This site was developed as an response to news items, publications, web chatter and general conversations that demonstrate a lack of understanding about a very basic resource we all take for granted – the energy industry. In general the un-illuminated can be sorted into two piles (or groups, if you are a humanitarian type): those that should know better, such as the commentators that take short cuts or adopt misleading and/or slanted positions, and those who would like to know better, including many people in the general population who may have simple honest questions that they’d like answered without ideological slants or needlessly cluttered answers from narrow subject-matter experts. Through my travels I’ve spoken to a great many people in the latter category, regular people who just want clear answers, and this site is aimed at them.
The world isn’t exactly crying out for more blogs, from what I can see. Nevertheless, here is yet another one, hopefully somewhere in the middle between boring and crazy. Someone needs to do a better job of explaining the energy industry. In general there is a wide balance of opinions on energy topics – but not like a load that’s balanced properly with the weight in the middle, more like a barbell with crazy people at each end. The average of two crazy opinions isn’t a sane one, it’s just two crazy opinions. Energy debates have become like politics, either you’re with me or you’re an idiot. The information that’s currently available simply isn’t helpful to a general population that simply wants some straight answers.
Most of the commentary on the web is either for the environmental movement (and therefore rabidly against energy development, especially fossil fuels or oil sands) or for energy development (and rabidly against anything that doesn’t provide, as they say out the top of the blowhole of their suits, an adequate rate of return). It’s two sides pitted against each other; green vs. business, the environment vs. jobs, the health of the climate vs. cheap energy, etc. To paraphrase another Neil Young comment from his autobiography – these arguments are on the wrong axis. The argument should be about what’s helpful and constructive, and what is not. Sitting there on the web barking at each other is an exercise in ego massaging that doesn’t do anyone any good.
There is also a lot of commentary out there that simply regurgitates what’s in the news. For example, you might read that today gasoline prices are up because of a potential war in [insert name of random Middle East country, or one that has touched Russia]. Or gasoline prices are down because inventories in Cushing, Oklahoma are up (Cushing, Oklahoma. Population: 7,583. Location: the exact geographical center of nowhere. Has anyone ever asked why we all know the name of that place, yet of the world’s 7 billion people only 7,584 will ever visit there? (I’m assuming at some point an innocent person wanders into town accidentally, and will warn the rest of us.) It’s just a place with a bunch of tanks, incidentally.). What the hell is that about? In an article that devotes 50 words to some event that is arguably important, or important enough to get front page status on, say, a site like Reuters, what is the point of mentioning this little town, delightful as it may be? (And that is pure political correctness; I don’t think I need to dig up any pictures of a tank-farm town to remove it from your must-see bucket-list…)
This blog is an attempt to clean up the junk and move thinking along a better axis, a constructive and educational one as opposed to a destructive and misleading one. Environmentalists aren’t all smelly and useless and out to destroy the free market system. And not many energy proponents truly hate the environment. (It’s actually pretty funny to imagine someone that does, raging against trees, bunnies, rivers, clean air…you don’t even see that on Fox News). This website is here to try to provide some actual information that might be useful, without getting carried away with personal insults (unless they’re absolutely necessary).
You might also notice a lack of green-energy related material here, something I’m not thrilled about. That is one sector of the energy business that I haven’t worked directly in as of yet. I am quite aware of a lot of the nuances and developments, but haven’t had the inside experience that often gives really clear insight into what’s happening and why. I will try to rectify that. But for now, the focus on conventional energy sources is the starting point to get this site developed, on ground that I feel comfortable on.
I also strive very hard to see the world through the eyes of others and understand various viewpoints. So my goal isn’t necessarily to point out where others are wrong, it’s more to point out where a common view or theme is not well thought out or comes from too narrow a perspective. It is about the mechanics of the business; how it works, what are the big issues, where stuff comes from, etc. On those topics, I aim to present an overall view of things including contentious topics like pipelines that strip away the emotions and examine why the positions are so hardened.
What all my experience has taught me is that it is a very complex business that should be better explained, in a usable manner (as in, not Wikipedia). As it stands now, people decide whether they are for or against something as mind-numbingly boring as a pipeline, with no useful reference points along the way. (If you think I’m kidding, here are quotes from the two opposite camps on the Keystone XL pipeline that define the battleground: “If Canada proceeds [with development of the oil sands] it’s game over for the climate” James Hansen, NASA PHD. “The $7 billion pipeline…will create 20,000 jobs:13,000 in construction, 7,000 in manufacturing.” TransCanada – so that’s it? Those are the two ends of the spectrum? Go ahead, take your for-or-against position based on that “information” and see how that feels in your tummy…).
This website is neither pro-business nor pro-environment. It is here to explain what is, and why it got that way. Good vs. evil makes for fun movies, but if you have a sincere question about the energy industry and JUST WANT SOME CLEAR F*CKING ANSWERS then hopefully this site helps.