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"Forget the Rest" blog

For immediate release March 30, 2011 (headlines not all fleshed out in text)

Very important Obama energy policy speech today outlines clean (and not-so-clean) energy initiatives and continuing policies

Makes coded reference to the observed decline in available global oil, decreasing U.S. share of that, and the permanence of these declines

Obama's "goals" for lower oil imports are actually exogenous certainties

Cheney Energy Task Force, Joint Chiefs, Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, and National Security Council have quietly warned of this reality for some years

Decline in oil available and inevitable higher prices doom U.S. economic "recovery," unless massive program in private/public investments stimulated by new laws

Corn ethanol (and all other northern latitude ethanol sources) can provide little to no net energy for fundamental biophysical reasons; further research and demonstration is fruitless

Analysis shows biofuels' rise is the largest reason for high food prices, causing worldwide suffering

Contact: Greg Mello, 505-265-1200 office or 505-577-8563 cell

Albuquerque -- Today's press accounts describe a speech to be given by President Obama in a few moments at Georgetown University in which he will call for a suite of energy policies which aim at, among other things, reducing U.S. imports by one-third by 2025. 

Here's today's policy statement from the White House.

Energy issues are increasingly dominant in economic and foreign policy, so today's speech is a very important one for the Obama presidency, the country, and the world.  It is also extremely important for New Mexico and its economic future. 

The Los Alamos Study Group has led dozens of public discussions on these issues since 2006 and many of its members have followed these issues very closely since that time, building on their prior training and experience.  Executive Director Greg Mello, Director Andrew Lichterman, and President Peter Neils in particular have expertise in these matters.  Greg Mello is a widely-read, Harvard-trained, environmental and energy policy expert. 

We also have numerous pertinent background studies at the ready, should you wish to learn more. 

We are however unable to respond within a single morning with the depth, factual density, and speed we would like, simultaneously!  If you ask, we can very likely respond -- in many areas in depth. 

Mello: "In the broadest terms, the President's speech outlined an energy policy that aims at uniting economic re-development and manufacturing renewal with the urgent need for energy sustainability, especially as regards transportation fuels.  He did not emphasize the military "solution" chosen by the his neoconservative predecessors, which has had the effect of accelerating U.S. economic decline.  While the President's speech contained welcome initiatives, it fell far short of what is need for a successful program of action.  There is very little time, and looming economic and fiscal crises mean there is not time for fallacious optimism and token greenwashing.  A truly emergency program is required, which would put America back to work, and redevelop our cities and many rural areas.  It need not cost the federal government anything, but it will require investment on all our parts, some public and much more private." 

Next week the Study Group will resume a series of weekly public presentations and discussions on energy and climate policies, including nuclear policies, and their related economic effects, in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. 

The first of these presentations will take place Monday, April 4th, at the Albuquerque Mennonite Church, 1300 Girard Blvd NE, 7-9 pm.  The same presentation will be given in Santa Fe on Tuesday, April 5th, 7-9pm, at St. John's United Methodist Church, 1200 Old Pecos Trail, room 116, downstairs.  These first two presentations will consist of a review and critique of the President's proposed policies, as revealed today, and a discussion regarding their importance to New Mexico.
Subsequent weeks' presentations will be in the same places and times.  Other public presentations will be announced in late April.

For now, just take a look at this chart from a presentation by the then senior-most DOE energy analyst in 2009.  It shows a 46 million barrel per day gap between assumed demand and identified sources of oil by 2025 -- the year toward which Obama's policies are aiming.  That's over half the oil being produced today.  In other words, this presenter was saying that half of today's oil may be unavailable by 2025, unless entirely novel and huge new reserves are somehow found -- on the order of five Saudi Arabias.

DOE, Sweetnam, April 7, 2009, from Morrigan, 2010. 
Note that this is “liquid fuels,” not oil.  Some "liquid fuels" have considerably lower fuel value than petroleum.
Until April 2010 the author of this chart, Glen Sweetnam, was the main official expert on the oil market in the Obama administration.  He also headed the publication of the DOE’s annual Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) and International Energy Outlook (IEO).  In April 2010 Sweetnam was transferred to the post of senior director for energy at the U.S. National Security Council.

Dozens of other studies show more or less the same thing.  Here's a presentation by now-Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, given in 2004, with the year 2010 added for clarity by another author:

Net oil exports have already started to decline significantly.  The following chart was prepared using DOE data (from

The rising use of oil in developing countries, especially China, is taking and will continue to take a rapidly increasing fraction of this net exportable oil.  Likewise the use of oil in oil producing countries is inexorably rising. 

Mello: "The realities referred to by the President have enormous implications right across the policy spectrum.  No aspect of American life will remain untouched by the rising costs and declining availability of oil.  Most people understand the problem in general terms, but few understand its imminence and severity.  There can be no true economic recovery without 'making the trend our friend' and liberating the nation's energies -- it's peoples' energies -- to build the sustainable energy and transportation infrastructure and habits we need to survive and to thrive."


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