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Oct 172011

From Green Right Now Reports

Many reports are taking Gov. Rick Perry’s energy plan to task for focusing on dirty fossil fuels and promoting jobs numbers for oil and gas development that crumble upon examination.

The New York Times says Perry’s plan to extend drilling on public lands, in the arctic and the Gulf of Mexico resembles “a wish list for the oil and gas industry”  and appears to have been drawn from a study by Wood Mackenzie consultants paid for by the American Petroleum Institute.

The Atlantic reports that Perry is far off the mark when he claims that expanding oil and gas drilling and rolling back EPA regulations would create 1.2 million jobs.

In The Atlantic piece, Michael Levi,the David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and environment at the Council on Foreign Relations says that about one-third of those 1.2 million jobs (410,000) would require states like California, Florida and several on the Eastern Seaboard to permit offshore drilling — and it’s not at all clear that would happen.

Both California and Florida have tourism and environmental interests to protect and have not been receptive to drilling off their coasts.

Levi also criticizes Perry for using the sunniest possible projections for oil and gas prices, which has the effect of padding the jobs figures.

The other caveat to the WoodMac [Wood MacKenzie consultants] estimates is that they assume high and steadily rising oil and gas prices. Oil prices start at $80 per barrel in 2012 and rise to $160 (in constant dollars) by 2030. WoodMac assumes that adding 6 million barrels per day of extra U.S. production won’t blunt that increase, but I don’t buy that – we’re talking about a lot of oil. In reality, if production were to start increasing the way WoodMac claims it can, the price impact would likely deter some of the other development it projects. Of course, lower prices would also help the rest of the economy, but that isn’t part of the WoodMac projections or of Romney’s and Perry’s jobs claims.

Not everyone’s criticizing the Perry plan, of course. The Nation, the Atlantic’s conservative cousin, lauds it in an editorial, agreeing with Perry that there is a lot of U.S. energy beneath our feet:

“Gov. Rick Perry has released a jobs plan. Or is it an energy plan? Or it is an EPA-reform plan? Or is it a trade-deficit plan? Th8e plan is a bit of each, and it is a very good one.”

But The Nation editors do not dig into Perry’s projected jobs numbers, seemingly satisfied that a nation which taps its own energy resources is a “wealthier” one that will obviously have higher employment in that sector.

Natural Gas Well, Fort Worth

Nor do the The Nation’s editors compare fossil fuel energy with the renewables that environmentalists promote as cleaner, more sustainable energy options that could replace fossil fuels going forward.

According to some environmental groups, Perry’s worst offense of exaggeration occurs with his projections that the proposed Canadian-U.S. Keystone Pipeline XL would generate 270,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Such high numbers for Keystone have been repeatedly debunked by reporters and academics who have reviewed government filings for the Keystone permit. A Cornell University report found that direct U.S. manufacturing and construction jobs associated with the 1,700 mile Keystone pipeline would be fewer than  5,000.

Another place where Perry’s jobs estimates fall apart is in projecting employment in natural gas drilling in New York State, where fracking for natural gas has encountered public resistance. Relaxing federal regulations would make fracking for natural gas easier, only if state officials go along.

But the biggest red herring in Perry’s fish basket may be the benefit his plan assumes would occur with dismantling of the EPA and its controls on air and water pollution.

Such regulations have been shown to have on a small effect on the cost of doing business and employment, according to The White House Office of Budget and Management (OMB).

The OMB reports that between 1999-2009  the calculable benefits of environmental regulation far outweighed the costs to business of complying with the rules.

Sierra Club warns that the Perry plan’s flouting of environmental regulation risks damaging public health in a public reply entitle Wheeze, Baby, Wheeze.

“The plan, if implemented, will poison our air and water with toxic pollutants like soot, smog, arsenic, cadmium, dioxin, lead, and formaldehyde. It would also undercut safeguards from mercury, which is a neurotoxin and is known to harm developing fetuses,” said Sierra Club President Michael Brune in a statement.

Even more to the point, Perry’s plan misses an economic opportunity, Brune said.

“There’s a solution to the current epidemic of pollution-related illness that will also create good, lasting local jobs, and secure America’s energy independence,” he said. “It’s clean energy. America’s clean energy industry is strong and thriving, even in this down economy. Rick Perry’s plan would stifle that growth and return our country to a dirty, antiquated energy system. Under his plan, we’ll see asthma rates among American kids soar, while countries like China surpass us in reaping the benefits from clean energy like solar and wind.”