Coming attractions: Long Lines at the pump, high gas prices

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A brawl broke out at a Raleigh, N.C.-area gas station after the driver of a Honda – desperate to acquire fuel anyway she could — cut in front of another car that had been waiting in a long line of vehicles in need of a fill-up.

This breach of service-station etiquette didn’t occur in the 1970s in the wake of the Arab oil embargo; it unfolded on May 11, as drivers along the eastern Seaboard faced gas shortages reminiscent of the era of the Bee Gees. The culprit this time was a ransomware attack presumably carried out by the Russia-based criminal gang DarkSide that forced the shut-down of the 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline that transports gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from Texas to New Jersey.

While the pipeline is now back up and running, the inconvenience suffered by drivers coping with a shortage of fuel could be a foretaste of things to come. Only this time, the bad guys aren’t Middle Eastern oil sheiks or Russian gangsters, but Biden administration officials in Washington who are pushing the country down a path that leads to fuel shortages and higher energy prices.

Disrupting Supply

Even before the cyberattack on the pipeline, gas prices in the U.S. had risen above the $3 per-gallon level for the first time since 2014. These higher prices – and those that are yet to come – are by design. In the name of combatting climate change, Biden has already “paused” oil and gas exploration on federal land, and drillers on private land are facing new regulations aimed at reducing their productivity. Biden has also pulled the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring oil from northeastern Alberta to U.S. refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas. The fate of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, which transports oil from northwestern North Dakota to a terminal in Paduka, Ill., is also uncertain. It has been in operation since 2017 but could well find itself on the hit list of Biden’s green advisers.

After keeping as much of Michigan under lockdown as she could over the past 15 months, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) has set her sights on the Line 5 pipeline, which transports oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin through the Great Lakes to refineries in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario, and Quebec. Whitmer has revoked a permit for the 645-mile pipeline and ordered its Canadian operator, Embridge Inc., to shut it down effective May 12. Embridge refuses to cease operations and has sued Michigan saying the state lacks the authority to shut down the pipeline. Embridge has been joined in its suit by the State of Ohio. And the Biden administration? It refuses to intervene and will let the dispute play out in court.

Strict enforcement of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), along with the forthcoming tightening of the federal “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule will have the desired effect – from the standpoint of the Biden White House and its environmentalist allies – of locking up more land – public and private – from natural resource development.

Troublesome Transition

Biden’s goal of achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035 will entail an energy transition at break-neck speed, and the necks that will be broken are those of ordinary people caught up in the rush to a green Utopia. Switching the nation’s major energy sources from oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, and hydropower to intermittent wind and solar power will result in the rolling blackouts and brownouts that already afflict California, the role model for Biden’s eco-warriors. In addition to the inevitable energy shortages this will bring about, the environmental consequences of this undertaking will be profound, and ugly. The transition is a “shift from a fuel intensive to a material-intensive energy system,” notes a just-released report by the International Energy Agency.

Noting the coming dependency on lithium, cobalt, rare earths, and other minerals needed for wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles, the Manhattan Institute’s Mark Mills had this to say in the Wall Street Journal (May 12):

That means a shift away from liquids and gases whose extraction and transport leave a very light footprint on the land and are transported cheaply, easily, and efficiently, and toward big-footprint mines, the energy-intensive transport of massive amounts of rocks and other solid materials, and subsequent chemical processing and refining.

Al of this, Mills adds, will result in emissions that will offset whatever emissions are reduced by abandoning fossil fuels. In other words, the sacrifice will have been made for nothing.

  • Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT, where he focuses on natural resources, energy, property rights, and geopolitical developments. Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Busines Daily, The New York Post, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Hill, The Epoch Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Miami Herald, and dozens of other newspapers around the country. He has been interviewed on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, NBC News, NPR, BBC, BBC Worldwide Television, N24 (German-language news network), and scores of radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Dr. Cohen has addressed conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Bangladesh. He has a B.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph. D. – summa cum laude – from the University of Munich.

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