For anyone looking to understand what the Obama administration’s energy policy is likely to look like, by most accounts the best place to go is the Center for American Progress (CAP) ( The center recently released a report that links recovery from the current recession with alternative energy programs. At the same time, it uses some very questionable reasoning to argue against expanded US domestic petroleum production. Conceived as a liberal counterpoint to the well-developed network of non-profits and think tanks that US conservatives have built up over the last 20 years, CAP was founded by John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, and today head of President-elect Obama’s transition team. The website has said that going forward no other think tank “will be more piped into the executive branch than the five-year-old center,” to which Podesta says he’ll return once the transition is complete. “Seizing the energy opportunity” is, in terms of policy advocacy, one of the center’s four highest priorities. A report the center has made available: “Green recovery: a program to create good jobs and start building a low carbon economy,” outlines a proposal for a $100 billion fiscal stimulus meant to foster economic recovery from the current recession, lower energy costs, and contribute to environmental well-being. The program would include: • $50 billion for tax credits for private businesses and homeowners to finance energy-efficient retrofits; • $46 billion in direct government spending to support public building retrofits and expansion of mass transit, freight rail, smart electrical grid systems, and investments in renewable energy; and • $4 billion for federal loan guarantees to underwrite private credit extended to finance building retrofits and renewable energy. The center argues that this program, suitable for a recession that looks like it will have some duration, will lead to creation of two million jobs. Also of interest to readers of Hart’s E&P is that the report argues against any legislative proposal in the US Congress backing increased domestic exploration and drilling as a solution to high gas prices. The reason for this, it says, is because spending $100 billion in the oil and gas industry, it says, will create only 542,000 jobs. Moreover, it says, these jobs will not be as well-paid or sustainable as the two million jobs its proposal foresees. At this point the report becomes excessively doctrinaire and its thinking fallacious. For one, isn’t opening up drilling opportunities more likely to bring money into the government rather than increase its spending? Moreover, green initiatives and using domestic petroleum sources aren’t mutually exclusive in terms of freeing the US from the tyranny of imported oil. Besides, almost everyone recognizes that no matter how much work is done to foster alternative energies, for the foreseeable future, hydrocarbons will supply the majority of the world’s energy needs. As was noted in the US Senate Energy Policy Forum broadcast on C-Span several months ago, and no doubt in other venues as well, one of the most important reasons for increasing petroleum production in the US is to show the rest of the world that the country is willing to do its share to responsibly mine petroleum. Isn’t it already enough that the US, as 5% of the world’s population, uses 20% of the energy expended day to day? It’s unfortunate that what otherwise might seem an eminently reasonable proposal stops to take a gratuitous swipe at the oil and gas industry. It makes one wonder whether the motivation isn’t traditional liberal bias against what’s seen as a “big business” icon, or even against the nation’s region that “lost” the presidential election. Finally, perhaps the thing most feared has already come to pass. Given the precipitous drop in oil prices, a whole range of alternative energy initiatives and projects are being cancelled. Still, the best of intentions is no excuse for flawed logic.