To support Oklahoma businesses, Gov. Stitt must match his words with action

In his State of the State speech last month, Gov. Kevin Stitt praised the diversified economy of Oklahoma as an achievement and a goal for his administration. And while the governor strives to make Oklahoma the “most business-friendly state,” it’s not difficult to see how that reputation has wavered.

Oklahoma is ranked 42nd in Forbes’ recent list of best states to start a business and 25th in the State Business Tax Index by the Tax Foundation. But there is hope.

Several bills passed last year led to the influx of Bitcoin companies, such as the data mining firm Northern Data’s new headquarters in Pryor, demonstrating the potential for technology firms eager to find better business climates. 

If Oklahoma provided steady and consumer-friendly rules for the expansion of Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and decentralized finance — whether that is mining, commerce or easing of money transmitter laws — this would represent an entirely new dimension of economic diversity.

Added to that, the Mercatus Center recently ranked Oklahoma as the No. 1 state for drone commerce, thanks to a regulatory environment shaped by the state’s openness to aerospace and defense industries which employ over 120,000 Oklahomans.  

While the oil and gas sector still represents nearly 27% of the state’s GDP and employs just under 10% of Oklahoma’s workforce, the global energy crisis and harsher rules from the Biden administration have made it more difficult for the state’s independent energy sector to strive.

Companies like John Zink Hamworthy and Koch Fertilizer have invested hundreds of millions into nitrogen production, carbon capture and hydrogen refueling in the state, demonstrating a shifting landscape for energy players beyond drilling and refining and more into future climate solutions.

Ensuring Oklahoma’s thousands of energy producers can continue innovating to power our homes, farms and businesses should be a key priority of Gov. Stitt’s administration, all the while avoiding the costly regulations and higher taxes that other states have proposed.

Beyond energy production, there are several additional areas where Gov. Stitt could provide leadership and direction to provide more value for taxpayers, consumers and entrepreneurs.

As I wrote last year, that would include allowing more competition and innovation in the health care and dental space, giving patients the opportunity to contract directly with their providers at much cheaper rates. 

It also would mean requiring dental insurers to spend most of what they collect in premiums on patients and customers rather than administration, known as a medical loss ratio. The Affordable Care Act requires general health insurers to spend at least 85% of premiums on care, while that threshold doesn’t exist for dental insurers. Unlocking more funds for dental patients would help save families thousands of dollars a year and grant them more consumer and patient choice.

Considering Oklahoma’s top employers are retailers and commerce companies like Walmart, Amazon and Hobby Lobby, and the end of the pandemic means big box stores and shipping retailers are undergoing a revival, it also would be opportune to work with county and local governments to provide more zoning flexibility. 

This would expand these facilities closer to urban centers where most people live and provide yet more value and choice for consumers who shop there.

If Gov. Stitt wants to modernize Oklahoma’s economy, he must recognize that innovative solutions need rules and institutions that grant them flexibility and opportunity. It means giving consumers additional choice and entrepreneurs the room they need to succeed. 

With a consumer and taxpayer agenda, Oklahoma could soar to new heights and finally be a crown jewel of the south-central United States.

Originally published here

Climate-change lawsuits discourage those seeking solutions

When Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced lawsuits against fossil fuel companies in 2020, the moment was ripe. Reports on elevated greenhouse-gas emissions were stark, demonstrating both a warming planet and causal evidence that fossil fuels were a lead culprit.

The lawsuit led by Ellison’s office aims to hold accountable “companies responsible for harms associated with climate change,” as his office stated. It accused firms such as ExxonMobil, American Petroleum Institute, and Koch Industries of “consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices, misrepresentation, (and a) failure to warn.” The main premise of the suit seems to be that, by producing oil products and not being more forthcoming on climate impact, or downplaying them, these firms greatly misled consumers.

There is no question that fossil fuels contribute to climate change, and the firms that both produce and distribute those fuels have some culpability.

But considering the global energy crisis that has led to international battles on oil supplies and increased energy costs, are lawsuits the right course of action? Are we, as consumers of these products and also citizens of this planet, victims? If we are victims, then we also happen to be the ones perpetuating harm.

To whom does ExxonMobil or any other oil company sell its products? It’s us, consumers and entrepreneurs. We fill up our cars, SUVs, tractors, and lawnmowers with gasoline. We power our industries, heat our homes, and use fossil-fuel energy in the course of our everyday lives to improve our standard of living. This is especially true in a harsh-winter state like Minnesota.

There are questions about shifting the sources of that energy and how we can move to cleaner and renewable processes and outputs, whether that be nuclear energy or solar and wind.

At least one Minnesota start-up is harnessing geothermal energy to both heat and cool homes — but has been stalled by an unclear regulatory environment. In that case, shouldn’t the focus of regulators and public officials be on addressing the “how” of an energy transition rather than solely addressing the “who” of the energy status quo?

Using civil courts and lawsuits to address that energy question is a targeted approach with an intended outcome that has little to do with energy innovation. Rather, these lawsuits seek financial settlements from oil and gas companies. Every climate-change lawsuit filed by Minnesota’s attorney general, or dozens of other state attorneys general, has a goal of extracting money from energy firms.

This will have no bearing on future investments in energy production, renewable or not, and could logically lead to higher energy costs for consumers if firms are required to settle or pay large sums to both lawyers and states that pursue them.

Climate action via courts is not novel. There are entire university law departments predicated on the idea of suing, pursuing, or otherwise holding energy companies liable for some aspects of climate change. There are grants available from organizations such as the Collective Action Fund for Accountability to public officials with attorney privileges who commit to such lawsuits.

Tort law firms such as Arnold and Porter have staked their reputation on lawsuits against energy providers, creating a mounting war chest that will likely leave oil and gas producers with higher attorney fees than investments in renewables or alternative sources of energy. Not to mention higher costs passed on to consumers.

Whatever one’s view on how best to adapt or overcome climate change, the practice of litigating the science in a court of law is a poor strategy. This will not empower nor inspire the next generation of energy entrepreneurs to provide better solutions. There will be more rich lawyers, more clogged courtrooms, and fewer resources available to energy firms that do seek to pivot to better alternatives.

If consumers want an alternative-energy future, shouldn’t we dedicate resources and create the environment for that innovation to occur? Or should we forever cast its fate into the hands of lawyers and judges and those cashing the checks? I would rather choose innovation and creativity over this litigious status quo.

Originally published here

Hey buddy, consumers don’t need protection from natural gas stoves

The degrowther cacophony of environmentalists, bureaucrats, and supposed consumer advocates has found a new enemy to protect you from: the gas stove in your kitchen.

As spelled out by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. in a recent Bloomberg interview, a federal “ban on gas stoves is on the table amid rising concern about harmful indoor air pollutants.”

Trumka joins the chorus of enterprising journalists, academics, and green activists (and even the World Economic Forum) who have taken up the agency’s call to not only make a health case against kitchen stoves that heat food with natural gas, but also the environmental and moral one.

An article in New York Magazine asked, rather innocently, “are gas stoves the new cigarettes?” We all know what follows.

Humbly, Trumka later clarified the agency wouldn’t propose banning them, but would instead only apply strict regulations to “new products,” following cities like San Francisco and New York City, and entire states like New York (no surprise) that have already enacted bans on natural gas hook-ups for new construction. It should be noted that the majority of these proposed actions were based on environmental claims rather than health claims, and the most prominent advocates have been “environmental law” experts and the like.

Of course, they’ll say they don’t want to outlaw gas stoves in your home or dispatch agents to rip them from your kitchens and load them onto flatbeds. That’s silly. They just want to use the force of laws, guidance, and incentives to nudge consumers away from a natural gas standard. The federal government’s ineptly named Inflation Reduction Act will go a long way.

If you voluntarily swap your gas stove for an electric one, the IRA deems you eligible for a tax rebate of up to $840 — which would easily subsidize your lifestyle “choice”. This is similar to the law’s incentives for buying electric vehicles, installing solar panels, and fitting new construction with green-friendly tech.

While subsidies for your home kitchen may be all the rage, it’s understandable why this issue has become a cultural flashpoint.

For average consumers, the advantages of using a gas stove are plentiful. For one, they heat quickly and efficiently, reducing the time and energy used to cook a meal. They offer heat moderation that any meal would require. And because natural gas is a separate utility hook-up, it means that in the case of brownouts or power outages, you can still cook, boil water, and heat your food.

Restaurant chefs are slavishly reliant on natural gas to provide the best source of heat for lunchtimes and dinners for hungry patrons, as are Americans of more modest income who can more cheaply provide food at home using natural gas than increasing their electricity bill.

The disadvantages of natural gas stoves, according to the activists, are they could leak nitrogen oxides into your home, which, when wedded with improper ventilation, presents a risk for childhood asthma and other health concerns. In addition, that gas leakage could contribute to greenhouse emissions, which links it to climate change.

When Trumka first entertained a natural gas stove ban — on a December private Zoom meeting with the Public Interest Research Group Education Fund — the asthma risk was front and center. He went so far as to call it a “hazard,” which boggled our minds at Consumer Choice Center, considering the extent of our work clarifying the errors of legislating based on risks instead of hazards.

For a look into the studies, economist Emily Oster recently did this on her Substack, and her conclusion is that the risks claimed by researchers are actually so minimal that they aren’t worth taking seriously for anyone who has a properly vented kitchen and up-to-date appliances.

While indoor air pollution is indeed a serious hazard, it is not one that affects US households. Hood vents, air conditioning, and modern construction have avoided this issue for nearly all Americans, as the EPA admits. The effect on climate change is also negligent, considering that conversion to all-electric stoves does nothing to clean up the energy grid or move all electricity generation to carbon-neutral alternatives.

Why then is this issue gathering so much steam among consumer advocates like PIRG, which began a campaign against natural gas stoves early last year?

While they may be sincere in their aims, it amounts to yet another crusade against consumer choice. People know the risks of gas stoves and the cost-benefit analysis that comes with purchasing one. Having a gas stove with children running around isn’t ideal, and in most cases, an induction stove is likely even more efficient and desirable.

But the entire purpose of having a variety of stoves is to offer users — professional chefs and home cooks alike — the option that fits best with their lifestyle and budget. There are always risks when it comes to home appliances, energy applications, and what we bring into our homes.

But we would rather trust consumers to make this decision than a regulatory agency with its own agenda.

Democrats must not be allowed to replicate Europe’s energy disaster

In the Alpine nation of Austria , where I currently live, residents are receiving the euro equivalent of $490 as a ” climate and anti-inflation ” bonus.

This will be a godsend for those struggling with rocketing European energy prices and sustained inflation . Other European nations are doing the same, as well as more than a dozen U.S. states. But doling out millions of dollars without increased economic production will likely do more to ratchet up inflation than minimize it. The Federal Reserve admitted as much in July. It certainly won’t expedite the end of the energy crisis.


What “anti-inflation” payouts represent, then, are failed energy policies. European coal plants are being fired up after years offline. LNG terminal projects in Finland and Italy are being greenlit to speed up imports. Germany’s last three nuclear power plants, set to be decommissioned this year, are receiving a second life as politicians concede the errors of the zero-carbon narrative. In the last decade, German leaders heralded the shutdown of nuclear, subsidies for solar and wind, and imports of wood pellets from southern U.S. forests as “renewable” energy. They fired up dormant coal facilities to fill the gap while Russian natural gas became the primary means of energy.

It was a sweet deal upended only by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which was followed by international condemnation and energy sanctions. With Nord Stream pipelines out of the picture ( sabotaged by whom, we may never know ), German politicians are left championing coal and absconding their distaste for nuclear energy.

German energy policy, known as Energiewende, was already acknowledged as a failure. Swapping domestic nuclear power for Vladimir Putin’s gas meant Germans could boast about the 35% renewable energy mix to global praise. But that Faustian bargain has left German leaders scrambling for energy alternatives from Western liberal democracies and Arab dictatorships to fill Russia’s void. Such a glaring failure should give pause to the green ambitions of America’s political class. Instead, the Democratic Party has chosen the same trodden path.

In passing the Inflation Reduction Act without a single GOP vote, Democrats offered their energy antidote: subsidies and taxes. This includes a 30% tax rebate on efficient home upgrades and solar batteries, a $7,500 tax credit for new electric cars, and higher taxes on oil producers, costs inevitably passed on to consumers. Democratic state attorneys general are filing lawsuits against oil and gas firms for their “deceptive” roles in contributing to climate change, using shady legal footing to attempt to extract large settlements. On President Joe Biden’s first day in office, he killed off the multibillion-dollar Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported Canadian and American oil to Texas for export.

Last week, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) prodded leading bank CEOs into committing to “stop funding new oil and gas products” to reach America’s climate goals. Each declined. The response of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was even more brazen: “Absolutely not, and that would be the road to hell for America.”

Our current climate policies are setting us up for more pain, depriving consumers of future stable and diverse energy supplies and leaving our allies high and dry. Making our energy more sustainable is a noble goal, one consumers care about. But considering the European dilemma, sacrificing domestic energy production a la Energiewende would, as Dimon put it, be the road to hell for America.

Our country can both be a climate leader and energy producer, but that requires boosting and diversifying energy sources rather than restricting them. It means unleashing American innovation and entrepreneurship to deliver solutions rather than platitudes. Our consumers deserve better, and so do those on the European continent.

Originally published here


Les Etats-Unis doivent augmenter radicalement leur production de pétrole, non seulement pour le bien des Américains, mais aussi pour apporter un soutien stratégique à ses alliés.

Dans un rare moment de lucidité, Emmanuel Macron, lors du sommet du G7 au mois de juin, s’est manifesté devant Joe Biden pour lui expliquer à quel point l’Europe a besoin de pétrole. « Désolé de vous interrompre », s’est interposé en s’excusant Macron devant les caméras. Les chefs d’Etats et de gouvernement étaient au point d’entrer dans un bâtiment, donc le moment était bien choisi : même si Macron chuchotait, l’intérêt était bien que nous entendions l’échange.

Macron explique qu’il a récemment échangé avec des responsables des Emirats arabes unis, qui lui ont assuré qu’ils étaient pratiquement au maximum de leurs capacités de production (si nous choisissons de les croire). Avec l’ambition de sortir de la dépendance énergétique russe, la réalité pour l’Europe est qu’il y a tout simplement un manque d’approvisionnement. L’hiver prochain, les prix de l’énergie devraient battre des records, même ceux qui ont déjà été battus plus tôt cette année.

De petites promesses

L’appel tacite de Macron à l’égard de Biden est clair : pourquoi les Etats-Unis ne fournissent-ils pas plus de pétrole au monde, alors qu’ils en ont clairement la capacité ?

Lors de sa récente escapade à Bruxelles, Biden s’est tenu aux côtés de la présidente de la Commission européenne, Ursula von der Leyen, et a annoncé la création d’un groupe de travail conjoint visant à réduire la dépendance de l’UE à l’égard du gaz russe « aussi rapidement que possible », promettant jusqu’à 15 milliards de mètres cubes de gaz naturel liquéfié (GNL) américain d’ici la fin de l’année et jusqu’à 50 milliards de mètres cubes par an à la fin de la décennie.

Curieusement, Biden a simultanément promis de rendre ces engagements compatibles avec un objectif d’émissions nettes nulles, mais malgré cela, l’annonce est une bonne nouvelle. Les importations américaines de GNL en Europe aident à combler le fossé qui sépare l’Europe des autres importateurs du monde entier.

En ce qui concerne l’essence, la folie écologique de Biden est plus intense, ce qui entrave les niveaux de production nécessaires pour commencer à penser aux exportations. En fait, l’administration Biden a rendu trop difficile le forage du pétrole : les permis de forage pétrolier ont été réduits de plus de moitié depuis l’arrivée de Joe Biden au pouvoir. Joe Biden a déclaré que les compagnies pétrolières devraient être encouragées à augmenter leur capacité, mais l’industrie a riposté en accusant l’administration de retarder ses activités.

Joe Biden est confronté à une décision qui marquera sa présidence dans les livres d’histoire. Dans le but de rallier l’aile écologiste de son propre parti, il a choisi d’étoffer son administration avec des personnalités qui souhaitent la disparition totale de l’industrie des combustibles fossiles.

Tout doit disparaître

Saule Omarova, à un moment donnée candidate de Biden pour le Bureau du contrôleur de la monnaie, a déclaré à propos des entreprises de combustibles fossiles que « un grand nombre des petits acteurs de cette industrie vont probablement faire faillite. Du moins, nous voulons qu’ils fassent faillite si nous voulons nous attaquer au changement climatique ».

Omarova, qui est née au Kazahkstan à l’époque où le pays faisait partie de l’Union soviétique, avait par ailleurs tweeté en 2019 : « Dites ce que vous voulez de l’ex URSS, il n’y avait pas d’écart de rémunération entre les sexes là-bas. Le marché ne sait pas toujours ce qui est le mieux. »

Elle était donc devenue non viable pour l’administration Biden, vraisemblablement parce qu’elle a révélé la vérité au grand public.

Des nouvelles récentes soulignent que ce n’est qu’en juin que la production pétrolière des Etats-Unis a atteint les niveaux pré-pandémiques. C’est clairement insuffisant pour ce que représente actuellement la demande mondiale. Cela dit, les Etats-Unis ont fait quelques efforts pour fournir à l’Europe des réserves de pétrole supplémentaires.

En avril, plusieurs superpétroliers ont acheminé plus de 2 millions de barils vers l’Europe. L’Europe doit donc adresser ses demandes directement à la caméra, et être claire quant aux implications des parties : L’Europe et les États-Unis devraient mettre en veilleuse toutes leurs ambitions en matière de climat, raffiner davantage de pétrole et coopérer pour l’acheminer rapidement et efficacement.

Pour qu’un embargo énergétique russe fonctionne à long terme (et, compte tenu des circonstances actuelles, il devra fonctionner à long terme), les deux blocs n’ont essentiellement pas d’autre choix. Aucune transition énergétique verte, même si nous la croyons faisable et recommandable, ne peut s’activer assez rapidement pour nous permettre de passer les prochaines années, sans parler de l’hiver à venir.

Les Etats-Unis doivent augmenter radicalement leur production de pétrole, non seulement pour le bien des Américains, mais aussi pour apporter un soutien stratégique à ses alliés. S’il existe un moment où les réserves pétrolières américaines constituent un avantage vital, que ce soit pour lutter contre la baisse du pouvoir d’achat ou pour montrer sa force géopolitique, c’est maintenant.

Originally published here

Energy costs struggle against judicial activist squeeze

In the traditional American view of self-government, we prefer decision-making to be as local as possible.

Government works best when decisions are made closest to those affected, whether at the city, municipal, or state level, depending on the question. This makes democratic accountability easier and lets states and municipalities become “laboratories of democracy,” competing among themselves in a kind of marketplace for citizens. For example, the hefty regulations and taxes imposed on Californiaresidents are a key reason why so many Californians are seeking refuge in Texas or Florida.

But what about larger governing questions involving energy policies and the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions? That’s the question currently burning in state courts throughout the country.

A number of Democratic-run states, counties, and cities have filed lawsuits against oil and gas industries, attempting to extract large settlements for the “harm” caused by emissions, often in friendly courts where they know judges are keen to rule in their favor. But if we’re imposing additional costs on companies for providing us with the energy used to power our homes and cars, costs that will ultimately be passed to consumers, should state judges be the ultimate deciders?

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2021 that “global warming is a uniquely international concern that touches upon issues of federalism and foreign policy. As a result, it calls for the application of federal common law, not state law.” In contrast, the notoriously left-leaning 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California’s climate suits belong in state courts. It’s predictable what those state rulings will be: ones that cost all of us energy consumers dearly.

We should be cautious of sweeping state judicial decisions on energy policies, especially as inflation continues to rise, robbing us of more of our income.

If these lawsuits continue — and each should obviously be evaluated on its individual merits — they belong in federal courts. National energy policy should not be decided by a patchwork of state and local courts that will, inevitably, apply the law inconsistently.

This concern is made even more clear by the flagrant hypocrisy of the White House’s recent attempts to squeeze oil and gas companies. President Joe Biden is demanding cuts in prices and increases in production while severely curtailing new drilling contracts. All the while, Democratic state attorneys general are trying to sue energy companies for emissions.

We need federal courts to deliver decisions that adhere to the Constitution.

Originally published here

How Ukraine Upended Europe’s Agriculture and Energy Policies

Every political consensus of the past decade is on the table, from pesticide phase-outs to nuclear energy.

In Europe, every political consensus of the last few decades has been thrown out the window. German pacifism, French president Emmanuel Macron’s belief that NATO is “braindead,” and now the continent’s entire agriculture sustainability strategy have been put into question. In response to disruptions in Europe’s food supply, the European People’s Party (EPP), the European Parliament’s largest parliamentary group, is demanding that the “Farm to Fork” strategy be called off.

The European Commission’s “Farm to Fork” strategy seeks a 50 percent reduction in pesticides, devotes 25 percent of agricultural land use to organic farming, and reduces fertilizers by 20 percent. Although the plan was initially criticized by farming representatives and received political backlash due to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study that showed a considerable reduction in agricultural output, the European Commission pressed on with the legislative process anyway. However, now that the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia have impacted Europe’s food supply, the USDA study, which found that agricultural prices would soar between 20 and 53 percent if the Farm to Fork strategy was implemented, is increasing concern among the European Union’s (EU) elected officials.

For example, EPP politicians such as Italy’s Herbert Dorfmann are arguing that the European Commission “should avoid presenting other legislative proposals that have negative impacts on European food security.” The fact that one of the EU’s strongest political parties wants to forget about the most significant agriculture reform effort in decades should raise questions about the Farm to Fork strategy. If a new food system is so vulnerable to geopolitical disruptions, doesn’t that pose a long-term challenge to Europe’s agricultural security? Echoing Dorfmann, Macron stated that “[The strategy’s] objectives must be reviewed because under no circumstances can Europe afford to produce less,” and he added that a “deep food crisis” could emerge in the upcoming months.

Ukraine’s agricultural output makes up 30 percent of the world’s wheat and barley trade, 17 percent of corn, and over half of sunflower oil and seeds, including 88 percent for Europe alone. Ukraine is also the EU’s main trading partner for non-GMO soybeans, which are used for animal feed, as well as 41 percent of rapeseed and 26 percent of honey. Prices for wheat and corn are already sky-rocketing in the wake of the war.

The EU will need to question its approach to sustainability and seriously consider ways to improve its food security in the coming months. Everything should be on the table, from a faster reevaluation of rules on genetic engineering to a moratorium on new farming regulations. The effects of geopolitical disruptions on global and domestic food systems should act as a cautionary tale for those who seek radical regulatory changes.

Many of the incoming policy shifts in Europe will depend on the outcome of the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian forces have put up more resistance than expected, defeating Russia’s multi-pronged military offensive in the early stages of the invasion. Additionally, at least for the foreseeable future, European sanctions on Russia will remain in place. Excluding Russia from the SWIFT payment system, barring its airlines from European airspace, and restricting trade flows will have significant effects on the Russian economy. However, Europe is also heavily reliant on Russian natural gas—a situation that has contributed to Germany’s passivity towards Russia in the past. This fact has not been lost on Russian officials. Dmitri Medvedev, the former president and current deputy chairman of the Security Council, tweeted in February, “German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has issued an order to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Well. Welcome to the brave new world where Europeans are very soon going to pay €2.000 for 1.000 cubic meters of natural gas!” 

Europe is scrambling for alternatives, looking for allies and more trustworthy partners to supply energy. Azerbaijan has arisen as an alternative supplier thanks to the Trans-Adriatic Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Baku’s announcement that it intends to double its natural gas supplies. Europe is also looking to increase its use of liquified natural gas (LNG), as its existing infrastructure (one-quarter of which is located in Spain) only operated at 45 percent capacity in 2021. Canadian candidate for prime minister, Pierre Poilievre, has even made increasing Canada’s LNG exports to Europe a campaign issue. However, along with searching for outside alternatives, Europe needs to increase domestic production to make up for the loss of Russian gas imports in the event of a complete cut-off, a policy outcome that looks increasingly inevitable following U.S sanctions on Russian oil imports. Last week, for example, Lithuania decided to block all energy imports from Russia.

When asked by the German media, Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck did not rule outhalting the phase-out of Germany’s three remaining nuclear power plants and delaying the phase-out of coal use planned for 2030. In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Draghi is considering reopening shuttered coal plants. As Europe’s second-biggest coal producer, Poland is unlikely to face more vigorous calls to halt production. 

The European Commission has also delayed releasing its energy strategy, which was initially supposed to be revealed on Wednesday. The document emphasizes increasing renewable energy production in Europe but also calls for more “blue hydrogen,” which is made from natural gas. It appears that given the crisis in Ukraine, European energy policy is going back to the drawing board.

Originally published here

For the sake of the international order, we need Biden to sell more gas

If President Joe Biden wants to kneecap the Russian war machine and save global liberalism, the best thing he can do is start selling more gas. I don’t mean “I Did That” stickers Gorilla-glued to your gas pumps. I mean pure, American-fracked, and American-drilled natural gas shipped out from our terminals and pumped into European homes.

On his recent jaunt to Brussels, Biden stood alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and announced a joint task force to reduce EU reliance on Russian gas “as quickly as possible,” promising up to 15 billion cubic meters of American liquefied natural gas by the end of the year and up to 50 billion cubic meters per year by the end of the decade.

This plan, albeit one of necessity in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is bold, and Biden should be commended for it.

However, the plan is not without fault. In seeking to assuage his domestic political coalition, Biden also promised the plan would be “consistent with, not in conflict with” net-zero climate goals. That is true folly.

Europeans are already facing a reckoning due to their bowing to the greens. German nuclear energy, summarily shut down by former Chancellor Angela Merkel, may soon become a reality. The alleged Russian funding of anti-energy green groups in Europe, once just a trope of Texas congressmen on energy committees, is now getting fresh attention.

In 2014, then-NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, “I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engages actively with so-called non-governmental organizations, environmental organizations working against shale gas, obviously to maintain European dependence on imported Russia gas.”

Former Secretary of State and Russia critic Hillary Clinton allegedly admitted the same in a cable revealed by WikiLeaks in 2016. “We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand against any effort,” Clinton said.

These allegations occur in the same political context in which environmental organizations have amassed great influence in Germany, which still imports 55% of its natural gas, 50% of its coal, and 35% of its oil from Russia.

Greenpeace has grown to be one of Germany’s most powerful lobby organizations, counting on close to 700,000 members and a whopping budget of 80.3 million euros. A long-held aim of Greenpeace has been to eradicate nuclear power in Germany in favor of renewables. Today, just 13% of German electricity is supplied by nuclear energy, compared to nearly 25% a decade ago, while over 50% is reportedly from renewables such as wind, solar, and hydro.

Germany’s expensive renewables policy, known as energiewende, was acknowledged as a state failure in a pivotal article in Der Spiegel in 2019.

With this in mind, Biden must put on his blue-collar uniform to hawk American gas and energy in Europe, but without the environmental qualifiers.

By cutting red tape for energy exportation at home, bringing energy giants to the table abroad, and pushing the European authorities to scale up their production and terminal facilities, the U.S. can once again make a positive mark for European peace and freedom. This will save an entire generation of Europeans from Russian energy dependence, which should mean a lot more than a couple hundred wind farms.

Originally published here


La guerre en Ukraine montre à quel point les politiques de certains pays européens se sont basés sur des solutions de facilité, au prix de leur dépendance énergétique. La transition écologique ne résoudra pas tout : de nouveaux partenariats doivent être trouvés.

En politique étrangère, les gouvernements devraient toujours s’efforcer d’argumenter à partir d’une position de force. La guerre actuelle en Ukraine, causée par l’invasion russe, a mis en évidence le manque de force de l’Europe. Je ne parle pas nécessairement de la force militaire – combien de chars ou de fusées nos armées détiennent, même si cela peut malheureusement jouer un rôle à un moment donné –, mais de la force de prendre des décisions indépendamment de la nécessité économique.

A quoi sert le commerce ?

Le commerce est un bien mondial. Il induit notre volonté de coopérer pacifiquement, et il enrichit aussi bien les pays qui ont une balance des échanges excédentaire que ceux qui sont déficitaires sur ce plan. Lorsqu’une nation enfreint le principe d’échange pacifique et coopératif, il est opportun et judicieux de restreindre les flux commerciaux.

Si cela entraîne une perturbation importante de certaines des industries les plus essentielles, comme c’est le cas pour l’importation de combustibles fossiles en provenance de Russie, cela montre que l’Europe s’est trop reposée sur le commerce avec un partenaire indigne de confiance.

Il y a beaucoup d’apologistes du président russe Vladimir Poutine sur internet qui tentent de justifier les atrocités commises par son régime. Et pourtant, même ces apologistes savent pertinemment que Moscou utilise ses exportations de gaz naturel et de pétrole comme d’une arme politique contre ses partenaires commerciaux.

« Le chancelier allemand Olaf Scholz a pris l’ordre d’arrêter le processus de certification du gazoduc Nord Stream 2. Eh bien. Bienvenue dans le meilleur des mondes où les Européens vont très bientôt payer 2 000 € pour 1 000 mètres cubes de gaz naturel ! », a ainsi tweeté le président du Conseil de sécurité russe et ancien premier ministre, Dmitri Medvedev.

Le prix d’une politique

Cependant, il est essentiel que l’Europe ne puisse pas être soumise au chantage de régimes autoritaires tels que la Russie. Lorsque Valéry Giscard d’Estaing a mis en œuvre le virage français vers l’énergie nucléaire dans les années 1970, il l’a fait non pas pour réduire les émissions de dioxyde de carbone (même si cela a été un effet secondaire positif), mais pour garantir l’indépendance énergétique de la France.

Alors que la France est en mesure de présenter une énergie abordable et une empreinte carbone réduite, l’abandon progressif de l’énergie nucléaire en Allemagne a entraîné les prix de l’électricité les plus élevés du monde développé. Le passage aux énergies renouvelables n’a pas été un succès, car l’énergie éolienne et l’énergie solaire ne seront jamais des solutions 24 heures sur 24 et 7 jours sur 7 pour le réseau énergétique du pays.

Dans certains pays, comme la Belgique et les Pays-Bas, même les écologistes ont accepté cette réalité et étendu la durée de fonctionnement des centrales nucléaires.

Le consensus politique sur le Green Deal européen est rompu. Les centrales au charbon sont réactivées ou étendues, et les pays cherchent leurs propres réserves de gaz naturel. Qui sait, peut-être même que le gaz de schiste sera sur la table.

A long terme, l’Europe doit renforcer sa position auprès de ses principaux partenaires stratégiques. Les importations de GNL en provenance des États-Unis et du Canada nécessitent des infrastructures stratégiques, pour lesquelles seule l’Espagne est actuellement véritablement préparée. Les nouvelles centrales nucléaires ont besoin de temps pour leur construction – en France, les six EPR qui ont été confirmé, en plus de Flamanville, pourraient être mis en service en 2035, si tout se déroule idéalement. Le credo devrait être : plus tôt que tard.

Se rapprocher d’anciens partenaires, et en trouver de nouveaux

La guerre de la Russie contre l’Ukraine offre à l’UE l’occasion de rechercher une relation plus productive avec les nations africaines, une relation qui profitera aux deux parties. L’Ukraine a récemment décidé d’interdire les exportations de blé, et le régime de sanctions contre la Russie a un impact considérable sur le commerce à travers le continent européen.

Cela dit, la crise actuelle n’est pas seulement l’occasion d’accroître les exportations de denrées alimentaires et de négocier des exemptions aux nouveaux droits de douane, mais aussi de faire connaître l’Afrique comme une alternative au gaz naturel russe. L’Algérie fournit environ 11% des besoins en gaz de l’Europe et a déclaré qu’elle pouvait augmenter sa production de près de 50% grâce au gazoduc TransMed existant.

Le ministre italien des Affaires étrangères, Luigi di Maio, qui est en mission d’enquête pour trouver des alternatives au gaz naturel russe, a récemment visité le pays. Pendant des années, pour les nations européennes, acheter son gaz à Gazprom a été plus facile pour une raison importante : le gaz russe est moins cher. Désormais, ce pourrait ne plus être le cas.

De plus, si l’Algérie, la Tunisie, l’Égypte et la Libye sont des acteurs importants, l’Afrique subsaharienne verra également son rôle géostratégique s’améliorer.

Le Nigeria, le Mozambique et le Sénégal ont fait pression par le passé pour obtenir une aide financière européenne afin de développer et d’exploiter leurs réserves de gaz naturel. Ils sont désormais dans une position unique pour faire entendre leur voix à Bruxelles.

La Tanzanie, qui, l’année dernière encore, tentait de débloquer des investissements étrangers dans son développement gazier, est plus susceptible que jamais d’accéder au marché du GNL (gaz naturel liquéfié), car l’Europe mise de plus en plus sur les expéditions de GNL du monde entier. Le Ghana, un autre acteur qui, au cours des dix dernières années, a connu une augmentation significative de ses besoins en gaz, est maintenant sur le point de faire partie du club des exportateurs d’énergie.

Quelle que soit l’issue de la guerre, les relations de l’UE avec la Russie vont être mises à mal pour des années, voire des décennies, à venir. C’est l’occasion pour les acteurs africains d’intervenir, de formuler des exigences et d’imposer des pratiques commerciales équitables.

L’Europe doit définir ses priorités. L’utopie écologiste dans laquelle installer des panneaux solaires permettront même aux plus petites nations d’être indépendantes et neutres en carbone s’est heurtée au dur mur de la réalité. Tandis que la transition énergétique de l’Allemagne n’a pas seulement nui à ses consommateurs, elle a aussi financé la machine de guerre russe.

Ceux qui croient à la force par le pouvoir doivent prendre des mesures audacieuses pour créer un avenir où l’Europe ne sera pas laissée de côté, ni roulée dessus.

Originally published here

Nein, Greenpeace ist nicht seriös

Letzten Mittwoch sorgte eine Schlagzeile für viel Wirbel:  Annalena Baerbock beschäftigt nun Jennifer Morgan, die ehemalige Chefin von Greenpeace, als Sonderbeauftragte für internationale Klimapolitik.

Eine offene Lobbyistin in der Bundesregierung? „Wie kann das sein?“, wunderten sich viele Kommentatoren in sozialen Netzwerken.

Die Bundesaußenministerin bekam aber auch Zuspruch. LobbyControl, eine deutsche NGO verteidigte die Bundesministerin mit mehreren Tweets. Es müsse möglich sein, Fachleute von außen in die Ministerien zu holen. Ein größeres Problem seien eher die Übertritte in die umgekehrte Richtung. Und überhaupt: Lobbyismus für ideelle Ziele sei nicht gleichzusetzen mit Organisationen, die ihn für die eigenen finanziellen Zwecke betreiben.

Immerhin gab die Organisation zu, dass Morgan künftig die Interessen der Bundesregierung vertreten müsse und nicht die von Greenpeace.

Eine Organisation, die laut der eigenen Website ein Gegengewicht zu dem immer größer werdenden Einfluss von Denkfabriken, PR-Agenturen und deren Tricks sein möchte, leugnet also das Problem. Unser Lobbyismus ist besser als euer Lobbyismus…

Doch abgesehen von dem Problem eine Lobbyistin in einer wichtigen und repräsentativen Position innerhalb der Bundesregierung einzustellen, stellt sich auch die Frage nach den „ideellen Zielen“ von Greenpeace. Ist Greenpeace tatsächlich eine Organisation, die sich fürs Gemeinwohl einsetzt? Ist Greenpeace eine seriöse Organisation, die Positives erreicht? Und ist Morgan als die ehemalige Chefin dieser Organisation tatsächlich ein Mehrwert für den deutschen Staat?

Wenn man sich die Tätigkeit von Greenpeace ansieht, erscheint die Bejahung dieser Fragen unwahrscheinlich. Seit Jahren betreibt die Organisation populistischen und reißerischen Aktivismus.

Nach Beispielen muss nicht lange gesucht werden, wir alle erinnern uns an die Bruchlandung des Greenpeace Aktivisten in der Münchner Allianz-Arena. Bei dem Qualifikationsspiel der deutschen Nationalmannschaft landete der Aktivist mitten auf der Spielfläche, nachdem er wenige Sekunden zuvor zwei Menschen am Kopf verletzte. Bei der Aktion ging es darum Druck auf den Autokonzern VW auszuüben, der dazu gedrängt wurde aus dem Verbrennungsmotor auszusteigen. Wegen der gleichen Angelegenheit entwendeten Aktivisten von Greenpeace später 1500 Schlüssel für VW-Fahrzeuge in Emden, die exportiert werden sollten. 

Hausfriedensbruch, Diebstahl, Körperverletzung und Populismus: Sieht so seriöser Aktivismus aus? 

Leider sind dies nicht die schlimmsten Aktionen von Greenpeace, viel schlechter sieht es in den Bereichen aus, in denen die Aktivisten tatsächliche Erfolge erreichen. 

So geht die Organisation konsequent gegen saubere Energieherstellungsmethoden, wie die Nuklearenergie vor. Durch die Verbreitung von Falschinformationen über die Kosten und Sicherheit von Atomenergie, beraubt Greenpeace die Welt einer sicheren und sauberen Energiequelle, die unabhängig von Witterungsbedingungen kontinuierlich Energie produzieren kann. Die Folgen davon sind gut in Deutschland sichtbar: Nach der verkorksten Energiewende, wurden die Atomkraftwerke durch wesentlich schädlichere Alternativen ersetzt: Kohle und Gas. 

Organisationen wie Greenpeace, die als eine Art intellektueller Elite „Grüner“ Parteien fungieren, tragen einen großen Teil der Schuld. Dabei sind Umweltsorgen nicht bloß eine Präferenz für saubere Luft. Am Ende sind es Menschenleben, die der Preis für die deutsche Energiepolitik sind.

Dies lässt sich relativ einfach berechnen: Laut einer eher konservativen Berechnung sterben bei der Produktion von Atomenergie etwa 0,074 Menschen pro Terawattstunde. Bei (Natur-) Gas sind es bereits etwa 2,8 Menschen, bei Kohle 24,6 pro Terawattstunde, etwa 330-mal mehr! 

Im Dezember 2019 veröffentlichten die amerikanischen Wissenschaftler Stephen Jarvis, Olivier Deschenes und Akshaya Jha einen Aufsatz, bei dem sie die Kosten der Energiewende auf etwa 12 Milliarden Euro pro Jahr beziffern. Etwa 70% dieser Kosten besteht aus einer Übersterblichkeit von 1100 Personen jährlich, die daraus resultiert, dass lokal nun statt Atomkraftwerken Kohlekraftwerke operieren. Dank der Energiewende stirbt also jedes Jahr eine kleine Siedlung – an Krebs, an chronischen Lungenkrankheiten, und anderen Folgen der Energieproduktion durch Kohle. 

Aber nicht nur in diesem Bereich konnte Greenpeace die Politik beeinflussen: Auch im Bereich der GMOs und der Gentechnik sind die Aktivisten sehr erfolgreich. 

Dabei sind die Chancen der Gentechnik immens: Ökonomisch, medizinisch und aus der Sicht der Landwirtschaft. 

Sowohl die mRNA Impfstoffe von BioNTech und Pfizer und Moderna, als auch die Vektorimpfungen von Johnson&Johnson und AstraZeneca verdanken wir der jahrzehntelangen Forschung zu GMOs und „Gene Editing“. Aber nicht „nur“ COVID-Impfungen werden auf diese Weise produziert, wie ein Eintrag in der Britannica zeigt: Auch andere medizinische Innovationen, wie die Hepatitis-B Impfung, die durch genetisch modifizierte Hefebakterien produziert wird, verdanken wir der Gentechnik.

Etwas weniger als eine halbe Milliarde Menschen leiden an Diabetes: Viele von Ihnen müssen Insulin von außen zuführen. Ohne des synthetischen Insulins, das durch genetisch modifizierte E.-Coli Bakterien produziert wird, müsste immer noch durch Schweinepankreas produziertes Insulin genutzt werden: eine wesentlich weniger effiziente und tiergerechte Alternative. 

Weitere Beispiele erfolgreich eingesetzter GMO Forschung sehen wir in der Landwirtschaft. Das wohl in dem Zusammenhang mit Greenpeace Aktivismus stärkste Beispiel ist dabei der „Goldene Reis“, eine von deutschen Wissenschaftlern entwickelte Reissorte, die etwa 23-Mal mehr Vitamin A enthält als „natürliche“ Reissorten. 

Jedes Jahr erblindet weltweit bis zu 500 000 Kinder wegen Vitamin-A-Mangels. Etwa die Hälfte dieser Kinder stirbt innerhalb eines Jahres nach der Erblindung.  Genau aus diesem Grund ist der von deutschen Wissenschaftlern Peter Beyer und Ingo Potrykus entwickelte goldene Reis eine so wichtige Innovation: Es geht um das Leben tausender Menschen.

Es ist erfreulich zu sehen, dass der goldene Reis in den Philippinen mittlerweile zum Verkauf freigegeben wird, einem Land, in dem der Vitamin-A-Mangel zu den größten Gesundheitsproblemen der Bevölkerung gehört. Auch amerikanische und kanadische Behörden bestätigen die Sicherheit der Reissorte.

Doch nicht alle sehen den Fortschritt so positiv, wie die Wissenschaft, oder namhafte Spender, wie die „Bill und Melinda Gates Foundation“. Seit der mittlerweile 20 Jahre zurückgehenden Entwicklung, führen Gruppen, wie Greenpeace eine Hetzkampagne gegen die Reissorte und gegen Gentechnik. Durch diese antiwissenschaftliche Kampagne verlangsamen die Aktivisten die Markteinführung solcher Innovationen, was vor allem für die Gebiete, die am stärksten vom Vitamin-A-Mangel betroffen sind, verheerende Folgen hat. Aber auch in entwickelten Ländern, in denen neue Innovationen entstehen könnten wird der Fortschritt behindert: Wie der Global Gene Editing Regulation Index des Consumer Choice Center zeigt, ist das Verfahren innerhalb der EU weitgehend verboten. Trotz der beachtlichen Erfolge der Wissenschaft behindern Gruppen wie Greenpeace immer noch den Fortschritt und verlangsamen damit die Lösung wichtiger Probleme: Durch Innovationen in der Landwirtschaft könnten Land und andere Ressourcen, wie Wasser, Dünger und Pestizide sparsamer und daher effizienter genutzt werden, eine große Chance für die ärmeren Regionen unserer Welt. Dabei können durch brillante Forschung auch Nährstoffmängel, wie im Fall von Vitamin-A und dem goldenen Reis angegangen werden.

Auch in anderen Bereichen, wie bei der Entwicklung von neuartigen Medikamenten und Therapien könnten Tausende, wenn nicht sogar Millionen von Leben geschützt werden. 

Zusammenfassend kann das Urteil für Greenpeace und Annalena Baerbock nur negativ ausfallen. Greenpeace ist eine durch und durch schädliche Organisation, deren Wirken für Millionen von Toten verantwortlich ist. Sie betreiben populistischen und antiwissenschaftlichen Aktivismus und Kampagnen, die innerhalb der Bevölkerung für Skeptizismus und Angst gegenüber von sicheren und innovativen Methoden sorgen. Die Einstellung von Jennifer Morgan ist nicht nur aus der Sicht der politischen Seriosität ein Skandal: Noch schlimmer ist wofür die Lobbyistin gekämpft hat. 

Die Forderung auf die Wissenschaft zu hören, ein Aufruf, den die „Grünen“ quasi zu einem ihrer Markenzeichen gemacht haben, darf nicht selektiv sein. Die Nutzung der Wissenschaft für die eigenen politischen Ziele wirkt unehrlich, wenn man in Bereichen, wie Nuklearenergie, oder Gentechnik sich einfach entscheidet wegzuhören.

Deswegen, liebe „Grünen“: Hört auf die Wissenschaft, auch auf die, die nicht ins Weltbild passt. Und lasst lieber die Finger von Greenpeace – langfristig wird das allen helfen.

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