Saturday, July 23, 2016

Could Trump Deliver U.S. Energy Independence?

"We will become and stay totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel" -- Donald Trump.

Key Background Points for Today's Blog: In discussing U.S. foreign oil dependency, two measures are used:
  • Gross Imports % -- Total Imports/Total Petroleum Used.
  • Net Imports % -- (Imports minus Exports)/Total Petroleum Used.
  • What does Energy Independence even mean? In a context of U.S. foreign energy independence, it is oil and only oil that's relevant.

    Oil remains the dominant fuel used in the U.S., accounting for ~37% of total energy consumption in 2015. Oil is consumed mostly within the transportation sector, with very little used for electricity generation (~1%).

    Metrics Used: Almost always when U.S. foreign oil dependency is discussed in the Media, it will be net imports that is being referenced. Inferring this metric, the EIA states "In 2015, about 24% of the petroleum used by the United States was imported from foreign countries -- the lowest level since 1970".

    (Note: EIA data available on-line only goes back to 1973)

    But only citing net imports does't tell a whole story. Of the total petroleum used in the U.S. in 2015:

  • A whopping 49% came from foreign countries (gross imports)1;
  • 25% was exported (mostly as refined products, e.g. gasoline & diesel);
  • Resulting in net imports of 24% (49% minus 25%).
  • (1) About 78% of gross petroleum imports is crude oil.
    In 2015, the U.S. consumed about 19.4 million barrels per day; imported
    ~9.4 MMb/d ; exported ~4.8 MMb/d; with resulting net imports of 4.6 MMb/d.

    In using Net Imports as the most commonly cited metric, an assumption is inferred that Exports must reduce the foreign dependency of Gross Imports. Today, we will explore whether this is an appropriate assumption.

    Gross Versus Net: The significance between gross versus net imports is a relatively recent development. For decades prior to the current boom in domestic oil production, yearly U.S. exports were very constant at ~5% of total petroleum used. However, during the past 9 years (breakthroughs in fracking, horizontal drilling), two things have dramatically changed:

    1. Field production of oil/other petroleum liquids has more than doubled.2
    2. Petroleum exports have increased by 5 times.3
    3. (2) From 5.5 million barrels per day (2006) to 12.6 million bpd (Feb. 2016).
      (3) Primary U.S. petroleum exports have been diesel, gasoline, and natural gas liquids.
    Percentage of U.S. Petroleum Exports
    Thus, while it may be technically correct that U.S. dependence on foreign oil (using the metric of net imports) is at the lowest level in 45 years, the composition of this metric is very different today than in 1970.

    1970
    2015
    Change
    Gross Imports:
    29%
    49%
    +20%
    Exports
    05%
    25%
    +20%
    Net Imports
    24%
    24%
    zero

    Looking at the above numbers, one might "conclude" that the U.S. is now just importing more crude, refining it, and then exporting the end-use products of this foreign oil (gasoline, diesel) -- with a "net" of zero.

    But the Import/Export paradigm (model) just isn't this simple due to:
    1. Configuration/Design of many U.S. Refineries to use heavy oil.
    2. U.S. Refineries using financial arbitrage to gain competitive advantages in high value World Gasoline/Diesel Markets.

    Foreign Sources of Oil: This metric can also be misleading. While it is emphasized that Canada is the "single" largest foreign country supplier to the U.S. (2.81 million bpd) -- OPEC countries import a comparable amount of oil (2.65 million bpd).4

    U.S. Petroleum Imports
    (2015)
    Understanding Some Oil Basics: In long-term forecasts through 2040, the EIA projects that U.S. dependency on imported oil (net imports) will continue at an ~25% level.

    Historical and Projections of U.S.
    Oil Production & Consumption:
    So with the U.S. oil boom, why are we still importing so much foreign oil? The answer is found in the fact that not all crude oil is the same. It can have a density ranging from heavy to light, sour (high sulfur content) or sweet; priced internationally (Brent) or priced domestically (West Texas Intermediate).

    Type of Oil: In 2015, ~90% of imported crude oil was heavier, with a gravity below 35 degrees API. At the same time, more than 70% of the crude oil produced in the Lower 48 states was light oil or condensate with an API gravity above 35 degrees.

    As the below chart illustrates, as U.S. production of light & medium crude has increased, U.S. refineries have reduced their imports of lighter oils.
    However, note that imports of foreign heavy crudes have increased.

    U.S. Oil Imports by Type
    The market value of a crude stream reflects its density and sulfur content. Crude oils that are light and sweet (low sulfur content) are priced higher than heavy, sour crudes.

    This is because products like gasoline which sell at a significant premium to other products (e.g., residual fuel oil) can be more easily and cheaply produced using lighter, sweeter crude oil in simpler refineries.5

    Note how close Brent and WTI are in characteristics.

    Pricing Benchmarks for Oil: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is a benchmark at which oils produced in the U.S. trade. Internationally, about two-thirds of all crude contracts reference a Brent benchmark. For various reasons, internationally priced oil (Brent) has traded at a premium to domestic priced crudes (WTI) for the past decade6.

    Stated another way, domestic U.S. oil has been trading at a discount from Internationally priced Brent Oil.

    Spread Between Brent Versus WTI
    6 Historically, some reasons have included the U.S. export ban on most crudes resulting from the Arab Oil Embargo in the 1970's; excess domestic production and storage.

    What the Heck Is Going On? With the exceptional increase in U.S. oil production from tight shale formations/fracking (e.g., North Dakota, Texas, etc.) there is good and bad news:

    1. Most of this oil is high quality light crude, relatively easy to refine in refineries that are not terribly complex.
    2. However, many U.S. refineries can not use this lighter oil.

    Design of U.S. Refineries: Prior to the shale boom, many U.S. Refiners guessed wrong in their planning. They spent billions of dollars to configure plants for heavier and sour foreign oils (the type from Canada and OPEC countries). For example, a high percentage of refineries (especially the Gulf Coast) have coking capacity that can upgrade heavy crude oil into higher-valued lighter products.7

    (7) As of January 1, 2014, there were 133 operating refineries with atmospheric crude oil distillation units (ACDU) totaling capacity of 18.9 million barrels per stream day. Heavy capacity denotes refineries with coking capacity; light capacity denotes refineries without coking capacity..

    As a result of this infrastructure investment, the U.S. now has more complex Refineries than anywhere else in the world -- as shown in the below graphic which includes the Nelson Complexity Index:

    Understanding the U.S. regional (called PADDs) composition of refineries ranging from simpler to complex (catalytic crackers, reformers, cokers) help explain the type of oils primarily used within each region.8
    (8) Recognizing that higher and lower API oils are always blended for specific Refineries to optimize production.

    For example, Refineries in PADD 1 (East Coast) are generally not terribly complex and thus will use more lighter oils. In PADD 3 (Gulf Coast), 81% of Refineries have coking capacity -- explaining their use of more heavier oils.
    Oil Field
    Production
    Primary Source & Type of
    Crude Used in Refineries9
    PADD 1
    01%
    Domestic Light
    PADD 2
    20%
    Canada Heavy
    PADD 3
    60%
    Heavier Foreign
    PADD 4
    08%
    Canada Heavy & U.S. Light
    PADD 5
    11%
    50% Foreign Heavy
    Total
    100%

    The overwhelming majority of Canadian oil goes to PADD 2. Most of the Middle East imports are received in PADD 3 (e.g., Saudi Arabia owned Motiva Refineries). Heavy crude imports from Mexico and Venezuela also primarily go to PADD 3 (e.g., Venezuela's CITGO Refineries). The majority of African oil is consumed in PADD 1.
    (9) U.S. Department of Energy Report, pages 15, 26.

    Arbitrage: But historically, there's been more to understanding U.S. imports and exports other than just Refinery configuration -- something called arbitrage.

    Oil Arbitrage: The practice of U.S. Refineries buying lower cost U.S. light oil (pegged to WTI), refining it, and exporting/selling gasoline to World markets that mostly used higher cost oil (pegged to Brent).

    Gasoline is an international commodity. A U.S. refiner could as easily sell their product to the international market if that would maximize their profit. According to the U.S. Department of Energy study, "Brent crude oil prices are more important than WTI crude oil prices as a determinant of U.S. gasoline prices".10

    Thus, U.S. Refineries have had two highly significant market advantages in selling high-end products to both the U.S. and World markets (gasoline to Mexico & South America; diesel to Europe):

    1. Financial Arbitrage on lighter oils.
    2. Ability to use lower cost heavier crudes in complex Refineries.
    The impact of these structural advantages are reflected in the below graphic -- where U.S. Refineries can have a profit margin as much as $6/bbl over their international competitors:10
    (10) US refining flexibility sustains export opportunities, profitability.

    Nobody Knows Just How Dependent the U.S. is on Foreign Oil?   As previously argued, using a dependency metric of Net Imports would be totally appropriate under a paradigm/model where crude is imported, refined, with the end-product (e.g., gasoline) of this foreign oil exported:
    But the Import/Export Paradigm isn't this simple as U.S. Refineries also:
    (1) Process Domestic lighter crudes into gasoline and diesel fuel for export;
    (2) Import heavier foreign crudes for Domestic consumption:

    Additional Flows of U.S. Refineries' Imports/Exports
    Exporting gasoline produced from domestic light crude to China wouldn't
    decrease U.S. foreign dependency on heavy crude imports from Saudi Arabia.

    Thus in using Net Imports as a dependency metric, it would be important to know its composition. Remember, the basic tenent in using Net Imports is that Exports decrease U.S. Gross Imports dependency.11
    (11) Gross Imports of 49% minus Exports of 25% equals Net Imports of 24%.

    Incredibly though, not even the Energy Information Administration (EIA) can answer this question:

    "We cannot determine the exact amount of crude oil produced in the United States that is consumed, as refined products, in the U.S."

    In using EIA data though, we can at least frame the "How Much" question of foreign oil dependency -- where of the total Petroleum Consumed, about 50/50 came from Imports and Domestic Production, with 25% Exported:

    In using two fictional scenarios, U.S. Dependency on Foreign Petroleum Resources can be "framed" as somewhere between 32% and 65%:

    Scenario 1: ALL domestic oil is consumed within the U.S.
    Scenario 2: ALL imported oil is consumed within the U.S.

    Petroleum in the U.S.:
    Low Domestic
    Use of Imports
    High Domestic
    Use of Imports
    Total Processed
    100%
    100%
    Exported
    (25%)
    (25%)
    Consumed Only in U.S.
    75%
    75%
    Produced & Used Only in U.S.
    51%
    26%
    Imported & Used Only in U.S.
    24%
    49%
    Foreign Dependency
    32%
    65%

    Potential Actions: Regardless of what "metric" that one believes is appropriate -- Donald Trump is correct in elevating foreign oil dependence as an important issue in this Presidential election:

    While the old GOP mantra of "Drill Baby Drill" and eliminating environmental regulations will assuredly be a Trump meme, will he show depth and breath on this issue? The following are some items that could be proposed:

    Refinery Tax Credits: As discussed, a major cause of foreign oil dependency is the configuration of U.S. Refineries to use heavy oil. Without incentives, Refineries are not going to simply walk away from their sunk investment and spend money to reconfigure yet again to light oils. Federal incentives could be an investment tax credit (similar to solar energy) and/or accelerated tax depreciation (e.g., a one year write-off).

    Oil Production Tax Credit: Another Federal incentive could be a tax credit (similar to yearly credits given to wind and nuclear) for the domestic production (per barrel) of heavy crudes. The U.S. has vast undeveloped resources of heavy oil in the Alaska North Slope.

    Repeal Jones Act on Oil Transportation ; Shipping between U.S. ports costs significantly more than international voyages. This is largely because of a ~100-year-old federal law (Jones Act) which requires domestic cargoes to travel on U.S.built, owned and crewed vessels. A qualifying U.S. tanker currently commands rates from 3 to 4 times more than a non U.S. tanker of the same size.12,13

    The Jones Act explains how importing oil from half way around the world (Middle East OPEC countries of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc.) can be cheaper than transporting oil via tanker from the U.S. Gulf Coast area to East and West Coast markets.

    Tariffs on Imported Oil: While very much of a long-shot, an oil tariff could get political support from two unlikely bedfellows: the domestic oil industry and the renewable energy industry. The domestic oil industry would love a tariff because it protects the industry from the competition of cheaper OPEC oil imports. Saudi Arabia's current price suppression strategy specifically targets the high-cost hydraulic fracturing or fracking in deep shale deposits that has been largely responsible for the rise in U.S. oil production.

    The renewable energy industry might well join the oil industry in supporting such a tariff because a high oil price makes alternatives to oil more attractive.14

    Final Thoughts: When Foreign Oil Dependency is discussed, a metric stated in percentages can lose some of its impact as to a "big picture". The below graphic puts foreign oil dependency in a clearer perspective of dollars. Even using "Net Imports", the trade impact is a whopping deficit/negative $123 billion per year ($246.5 less 62.7 less 60.7).

    The Significance of Oil Imports on the U.S. Trade Balance:

    Facebook:

    Additional Resources:
    US refining flexibility sustains export opportunities, profitability (excellent)
    Summary: Effects of Removing Restrictions on U.S. Crude Oil Exports
    The myth of US self-sufficiency in crude oil -- Energy Matters Blog.
    1st quarter 2016 Refiner Profits Decrease
    Oil Rich Venezuela Imports U.S. Crude Oil
    IEA warns of ever-growing reliance on Middle Eastern oil supplies
    When U.S. President Eisenhauer Restricted Imported Oil

    Energy Information Agency (EIA) Analysis:
    Effects of Removing Restrictions on U.S. Crude Oil Exports
    U.S. Crude Oil Production Forecast Analysis of Crude Types
    What Drives U.S. Gasoline Prices
    U.S. Crude Oil Production to 2025: Updated Projection of Crude Types

    Energy Information Agency Data:

    Thursday, May 14, 2015

    Are You A Global Warming Skeptic, Denier, or Contrarian?

    A previous Blog Post discussed two Opinion Groups that have major disagreements with the IPCC Report on Global Warming/Climate Change -- Skeptics and Deniers. But a Washington Post story presented some thought that a 3rd Category is needed -- Contrarians. Today's Blog critiques these Groups, ways to differentiate between them, and why it's important.

    (1) Good Faith Skeptics. Individuals within this Group generally have several distinct attributes in addressing human-driven Global Warming (called Anthropogenic or AGW):

    Science Uncertainty Beliefs: Probably 99% of Climate Scientists agree on a core of basic beliefs that does represent a consensus on settled science:

    1. CO2 is a Greenhouse Gas;
    2. Adding CO2 will have a warming effect on the Planet;
    3. CO2 levels have risen dramatically during the Industrial Age;1 2
    4. In the past ~200 years, the Earth has warmed.
    5. Since the 1950's, a large part of this warming is human driven.3

    (1) NOAA data for 650 million years; NOAA data for past 1,000 years; IPCC AR5.
    (2) The level of CO2 is now 42% above pre Industrial Revolution levels.
    (3) Views on what "large part" means -- a percentage of ~50% (Curry) to 100% (Schmidt).

    But understanding Climate Science/Change is much more than just this "basic science". Called a "Wicked Problem", it involves extremely complex issues where Climate Scientists can and do sharply disagree in how much and how quickly human driven greenhouse gas emissions will effect global temperatures and regional climates (called attribution) through:

    1. Feedback Loops (e.g., cloud formation);
    2. Impacts on Natural Variability (climate oscillations, e.g., El Nino).
    3. The predictive ability of Forecasting Models (e.g., the "Pause").
    "Good Faith Skeptics" fit into this above science paradigm: They accept a "consensus view of the basic science", but have valid questions of how much and how quickly AGW will effect climate.

    Favored Policy Beliefs: "Good Faith Skeptics" never argue that no actions are needed on AGW. Rather -- based on the "How Much and How Fast" science uncertainty, it's a question of prioritizing actions for:

    1. Mitigation (Energy Efficiency, Renewables, Reducing Air Pollution4);
    2. Energy Technology Research (Nuclear Power, Battery Storage);
    3. Adaptation (Flooding, Health, Agriculture, Water Resources)

    (4) Efforts to reduce short-lived-climate-pollutants (smog, methane, HFCs, and black carbon) -- called "Fast Mitigation".

    Generally, this Group of Skeptics is supportive of both Research and "true" Adaptation initiatives (not just any special interest infrastructure project). AGW Policy conflict with the so-called mainstream "Consensus" primarily occurs over the ideological approach and perceived effectiveness of certain Mitigation options.

    For Policy related current mitigation efforts, "Good Faith Skeptics" are more inclined to align themselves with Conservatism rather than Liberalism. This means that Bottom/Up Policies (flexible and de-centralized) would have much more favor than Top/Down options (e.g., rigid command and control).

    Fundamental Ideological Differences Between Liberal Vs. Conservatism
    When AGW Policy options are opposed/questioned such as a U.S. Carbon Tax (a regressive tax with a questionable global CO2 outcome5), Carbon Trading Schemes (another potential financial derivative play-toy of Wall Street), or a "Federal" Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (that puts decision making into the hands of Politicians in Congress rather than our Engineers) -- it can be the Policy approach, not the science that is being balked at.

    Liberal Vs. Conservative Approaches to Global Warming Policy

    (5) How would a U.S. Carbon Tax impact international trade? Would it simply out-source greenhouse gas emissions to Developing Countries (actually increasing overall emissions)?

    "Good Faith Skeptics" recognize there is no "One-Size-Fits-All" current technology approach or geo-engineering "Silver Bullet" in addressing AGW on a Global basis. They also recognize that AGW is not a "stand-alone" issue (CO2 ppm) -- but is tied to many different issues that effect the prioritization of efforts to improve the quality of life in Developed (e.g., health concerns of smog4) versus Developing Countries (e.g., just having a toilet).

    Portfolio of AGW Current Mitigation Technology Efforts:
    "Good Faith Skeptics" truly care about the poor. That "Love Thy Neighbor" thing is serious, and not just a catch-phrase meme. They hate pubic debate that reduces this issue to partisan ideological differences/theatre and not specific actions to address World poverty.

    Since this Group has strong conservative attributes, Market Capitalism is extremely important to them. They believe that while "compassionate conservatism" should be practiced to Developing Countries, the "big picture" measure of success shouldn't be things like how many home rooftop solar panels are installed through foreign aid.

    It should be how many industrial parks have been created, making cost competitive and lower carbon footprint products for export -- creating prosperity and reducing poverty within a society.

    (2) Deniers: This Group is comprised of those who deny the above widely held (consensus) core of Climate Science beliefs. Typically, this is a denial/dispute of (1) the modern temperature record (including conspiracy theories of manipulating data); and/or (2) any acknowledgement there has been meaningful human influence (AGW) on modern history temperatures.

    In January 2014, U.S. Senator Schatz (D) introduced a Resolution that simply stated: "Climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change". But 49 out of 54 Republican Senators voted against this -- justly earning a label of "Deniers". Republican Senator Inhofe sums up the current Republican majority opinion: "If you don’t accept the disease (AGW), you don’t have to accept any potential cure".

    Included in this Group is a very vocal sub-set of Religious Fundamentalists. Rather than focusing on science, Biblical scripture is cherry-picked (with simplistic literal interpretations) as a "major basis" of denial views.6 This type of "Denier" is especially toxic, demonizing their opposition as Cultist and Worshipers of "Mother Earth" (Gaia) or following a Satanic "Green Dragon".

    This sub-Group needs to go to Sunday School more, studying God's Word that "Dominion Over" doesn't mean "Domination". They need to study science better that reinforces what the Bible teaches us about the consequences of man's actions (which can include changing the Climate).7


    (6) Dr. Stephen Pope has a good lecture on science and religion (at the 56 minute mark)
    (7) Article on Roger Pielke and Florida's changing climate which contradicts Senator Inhofe's statement: “The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate.” “Man can’t change the climate.”

    (3) Bad Faith Contrarians: As described in the Washington Post article, Contrarians are believed to have a politico-psychological trait (some would say a downright obsession) against authoritarianism where issues are framed (staw-man arguments) in extreme terms of black or white, good and evil, individual rights versus socialism. There is rarely, if ever, any nuanced area of gray that could lead to compromise for any mitigation actions.

    Make no mistake about this Group however -- they are highly educated in science/engineering and talk a "very good game" of Reasonableness. But it's a game of obfuscation. In the end-game of taking any meaningful policy action to mitigate the threat of Global Warming/Climate Change -- these "Contrarians" usually end up in the same policy place as "Deniers".

    For Contrarians, Even If God Told Us Human-Driven Global Warming (AGW)
    Was a Real Threat, They'd Demand a 2nd Opinion (probably from Ayn Rand).

    For Contrarians, no scientific argument will ever be good enough; no economic analysis (cost/benefit) for mitigation will ever be justified. They distort and magnify uncertainties as an excuse for inaction for financial or ideological reasons.

    For this Group, Conservatism has been hijacked and transformed from a philosophy of cautious stewardship into an ideology that often encourages individuals to pursue self interest, whatever the consequences to others.

    Good Faith Skeptics Versus Bad Faith Contrarians: Since both Groups are often saying the same thing in AGW science or policy skepticism & opposition -- How does one differentiate between them in trustworthiness?

    Historical Track Record: Reviewing One's overall body of opinion on major enacted or proposed environmental policy measures is the starting point. Is there a clear one-sidedness of only/primarily opposition, or is it a mixed bag (showing objectivity over ideology)? In opposition, are there examples of trying to find "common ground" by offering/supporting or at least having a constructive dialogue (other than just saying no) on mitigation options?

    You Just Might Be a Global Warming "Contrarian" If You
    Oppose/Opposed Most Other Environmental Regulations.

    Environmental Issue:
    Lead & MTBE (gasoline):
    Mercury:
    Smog:
    Air Particulates:
    Acid Rain:
    Ozone Depletion:
    Fluoridation (drinking water):
    Methane:
    Coal Ash:
    Global Warming (AGW):
    Supported
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Opposed

    Contrarians "Frame" their opposition to environmental issues with straw-man arguments of "Big Government", "Socialism", "Conspiracy Theories", "Junk Science", or "Junk Economics" -- and never things like children cancers, autism, dental health, asthma, and IQ development.

    Whether Contrarians run away from their environmental track record or wear it as a badge of honor, they do so with incredible hypocrisy. One one hand they criticize Mitigation Advocates as Catastrophic Alarmists (CAGW) -- but have no problem in their own brand of catastrophic messaging (which time and again has been incorrect) that compliance costs will destroy economies as "the absolute truth".

    Being Disingenuous: Usually, a "dead give away" of a Contrarian is when you hear the statement:

    I am opposed to the policy of Big Government that distorts the Market and picks winners and losers. The free market should be the Driver.

    When Contrarians make their above "Winners vs. Losers" argument it is not their words or even an Ideology (Libertarian) that is the problem. It is their disingenuous inconsistency in "Walking the Talk". As conservative Republican U.S. Senator Grassley (Iowa) states, Contrarians want to have this debate in a vacuum. They show "bad faith" in not wanting to put all energy subsidies on the table for review.

    You Also Just Might Be a Global Warming "Contrarian"
    If You Have Been Inconsistent on Energy Subsidies.

    Which Subsidies Should Be Eliminated?
    Oil Tax Benefits 8
    Electric Utility Tax Normalization 9
    Nuclear Energy:
    - Tax Credit
    - Catastrophic Insurance 10
    - Construction Cap Subsidies 11
    - DOE Loan Guarantees
    - U.S. Export/Import Bank
    - Federal R&D 12
    Renewable Energy:
    - Wind, Solar, Biomass Tax Credits
    - DOE Loan Guarantees (Solar)
    - Solar Net Metering
    - State Programs (Wind, Solar)
    No
     
     
     
     
     
    Yes
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    (8) Tax Credits specifically for oil (not general tax benefits taken by Oil & non-Oil Companies). This includes: (A) Expensing of tertiary injectants; (B) Expensing for intangible drilling costs; (C) Percentage depletion for oil wells; (D) Special amortization for geological costs.
    (9) Normalized versus Flow-Through Tax Benefits for Investor Owned Utilities in Ratemaking.
    (10) Price Anderson Act. Also, special tax treatment for decommissioning nuclear trust funds.
    (11) Energy Policy Act of 2005
    (12) Per Senator Grassley (R-Iowa), $74 billion since 1950

    Selective Outrage: But this isn't just about energy issues. As Contrarians (Anti-Authoritarian Ideologues and/or Special Interests) obsess over solar/wind tax credits, they also show their "bad faith" by continued obstruction to comprehensive tax reform. Where is their outrage over things like tax preferences to Wall St. Hedge Fund Managers? (who brought down the World's economies in 2008).

    Looking For Good Faith: One must always remember though, "Good Faith" is a two-way street. Both sides must demonstrate fairness, objectivity, and grace themselves -- not always looking for a Gotcha! One does not have to agree with every enacted or proposed environmental initiative to be trustworthy. People can also evolve in good-faith from prior opposition positions -- especially in the spirit of trying to find current common-ground.

    “What is the environmental platform of the Republican party? I don’t know either.” ~ Sen. Lindsey Graham A Republican Senator admits his party has no plan on climate change. Yet, they’re trying to block President Obama from acting to address the crisis. http://on.nrdc.org/1N8wn77

    Posted by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) on Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    The constructive dialogue between Republican Senator Lindsey Graham
    and the environmental organization NRDC illustrates what's needed.

    The Importance of "Good Faith Skeptics": If there is any hope in achieving bi-partisan actions, "Good Faith Skeptics" must play the key role. They must take on a role of "Peace-makers", turning down the thermostat of partisan rhetoric -- seeking, nurturing, and building trust in finding "common ground" among very different constituencies/interests.

    Only Through Good Faith Skeptics Can We
    Possibly Find Common Ground On AGW
    As discussed in previous blogs, there are two areas of potential common-ground that may be especially promising:

    1. Reducing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants13("Fast Mitigation");
    2. International Trade (including selling U.S. natural gas to Developing Economies as they transition/bridge to lower-carbon standards14).

    (13) Chemistry and the Linkages between Air Quality and Climate Change.
    (14) But as part of a comprehensive plan -- not as a cherry-picked stand-alone policy action that would only benefit Special Interest Groups. A comprehensive plan of this type would place Deniers (e.g. Senator Inhofe) in a real dilemma, and force Contrarians to be more consistent.

    A Needed Paradigm Shift: The most important thing that "Good Faith Skeptics" must achieve is to clearly demarcate themselves from the "Deniers" and "Contrarians". All too often in opposition to the the so-called 97% IPCC consensus, this line becomes blurred or even indistinguishable.

    Making this distinction isn't about giving up one's values, principles, or beliefs in the name of compromise. It's about defining what one is FOR rather than just always what they are against (and angry all the time). It's about winning the "big picture war" rather than jumping into never ending battles du jour. Its about not allowing to be manipulated into a certain Group.

    Incendiary Comments: Often in media settings, "Good Faith Skeptics" hear things they know shouldn't be said -- but just turn away in silence if the "verbal hand-grenade" supports battling the so-called 97% IPCC Consensus.

    While this silence may "play well" with Deniers and Contrarians, it sure doesn't help in building trust within a critical target group that is "sitting on the fence" (lukewarmers). When terms like "Fraud" or "Hoax" are used, they should be called out for the epithets they are.

    Be Careful Who You Hang Out With: For a moment, let's assume that a parallel World exists -- a World were President Obama (not Reagan) is trying for the first time to address internationally the "Ozone Hole". What would this "debate" look like in today's toxic political environment?
    What would be the reaction if no Montreal Protocol existed and Obama proposed EPA Regulations to unilaterally reduce CFCs in the U.S.? Would we be hearing many of the same arguments from the very Groups that have consistently opposed so many environmental issues in the past?

    Especially for "Good Faith Scientists", they don't need to be loved and admired -- they need to be broadly respected and viewed as the "Fair Umpire". "Fair Umpires" just don't hang out with Las Vegas Bookies.

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    Additional News Stories and Sources:
    The Associated Press (AP) on Labels of Denier, Skeptic, Doubter.
    Use of Labels in the Climate Change Debate -- (Matthew Nesbit OP/ED)
    Gulf Power and Coal Ash