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How to make informed energy policy decisions?

by Jerome a Paris Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 10:26:01 AM EST

Two stories from the UK and one from France today:

UK ministers ignored 'peak oil' warnings, report shows

The government was warned by its own civil servants two years ago that there could be "significant negative economic consequences" to the UK posed by near-term "peak oil" energy shortages. (...)

The report on the risks and impacts of a potential future decline in oil production has just been published – but only after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) was repeatedly threatened under the Freedom of Information Act with forced disclosure.

Les Français se fient à la science, pas aux chercheurs

A la question "Avez-vous confiance dans les scientifiques pour dire la vérité sur les résultats et les conséquences de leurs travaux ?", une minorité de Français répond par l'affirmative.

The French trust science, but not scientists

A minority only of the French give a positive answer to the question: "do you trust scientists to tell you the truth about the results and consequences of their studies?"

Il apparaît aussi – même si la question n'a pas été explicitement posée – que le taux de confiance est le plus bas dans les domaines où l'indépendance des chercheurs, à l'égard du pouvoir politique ou de l'industrie, est cruciale. C'est le cas, là encore, pour les OGM ou le nucléaire. It is clear - even though the question was not explicitly asked, that trust is lowest in areas where the independence of scientists from corporate or political power is crucial. This is the case, for instance, with respect to GMOs and nuclear power.

Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq

Plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world's largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.

What these articles have in common is the temptation for those in power to take decisions in a crucial sector, energy, behind the scenes and with as little input from the population as possible. This naturally means not providing to the population all relevant information, especially if it is not compatible with the preferred decisions. It is good to see that people are not unaware of that - but sadly the result seems to be confusion (including mistrust for those who should be providing the information, be it scientists or the media), apathy, and difficulty to oppose the policy choices of the elites. When people are actually given an (almost) honest choice, like the recent Italian referendum, their choices are unambiguous.

Of course, this is probably why information is withheld and policies prepared out of view...


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Let's not forget that all records of the Cheney energy industry meetings, where Iraq oil was discussed long before 9/11, remain behind closed "national security" doors.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 10:55:11 AM EST
These policy meetings have to be closed to the Public in order to ensure Decision Makers make the "right" (sic) policy decisions.  Opening the discussion to the UnSerious©¹ violates the Principle of Epistemic Closure, contaminating the Decision Making process.  

It is, after all, impossible to maintain the TINA status quo when alternatives are publicly known.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 11:14:49 AM EST
the Iraq story is less than the headline suggests. The report does not say that they went to war for the oil, just that if there was a "post-Saddam" BP wanted the UK government to ensure that not all the fields would go to French and US oil companies.

Not quite the same level of evilness.

(and note how at that time it was fully expected that France would join the attack...)

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 11:45:41 AM EST
except in the US case, which hasn't yet hit the light of day, the discussions of dividing up Iraq's oil predated 9/11. While they may have been limited to US firms, i'd be willing to suspect that US subsidiaries of BP and Shell may well have been invited.

which then casts further doubt on the motives of the UK meetings.

regarding the expectation of French participation in the regime change, didn't a french firm have the major contract with Saddam Hussein?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 01:47:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP's behalf because the oil giant feared it was being "locked out" of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.
....
BP was concerned that if Washington allowed TotalFinaElf's existing contact with Saddam Hussein to stand after the invasion it would make the French conglomerate the world's leading oil company. BP told the Government it was willing to take "big risks" to get a share of the Iraqi reserves, the second largest in the world.

so we know that Washington was already active, including internationally, we just can't prove when.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 01:51:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there's even more, on a wikipedia article which reads to me as written by Cheney himself, together with a special editor for impartiality notes.


The Washington Post reported on November 15, 2005 that it had obtained documents detailing how executives from major oil corporations, including Exxon-Mobil Corp., Conoco, Royal Dutch Shell Oil Corp., and the American subsidiary of British Petroleum met with Energy Task Force participants while they were developing national energy policy. Vice President Cheney was reported to have met personally with the Chief Executive Officer of BP (formerly British Petroleum) during the time of the Energy Task Force's activities. In the week prior to this article revealing oil executive involvement, the Chief Executives of Exxon-Mobil and ConocoPhillips told members of the US Senate that they had not participated as part of the Energy Task Force, while the CEO of British Petroleum stated that he did not know. Regardless of whether the executives were under oath, if these statements were knowingly and materially false and deceptive then they were illegal per the The Fraud and False Statements statute (18 U.S.C. 1001).[13] In response to questions regarding the article, Cheney spokesperson Lea Ann McBride was quoted as saying that the courts have upheld "the constitutional right of the president and vice president to obtain information in confidentiality." [14]

it helps to remember that this is all occurring from cheney's 10th day in office, and the National Energy Task Force issued its report in 2001 (May?), well before 9/11. but then (from halliburton Watch):


In July 2003, after two years of legal action through the Freedom of Information Act, Judicial Watch was finally able to obtain some documents from the task force. Those documents include maps of Iraqi and other mideast oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, two charts detailing various Iraqi oil and gas projects, and a March 2001 list of "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts."


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 02:06:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Am i to conclude from the lack of response that this issue is neither interesting nor meaningful? I would have thought that this was actually the ultimate indictment of the bush admin, way back when.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jun 16th, 2011 at 09:50:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
had an agreement with Saddam for one field (with Lukoil of Russia, IIRC), and had a lot of data which gave it an edge over other companies for that field (1 or 2 years worth of unavoidable work)

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 02:35:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Comments - How to make informed energy policy decisions?
trust is lowest in areas where the independence of scientists from corporate or political power is crucial.

I find this hopeful. It means that the broad population understands the concept of tainted science.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 11:51:46 AM EST
When people are actually given an (almost) honest choice, like the recent Italian referendum, their choices are unambiguous.

Yeah, because the Italian referenda were not referenda on the person of Burlesqueoni.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 12:36:51 PM EST
given that there were 4 referenda, including one pretty specifically about B. (the immunity laws), you might have seen more differentiation between the results on the different votes.

So 95% against nuclear, even in that context, is pretty significant.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 15th, 2011 at 01:31:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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