Climate change and alternative energy sources

I took my car into the dealership the other day because, well, they told me to! I found myself almost completely entombed in their reception area, which is sort of like a financial holding cell provided for the customer before they present you with their regular maintenance bill at which time they tell you nothing is irregular. In the tedium that is called anticipation, I found myself staring at the flat screen TV on the wall playing an old re-run of Let’s Make a Deal. From what I could see, there weren’t any deals. I did however notice some ominous similarities between this show and the song and dance we are witnessing in today’s energy fiasco. A key element in today’s “Deal” is to get noticed in order to take part in the game at all. So the guy who dresses up as a hot dog is likely to get picked over someone dressed as a fire hydrant.

The upcoming UN sponsored Climate Change December sing-along in Paris, is taking on all of the characteristics of Let’s Make a Deal, with the political contestants competing on the grounds of whose climate promises are bigger than everyone else’s.

President Obama galloped onto the stage with his Clean Power Plan, which essentially says that coal fired generation will be severely cut back and preference given to alternative energy sources – namely wind and solar. Just so long as it’s sunny and windy I guess. Counter to White House claims, this “Plan” will increase the cost of electricity, which affects the economic health of the entire country, puts hundreds and thousands of jobs in jeopardy, and all for the sake of reducing American emissions by a mere fraction. And all while China brings one coal fired power plant on line every 10 days.

Will the president use his power of Executive Order to ban the export of U.S. coal to China as well as India, the Number 2 and 3 highest polluters on the global list after Number 1 – the US of A? I don’t think so, but call my bluff because mining coal means a lot of voting jobs with an election year looming. The president can’t shut down coal exports, but he is adept at erasing the Oil Sands from his ‘I must take care of this someday,’ list.

Alberta’s new NDP administration has made gallant efforts to placate the Carbon Killer King with increased costs charged to large Greenhouse Gas, GHG emitters, institution of new carbon capture technology, as well as carbon tax programs. But these actions have fallen on deaf ears and have been received by President Obama with nothing more than a, ‘oh, there’s a fly-on-my-shoulder,’ brush off.

And of course the Keystone XL pipeline will not escape President Obama’s indifference to America’s largest trading partner either. After seven years of what I see as insulting procrastination, under the current administration, the XL pipeline is dead. TransCanada spent $2.4 billion on a pipe to nowhere. The only option is to challenge the U.S. under NAFTA, which clearly states that both countries shall have unfettered access to each other’s energy markets – but I guess we got ‘fettered.’

The presidential veto on the XL will be announced soon after the Congress goes for its summer break, and curiously soon after the recent announcement of our Federal election. There goes another slap in Mr. Harper’s face. It would be interesting to see how Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau would, or dare I say, will handle the quixotic president, a challenge that President Obama would no doubt treat merely as a game.

It will be hard to win a game of Let’s Make a Deal with the president when he holds all the cards and is palming the ace.

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Roger McKnight is the Chief Petroleum Analyst with En-Pro International Inc.
Roger has over 25 years experience in the oil industry, and has held senior marketing management positions responsible for national and international accounts. He is the originator of the card lock concept of marketing on-road diesel that is now the predominant purchase method of diesel in Canada. Roger's knowledge of the oil industry in North America, and pricing structures has resulted in his expertise being sought as a commentator by local, national, and international media. Roger is a regular guest on radio and television programs, and he is quoted regularly in newspapers and magazines across Canada.

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