An Epiphany from the Oracle of Delphi

9/7/09 -- Labor Day 2009

Vacations are great, especially when one can forget about the real world. My wife and I are returning from a trip of a lifetime to Greece. However, try as I might to ignore all aspects of energy, I believe I was blessed with an epiphany after the appropriate offering of steaming entrails to the Oracle at Delphi.

I sought enlightenment on the future of energy policy. It is said that the Oracle has never been wrong. And the Oracle’s response was muffled laughter emanating from deep in the ruins. Well, epiphany may be a bit of an exaggeration, however the Oracle did get me pondering once again.

I must give credit to the Obama administration in its acceptance that energy policy and environmental policy are irreversibly interlocked. This is the first time I have seen this approach by any administration. However, the power seems to reside with the “czars” who have not been required to meet the burden of the Senate’s approval. No wonder it was heard the Secretary of Energy Chu didn’t think that energy policy was a part of his job when he first entered office. Of course we must give the man credit, if this was simply an honest admission of the futility in being burdened with policy.

Points to Ponder

  • Will there be an economic impact statement associated with energy / environmental policy?
  • Can energy / environmental policy be effective with the apparent benign or perhaps intentionally blatant neglect of conventional and nuclear energy that represents over 80% of our supply and will so well into the future?
    • Perhaps such neglect is OK when one is promoting his cause. But is it appropriate in overall policy?
    • Is this just an attempt at efficiency by assuming that the neglected areas can take care of themselves allowing policy to address areas that need governmental help?
    • Why should the economy invest in expanded domestic capacity in conventional energy when it anticipates that it will be the subject to additional taxation and regulation? Should such attempts to meet domestic demand go offshore?
  • Timing is everything. So why consider policies that will immediately raise prices when the economy is in recession? Is this why many in the administration are declaring the recession to be over?
  • Will any economic impact analysis look at net jobs created and lost both directly in the energy industries and in the overall economy?
  • “Some see private enterprise as a predatory animal to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.” -Winston Churchill
    • Is the energy industry a primary source of governmental revenue?
    • Can taxation cause a paradigm shift in behavior overnight? Or will “We the People” throw the bastards out of office?
    • Energy “fuels” the economy.
    • Net costs from production of energy to lifestyle to environmental impact must be considered.
  • In a broader sense, is it consistent and credible to try to get “We the People” off of our addiction to credit at the same time as government vastly expands its debt to get us out of the recession, work on health care and any energy / environmental policy issues that slow or reduce the economy?

Now you see why there is no real epiphany. Let us just hope that there is more to it than just the realities of muffled laughter.

Click here for more information about Confessions of an Energy Price Forecaster: A 12 Step Program to Enlightenment

Click here for John Tobin's full bio

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