What Someone Needs to Ask the Presidential Candidates

by | published March 7th, 2012

Kent is in Europe this week, advising on oil supply concerns in cash-strapped nations.

And it’s getting serious over there.

As he noted on Fox Business last week, Greece imports nearly 30% of its oil from Iran, and the country needs fuel in order to keep its economy moving in these uncertain times.

I don’t think our leaders or media say this enough, but energy is the catalyst of economic growth and human progression. And a lack of reliable fuel sources will only make this teetering European economy even more susceptible to its ongoing debt woes.

The last 100 years of prosperity in the U.S. was not driven by abstract ideals like the “American spirit.”

Cheap, efficient energy sources fueled our growing global economy. They were an underlying driver of a population boom and expansion across the continent. Without them, we wouldn’t have our highways, sprawling suburbs, or supporting infrastructure that has made this country so unique.

But the days of cheap oil are fading fast. Production costs are rising as we shift toward unconventional oil fields and tight gas formations for our sources.

So, once again, we’re looking to alternative forms of energy.

As Brent and WTI prices continue to accelerate, it would appear that now is the best time for nations to begin investing in alternative technologies and developing a long-term energy policy.

But Europe has placed an immense amount of blind faith in massive solar projects in the Sahara desert and unstable northern African nations split by civil war.

Meanwhile, the United States remains mired in green scandals and policy indecision.

And then, there’s that other problem.

There simply isn’t enough money to go around anymore.

President Obama recently said “there isn’t a silver bullet for high gas prices” while touting the need for this nation to wean itself off foreign oil.

But presidential speeches dating back to Nixon have seemed to propose a new silver bullet all while carrying this similar theme of American development and resource potential.

It’s incredible. Take a look…

In 2006, President Bush stated we could “move beyond a petroleum based economy.” In 2000, President Clinton demanded a “long-term energy strategy to maximize conservation and maximize the development of alternative sources of energy.”

In 1988, the first President Bush argued, “there is no security for the United States in further dependence in foreign oil.” President Reagan promised in 1981 to place a greater emphasis on “research of alternative resources.”

In 1979, President Carter proposed the idea of moving toward “strict conservation and to the renewed use of coal and to permanent renewable energy sources like solar power.”

In 1975, President Ford promised the energy “independence we want.” The year prior, President Nixon assured we would “break the back of the energy crisis” and “meet America’s energy needs from America’s own resources.”

Forty years later, we are no closer to having a long-term solution to this elephant in the room.

Once again, the President is returning to similar prose and new ideas. From solar and wind projects touted in 2009, to the recent focus on algae as a solution, this “all-of-the-above” approach doesn’t seem to have any firm structure.

It does, however, assure that public tax dollars will more visceral words, like will be spent cover the ongoing research of these technologies.

Many Americans remain skeptical regarding renewable technologies and the companies involved.

And with good reason.

The recent collapses of Solyndra, Beacon Power Corporation, and Ener1 have been highlighted by political tomfoolery, wretched risk analysis, and downright recklessness when it came to the use of Federal dollars and allowing bonus payments to failed executives.

But this isn’t just the result of crony capitalism or financial malpractice.

It’s really this country’s lack of an energy strategy.

The U.S. government formed the Department of Energy in order to consolidate energy policy and provide solutions to the ongoing challenges of energy development. Then, agency leaders apparently forgot about coming up with that plan. Instead, they expanded to more than 100,000 employees and a $24 billion budget and got hard to work on determining what sort of light bulbs Americans should use.

With our cheap, conventional sources tapped around the world, it’s time for the United States to get real about its energy future.

Americans remain nervous about the direction of the nation, and the political sideshows regarding “who said what about who” has distracted from the real issues. Perhaps misdirection is the plan, but eventually this political game will have its economic consequences.

The very idea of $5 gasoline in 2000 seemed laughable, and certain Members of Congress argued that even if we began developing new energy fields here in the United States, that supply wouldn’t have come online for a decade.

Well, here we are. Ten years later, and no closer to a solution.

Instead, we’re only being offered short-term solutions like opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserve or increasing regulations and taxes to pay for alternative programs.

It’s time to get serious.

It is my hope that the mainstream media asks just one question this election cycle. In fact, they can use this version, free of charge, so long as it’s asked directly when the debates begin.

“Energy is the catalyst of economic progress in America. What is your long-term energy plan to provide stability and predictability for Americans’ budgets and to maintain economic growth over the next four decades?”

This is a very simple question – one that doesn’t require a complex answer.

But if the candidates stammer, deflect, spin, shift blame, or fall back on the premise that throwing money at the problem is the most viable solution…

Then it’s time to find new candidates and a new direction.



Editor’s Note: Whether we want to admit it or not, the cost of oil is going to rise. And investors are certainly nervous.

That’s why people all over the world are turning to Kent.

Kent continues to show his Energy Advantage subscribers how to profit in these uncertain markets. And it doesn’t take much money to make huge gains. Even a small “grub stake” could bring you significant returns. Seriously. This is big.

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  1. Dick Korn
    March 7th, 2012 at 12:54 | #1

    Why not promote the Pickens Plan? As Kent knows natural gas is used all over Asia for transportation.

  2. Ann
    March 7th, 2012 at 13:07 | #2

    I’ll say it again and again Nuclear Powered energy is the only answer. If it’s good enough to power submarines and aircraft carriers with hundreds of personnel suffering no ill effects it’s good enough for all countries.
    The fear of a nuclear bomb being the result is poor education. If the world population is eliminated from bomb attacks what has been gained? Several countries have already supplied their power from nuclear. It’s expensive to build a plant and safeguards must be strict but if oil and gas supplies are shrinking, solar energy is doubtful especially in the north. Grain will be needed to feed the growing population, so what is left to supply energy? NUCLEAR POWER and massive education on it’s merrits!!!

  3. Robert Berke
    March 7th, 2012 at 13:18 | #3

    An article in Asian Times describes Russian energy and trading companies (Gunvor, Lukoil, Rosneft) buying up Eurozone refineries on the cheap because of high oil prices and the Eurozone recession. These companies are willing to accept narrow profits and await a European recovery. My question: should we be view our US refineries in the same light?

  4. Chuck S
    March 7th, 2012 at 13:27 | #4

    It should be obvious Obama is attacking energy. From stopping the keystone XL pipeline to stopping a lot of offshore drilling (while loaning/giving $billions to Brazil to offshore drill) to draconian restrictions on coal to not allowing drilling in ANWR Alaska, Obama is the problem, not the solution. Allowing US domestic energy – with reasonable restrictions – is the answer, at least for a few decades.
    I think most alternative energy takes a lot of energy to create. It takes about as much energy to make corn ethanol as you get out of it. If the government subsidies it a lot, it’s probably wasteful. I think it takes more energy to make a prius than most drivers will save with it. In the case of the prius, I think a lot of people buy it because they see the gas mileage and don’t sufficiently consider the higher cost. They also probably think they’re helping the planet.
    Obama and his energy secretary have both said they’re for higher gas prices.

  5. Charles Riley
    March 7th, 2012 at 13:34 | #5

    Ann is certainly right. However, a modern design for a nuclear plant using liquid fluorine salt Thorium reactors, as recommended by the 1962 AEC Report to the President. They are far more safe, Far cheaper to build, and will produce energy at much lower cost. If you are interested in extensive references, email me.

  6. Andy J
    March 7th, 2012 at 13:48 | #6

    An energy policy comes from only one place, and it’s not the President… It’s the congress… Put the blame where it belongs… This being said, it can’t happen…

    We need the oil/gas now, but I also agree with Ann… nuclear power is where we need to be going… and now…

  7. Larry Cope
    March 7th, 2012 at 13:55 | #7

    I foresee Gov Mitt Romney as the only candidate who would have the wisdom and gumption to deal directly w/ the USA energy crisis. I can guarantee that Pres Obama cannot. His socialistic agenda has failed miserably thus far. And he is too “green” (pun) in the energy sector to maintain an adequate national security/ defense system in the face of Iran and others choosing to see only bull “red”.

  8. March 7th, 2012 at 14:00 | #8

    Chuck, please check your facts before posting. You have been listening to too much Fox News.
    Clearly it is in the interest of the big oil companies to discourage research into improving the efficiency of wind and solar power. We just aren’t there yet.
    The oil companies have demonstrated that they cannot be relied upon to regulate themselves with regard to environmental safety (ask the people on the Gulf Coast). Drill and frack when it’s safe for American citizens, not before. ANWR restrictions predate the Obama administration, btw.
    And exactly what is so appealing about air pollution?

  9. Johan louw
    March 7th, 2012 at 14:23 | #9

    Question to Kent: where do we go with MMLP? It seems to be in rough waters with seriously declining earnings estimates and a strong sell by Zacks.

    Thank you for your early response.


  10. March 7th, 2012 at 14:37 | #10

    The Prez is doing everything he has said he would do. His buddy has always been and will always be George Soros. We pay for his Brazil dealings.

  11. LindaE
    March 7th, 2012 at 14:37 | #11

    Obama didn’t “stop the XL pipeline”. The “energy” industry is like a 500-pound gorilla. It expects to bulldoze its way through wherever it wants to go without regard to the damage it does. If anyone objects, the gorilla throws s–t at him/her. All the chest-beating and roaring amount to a tantrum. When the pipeline is built (and it will be), it will stay there for decades. If it were coming through YOUR yard, would you want it to be safe and not leak into YOUR drinking water? In addition, the pipeline is not for the purpose of providing gasoline for YOUR commute, it’s to provide gasoline for export to increase oil company profits.

  12. david mann
    March 7th, 2012 at 14:44 | #12

    dear kent even though you have not covered the falklands oil companies
    can I ask you how high you think boaders and southern will go If they hit oil in the south Island region?
    Is there a reason why you have not covered this region?,as I have shares In this company.I love reading your work.

  13. eric taylor
    March 7th, 2012 at 14:45 | #13

    Uranium is dirty to dig up, and nobody wants to store it for
    one million plus years. Nuclear energy would fail if Obama
    would stop subsidizing it as green(sic)energy! Perhaps Thorium
    based nukes would work, because of the only one thousands of years
    storage, and you can’t make dirty bombs from the waste so efficiently.

    If the infrastructure of solar is integrated (not in America’s bad
    political environment), it really works quite well.

    Keep on trucking on your vision quest.

  14. Edward
    March 7th, 2012 at 16:56 | #14

    To follow up on Thorium, my understanding is several of the new plants in India will use this fuel.

  15. jaques de morton
    March 7th, 2012 at 18:24 | #15

    I have been listening to left wing loonies for years rabbiting on about solar power, wind power, tidal power, hot rock power. It is all a fabian dream, and it doesn’t work.
    Here in Australia, we have abundant resourses of coal and uranium. The interior of our nation is totally stable, useless desert; ideal for storing nuclear waste. What a shame our present government cannot add up one plus one.
    The way to go is obviously nuclear power generation. Until we get these power plants underway, burn coal for energy. Carbon dioxide is good for this planet. Global warming(now called climate change) is a lie.
    There are people who would like us to go back to the stone age. Except for them.
    If you are cold, light your fire; if you are hot, turn on your cooler.if your goverment gives you a hard time, vote them out.
    It is illegal for wealthy people to steal bread and sleep under bridges.

  16. Ian
    March 7th, 2012 at 19:05 | #16

    Kent since you have just been in UK you might like to tell the US folks what we pay for regular gas (or petrol as we quaintly call it).
    140 pence per litre. At 1.58 USD to 1 UKP that is USD 2.21 per litre or USD 8.36 per US gallon. That is mainly tax, but it does show where a cash strapped President might tighten the thumbscrews.

  17. Robert Berke
    March 7th, 2012 at 19:55 | #17

    @Chuck S
    Obama didn’t stop the Keystone pipeline. Instead his State Dept approved it, only to be countered by the Republican Governor of Nebraska who wanted the route changed and a new environmental impact report. Everyone knows the Keystone will be approved, once we’re passed.

  18. Todd J. Smith
    March 7th, 2012 at 20:55 | #18

    Cheap oil is running out so the real solution to America’s energy future is alternatives to oil, like fuel efficiency, electricity, and LNG, CNG for big rigs (Pickens Plan).

    Battery swapping stations like those proposed by the company Better Place would make electric cars affordable and usable in real life. In the Better Place model, car companies build inexpensive electric vehicles (Renalt/Nissan is building them now) that accept standardized batteries but you don’t buy the battery. Another company (Better Place) supplies the battery and charges you for the charge. You can charge your car at home, or when out, go through a battery swapping station. The battery swapping stations would have many batteries that can store energy from sources like wind and solar. This is what Denmark is planning to do with their vast wind generation.

    Electrify out railroads and get them off oil. The military wants this for national security reasons so we can always move goods in case of an oil shortage. Do it now, put people to work. Let the army corp of engineers do it once we pull all our troops out of harms way. The railroads could become the much needed grid for wind in the midwest and along the coast and concentrated solar plants (as cheap as coal with no pollution or fuel costs) in the southwest.

    NC State University did a recent study that showed that solar was now cheaper than new nuclear plants.

    Oil is actually much more costly then most of us realize. For 30 years we have maintained a Aircraft Carrier Group (the ships,planes,personnel,pay and benefits,retirement,etc) in the persian Gulf simply to guarantee the free movement of oil out of the middle east. Add this federal tax subsidy to it and you have gas over $12 per gallon. America is the only one paying for it.

    We can get off of foreign oil and it’s not by doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

  19. March 7th, 2012 at 22:46 | #19

    Developing alternative fuels, vehicles to use them and the infrastructure required will take years. Having people conserve will kill the economy even more and people can’t go back. All those luxuries of the past have become necessities we cannot do without. Transportation is one of our greatest wasters of energy. By using good problem solving methods, a small group of Industrial Designers, including myself, have come up with the start of the design of a system which in the hands of the right people ( not the government ) can solve most of the problems with existing transportation relatively quickly. It would be far more efficient with energy, time and money. It would save lives and property damage. We have done this for the good of people and our country. Take a look at this work in progress. and give us your thoughts

  20. Sailor Jo
    March 7th, 2012 at 22:51 | #20

    If one only takes the basics about nuclear power it seems to be great. But there have been bad catastrophes in the meantime and many events will never be publicised. The current reactors are not terrorist proof.

    Even a big country with lots of deserts like the US does not have a final resting place for nuclear waste. Germany believes they have a place and a method to bury nuclear waste but political discussion does not allow this method to be used. So the existing reactor buildings are used for Nuclear waste. That is the main reason why Germany is pulling out of nuclear power generation.

  21. Sailor Jo
    March 7th, 2012 at 22:57 | #21

    @Todd J. Smith
    The number one thing the US needs to do is cut waste. Cutting waste is profitable in two ways: Reduction in waste lowers cost for consumers and upgrading power plants and the power grid creates jobs.

    It is said that about 50% of the generated electricity in the US never gets to the customers because of the outdated power grid. If that is true it would be fantastic to recreate the power grid near rail road lines and electrify them. There is enough cheap gas in the center of the country to get going.

  22. Roger H. Werner
    March 8th, 2012 at 02:07 | #22

    Mr. Baldwin I do not know how old you are but I was an adult when Nixon gave his 1974 speech on energy. I recall every President’s promises about energy policy. 40 years later we are still waiting for energy policy. Why do you think that is the case? For 40 years corporations that control energy, primarily petrochemical corporations, have fought every single effort to create sensible energy policy because they lose money with one. Chevron, Exxon, Unocal, and the Koch Brothers are not going to make any money cutting energy use or by moving to sustainable energy sources. Today, Republicans cry for more drilling when total US oil reserves are less then 5% of the world supply. Let’s destroy entire ecosystems for oil! Have you seen northern Alberta from space? The localities with tar sands have been totally destroyed. Those ecosystems will never recover. Now we want to bring that horrendous sludge to Texas through the middle of the US when Canadians don’t want a pipeline through Canada? The ONLY reason the global economy has made a few people very wealthy has been the availability of cheap energy. Talk about waste: We grow cotton in California, ship it raw to Guatemala where it is loomed into cloth, where it is then shipped to Southeast Asia where cloth is made into clothes, and then shipped back to California for sale as final pro9duct. This system was set up to exploit cheap labor and cheap energy. In reality, globalization was never a very good idea because it is wasteful. But what the heck, Americans have to have $10 t-shirts and $20 jeans or else life as we know it comes to an end. We need a national energy policy. Carter tried to give us one but the American electorate ran him out of DC on a rail and Reagan promised us good times and good times we had…but at the expense of responsible energy policy. Nuclear power should have died decades ago…we seem to have learned nothing from Japan’s 2011 disaster…we still think we can build safe nuclear when in fact that can never happen. Solar/wind power sound great until one realizes we need to build entirely new infrastructure to transfer new power to the existing grid…that has substantial environmental consequences. The cornerstone of any energy policy must be conservation but that’s not very popular with the energy companies or Americans because it requires sacrifices and we can’t be having any of that now. We have put the nuclear industry back in the energy equation…do you honestly think they have the slightest interest not building more nuclear power plants? The hell with what people want…for crissakes popular sentiment decided decades ago that nuclear power was a huge negative and so what does the NRC do? We cannot build/drill ourselves out of our dependence on energy and there probably isn’t enough total energy on the planet to maintain worldwide growth. What does that mean? You don’t think the answer to your question is complex? Are you really that deranged? The answer is incredibly complicated because it involves the big energy corporations to take a huge hit in their bottom line, it means the end to nuclear power, it means deciding if new infrastructure for solar/ wind is worth the financial/environmental costs, and it means cutting out total energy use. It means no Keystone XL Pipeline. Do you honestly believe the American political class will exercise the leadership required to develop tough choices and then make them stick? Each party is too interested in telling the electorate what they think we want to hear. Hey lets just drill more holes and that will solve our problems. Let’s do nuclear! Let’s import tar sand, lets get shale oil…. Do you honestly believe any president will tell the American Petroleum Institute that the US must cut its petroleum use by 5% every year for the next 10 years? Corporations involved with energy development will not respond the national interest because they have no national interest; so let’s get real here. Both parties must agree the foundation of any viable energy policy is conservation and that we have to develop new sources of energy that don’t destroy the air/water we need for survival. Only then we won’t have a national energy policy.

  23. Roger H. Werner
    March 8th, 2012 at 02:12 | #23

    @Ann When will people like you understand that nuclear power can never be safe. Ask the people near Fukashima about nuclear power safety. How can I say not near me and support nuclear power? What place on this planet can ever be truly safe from natural disaster? Humans have been deluding ourselves for generations that we can beat nature. Quite simply we can’t. And now we have world terrorism to fret over. Let’s flay a jet into a nuclear power plant? How do we defend against the unthinkable Ann?

  24. Roger H. Werner
    March 8th, 2012 at 02:22 | #24

    @Chuck S Chuck do you want the Keystone Pipeline passing through your ranch? Do you even have a ranch? The Keystone Pipeline is a stinker. They can’t build the pipeline through Canada because Canadians don’t want it so let’s sell it to Americans…they’ll buy anything if there’s short term profit in it. Have you bothered to research the effects of the Gulf oil disaster or do you simply accept BP’s word that everything is fixed? It isn’t fixed. The Gulf Coast is dying because it has been polluted with oil but what the heck lets drill more off shore wells. I mean we can’t kill what we have already killed right? The total US oil reserve would keep this country going for more than a few years so drilling isn’t the answer. Alberta has already destroyed the northern plains ecosystem–don’t believe me? Look at a satellite image: It is dead and will never come back. And you want to bring this sludge to Texas? Do you have any idea what a disaster a breach in that pipeline would create? Is it passing through or near your land? I wouldn’t want it in my state. If this sludge is so previous then it should be processed in Canada with oil shipped to British Columbia. Keep the sludge in Canada and send the processed oil to us. It may cost more but perhaps that price is worth paying. I don’t know the economics but I do understand how toxic this sludge and why the pipeline was rejected on first pass.

  25. Roger H. Werner
    March 8th, 2012 at 02:26 | #25

    @Todd J. Smith We have an almost inexhaustible supply of natural gas and we should use it. We need massive conservation efforts. We need distributed solar and wind power (lets cut out the energy delivery companies where possible). That any sane person could think nuclear power and oil are solutions to US energy needs is incomprehensible.

  26. Mike Martin
    March 8th, 2012 at 03:49 | #26

    I could not have said it better. I know I am aging myself but I can clearly remember each of the crises referred to above. Sad, isn’t it that we have this remarkable inability to learn from history. No wonder we are suffering the same energy – related curse we endured some forty years ago. I really doubt that there is even one politician in existence today that could provide us with a credible solution to our energy problems free of political influence and crap in general. But we can always hope – – –

  27. Alex White
    March 8th, 2012 at 11:17 | #27

    There is a solution. Andrew West in Austin, Texas has it – burning natural gas cleaner (oxy-fuel) can replace coal, produce synthetic (domestic fuels)and reduce CO2 80% and our reliance on foreign oil by more than 50%.

    He’s solving some other important problems, too. Have a look:

    – Alex

  28. Doris kelsey
    March 8th, 2012 at 20:18 | #28

    I am having problems interpeting this “It does, however, assure that public tax dollars will more visceral words, like will be spent cover the ongoing research of these technologies.” Please translate.

  29. Chuck S
    March 8th, 2012 at 21:05 | #29

    T Boone Pickens started building a big wind farm and wanted the government to build the transmission lines. If this failed with big subsidies on wind power not enough – also nweeding big subsidies for the transmission lines, it’s obvious that wind is much more expensive than conventional power.

    To build a wind farm, you have to burn a lot of fossil fuel to dig out the iron and copper ore, ship it, refine it, form it into generators, towers, transmission lines, etc. Then build the towers, etc. I think having 500 2Mwatt wind generators takes more copper and iron than having a 1 Gwatt coal generator. And you need the 1 GWatt backup generator in addition to the 500 2 Mwatt generators. Since it takes much more stuff, it takes more energy and other resources to build. Maybe it’ll save more energy than it takes to build and maybe not. We really need to know the true total cost of these things.

    Todd said “NC State University did a recent study that showed that solar was now cheaper than new nuclear plants”. Maybe, but I’d like to see the study. We’re full of phoney studies. Any university that says that alternative energy doesn’t work will be greatly frowned upon and maybe lose funding. Solyndra, evergreen, and other solar companies went broke despite huge subsidies, so in the real world solar must not be that cost-effective. The cost of semiconductors has been dropping for decades, so there is some hope that solar will be cost effective someday. In some niche applications it is, but I don’t think for most of our large-scale energy needs.

    Obama interfered with the Gulf cleanup. A lot of countries and companies wanted to help with the cleanup, but Obama blocked a lot of them. There were US ship that could have helped, but Obama kept them back, supposedly in case they were needed elsewhere. The governor of Louisiana wanted to put up earth berms, to stop the spill, but the feds wouldn’t let hem. I think he eventually did anyway. From what I’ve heard, the people on the Gulf coast depend much more on the oil industry than the fishing industry. Obama’s stopping some offshore drilling hurt their economy – and the US economy – a lot.

    Obama could propose to congress opening up ANWR anytime. He could try doing it without congress, like he does a lot of things. He may have voted against ANWR in the few days he was in the Senate – I think the would have if he was there when it came up. It would be interesting to see how he voted when legislation came up mid-2008 to open up more offshore drilling.

  30. Kirk
    March 9th, 2012 at 13:01 | #30

    Sadly, during the 2008 election Paris Hilton did a comic response to McCain’s campaign using her name. In it she outlined a intelligent short and long term energy plan, finishing off with “see you bitch’s at the debate.” How is it that Paris Hilton’s writers can come up a good energy policy and Washington can’t? For laughs you should find the clip, it was extremely clever.

  31. Cole
    March 9th, 2012 at 19:04 | #31

    What about algae oil? We have flown planes and driven cars with it.

  32. March 13th, 2012 at 15:40 | #32

    It has been known for 100 years, that adding a small amount of hydrogen
    and oxygen by electrolysis, under the hood, only available when the car is running, can produce a 20% savings in MPG of gasoline. Korea has it operating in all their heavy trucks. Organized to train installers of the separate add-on of equipment, one company offers loans and a proprietory certificates (4) for each size vehicle. It is especially valuable in 18 wheelers for food transport. To do all the vehicles in America could create over 75 million jobs at good wages. The cost is minimal and loans are available.

  33. enthusceptic
    March 17th, 2012 at 07:40 | #33

    In an interview with an energy insider, he said that NG is the “transition fuel” before renewables become viable. It seems that the solution is right under our noses.
    Yes, a lot of projects and companies have failed, but the time will come for renewables with better batteries etc. It’s a learning process and development process.

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