The Whitehouse has published a 361 word Energy Plan. Here are some of the choicer tidbids.

“The Trump Administration is committed to energy policies that lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil.”

“Freeing us from dependence” is a pretty bold statement, so I thought I’d look into it by checking out what the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says on the matter. The EIA confirms that in 2015, “the US exported about 4.7 million barrels per day (MMb/d) of petroleum products”, and “imported approximately 9.4 MMb/d.” But, it also says that the US is a net exporter of higher value non-crude petroleum liquids and refined petroleum products.

An April 2015 article published by Investopedia helps to explain the situation. Apparently, the US produces too much light, sweet crude oil that many domestic refiners “can’t use and don’t need because they are designed to refine heavy, sour crude.” And, because it is producing disproportionately the wrong kind of crude, the US imports heavy, sour crude from abroad, which accounted for “more than 50% of total crude oil imports in 2014.” Domestic sweet crude could be used if the industry was willing to invest hundreds of millions in “distillation towers, downstream conversion units, furnaces and other equipment.” However, so long as the price of oil is low, the pace of plant conversions will likely be measured, particularly if multinationals like ExxonMobile and Oxy can import heavy crude they extract from elsewhere on the planet at preferred prices.

Will the Trump Administration direct US refineries to retrofit their plants and increase use of domestic sweet crude? That is about as likely as a snowball fight in Houston, unless there is cash on the table. No, they’re talking about increasing the use of coal and gas resources, which have absolutely nothing to do with a “dependence on foreign oil.”

“President Trump is committed to achieving energy independence from theOPEC cartel and any nations hostile to our interests. At the same time, we will work with our Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our anti-terrorism strategy.”

There’s a lot packed into these two sentences that had me asking: Exactly, which “gulf” is being referring to here? Is Mexico a Gulf ally because it is the second largest importer of US petroleum products? Is Canada considered “hostile” because we export more petroleum products to the US than any other country? And what about Saudi Arabia–always so hard to categorize in matters such as these, don’t you find? And, here’s the clincher, those off-shore heavy sour crude oils used by US refiners? Saudi Arabia and Mexico are major producers, with ExxonMobile (amongst others) operating in OPEC countries. Decisions, decisions… looking at the following table, I just couldn’t decide who should be on Rex Tillerson’s naughty and nice lists.

“Protecting clean air and clean water, conserving our natural habitats, and preserving our natural reserves and resources will remain a high priority. President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.”

How does the new Administration intend to protect air and water?

“President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.”

Is it just me, or does anyone else fail to see the causal relationships here? How does removing alleged environmental regulatory barriers affect “wages”, while somehow maintaining or enhancing protection of air and water resources? All of which leads me to ask, exactly who is going to get the $30 billion, and for doing what?

© 2017 Sally McIntyre, all rights reserved.

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