Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jack Abramoff is (presumably) no longer linked with NCPPR

Apparently yesterday Grand Forks Herald readers were due for another dose of 'the more fossil fuel use the better' since there was an op-ed column from David Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

It was actually pretty tame by the "standards" of Ridenour and the NCPPR. There is no explicit recitation of political talking points saying global warming is not the fault of human activities or will be good because it makes plants grow or that fuel economy standards kill a lot of people. In this case it is about all the riches America supposedly would be swimming in if only there were no limitations on offshore drilling.

Though it can be found here, I do not see a link for the story through the Herald website. That fits with the sleight-of-hand employed throughout the column. Ridenour throws around a hodgepodge of numbers and assertions to try to sell the energy company line that offshore drilling is a magic pill of jobs and revenues. For instance the 500 million barrels of oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas believed off the Virginia coast sounds like a lot until you hear that is only enough to supply the US oil demand and natural gas demand for about 3 weeks.

Besides simply asserting it would mean lower energy bills, Ridenour repeats the claim that oil exploration on the outer continental shelf (OCS) could eventually bring about 1.2 million jobs and add $273 billion to the national GDP. In searching for the source of that 1.2 million jobs claim I found that it has bounced around the echo chamber for over a year but saw no origin for the claim. It looks like one of those things floated from some oil industry funded "think"tank a lot of people like and so repeat and thus take as truth.

Since the US Energy Information Administration does not have such a rosy outlook on the effects of increased access to the OCS for drilling it would be interesting to see the source of the claims. I wonder what the same sorts of assumptions used to build that claim would say the economic benefits would be in pushing for development of clean and sustainable sources of energy?

Maybe the "eventually" in the claim is the key thing. Perhaps the count includes future jobs originating from government action involved with dealing with the mess we make with unconstrained greenhouse gas emissions and their subsequent climate effects. For example, with the expected few feet or so of sea level rise on Virginia coasts during the 21st century. And of course with a continued "burn, baby, burn" energy policiy there is no reason for the effects of climate change not to continue to worsen with time. There could be lots of taxpayer-funded jobs in coastal areas building more and bigger sea walls, moving infrastructure to avoid inundation, etc. At some point I guess fighting the rising tides and other changes becomes not worth fighting so you have to give up and that gravy train of jobs has to end.

(For background on the post title see for example here and here.)

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