Remember that time when the world's population exceeded its food production capacity, countless thousands of people dropped dead of starvation, and those of us who survived were reduced to eking out a subsistence level existence? No? That's because those late-18th century predictions of English cleric and economist Thomas Malthus never came to pass. Malthus failed to account for such factors as technologically improved means of production and declining birthrate. To any thinking person, a Malthusian prediction should be dismissed with laughter.
Over on the main page today Roger Pol argues that a government subsidy and taxation scheme to create incentives for use of natural gas in vehicles -- a la "The Pickens Plan" -- should be the nation's new "True Energy Policy," and he ponders why President Obama hasn't endorsed the NAT GAS Act, which has the endorsement of "a bipartisan group of more than 150 members of Congress" (as though that is a reason to do anything). He writes:
The NAT GAS Act provides incentives for using natural gas in vehicles, purchasing natural gas vehicles, installing natural gas refueling stations, and producing natural gas vehicles in America.
Today James Valvo of Americans for Prosperity explains in The Washington Times why NAT GAS is another loser effort by both major political parties to pick economic winners and losers:
Last week John Stossel dedicated his program to the energy issue and specifically the natural gas boom, much of which has opened up exploration of the massive Marcellus Shale deposits in Pennsylvania. Environmental groups and a filmmaker -- Josh Fox, who directed the Oscar-nominated "Gasland" -- have raised false claims about alleged dangers of hydrofracturing ("fracking") of underground rock by exploration companies to access the gas. But when Stossel invited them on his show to discuss their allegations, they refused.
Instead, Commonwealth Foundation president Matthew Brouillette and former PA Department of Environmental Protection head John Hanger (who founded the largest state environmental group, PennFuture) appeared with Stossel. Given Hanger's views that gas fracking is largely safe and his enviro-cred, the alarmist Greens' fraudulent claims were seriously discredited.
Several stories today worth comparing -- the first a commentary by Washington Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott, in which he sets the record straight on the availability of federal lands for oil and gas exploration:
Based on government data...Ninety four percent of federal onshore lands are off-limits to oil and gas exploration, while 97 percent of offshore federal lands are off-limits.
So virtually all of the public lands now owned by the American people but controlled by the federal government isn't even eligible to be placed on the auction block for bidding by U.S. companies for energy exploration rights leasing.
Who benefits from this lockup of virtually all of America's public lands from American energy companies? Well, here are the top beneficiaries:
* National Iranian Oil Company
* Saudi Arabian Oil Company
* Iraq National Oil Company
* Qatar General Petroleum Corporation
* Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (UAE)
John Hanger, who just departed with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell as his Secretary of Environmental Protection, recently gave an exit interview to the anti-natural gas, Herb & Marion Sandler-fueled ProPublica. Previously Hanger was president of the environmental activist group Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), and both he and the group have repeatedly called for increased taxes on natural gas companies drilling in the Marcellus Shale region (which takes up just about the whole state).
The Academy Award nominations were announced this morning, and among those chosen for best documentary was "Gasland," the Josh Fox propagandizer about the alleged dangers and abuses by the natural gas industry. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that an association of Hollywoodites, who in the past have honored error- and lie-riddled films by Michael Moore and Al Gore, would give Fox similar superlative consideration.
Well, fracking, well -- environmentalists have suffered an embarrassing loss. Rather than extracting blood, water, and a couple of limbs from Texas-based Cabot Oil & Gas over contaminated water supplies in Dimock Township, Pa., the state Department of Environmental Protection and Secretary John Hanger have agreed to settle on an appropriate pound of flesh. For most of this year Hanger has pushed for the construction of a water line from Lake Montrose to Dimock at an estimated cost of $12 million, despite opposition from local officials. The line would have run about 12.5 miles and remedied the problem for a whole 18 families -- my Commonwealth Foundation colleagues called it the "Pipeline to Nowhere." Cabot and others favored other approaches that would have taken care of the issue.