dochoc's blog

How Will Peak Oil Demand Impact Oklahoma?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news or futuristic predictions, but what if Oklahoma’s current economic crisis is structural and systemic and can’t be resolved with higher fossil fuel prices because of peak oil demand?

Remember the days when everyone talked about peak oil, the concept that fossil fuels soon would reach their finite moment and then start to dwindle as the world weaned itself from carbon-based energy? Well, now the concept is that the world may have reached a peak in its demand for oil and natural gas as more and more countries turn to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power for electricity, and as car manufacturers sell more fuel-efficient and electric-powered vehicles.

Michael T. Klare, writing on TomDispatch.com, explores the world oil order and its current turmoil in an excellent, detailed article, but what should stand out for any Oklahoman in the piece is the concept that green energy is slowly but surely helping to drive down the price of fossil fuels. The fracking boom in Oklahoma may well be a short-lived phenomenon in historic terms. Klare writes:

As a result of advances in drilling technology . . . the supply of oil has continued to grow, while demand has unexpectedly begun to stall. This can be traced both to slowing economic growth globally and to an accelerating “green revolution” in which the planet will be transitioning to non-carbon fuel sources. With most nations now committed to measures aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases under the just-signed Paris climate accord, the demand for oil is likely to experience significant declines in the years ahead. In other words, global oil demand will peak long before supplies begin to run low, creating a monumental challenge for the oil-producing countries.

Meanwhile, the American Wind Energy Association just reported that Oklahoma added more wind power than any other state in the nation during the first quarter this year.

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Real Stunts: Conservative Bullies Increase Winning Streak In Oklahoma

Trigger warning: The Oklahoman editorial board and its commentary writers are made up of a bunch of bullies looking for ways to snark attack anything that doesn’t fit into the reductionist and inhumane conservative worldview.

Yes, “trigger warning” is meant as humor. Yes, I get it. I’m stating the obvious. But one of the newspaper’s recent editorials follows the similar bullying pattern in an archetypal framework so much so that it deserves at least a modicum of analysis. The editorial attacks state Democrats on the flimsiest of evidence, omits crucial details, doesn’t follow a logical sequence of thought, and never even begins to answer the question of why it’s even addressing this non-topic of the day in the first place.

The editorial is titled “At OK Capitol, taking potshots doesn't equal leadership,” (April 28, 2016). The gist of the editorial (drum roll, please) seems to be that Democrats at the state Capitol have “provided little leadership and even engaged in stunts” and that’s the reason why they remain a decisively non-force these days in Oklahoma politics. The commentary uses as evidence the recent Democratic-sponsored House resolution, which called for a disaster declaration because of a state government leadership failure, a resolution that everyone from here to Mississippi knew had no chance of passing.

The commentary also mentions its favorite so-called “progressive” think tank, The Oklahoma Policy Institute, as its “got ya now” cudgel to beat the Democrats into submission or maybe oblivion. Just act like the astute staffers at OKPolicy, Democrats, and you will get some respect for once, Democratic leaders. Yeah, right. Under the OKPolicy rubric, Democrats are absolutely NOT going to get a voice in government and no chance to realistically deal with revenue failures and a predicted budget shortfall of $1.3 billion next fiscal year, which begins in July.

So some refutation, of course, is needed here just for the record.

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Windfall Arguments: Oil, Natural Gas Industry Here Given Tax Breaks, Too

A recent editorial in The Oklahoman discussing tax incentives for the state’s growing wind energy sector fails to note the hypocrisy that one of the leading opponents of the incentives is Harold Hamm, the chief executive officer of Continental Resources, a local oil and gas company.

The billionaire Hamm’s role as a leading member of the so-called Windfall Coalition, which opposes any tax incentives for generating wind power here is as blunt as it gets in the business and political worlds. In essence it’s a case of old-guard fossil fuel producers against new-wave renewable energy creators.

It’s dirty energy versus clean energy. It’s global warming naysayers against environmentalists. It’s the planet destroyers against the planet savers.

What matters even more is that the growth of wind energy is growing exponentially throughout the world as the negative impact of manmade climate change becomes a reality. According to the Wind Energy Foundation, wind power now generates 4 percent of the electricity in the United States, and that number is growing.

All that apparently doesn’t mean much to or has yet to sink into the minds of members of The Oklahoman editorial board, but it’s the most obvious symbol in the debate of ending tax incentives for companies that produce electricity using wind turbines in Oklahoma. Oil and gas companies get tremendously huge breaks on gross production taxes here, which has contributed to the state’s fiscal problems that now include a predicted $1.3 billion budget shortfall next year.

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