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Michael Klare, Donald Trump’s Energy Nostalgia and the Path to Hell

Public Policy

The Trump administration-in-formation is a stew of generals, billionaires, and multimillionaires — and as in the case of retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the likely new secretary of defense, even the military men seem to have made more than a few bucks in these last years.  In retirement, Mattis, for instance, joined the board of military-industrial giant General Dynamics as one of 13 “independent directors,” reportedly amassing at least $900,000 in company stock and another $600,000 in cold cash.

Oh yes, and there’s one other requirement for admission to the Trump administration: your basic civilian appointee must be ready to demolish the system he or she is to head. Betsy DeVos, the president-elect’s pick for education secretary, wants to take apart public education; Tom Price, the future secretary of health and human services, is eager to dismantle Obamacare and Medicare; Scott Pruitt, the proposed new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, seems to want to tear that agency limb from limb; and the announced new “labor” secretary (and you really do have to put that in scare quotes), fast food CEO Andy Puzder, is against raising the minimum wage and thinks the automation of the workplace is a total plus, since machines can’t take vacations or arrive late.

Let’s face it, the most extreme government of our lifetime is going to be a demolition derby. Think of it as the Reagan administration of the 1980s on steroids — and keep in mind that Donald Trump will be the president of a far more fragile country than the one Ronald Reagan and his cronies presided over.  Things could begin to fall apart fast for ordinary Americans.  For instance, the new Republican Congress is expected to swiftly pass a promised “repeal and delay” version of the obliteration of Obamacare, officially wiping that program off the books and yet postponing its departure and the arrival of whatever is to replace it until after the 2018 elections.  In the interim, however, the result is likely to be a “zombie” health care marketplace from which insurance companies are expected to begin to jump ship, potentially leaving significant numbers of those 20 million Americans who got medical coverage for the first time via Obamacare with nothing.  And after EPA chief Pruitt has helped let Donald Trump’s “energy revolution” of extreme fossil fuel exploitation loose to do its damnedest and, as TomDispatch regular Michael Klare makes clear today, America’s skies are once again veritable smog-fests, there will be plenty more health needs on whatever’s left of the horizon.

Donald Trump, as Politico points out, is already at war with labor, and prospectively with those “failing government schools,” and the American safety net, and the environment, not to mention the planet and that’s before we even get to actual war, which will be overseen by a crew of Islamo– and Irano-phobes.  If, as Klare points out today, Trump himself has a serious case of nostalgia for the America of his youth (and mine), with its untrammeled growth and its fossil-fueled wonders, don’t think that nostalgia doesn’t reign in military affairs, too.  In that case, however, it wouldn’t be for the oily vistas of the mid-twentieth century, but perhaps for the age of the Crusades. Tom

Drowning the World in Oil
Trump’s Carbon-Obsessed Energy Policy and the Planetary Nightmare to Come
By Michael T. Klare

Scroll through Donald Trump’s campaign promises or listen to his speeches and you could easily conclude that his energy policy consists of little more than a wish list drawn up by the major fossil fuel companies: lift environmental restrictions on oil and natural gas extraction, build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, open more federal lands to drilling, withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan, revive the coal mining industry, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.  In fact, many of his proposals have simply been lifted straight from the talking points of top energy industry officials and their lavishly financed allies in Congress.

If, however, you take a closer look at this morass of pro-carbon proposals, an obvious, if as yet unnoted, contradiction quickly becomes apparent. Were all Trump’s policies to be enacted — and the appointment of the climate-change denier and industry-friendly attorney general of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests the attempt will be made — not all segments of the energy industry will flourish.  Instead, many fossil fuel companies will be annihilated, thanks to the rock-bottom fuel prices produced by a colossal oversupply of oil, coal, and natural gas.

Indeed, stop thinking of Trump’s energy policy as primarily aimed at helping the fossil fuel companies (although some will surely benefit).  Think of it instead as a nostalgic compulsion aimed at restoring a long-vanished America in which coal plants, steel mills, and gas-guzzling automobiles were the designated indicators of progress, while concern over pollution — let alone climate change — was yet to be an issue.

If you want confirmation that such a devastating version of nostalgia makes up the heart and soul of Trump’s energy agenda, don’t focus on his specific proposals or any particular combination of them.  Look instead at his choice of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state and former Governor Rick Perry from oil-soaked Texas as his secretary of energy, not to mention the carbon-embracing fervor that ran through his campaign statements and positions.  According to his election campaign website, his top priority will be to “unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.”  In doing so, it affirmed, Trump would “open onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands, eliminate [the] moratorium on coal leasing, and open shale energy deposits.”  In the process, any rule or regulation that stands in the way of exploiting these reserves will be obliterated.

If all of Trump’s proposals are enacted, U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will soar, wiping out the declines of recent years and significantly increasing the pace of global warming.  Given that other major GHG emitters, especially India and China, will feel less obliged to abide by their Paris commitments if the U.S. heads down that path, it’s almost certain that atmospheric warming will soar beyond the 2 degree Celsius rise over pre-industrial levels that scientists consider the maximum the planet can absorb without suffering catastrophic repercussions.  And if, as promised, Trump also repeals a whole raft of environmental regulations and essentially dismantles the Environmental Protection Agency, much of the progress made over recent years in improving our air and water quality will simply be wiped away, and the skies over our cities and suburbs will once again turn gray with smog and toxic pollutants of all sorts.

Eliminating All Constraints on Carbon Extraction

To fully appreciate the dark, essentially delusional nature of Trump’s energy nostalgia, let’s start by reviewing his proposals.  Aside from assorted tweets and one-liners, two speeches before energy groups represent the most elaborate expression of his views: the first was given on May 26th at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, to groups largely focused on extracting oil from shale through hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the Bakken shale oil formation; the second on September 22nd addressed the Marcellus Shale Coalition in Pittsburgh, a group of Pennsylvania gas frackers.

At both events, Trump’s comments were designed to curry favor with this segment of the industry by promising the repeal of any regulations that stood in the way of accelerated drilling.  But that was just a start for the then-candidate.  He went on to lay out an “America-first energy plan” designed to eliminate virtually every impediment to the exploitation of oil, gas, and coal anywhere in the country or in its surrounding waters, ensuring America’s abiding status as the world’s leading producer of fossil fuels.

Much of this, Trump promised in Bismarck, would be set in motion in the first 100 days of his presidency.  Among other steps, he pledged to:

* Cancel America’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs

* Lift any existing moratoriums on energy production in federal areas

* Ask TransCanada to renew its permit application to build the Keystone Pipeline

* Revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies

* Save the coal industry

The specifics of how all this might happen were not provided either by the candidate or, later, by his transition team.  Nevertheless, the main thrust of his approach couldn’t be clearer: abolish all regulations and presidential directives that stand in the way of unrestrained fossil fuel extraction, including commitments made by President Obama in December 2015 under the Paris Climate Agreement.  These would include, in particular, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, with its promise to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired plants, along with mandated improvements in automotive fuel efficiency standards, requiring major manufacturers to achieve an average of 54.5 miles per gallon in all new cars by 2025.  As these constitute the heart of America’s “intended nationally determined contributions” to the 2015 accord, they will undoubtedly be early targets for a Trump presidency and will represent a functional withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, even if an actual withdrawal isn’t instantly possible.

Just how quickly Trump will move on such promises, and with what degree of success, cannot be foreseen.  However, because so many of the measures adopted by the Obama administration to address climate change were enacted as presidential directives or rules promulgated by the EPA — a strategy adopted to circumvent opposition from climate skeptics in the Republican-controlled House and Senate — Trump will be in a position to impose a number of his own priorities simply by issuing new executive orders nullifying Obama’s.  Some of his goals will, however, be far harder to achieve.  In particular, it will prove difficult indeed to “save” the coal industry if America’s electrical utilities retain their preference for cheap natural gas.

Ignoring Market Realities

This last point speaks to a major contradiction in the Trump energy plan. Seeking to boost the extraction of every carbon-based energy source inevitably spells doom for segments of the industry incapable of competing in the low-price environment of a supply-dominated Trumpian energy marketplace.

Take the competition between coal and natural gas in powering America’s electrical plants.  As a result of the widespread deployment of fracking technology in the nation’s prolific shale fields, the U.S. gas output has skyrocketed in recent years, jumping from 18.1 trillion cubic feet in 2005 to 27.1 trillion in 2015.  With so much additional gas on the market, prices have naturally declined — a boon for the electrical utility companies, which have converted many of their plants from coal to gas-combustion in order to benefit from the low prices.  More than anything else, this is responsible for the decline of coal use, with total consumption dropping by 10% in 2015 alone.

In his speech to the Marcellus Coalition, Trump promised to facilitate the expanded output of both fuels.  In particular, he pledged to eliminate federal regulations that, he claimed, “remain a major restriction to shale production.” (Presumably, this was a reference to Obama administration measures aimed at reducing the excessive leakage of methane, a major greenhouse gas, from fracking operations on federal lands.) At the same time, he vowed to “end the war on coal and the war on miners.”

As Trump imagines the situation, that “war on coal” is a White House-orchestrated drive to suppress its production and consumption through excessive regulation, especially the Clean Power Plan.  But while that plan, if ever fully put into operation, would result in the accelerated decommissioning of existing coal plants, the real war against coal is being conducted by the very frackers Trump seeks to unleash.  By encouraging the unrestrained production of natural gas, he will ensure continued low gas prices and so a depressed market for coal.

A similar contradiction lies at the heart of Trump’s approach to oil: rather than seeking to bolster core segments of the industry, he favors a supersaturated market approach that will end up hurting many domestic producers.  Right now, in fact, the single biggest impediment to oil company growth and profitability is the low price environment brought on by a global glut of crude — itself largely a consequence of the explosion of shale oil production in the United States.  With more petroleum entering the market all the time and insufficient world demand to soak it up, prices have remained at depressed levels for more than two years, severely affecting fracking operations as well.  Many U.S. frackers, including some in the Bakken formation, have found themselves forced to suspend operations or declare bankruptcy because each new barrel of fracked oil costs more to produce than it can be sold for.

Trump’s approach to this predicament — pump out as much oil as possible here and in Canada — is potentially disastrous, even in energy industry terms.  He has, for instance, threatened to open up yet more federal lands, onshore and off, for yet more oil drilling, including presumably areas previously protected on environmental grounds like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the seabeds off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.  In addition, the construction of pipelines like the embattled one in North Dakota and other infrastructure needed to bring these added resources to market will clearly be approved and facilitated.

In theory, this drown-us-in-oil approach should help achieve a much-trumpeted energy “independence” for the United States, but under the circumstances, it will surely prove a calamity of the first order.  And such a fantasy version of a future energy market will only grow yet more tumultuous thanks to Trump’s urge to help ensure the survival of that particularly carbon-dirty form of oil production, Canada’s tar sands industry.

Not surprisingly, that industry, too, is under enormous pressure from low oil prices, as tar sands are far more costly to produce than conventional oil.  At the moment, adequate pipeline capacity is also lacking for the delivery of their thick, carbon-heavy crude to refineries on the American Gulf Coast where they can be processed into gasoline and other commercial products.  So here’s yet one more Trumpian irony to come: by favoring construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, Trump would throw yet another monkey wrench into his own planning.  Sending such a life preserver to the Canadian industry — allowing it to better compete with American crude — would be another strike against his own “America-first energy plan.”

Seeking the Underlying Rationale

In other words, Trump’s plan will undoubtedly prove to be an enigma wrapped in a conundrum inside a roiling set of contradictions.  Although it appears to offer boom times for every segment of the fossil fuel industry, only carbon as a whole will benefit, while many individual companies and sectors of the market will suffer.  What could possibly be the motivation for such a bizarre and planet-enflaming outcome?

To some degree, no doubt, it comes, at least in part, from the president-elect’s deep and abiding nostalgia for the fast-growing (and largely regulation-free) America of the 1950s.  When Trump was growing up, the United States was on an extraordinary expansionist drive and its output of basic goods, including oil, coal, and steel, was swelling by the day.  The country’s major industries were heavily unionized; the suburbs were booming; apartment buildings were going up all over the borough of Queens in New York City where Trump got his start; cars were rolling off the assembly lines in what was then anything but the “Rust Belt”; and refineries and coal plants were pouring out the massive amounts of energy needed to make it all happen.

Having grown up in the Bronx, just across Long Island Sound from Trump’s home borough, I can still remember the New York of that era: giant smokestacks belching out thick smoke on every horizon and highways jammed with cars adding to the miasma, but also to that sense of explosive growth.  Builders and automobile manufacturers didn’t have to seriously worry about regulations back then, and certainly not about environmental ones, which made life — for them — so much simpler.

It’s that carbon-drenched era to which Trump dreams of returning, even if it’s already clear enough that the only conceivable kind of dream that can ever come from his set of policies will be a nightmare of the first order, with temperatures exceeding all records, coastal cities regularly under water, our forests in flame and our farmlands turned to dust.

And don’t forget one other factor: Trump’s vindictiveness — in this case, not just toward his Democratic opponent in the recent election campaign but toward those who voted against him.  The Donald is well aware that most Americans who care about climate change and are in favor of a rapid transformation to a green energy America did not vote for him, including prominent figures in Hollywood and Silicon Valley who contributed lavishly to Hillary Clinton’s coffers on the promise that the country would be transformed into a “clean energy superpower.”

Given his well-known penchant for attacking anyone who frustrates his ambitions or speaks negatively of him, and his urge to punish greens by, among other things, obliterating every measure adopted by President Obama to speed the utilization of renewable energy, expect him to rip the EPA apart and do his best to shred any obstacles to fossil fuel exploitation.  If that means hastening the incineration of the planet, so be it. He either doesn’t care (since at 70 he won’t live to see it happen), truly doesn’t believe in the science, or doesn’t think it will hurt his company’s business interests over the next few decades.

One other factor has to be added into this witch’s brew: magical thinking.  Like so many leaders of recent times, he seems to equate mastery over oil in particular, and fossil fuels in general, with mastery over the world.  In this, he shares a common outlook with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on harnessing Russia’s oil and gas reserves in order to restore the country’s global power, and with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, said to be Trump’s top choice for Secretary of State and a long-term business partner of the Putin regime.  For these and other politicians and tycoons — and, of course, we’re talking almost exclusively about men here — the possession of giant oil reserves is thought to bestow a kind of manly vigor.  Think of it as the national equivalent of Viagra.

Back in 2002, Robert Ebel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies put the matter succinctly: “Oil fuels more than automobiles and airplanes.  Oil fuels military power, national treasuries, and international politics… [It is] a determinant of well being, national security, and international power for those who possess [it] and the converse for those who do not.”

Trump seems to have fully absorbed this line of thinking.  “American energy dominance will be declared a strategic economic and foreign policy goal of the United States,” he declared at the Williston forum in May.  “We will become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests.”  He seems firmly convinced that the accelerated extraction of oil and other carbon-based fuels will “make America great again.”

This is delusional, but as president he will undoubtedly be able to make enough of his energy program happen to achieve both short term and long term energy mayhem. He won’t actually be able to reverse the global shift to renewable energy now under way or leverage increased American fossil fuel production to achieve significant foreign policy advantages.  What his efforts are, however, likely to ensure is the surrender of American technological leadership in green energy to countries like China and Germany, already racing ahead in the development of renewable systems.  And in the process, he will also guarantee that all of us are going to experience yet more extreme climate events.  He will never recreate the dreamy America of his memory or return us to the steamy economic cauldron of the post-World War II period, but he may succeed in restoring the smoggy skies and poisoned rivers that so characterized that era and, as an added bonus, bring planetary climate disaster in his wake.  His slogan should be: Make America Smoggy Again.

Michael T. Klare, a TomDispatch regular, is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left. A documentary movie version of his book Blood and Oil is available from the Media Education Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @mklare1.

TomDispatch



21 Comments on "Michael Klare, Donald Trump’s Energy Nostalgia and the Path to Hell"

  1. Go Speed Racer on Fri, 16th Dec 2016 12:46 pm 

    Trumposaurus should nominate Vladimir Putin for Secretary of Defense.

  2. Apneaman on Fri, 16th Dec 2016 1:59 pm 

    Trump Adviser, Anthony Scaramucci, thinks the earth is only 5500 years old. You’re in good hands merica. LMAO……again.

    Trump Adviser Turns the Anti-Science Up to 11 – Video

    “But then there’s the pièce de résistance, this gem in the crown of Scaramucci’s anti-science (6:10):

    CUOMO: But you don’t accept the science. Let me just move on to something else, though, which is—
    SCARAMUCCI: I didn’t say that. I said I’m not certain about it—
    CUOMO (talking simultaneously): You said you don’t know. I’m saying the scientific community does.
    SCARAMUCCI: But you’re saying that you do, and you’re saying the scientific community knows, and I’m saying people have gotten things wrong throughout the 5,500-year history of our planet.

    You might want to read that last sentence again. Yes, Scaramucci said the Earth is only 5,500 years old.”

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2016/12/16/trump_advisor_anthony_scaramucci_anti_science_interview_on_cnn.html

    I think he is also advising for Trumps Obama care replacement plan. Word is that “bleeding” will top the list of approved procedures.

  3. peakyeast on Fri, 16th Dec 2016 3:45 pm 

    yeah god only made it look like the earth and universe is much older – because he wants to spread misinformation and disbelief

  4. Apneaman on Fri, 16th Dec 2016 4:25 pm 

    peakyeast, these people (millions of em) really believe this shit. They even have a multi million dollar museum with Adam & Eve and dinosaurs. Yep, Jesus rode into Jerusalem to attend passover on a baby brontosaurus, not a donkey.

    ROLL OVER, CHARLES DARWIN!

    On the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s masterwork, the author visits Kentucky’s Creation Museum, which has been battling science and reason since 2007. Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark: it’s a breathtakingly literal march through Genesis, without any hint of soul. Plus: Paul Bettany photographs the Creation Museum and Julian Sancton interviews Bettany.

    “The Creation Museum isn’t really a museum at all. It’s an argument. It’s not even an argument. It’s the ammunition for an argument. It is the Word made into bullets. An armory of righteous revisionism. This whole building is devoted to the literal veracity of the first 11 chapters of Genesis: God created the world in six days, and the whole thing is no more than 6,000 years old. Everything came at once, so Tyrannosaurus rex and Noah shared a cabin. That’s an awful lot of explaining to do. This place doesn’t just take on evolution—it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and good taste. It directly and boldly contradicts most -onomies and all -ologies, including most theology.”

    http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2010/02/creation-museum-201002

    https://creationmuseum.org/

    They also built a full size replica (down to the cubit) of Noah’s Ark.

    Massive Noah’s Ark, with dinosaurs on board, draws a flood of visitors to northern Kentucky (photos, video)

    http://www.cleveland.com/travel/index.ssf/2016/09/massive_noahs_ark_with_dinosau.html

    I love these people!

  5. Cloggie on Fri, 16th Dec 2016 4:30 pm 

    In Europe nobody believes this idiocy.
    Ah well, it won’t be long before geopolitical normality will return.

  6. peakyeast on Fri, 16th Dec 2016 4:32 pm 

    @ape: Yeah – I have known one who wholeheartedly believed this creationism. An electrical engineer and good at his job and very likable. But crazy as batshit when it came to religion.

  7. Apneaman on Fri, 16th Dec 2016 5:29 pm 

    ClogO, your merican white supremacist brothers in hate believe it. They hate atheists more than Muslims, Jews, gay people, blacks, asians, etc. An atheist cannot get elected in America and in some states they can’t legally run for office.

    Oh, this just in!!! Looks like atheists are no longer the most hated group in America. What progress.

    Muslims surpass atheists as most unpopular group in US

    http://religionnews.com/2016/09/14/muslims-surpass-atheists-as-most-unpopular-group-in-us/

    https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/07/us/in-seven-states-atheists-push-to-end-largely-forgotten-ban-.html?_r=0

    “Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence. Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and, because I consider the Christian religion so important, somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind.”

    -Donald Trump

    http://religionnews.com/2016/06/08/trump-tackles-who-is-jesus/

    ClogO’s hero daddy Trump luvs him some Jeebus

  8. rockman on Fri, 16th Dec 2016 7:44 pm 

    “Lift any existing moratoriums on energy production in federal areas” Not aware of any PERMANENT restrictions. OTOH President Obama has offered more acres of federal lands for lease to the energy industry then any POTUS in history. And that included leases offsetting the greatest oil spill in history from the BP blow out.

    “TransCanada to renew its permit application to build the Keystone Pipeline.” No demand for new pipeline capacity since the OK to Texas pipeline capacity (FULLY SUPPORTED by President Obama) was expanded. As a result Canadian oil imports peaked in Jan 2016. Since that peak Canadian oil imports have declined 10%. IOW with the existing pipelines and the continuing cancellation of new oil sands projects that excess capacity should persist for some years.

    “Revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies.” As long as the new drilling technologies that allowed US oil production to increase at the fastest rate in history under President Obama remain unrestricted under a President Trump the oil patch will be OK.

    “Save the coal industry”. Just a little saving needed. Not from the US govt but from the market place: coal prices peaked in 2008 at $190/ton and then dropped to $55/ton in 2015. But good news: since last summer coal prices have doubled. And that’s good news for the president-elect: 40% of US coal production comes from federal lands that had been administered by President Obama. US coal production reached the highest total volume under President Obama then any other POTUS in history. But then got hit by the price bust that was beyond the president’s control. Fortunaterly despite the price bust President Obama was able to increase coal exports higher then any other POTUS in history. And should increase even more now that western coal is being exported from Texas for the first time ever since President Obama expedited the expansion approval of Texas coal export terminals. Of course increasing exports wasn’t too difficult since, as mentioned earlier, US coal production reached its all time high under President Obama.

  9. Cloggie on Sat, 17th Dec 2016 7:16 am 

    Who is Michael Klare?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Klare
    Amherst prof, so he is an establishment leftist. He nevertheless was early to diagnose the real reason for the Iraq invasion (oil, not WMD). He is also not a member of the naive ASPO-2000 crowd a la Heinberg and believes in “extreme energy”, meaning that there is enormous potential for non-conventional fossil fuel, that can be accessed with potentially hazardous methods (I believe that too, since 2013-2014). Klare believes there is enough for the 21st century, but he seems to have missed UCG, in my view offering potential for several centuries to come (“stupid Donald” being right after all). Klare strongly advises to move to renewables. So do I and on top of that I want you to buy turn key wind parks from Royal Dutch Shell.lol

    As a leftist he is a closet imperialist and has geopolitical intuitions but not very good ones (2003):

    http://monthlyreview.org/2003/07/01/the-new-geopolitics/

    What then are the implications of this great realignment of U.S. geo-political strategy made possible by the Cold War defeat of the Soviet Union?… some things can be said. First, Iraq is just the beginning of a U.S. drive into this area. We will see further extensions and expressions of U.S. power in the region.

    LOL

    This will provoke resistance and self-conscious opposition to the United States by insurgent groups and regimes.

    Sure thing and these groups took over the staging. America is retreating and not “driving into the area”.

    Back to the lead article…

    TomD says Think of it as the Reagan administration of the 1980s on steroids

    What was so bad about that? In 1992 we got CNN in Holland and the first images I can remember was a Lou Dobbs confidently announcing that the economy made a turn for the better and Clinton could reap the harvest from Reagan’s preparations during the entire nineties. And boy it did, until 2008.

    TomD says “Obamacare abolished, minimum wages slashed”

    Yeah TomD, what are you going to do about it? Why do you think Americans (and Westerners in general) are entitled to privilege if the economy’s productivity doesn’t match these previous income levels? You wanted globalism? You are going to get globalism! You opened your borders for free global trade and next protest if your markets are swamped by cheap products made by Chinese, willing to work for a dime per hour. On top of that you decided to open your borders for massive influx from the third world and bring in folks who will never contribute anything significant. And you want to elevate these folks to the middle class by giving them Obama-care (paid for by whitey)? Good luck with that. Trump is merely doing what his voters expect him to do.

    overseen by a crew of Islamo– and Irano-phobes.

    Oh, touchy-feely commie TomD still believes in the (globalist motivated) integration myth.

    [part 1]

  10. Cloggie on Sat, 17th Dec 2016 7:16 am 

    Now to Klare:

    Instead, many fossil fuel companies will be annihilated, thanks to the rock-bottom fuel prices produced by a colossal oversupply of oil, coal, and natural gas.

    “Peak oil”, any one?

    Think of it instead as a nostalgic compulsion aimed at restoring a long-vanished America in which coal plants, steel mills, and gas-guzzling automobiles

    Yep!

    Trump says Making America great again

    It is first and foremost nostalgia… back to Charles Lindbergh (his flight, not his speeches), the oil mayors and American industrial gigantism in general, 1945 and the victory over the European Mother Civilization (ignoring the crucial and embarrassing dominant role of the Soviet allies), the moon landing (ignoring the crucial role of Natzi engineers), Doris Day and Marilyn Monroe and the rest of old school, in-your-face white Hollywood, Mo-Town, Pan-Am, Bay-Watch, Boeing-747, CNN going global, etc., etc.

    Look instead at his choice of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state and former Governor Rick Perry from oil-soaked Texas as his secretary of energy

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. Klare the closet globalist overlooks the most important reason for Tillerson’s nomination: for the US to buddy up with Putin under the time-tested British motto: “if you can’t beat them, join them”.

    “unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.”

    Interestingly the good Amherst professor doesn’t deny the potential for centuries of coal.

    [part 2]

  11. Cloggie on Sat, 17th Dec 2016 7:18 am 

    Klare is right that if the US abandons “Paris”, India and China will likely follow. The only hope is that the Europeans will come up with renewable energy technology that is cheaper than fossil (we’re working on it and the prospects look good).

    Klare believes fossil induced climate change will almost inevitably surpass the 2C max and apparently believes in linear rather than logarithmic correlation between CO2 levels and global warming (I am on the fence on that one). A stinking planet is not necessarily a hot planet, if we are to believe Matt Ridley (who admits himself in his recent Royal Society speech that he has a commercial interest in coal). “Logarithmic correlation” means one extra degree Celsius for every doubling of CO2 levels. If that were true that would mean we’ll have the worst of global warming increase already behind us. All the world needs to do is wait for these godly Europeans (in some remote corners of the internet aka “techno optimists”) to offer deliverance to a stinking and self-polluting world and offer a clean renewable and affordable energy generation package and as such have a decade or two competitive edge over the global competition in energy matters (with the US and China). In the case of the 19th and 20th centuries that led to a geopolitical advantage for the British (coal) and Americans (oil) respectively.

    For the rest I agree with most of Klare’s analysis of Trump’s energy policy: a disaster for America. Nostalgia is not a valid policy base. But Trump was never elected for his energy policies but instead as a batter-ram against the US deep state and its One World fantasies, fantasies closet imperialist or rather globalist Klare shares. But Klare is a fossil fuel one trick pony nerd and doesn’t understand the deeper motivations of nationalist European America that has enough of foreign interventions and instead wants “America First” and “Shining City Upon a Hill” rather than George Soros’ “Open Society” model.

    [part 3]

  12. Cloud9 on Sat, 17th Dec 2016 7:32 am 

    It is amazing what a phase shift produces. After reading this article I can only conclude that it is the end of the world as we know it. That mime sounds vaguely familiar. In fact that is an assumption that myself and Davy and Short and a host of others have been holding for a number of years. To my friends on the left, let me suggest you learn from the right’s experience.
    Consider the popular notions held by the right when Obama was elected. Obama was going to confiscate all the guns. That line of reasoning made him the most successful gun salesmen in history. Obama was going to stage a false flag event, declare martial law and install himself as a permanent dictator. The Obamas are packing to leave the White House.
    Consider the popular notions held on the left. Obama was going to have the most open presidency in history. Look at the whistle blowers who have been either jailed or are forced to live in exile. Obama was going to end the wars and dismantle the military industrial complex. The wars have continued and the complex has expanded.
    The take away from all of this is the simple fact that the President is not omnipotent and omnipresent. He has the bully pulpit and he can push agendas. When those agendas run up against constraints in the form of reality, they collapse.
    The legacy oil fields are still declining. Relatively cheap oil is still being replaced by relatively more expensive oil. Our civilization is still fossil fuel dependent. The entitlement class is expanding exponentially. The debt burden is expanding in tandem with the entitlement burden. Oil based economies are struggling. And finally, due to resource depletion, numerous areas of the world find themselves in population overshoot which is exacerbating the refugee crisis.
    Most of what is unfolding is beyond the reach of mere politicians who strut and fret their hour upon the stage. Buckle up. The next four years are going to be even more interesting than the last four.

  13. makati1 on Sat, 17th Dec 2016 7:56 am 

    America is the coyote standing in mid air with that dumb look on his face…

  14. rockman on Sat, 17th Dec 2016 9:02 am 

    Cloud – Nice summery. And I’ll add on and beat that dead horse once again: prediction – President Obama is going to destroy the fossil fuel industry. And the reality: all fossil fuels (as well as profits) expanded much more during President Obama’s 8 years then during President Bush’s 8 years. And that leads to one of two conclusions. Every POTUS, R and D, understands a robust fossil fuel industry is critical to our economy and will do what they can to support it. Or simply, no POTUS, D or R, can have much direct effect on the energy dynamic.

    IOW President Obama was a liar about his environmental concerns and was a ff industry plant. Or impotent, like President Bush, to have a significant impact on the path we are on.

    Pick one. LOL.

  15. Hubert on Sat, 17th Dec 2016 3:19 pm 

    Oil Age is coming to an end. It’s too bad it’s not being taught at highschool level.

  16. DerHundistlos on Sun, 18th Dec 2016 1:59 am 

    @ Rocky, “Obama was a liar about his environmental concerns and was a fossil fuel industry plant.”

    News flash num nuts….Obama is leaving office with a strong environmental record. Now it’s time to focus on the fraud named Trump. You realize that you have been duped so change the subject. Foolishly obvious subterfuge.

  17. DerHundistlos on Sun, 18th Dec 2016 2:06 am 

    As bad as Trumpy thinks things are now just wait until the honeymoon period ends and reality sets in.

    Trump reminds me of the president portrayed in the movie, “The Dead Zone.” ……The missiles are flying….

  18. DerHundistlos on Sun, 18th Dec 2016 2:10 am 

    Can you envision Trump doing this?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj9M34DzAKo

  19. joe on Sun, 18th Dec 2016 4:11 am 

    Trump is performing a business strategy usually referred to as a ‘shake up’, he is taking a settled and slow moving organisation (us government and civil services) and antagonising them to provoke them to be more active, to get reactions from inefficient areas to provide the board with evidence as to why they should continue to exist. Putting in a GW skeptic into the EPA will test the EPA like nothing they ever seen and scare them and force them to justify their existence and role. Some people do that everyday in the business world. Trump will try to run things in a way familiar to himself, because thats what he thinks works. Whatever happens, continuing as we are is not a serious option, if we do then the logical outcome will see us fighting ww3 before long.

  20. rockman on Sun, 18th Dec 2016 11:33 am 

    D – “Obama is leaving office with a strong environmental record.”

    You mean his environmental record of: producing more US coal (including an all time record yearly high) then any other POTUS in history, of exporting more US coal then any other POTUS in history, increasing coal exports 500% to the largest GHG producer in the world…China, increasing coal exports by almost 100% to Europe (the region importing more coal then any other in the world)…more then under any other POTUS in history, exporting more coal by expediting the approval to expand Texas coal export terminals after local opposition blocked his order to build three new export terminals on the west coast. As a result coal is now being exported from Texas which has never happened before under any POTUS.

    And increasing US oil production (via an unprecedented use of frac’ng) faster them any other POTUS in history, exporting more oil then any other POTUS in history, exporting more refinery products (made from more the 1 BILLION BBLS OF OIL per year) then any other POTUS in history, the increase of over 400% of NG production (via an unprecedented use of frac’ng) in the New England Marcellus Shale play, exporting more NG then any other POTUS in history.

    And having his departments expedite the approval of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline which eliminated the choke point at Cushing and DIRECTLY allowed the all time record import of Canada’s “dirtiest oil on the planet”, his agencies approving Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling permit, offering more offshore acreage for lease (including blocks offsetting the Macondo blowout) then any other POTUS in history, for issuing hundreds of offshore drilling permits (including those in the same area as the Macondo blowout), his administration’s initial plan to auction off drilling rights in as many as 104 million acres off the east coast in 2021, his current plan to lease more Arctic acreage.

    Yep, we certainly shouldn’t forget all those portions of his environmental record mentioned above. But give credit where it’s due: US CO2 emissions have fallen under President Obama. Which was due in large part to switching to more NG consumtion then coal. NG that was abundant and cheap thanks to the unprecedented amount of frac’ng during his terms. Frac’ng, according to many environmentalists, that has contaminated much of the country’s ground water.

    Apparently he made a choice between breathing sh*t or drinking sh*t according to the environmentalists. LOL.

  21. rockman on Sun, 18th Dec 2016 11:40 am 

    D – “You realize that you have been duped so change the subject.” Not duped at all. I don’t expect President-elect Trump to come close to see the US fossil fuel industry prosper as well as it did under President Obama. Which is why I’ve very glad to be close to retirement age.

    Seriously…I’m not teasing. I truly expect my industry to not do as well under the incoming POTUS as the outgoing one.

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