Fresh from signing legislation that throws billions more at climate change, President Biden ordered the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S. strategic reserve to try to stop gas prices from rising. And why not, since the U.S. government doesn’t face any potential crises where a strategic reserve of oil might be useful. Unless you count Taiwan, Ukraine, that silly stuff. Oddly, it didn’t work; the price kept rising, possibly because the amount released only covers about 70 hours’ worth of U.S. consumption, to the apparent surprise of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. But the U.S. has no monopoly on nonsensical or hypocritical policy. Quebec’s government just piously declared that province’s commitment to BOGA (COP26-speak for “Beyond Oil And Gas”) while making no moves to stop importing oil. And why should they? They don’t produce the stuff, they only burn it.
In the face of climate change the political issue, the Canadian Conservative party is equally enthused about being for and against everything at once. Thus beleaguered leader Erin O’Toole, between bouts of insisting there’s no danger of a coup because the caucus is united minus those he just expelled for questioning his leadership, said he’s remaining “relevant to urban and suburban families raising kids and small businesses” because “These folks said ‘climate change is important to us. We don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Trudeau’s ever-rising carbon tax but we want to see you take that issue more seriously as a party.’” So they’ll do nothing and everything. Better than the other guys and gals, too.
See, all good things are possible to those who truly want them. When the “Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Canada” let the Liberal administration have it for the feebleness of their climate policy, three Tory shadow ministers including the one for Official Languages (don’t ask) thundered “Canada’s Conservatives will continue to fight for a plan that prioritizes provinces, communities, and workers to ensure that people can live in a country with a secure climate future. We can address both climate change and secure the future for workers.”
If you’re wondering how, former Tory PM Stephen Harper, looking better and better to some members of his party as O’Toole looks worse and worse, chimed in recently that he wouldn’t use the issue to single out for punishment a region that didn’t vote for him. “The former Conservative Leader used a hypothetical analogy to make his point, speaking about the aerospace industry in Montreal, where the Conservatives performed relatively poorly during elections when he headed the party. ‘If I were today handling the climate-change issue, I wouldn’t be saying to myself, “You know, I have had three national elections, three governments [and] never won a seat in Montreal,”’ he told the Canada West Foundation (CWF) event. ‘“And one of the biggest growth of global emissions is the aerospace industry,”’ he continued. ‘“Therefore, I am going to shut down Montreal’s aerospace industry because I don’t need to care about it because I don’t have any political interests there.”’”
Trudeau’s a Quebec-loving, Alberta-hating partisan fink. Boo. Down with Trudeau. But how would you handle the issue? You have a situation where the Conservatives are strong in Western Canada, especially rural, where most of the fossil fuels are produced, and the Liberals are strong in central Canada, especially urban, where they are consumed. In truth we know what Harper would do if he were Prime Minister because he was, longer than Trudeau, from 2006-2015, and on his watch, well, the less said the better from either side. But now he has a great plan to optimize all the utilities simultaneously. We just can’t know what it is.
Returning to the U.S. case, Tilak Doshi commented in Forbes that U.S. energy policy is right out of Alice in Wonderland. But here on Earth it seems you can’t repeal the law of supply and demand the way you can the ones politicians increasingly mistake for fundamental reality. Or the law of the jungle; after America’s European allies crippled their own energy industries on purpose, they got blackmailed by natural-gas-exporting dictator Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. Weird, huh?
Down in Australia, they have decided Net Zero won’t interfere with making money from coal exports. What’s more, they’re going to get there without taking any action at all; apparently consumers and companies will do the heavy lifting. And having your cake and eating it too is a game anyone can play.
Until the music stops, that is, and you find there aren’t nearly enough chairs left.