on issues, such as China’s growing power, as well as the need to keep open access for trade in the Indian Ocean. Consequently, the U.S. and India have been moving closer together over the past decade in our defense cooperation.

The opportunity to export U.S. liquefied natural gas to India would help buttress our strategic cooperation in two ways. First, it would provide a more reliable energy stream for a major strategic partner by decreasing India’s reliance on unstable and autocratic regimes, such as Iran’s. By extension, if India were no longer as dependent on Iranian gas, then India would be less affected by sanctions on Iran, and better positioned to push back again Tehran’s support for Islamist terrorism.

Yet another region in which U.S. supplies of liquefied natural gas can better support our alliance relationships is Europe. There, U.S. liquefied natural gas exports are helping our allies diversify their energy supply chain.

For instance, as noted in The Heritage Foundation’s 2018 Index of U.S. Military Strength, “a Lithuanian energy company signed an agreement to buy [liquefied natural gas] directly from the U.S.” in June 2017.

Poland, meanwhile, has begun importing U.S. liquefied natural gas. In November 2017, Polish Oil and Gas Company Group announced a five-year contract to import U.S. natural gas.

Russia has utilized its position as prime energy supplier to many nations in European Europe to apply diplomatic and economic pressure. Russia has threatened to, and at times has, cut off energy supplies to European nations, and often charges higher rates to nations in Eastern Europe than to those in Western Europe.

U.S. liquefied natural gas exports are already having an important impact on lessening Russia’s control over Europe’s energy supply, which is good news for the U.S. and our allies.

As companies increase shipments abroad and grow their export capacity, Congress and the administration should remove the Department of Energy from the permitting process altogether, as the agency is an unnecessary obstacle.

Further, streamlining the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s review and permitting process and empowering the states to conduct the permits would create more efficient options for permitting, reducing the time frame in which American liquefied natural gas reaches the market.

Liquefied natural gas represents a unique opportunity to stimulate U.S. job growth, while bolstering our strategic position around the world.

Congress needs to pursue measures to further expedite the licensing of liquefied natural gas exports while diplomats and military planners examine the additional leverage that the U.S. and our allies will gain by being less dependent for energy on hostile regimes.

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