12:00 AM, Oct 11, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Anyone who doubts that the deployment of the technologies we have come to call fracking constitutes a revolution should consider this. U.S. oil production has soared by 70 percent in the past six years. American refineries have cut in half their imports from the OPEC cartel, setting off a scramble by those countries to find new markets. Nigeria, once among our top-five suppliers, no longer exports to us a single barrel of its light, low-sulfur oil -- the type produced by fracking. Thanks to a bit of definitional legerdemain that gets partially around an old anti-export law passed when we were deemed excessively dependent on foreign oil, we are set to become a major exporter. Our crude exports are at their highest level since the 1950s, and when, as seems likely, the remaining ban on exports is removed, will rise sharply. Shipments of just the type of crude European refineries need will head there, more Alaskan oil will be shipped to Asia, and global competition will become more intense. RIP theories of “Peak Oil.”
The ripple effects of the glut-induced drop in oil prices to levels not seen since December 2012 are only now beginning to be felt.
· Consumers are no longer grumpy when filling their tanks. Average gasoline prices have fallen from this year’s peak of $3.71 in April to $3.26 now, leaving $170 million in consumers’ pockets every day, money that would have otherwise gone down the tank. That’s the equivalent of a multi-billion dollar annual tax cut that will almost surely buoy retail sales during the Christmas shopping season, one retailers are approaching with more than their usual trepidation. And when proposed natural gas pipelines from producing fields in the Northeast to consuming centers in the South are completed, consumers there will become still richer as heating bills take a tumble.
· Car manufacturers are overjoyed. Lower gasoline prices make it more attractive for consumers to buy the big much-loved SUVs that are not exactly gasoline-sipping machines -- and are the most profitable vehicles produced by U.S. car manufacturers.
· Railroads are finding themselves hauling lots of oil despite the fact that it costs about $10 more per barrel than by pipeline. But shipping by rail from the Bakken shale fields to the Gulf Coast takes only five-to-seven days, compared to forty days by pipeline, and avoids the massive new investment that extending the existing pipeline infrastructure would require.
· Petrochemical and other manufacturers that use large quantities of fracked shale gas find their costs of energy so low relative to those in Europe and elsewhere, perhaps half those in green Germany, that their competitive positions are better than they have ever been.
· The overall economy and our trade balance are being positively affected by our new position as the world’s largest oil producer. Daniel Yergin, the nation’s preeminent energy historian and analyst, notes that “money that was flowing out of the United States and into sovereign wealth funds and treasuries … will now stay in the US, … creating jobs.”
Enough about the grubby stuff of getting and spending. On to what matters most in our turbulent world: power. Joseph Nye Jr., the Harvard professor and father of the concept of “soft power” (preferred by liberals to the hard stuff) in international affairs, tells the New York Times that a “shale gale” is enhancing America’s clout. “If you are attracted to a country or any leader, a lot has to do with the feeling, ‘Do they have momentum? Is the wind in their sails or are their sales flapping? We’ve got a gust.’”
That gust is blowing away some of the revenues Vladimir Putin is counting on to fund his assault on the post-World War II territorial settlement in Europe. Columbia University’s Center for Global Energy Policy estimates that Russia’s Gazprom could lose 18 percent of its revenues as a result of direct competition from exports of U.S. liquefied shale gas, and increased competition from other liquefied natural gas (LNG) previously imported into the U.S. from Qatar and elsewhere, now seeking new markets. That competition will accelerate when new liquefied natural gas terminals are completed and others converted from import to export facilities (projected cost of one such conversion, Texas’ Golden Pass export terminal, joint venture of Exon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum: $10 billion), and will become even more intense when new export terminals in Australia come on line.
9:16 AM, Sep 18, 2014 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
In the late 17th century, times were tough in Scotland. The Stuarts, the Scots’ royal family, had been tossed off the throne of England for a second time, and the country had been excluded from the burgeoning English system of international trade regulated by the Navigation Acts. Even the climate was more miserable than usual: these were the worst years of northern Europe’s “little ice age.”
6:15 AM, Sep 18, 2014 • By JONATHAN FOREMAN
This week’s referendum on Scottish independence may seem like an obscure, perhaps even Ruritanian quarrel to many Americans, but it has profound implications not just for the U.K. and Europe but also for the United States.
Scots debate independence Sep 1, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 47 • By SARA LODGE
If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. This might be the motto of Alex Salmond’s Scottish National party, which since 1934 has been advocating the proposition that Scotland should be an independent country, governed not from London but from Edinburgh and able to make its own policy decisions about defense, immigration, taxation, and spending. On September 18, Scots will finally face a referendum about their future.
11:11 AM, Jul 4, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The hot dog is in decline in America, writes Paul Lukas at Bloomberg, and one thinks, "What isn't?" What institution, anyway. If everything were not in decline, then what would there be for journalists to write about (see Andrew Ferguson on George Packer and Haynes Johnson) and what would politicians have to campaign about?
10:50 AM, Jul 4, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On this 4th of July, I presume that TWS readers are soberly re-reading their Jefferson and carefully studying their Lincoln. But this shouldn't be a day of too much solemnity. So here's a stirring cinematic moment to revisit, from the 1996 hit Independence Day, and enjoy:
12:00 AM, Jul 2, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress declared independence. George Washington declared that day that “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves....The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army.” A useful reminder for us, in a week when we rightly celebrate a Declaration, a document embodying a great idea, that speech needs to be backed up by arms, and that all still depends on the "courage and conduct" of our armed forces.
Fourth of July reflections on the Queen’s Jubilee. Jul 16, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 41 • By GERTRUDE HIMMELFARB
It was perhaps inevitable that our Fourth of July celebrations last week might have seemed anti-climactic after the four-day festivities a month ago accompanying the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Fireworks, however spectacular, cannot compare with the thousand-boat flotilla on the Thames cheered on by masses of river-side spectators (shivering and soaking in torrential rain) or the horse-drawn carriage procession (again, the streets lined with people) from Westminster Hall to Buckingham Palace, the Queen regally bedecked and costumed.
12:00 AM, Jul 4, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
If you're in the mood for reading a bit this July 4th, there are many fine Independence Day speeches and orations to choose from. Here are three that I find particularly moving:
6:30 AM, Jul 4, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Two months ago, I wrote about the plight of a private, Tocquevillian-style civil association in the small town of Orcutt, California. That group, the Old Town Orcutt Revitalization Association (OTORA), has raised $60,000 in private donations to build a flagpole — from which the American flag would fly — encircled by a memorial to the U.S. armed forces. The flagpole and monument would be located between a highway exit and an adjacent park-and-ride lot, at the entrance to the community’s Old Town section. But the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) refused to grant approval for the project. Finally, citing a 9th Circuit Court ruling, CalTrans declared that hanging an American flag on public land constitutes an impermissible act of “public expression.”
In the new issue of National Affairs.5:15 AM, Jul 3, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
You've reread the Declaration of Independence. You've once again enjoyed Jefferson's extraordinary 50th anniversary letter of June 24, 1826, addressed to Roger Weightman. But you're up for still more reading this weekend, and you think you wouldn't mind something that deals seriously—but also in a lively way—with the current problems of the nation founded by the Declaration 235 years ago. After all, the Declaration itself, by submitting facts to a candid world in order to justify the claim of independence, implies that self-government depends on argument and reflection, not just willful or arbitrary choice.
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