Deke to Warner… Are You There?

Deke, Ken and Fred
Deke, Ken and Fred

The Honorable Mark Warner
459A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Warner:

In your letter of March 11, 2009 and in additional correspondence since then, you have stated or reemphasized the following: (1) we need to develop a comprehensive energy policy that both reduces our emissions and utilizes alternative sources of energy; (2) we must confront problems such as finite supply of fossil fuels; (3) the science surrounding the issue of climate change supports the need for dramatic changes in policy. Frankly, climate science and actual data show that you are only partially right on one of the three statements--develop a comprehensive energy policy and utilize alternative sources of energy.

In my letter of October 27, 2009, it was made quite clear that the science surrounding climate change does not support reining in emissions of carbon dioxide. The empirical evidence required to tie carbon dioxide emissions to climate warming does not exist, despite two decades of labor by the UN International Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) to prove that scientific hypothesis. Although correlation between increasing global  temperature and increasing amounts of carbon dioxide present in our greenhouse in the last 25-30 years of the 20th century exists, correlation is not causation. Yet you, many  “scientists," and many other non-scientists and non-informed people have concluded that carbon dioxide is the cause—all without empirical proof.  Additionally, “consensus” among groups of “scientists," or scientific related bodies, such as the National Academy of Sciences or the American Physical Society, without empirical evidence is meaningless, as well as casting poor reflection on those groups and organizations for rendering such unsupportable scientific opinions without the long established requirement for empirical evidence.  

Whereas I see a compelling need for a comprehensive energy policy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions is not required in pursuance of that policy, nor is short term reduction in use of fossil fuels a valid requirement. Although you claim there is a problem with finite amounts of fossil fuels, that claim has surfaced several times in the last 4 decades, only to be dismissed by the discovery and production of additional worldwide fossil fuel sources. Perhaps someday it will be a problem worldwide, but not for us in the nearer term, given our own indigenous deposits of oil, shale and natural gas within the 50 states and coastal areas, which have been estimated to serve our needs for a hundred or more years.

Despite the foregoing, potential future increases in the cost of petroleum and natural gas, driven by increasing demand after a deep worldwide recession, and additional demand pressure from emergent developing poorer nations, strongly suggests we need a market based, not government driven expansion of alternative energy sources. Whereas government can have an important role, such as providing funding for research and development of cost effective and energy efficient alternative power sources, its use of mandates and subsidies subverts the market process, which has and will continue to provide our people with the best alternatives from an economic and energy standpoint, if the government will only let it work.

Our huge investment in corn based ethanol with mandates and subsidies is an example of unnecessary government injection  into the marketplace to provide a product that the consumer does not want, does not need and is laden with following unintended consequences of developing that product: (1) uses almost as much energy to produce per gallon as the finished product contains ; (2) it is not carbon neutral because of the land use considerations, which result in more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere versus being absorbed in traditional ways: (3) has raised costs to consumers for corn based products; and (4) results in less mpg due to lower energy content than fossil fuels.  The Energy Act of 2007 has mandated a production of 36 billion gallons by 2022, but the ethanol industry is in serious difficulty today, thanks to poor government vision and handling from the beginning.

Moreover, throwing billions of taxpayer dollars yearly into subsidies for renewables,  such as wind and solar, ignores the real shortcomings of these renewable sources.  But most importantly, our government in its unnecessary haste to replace fossil fuels and develop suitable alternatives, is ignoring the lessons learned in many European countries, where Carbon Cap and Trade policies have provided negative results, or renewable programs are fraught with poor results and economic disadvantages.

In sum, Senator, any energy policy for the future should: (1) demand the development our own indigenous fossil fuel sources to lessen our dependence on oil imports from countries who are unfriendly to us, or who have reacted improperly towards us in the past; (2) expansion of nuclear power generating plants; and, (3)  avoidance of the usual pitfalls of government injection into the marketplace with more mandates and subsidies that prevent the marketplace from delivering a cost effective, energy efficient product for consumers.

As a courtesy to you and your staff, I am enclosing references to recent studies/reports, as well as copies of Executive Summaries thereof where available, pointing out the problems encountered in Europe with both Cap and Trade and renewable energy source programs.

Sincerely yours,

Donald. K. Forbes