What industries are hated more on the left than fossil fuel and automobiles? For years, progressives have targeted these sectors through damaging rhetoric and odious public policy, championing the destruction of oil companies and gas-guzzling auto producers. Now that crude prices have slumped into a bear market and one of the biggest automakers is calling it a day in several jurisdictions, environmentalists should be celebrating on the streets, leaving mountains of trash on the ground like they always do.
Oil Goes to the Bears
January contracts for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude are parked above $50, the lowest level since August 2017. Despite the good times in the last couple of years, oil firms have been hurt by the latest slide, since they are potentially just breaking even at this point. Alberta, the oil-producing hub in Canada, could only wish it was able to trade oil at this price.
While Canadian companies have been ramping up output to satisfy demand, export pipelines prevent these firms from keeping up because they lack the capacity. As the supply glut intensifies and storage approaches the limit, Alberta is seeing $14 per barrel. The province is now demanding Ottawa invest in oil-by-rail transportation.
Local experts have encouraged the provincial government to slash production. Premier Rachel Notley, a progressive New Democrat, has heeded the calls and will cut crude by 325,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 8.7%, until stockpiles are drawn down. Should these goals be realized, the reduction would fall to 95,000 bpd until the end of 2019.
Notley said in a statement:
“Every Albertan owns the energy resources in the ground, and we have a duty to defend those resources. But right now, they’re being sold for pennies on the dollar. We must act immediately, and we must do it together.”
Notley and her supporters should be happy now that fewer quantities of oil are being extracted from the ground. That said, the premier is in a precarious situation.
On one hand, she wanted to promote the NDP’s leftist interests, including adopting the full array of feel-good climate change policies. On the other, Alberta is an oil-rich province, and much of the economy and budget depends on crude’s success. How could she balance being green with advancing the oilsands? If she promoted the former, then she could lose widespread voter support. If she championed the latter, then she would abandon her party’s principles.
Ditto for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is implementing a carbon tax because he wants to slap a price on emissions. Akin to the NDP, the Liberals endorse green energy and are socially engineering society to paint their vision of a world free of Texas Tea. However, also like the New Democrats in Alberta, Trudeau is failing to strike a balance between pro-oil and anti-oil.
He may get a standing ovation at various environmental events and Hollywood parties because he says things coming from episodes of Care Bears and he signed the Paris Accord, but his policies should make the left scratch its hive head. Ottawa has purchased the maligned Trans Mountain Pipeline, supported oilsands expansion, and extended $3 billion in extraction incentives and research and development subsidies to the oil giants.
These are, of course, not market-based solutions to energy, but they remain oil-friendly.
His disciples never understood that his actions spoke far louder than his teleprompted words.
This is similar to what happened south of the border when the oil market crashed. Former President Barack Obama routinely railed against Big Oil, but then he would try to have his cake and eat it too. He attempted to distort the market by incentivizing green energy while simultaneously enacting industry-approved measures, like lifting the export ban and allowing drilling on federal lands.
Leftists laud Obama for being the first green president, though the ponies he backed with tax dollars usually crumbled. His disciples never understood that his actions spoke far louder than his teleprompted words.
GM Creates Ghost Towns
When General Motors announced that it was shutting down facilities in Oshawa and four U.S. states, it paved a trail of rebuke and condemnation from politicians of all stripes. President Donald Trump blasted GM, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to support GM workers, unions are fighting tooth and nail, and adversaries are trying to garner political points.
But, like oil, the left should be ecstatic that GM is closing its doors in the small Ontario town.
Prime Minister Trudeau has mendaciously expressed dismay by the closure. It’s mendacious because he is set to introduce a carbon tax that will hurt everybody – business and consumer alike. This is on top of shifting taxpayer resources to green firms. As he blames industry for global warming, GM will stop churning out the conventional automobile in Oshawa. At least it will start producing autonomous and electric vehicles somewhere else!
Shouldn’t this send a thrill up his leg?
Trudeau needs to take a principled stance on the environment file, as he does on construction workers. Until then, the famous George Bernard Shaw quote describes the trust fund leader perfectly: “He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”
War on Crude
Oil has gotten a bad reputation over the years, mostly stemming from over-the-top reportage and An Inconvenient Truth. But why should black gold be as vilified as it is? Crude has changed our lifestyles for the better, from fueling the ambulance truck to keeping the lights on in our homes, from transporting goods across the country to advancing economies. Crude won’t be around forever, and it is an inevitability that the market, even without the state, will shift to alternatives. Until then, let’s celebrate the source that has improved our living standards. Instead of Earth Hour in March, why not Oil Hour where we consume as many things as possible?