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Michael Fitzsimmons
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I focus on investments in the oil & gas sector with an eye for dividend income and long-term capital appreciation. I typically allocate a portion of my own portfolio and devote some of my Seeking Alpha articles to small and medium sized companies offering compelling risk/reward propositions.... More
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  • Why Obama Hates Natural Gas Transportation 0 comments
    May 8, 2010 1:53 PM
    Natural gas transportation is such an obvious way to solve the economic, environmental, and national security issues arising from U.S. addiction to foreign oil, it is hard to understand why President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu are not pounding the table for its adoption. Americans could be refueling NGVs in their garages while they sleep with domestically produced natural gas for $10/tank. Yet, we continue to drive to filling stations for the privilege of filling up our tanks with foreign oil (65% of it anyway) for $35/tank. Environmentally, NGVs emit 30% less CO2 than do gasoline powered cars and trucks, and 100% of the toxic particulates from gasoline that cause smog and air pollution not to mention respiratory illness. Relying on domestically produced natural gas as opposed to foreign oil would create millions of good jobs in the U.S., keep our wealth inside the country going to farmers and landowners as royalty payments, save families hundreds if not thousands of dollars in fuel bills, and reindustrialize the country. Further, the U.S. would not have to fight immoral oil wars or deploy troops and ships and resources to secure oil and its shipment to America, if we did not rely on it for a "functioning" economy. It is clear natural gas transportation can solve these economic, environmental, and national security problems. So, why are we not doing it? Why is HR1835 dying a slow death in Congress? Why does Obama not support it and why do we have an energy secretary in Chu that appears to be clueless about America's most abundant, clean, and cheap fuel (natural gas)?

    First of all, Obama and Chu aren't clueless about natural gas and natural gas transportation. THEY KNOW it can solve our problems. So, let's take a look at why they are not doing so.

    COAL POWER

    And we are not talking about coal power electrical generation here - we are talking about the power of the coal lobby and coal interests. The last thing the coal folks want is adoption of natural gas for power generation and for transportation. This is obvious. These powers own Obama and Chu, and is the only explanation for Obama and Chu supporting the myth of "clean coal". We know its a myth because we know it is dangerous to the environment to simply mine it. We know of the workers who suffers all kinds of ailments and bodily harm in their work to obtain it. We know that burning coal generates 50% more CO2 than natural gas, but this isn't the biggest negative. The biggest negative is the toxic heavy metal particulates generated by burning coal. These end up in our air and in our water. We only need read about the disaster at the TVA's coal plant in Kingston, TN

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_Fossil_Plant_coal_fly_ash_slurry_spill


    to understand the entire Tennessee River system is dead water for at least two generations. I pity the poor folks in the Tennessee River valley whose municipal water systems exists in this watershed. I anticipate cancer rates to skyrocket. Further, the only reason coal is "cheap", is because the government subsidizes coal to the benefit of the miners and company executives, and the health care and environmental costs are all paid for directly by the American people. So, everyone knows "clean coal" is a myth and the phrase is an oxymoron. Yet, Obama and Chu support their failed strategy of electric cars charged by burning coal. Obama, the supposed environmentally, is therefore supporting the dirtiest and most expensive fossil fuel. Talk about an oxymoron.

    MILITARY INDUSTRIAL POWER

    U.S. military and defense contractors also don't want to see America adopt natural gas transportation. Doing so would negate the need to fight oil wars and deploy hundreds of thousands of troops around the world to obtain and secure oil. How would the generals then get their promotions and how would the defense executives get their big salaries and bonuses if there were fewer defense contracts? It's clear the American military industrial complex is also against natural gas transportation.

    PRO-ISRAELI POWER

    The pro-Israeli lobby, including most of the government economist and Federal Reserve bureaucrats, are also against natural gas transportation. Why? Because they desire the U.S. military to be deployed in the Arab oil producing countries (Israel's enemies) believing this makes Israel more secure. This is the main reason you never hear supposed "economists" in the U.S. fully discuss the severity of America's foreign oil addiction on the present and future U.S. economy. This "strategy" appears to be working: U.S. troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan and surround oil producing Iran. Massive quantities of Iraqi oil could indeed hit the market relatively soon. (NOTE: I am receiving an increasing number of emails suggesting that my bullish outlook on oil will be completely wrong when the Iraqi oil comes online. I of course counter that lower oil prices in the short-term will increase economic activity, oil consumption, and therefore oil dependence. I also counter that oil demand in China, Asia, and the Middle East (not to mention the U.S. military) will also drive up demand). However, the "strategy" seems to be failing long-term. Why? Firstly, the Arab oil producers (Israel's enemies) are being enriched beyond belief. As weapons technology improves and becomes more widespread, do the pro-Israeli powers actually believe some of this Arab wealth will not be funneled into anti-Israeli efforts? Secondly, the U.S. is simply going bankrupt due to high oil prices, out of control government spending, insane tax-and-spend policies (creating huge deficits), imperialist military policies abroad, and the lack of a strategic long-term comprehensive energy policy:

    http://thefitzman.blogspot.com/2008/08/strategic-long-term-comprehensive-us.html

    So, how is a strategy that is bankrupting the United States, Israel's sole protector, good for Israel? It's very ironic to me that the majority of America's economic policymakers are pro-Israel and anti natural gas transportation. Again, it's an oxymoron in my mind. Why not reduce the flow of American wealth to Israel's enemies? Why not strengthen the U.S. economy and energy foundation? I have no respect for these economists as they are simply not doing their jobs. They, along with Energy Secretary Chu, should be fired and forced to go out into the labor market and make a real living doing something productive. Perhaps then, they'd look back and see how foolish their "economic policy" has been.

    There you have it. Obama, Chu, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. government, and the U.S. bureacrats in charge of economic policy all support the electric car charged by coal transportation architecture. They all work actively to prevent natural gas transportation for the reasons listed above. With respect to HR1835, it is dead. Part of that is the bill itself: why should U.S. taxpayers give an $85,000 tax credit for an natural gas 18-wheeler? Westport Innovations (NASDAQ:WPRT) makes outstanding natural gas engine solutions and no one can tell me these engines and fuel systems are $85,000 more expensive than a comparable diesel engine. In this regards, Pickens shot himself in the foot. I also believe that to significantly reduce foreign oil imports, we must push natural gas transportation into middle-class Americans' garages.

    What does all this mean for investors? Buy Peabody Coal (BUT) and Massey Energy (NYSE:MEE). And you'll never know how much it pains me to type that.


    Disclosure: Long BP
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