25 February 2012

An energy strategy or tunnel vision #nlpoli

For those who may have seen natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy’s handful of tweets selectively paraphrasing bits of the American president’s speech, here’s the whole thing, via whitehouse.gov.

Take a few minutes and listen to the speech.  Read the transcript.  The context of Obama’s words are important if you want to get the full and correct meaning. 

…high gas prices are like a tax straight out of your paycheck…

That’s the central problem as Obama lays it out right at the beginning.  High gasoline prices hurt Americans.  They hurt them at home and they hurt them at work.

Obama proposes a strategy:

If we’re going to avoid being at the mercy of these world events, we’ve got to have a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.  Yes, oil and gas, but also wind and solar and nuclear and biofuels, and more.

Rather than develop just one energy source, Obama wants to develop a range of energy sources.

And then he points to the need for efficiency and conservation:

We need to keep developing the technology that allows us to use less oil in our cars and trucks, less energy for our buildings and our plants and our factories -- that’s the strategy we’re pursuing.  And that’s the only real solution to this challenge.

Conservation is a route that the current Conservative administration and Nalcor specifically reject as part of a package of ideas to meet the province’s energy needs.

Just like they specifically reject balanced budgets and reducing the debt as a way of reducing the debt.  Sounds stupid when you say it like that, but that is their policy. They want to keep spending more than we are taking in.

Their solution to the province’s energy needs is a megaproject that will increase the public debt.

Go on a little further in the speech and you’ll see something else:

We’re taking every possible action to develop, safely, a near hundred-year supply of natural gas in this country -- something that experts believe will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.

Newfoundland and Labrador has enough natural gas offshore to run a Holyrood-sized electricity plant everyday, all day for a century.

The gas is cheap and it’s readily available. A natural gas plant that could produce more electricity than Muskrat Falls would cost less than half as much

The natural gas plant would produce electricity when we need it and more besides.  Muskrat Falls will produce its peak in two months of the year when we don’t need it and no one else will buy it.  In the mid-winter when we need the electricity, Muskrat Falls won’t be able to meet provincial needs and supply the commitment to Nova Scotia.

When you are an energy-rich province with abundant natural resources, you use the cheapest ones to meet your own needs.  The only people who don’t want to develop natural gas offshore Newfoundland and Labrador are the oil companies…and their best friend, the provincial government.

Obama calls it the “all of the above strategy”.

The provincial government in Newfoundland and Labrador has an idea.

They’ve got a vision.

Unfortunately, it’s tunnel vision.

- srbp -