Here’s the deal: those who deliver reliable quantities of hydrocarbons at an affordable price get to run things. At least, that’s the way it’s been in North America.
The connection between politics and the price of gas is pretty darn clear. But more powerful still is the nexus between the oil culture and seats of power.
In America, Bush and Cheney provide the link between Houston and Washington. Their first term began with a still-secret energy conference and a critical statement from the Vice President: “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.” [As significant in its way as Bush Sr.’s statement in 1992 that ended any serious discussion about climate-change policy in the States: “The American way of life is non-negotiable.”]
In Canada, the connection between Calgary and Ottawa is obviously the Prime Minister and a Conservative Party rooted in Alberta.
No conspiracies are being charged here. In both countries, people voted in those who they thought could maintain The Deal – and they expect them to deliver.
Two glitches: The oil culture has taken America into Iraq, undermining people’s confidence in the wisdom of their rule. And climate change has turned out to be serious, undermining the oil culture’s vision of an unconstrained future.
Climate-change positions by politicians are directly affected by their assessment of The Deal. Here’s a vivid example: two representatives of the State of Texas quoted in the Houston Chronicle on an issue close to British Columbia: a company -TXU – and their plans to build 11 coal-fired power plants.
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TXU’s plan, which already is thrusting Texas into the TXU’s plan, must still clear a few regulatory hurdles. Its fate likely will be resolved during the present legislative session….
Environmentalists are concerned that the plants will not limit greenhouse gas emissions, and that plants are being rushed through the permitting process to elude gas emission caps that are likely to come within the next few years. The company and its supporters say the state needs the cheap power now.
So far the process of building the plants has met relatively little political resistance. It’s not all that difficult to understand why that’s the case in Texas, but the [January 25th] Forth Worth Star Telegram had a recent article, concerning the opinions of Texas political leaders, that was nonetheless eye-opening. Among the quotes:
“Absolutely,” Gov. Rick Perry replied when asked recently by the Star-Telegram whether there is scientific doubt that human activity causes global warming. “I am not going to put the state of Texas in a competitive economic disadvantage on some science that may or may not be correct.”
State Rep. Phil King said: “I think it’s just bad science. I think global warming is bad science.” The Weatherford Republican has responsibility for electric-utility issues in the House.