Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Tom Ridge Using Phony Hysteria

Tom Ridge doesn't bring much to the Marcellus Shale debate. I suppose he is a credible face to such sloganeering as "Drill Baby Drill" and "No Blood for Oil". From NPR's excellent StateImpact Pennsylvania:

“We now import 3.5 billion barrels [of oil] annually,” he said, “compared with roughly a third of that in 1973. …It’s one thing to get oil from counties like Canada…. But we also import from counties who aren’t such good friends. Nations such as Algeria and Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Syria and Nigeria and Venezuela and Chad. All of those countries are on the State Department’s travel warning list. Now think about this picture and ask yourself what’s wrong…we travel, in this country, on their oil. But it’s not safe for us to travel in their country.” Ridge went on to call the United States’ relationship with these countries “toxic, both literally and figuratively.”

“We need a national all-in energy policy that’s realistic and practical, not rhetorical and illusory.” And predictably, given the fact we’re here at a conference about natural gas drilling, Ridge said hydraulic fracturing and shale gas should be the cornerstone of that new policy. “We are truly an energy-rich country,” he said. “And natural gas should be at the forefront of the energy revolution.” The more energy the United States extracts from within its borders, Ridge argued, the less it will need from the Middle East. “Made in America, when it comes to energy, is in my mind just a synonym for national security.”

Drilling in Pennsylvania is a matter of national security. Ridge dismissed the concern about the safety of hydraulic fracturing as "phony hysteria". If anyone is guilty of phony hysteria, it is Tom Ridge.

Shale gas competes with another domestic energy resource, coal. And whatever natural gas doesn't come from Pennsylvania wells would likely come from Canada, where there are no State Department travel warnings. If there is a national security angle to the Marcellus Shale, Tom Ridge doesn't mention it.

Ridge is suggesting a connection between shale gas and national security that doesn't exist. Worse, he rehashes the tired "No Blood for Oil" rationale. Imagine a world with a United States not dependent on any toxic countries for oil. That oil will still find a buyer, most likely China. The flow of oil from the Middle East to anywhere in the world will still be an American national security concern. Any disruption to that supply would dramatically increase worldwide prices.

Energy independence doesn't translate into lower prices at US pumps or no US troops in the Persian Gulf. Apparently, Tom Ridge understands neither globalization nor global markets. He also needs a primer in geopolitics. However, he is at the head of his class in bullshit.

No comments: