Updated: Dec 12, 2020
Having asked the question; are we in transition or transformation? The recent news would for some indicate fossil fuels continue to rule. In the final days of president Trump’s first term energy issues are in the headlights and the headlines. Compelled by and in support of his long time favorites, the special interests of the oil industry, the Trump administration is rushing at a frantic pace to establish precedent and procedural benefits at possibly the expense of the American taxpayer.
Leasing is a key part of Trump’s fossil fuel agenda. On December 10 the administration held the first federal drilling auction since 2012 in blue California. The average price was $11.00 per acre. The administration has announced lower royalty payments on leases in the Gulf of Mexico. According to Reuters the move to offer royalty relief comes in the final week of the first Trump administration with the argument, offered by agency director Scott Angelle, “that we want to be sure America doesn’t have stranded assets, …and further the American people need to get value of their resources”. On December 7 Reuters reported the administration proposed allowing companies searching for oil and gas deposits in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to disrupt polar bears with seismic testing. This is to aid companies in preparation for the Department of Interior January 6, 2021 lease sale. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is granting an “incidental harassment authorization” for the seismic testing. All of this seeks the rational of obtaining some sort of value for a possibly stranded asset in a market place of reduced oil use and questionable demand. The activity likely compromises environmental concerns and leaves some to be skeptical of this mad rush to sell.
Most likely much of the companion gas will be flared or vented into the atmosphere. Irrespective of the disputed impact to global warming, some argue this is a continual imprudent waste of natural resources, equated to God's gifts that require our stewardship.
Incidentally oil futures climbed to above $50.00 on speculation of magical increase demand now that there are vaccines to distribute. At the same time the Saudi's and their partners the Russians lead the OPEC plus cartel and attempting to methodically control supply in the upcoming months. It remains very unlikely US shale oil producers will regain its market share in 2021. More gulf and Artic oil will only cloud the mix. Russia still has the lowest cost production. Again as fossil fuels are stridently devalued by many of its critics, there needs to be the continuing call for the long-term advocacy in the United State of encouraging natural gas exploration, production and use as the clean bridge fuel. Natural gas should not be the continued step child of the oil industry interests.
Perhaps some members of the Sierra Club could share such a position at the same time they seek sympathy for the polar bears in the Artic. Things to ponder as we lock down into the long winter’s night. Thanks to natural gas may we be safe and warm.