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Feds may be muzzling scientist over Arctic research

A polar bear roams a coastal strand. PHOTO BY SUSANNE MILLER, USFWS.

Battle over Alaska offshore oil drilling heats up

By Bob Berwyn

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SUMMIT COUNTY — Last summer’s Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico clearly showed the conflict between science, energy policy and politics, and the looming battle over drilling in Arctic waters will be no different, as a watchdog group claims that federal scientists are being muzzled and harassed over their efforts to disclose potential impacts of energy development in the fragile Arctic marine environment.

Dr. Charles Monnet, a senior federal scientist working the Arctic has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated by the Interior Department’s Inspector General. Such inspections are not uncommon, but what’s unusual in this case is that the researcher says he has no idea what the investigators are looking for.

But a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog and whistle-blower protection group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, says the investigation is designed to interfere with scientific research that points out the dangers of Arctic drilling. In a scientific misconduct complaint filed last week, the group charged that Monnet is “being hounded in a political attempt to impugn his observations on polar bears’ vulnerability to retreating sea ice.”

“We think they’re nervous about his portfolio of science in the Arctic,” said PEER director Jeff Ruch, explaining that there’s enormous pressure to move ahead with offshore drilling in the region.

Monnett is a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement who coordinated a significant portion of all the extramural research and a majority of BOEM research on Arctic wildlife and ecology. The Interior Inspector General is apparently investigating a 2006 note authored by Monnett and a colleague published in the peer-reviewed journal Polar Biology which reported sightings of drowned polar bears in open waters following a storm.

This seven-page paper, which had undergone internal peer review, management review and outside peer review coordinated by journal editors, galvanized scientific and public appreciation for the profound effects that climate change may already be having in the Arctic.

Although the IG probe has been going on for months, Monnett was suddenly suspended on July 18 due to the IG’s “on-going inquiry.”  He has not been informed of any specific charge or question relating to the scientific integrity of his work, nor is it clear why the IG has mounted a multi-month investigation of a five-year-old journal article.  IG interview transcripts do reveal, however, that –

•    The probe is being conducted by criminal investigators with no scientific training or background, who, based upon their questions, have little grasp of the scientific issues they are investigating;
•    They have rifled through all of Dr. Monnett’s e-mails and seized his papers and equipment, impeding his ability to work even before he was ordered to stay home; and
•    The investigators are seeking a link to former Vice President Al Gore, who referenced the polar bear paper in his book and movie, An Inconvenient Truth.

“Ever since this paper was published, Dr. Monnett has been subjected to escalating official harassment, culminating in his recent virtual house arrest,” Ruch said in a press release. He thinks the huge economic stakes for oil companies seeking to open Arctic waters is resulting in the suppression of scientific research.

“This is a cautionary tale with a deeply chilling message for any federal scientist who dares to publish groundbreaking research on conditions in the Arctic,” Ruch said.

BOEM officials said they wouldn’t comment on the substance of the investigation.

“All of the scientific contracts previously managed by Mr. Monnett are being managed by the highly qualified scientists at BOEMRE. Any allegations regarding scientific integrity would be addressed through the Department’s new scientific integrity policy. The investigation is being handled by the Department’s Office of the Inspector General,” said Melissa Schwartz,
deputy chief of staff and communications director for BOEMRE.

The plot thickened July 29, when the Alaska Dispatch obtained a leaked copy of a memo from BOEMRE director Michael Bromwich, which claimed that the suspension had nothing to do with Monnet’s research.

“In this case, it was the result of new information on a separate subject brought to our attention very recently,” Bromwich wrote. Read the memo here.

Yet a transcript of one of the interviews conducted by the Interior Inspector General contradicts those statements, showing that the investigators were focusing in on Monnet’s polar bear research.

That leaves Monnet in a Kafka-esque maze of bureaucracy, and BOEMRE’s Arctic research program in disarray.

Earlier this year, the Interior Department, the parent agency for BOEM, adopted its first ever scientific integrity policies designed to protect scientists from political interference.  The PEER complaint charges that officials within the IG and BOEM are violating these new policies in using Star Chamber-like tactics.

“Despite bold rhetoric about respecting science, this case illustrates that federal scientists working in controversial areas today are at greater risk than during the Bush administration,” Ruch said, pointing to heightened pressure on Alaska BOEM scientists to expedite offshore drilling approvals under President Obama.  “If Interior’s scientific integrity policies offer no protection to scientists like Dr. Monnett, they are not worth the paper on which they are printed.”

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86 Responses

  1. “Are you now or have you ever been an environmental scientist in the United States?”

    • to the author. I believe in global warming and consider myself an environmentalist.

      As such, I think we all need to condemn the hypocrisy of people like Al Gore who WASTE so much of the planets resources by living in mansions and flying around in private jets.

      Carbon offsets – baloney – this is just an excuse to waste. if they really believed what they spout, they would live like normal people and still buy their silly carbon offsets. A normal person lives in a 1500 sq ft house and flys coach.

  2. Where is Summit County?

  3. Hopefully a few remarks here put the Republican vs. Democrat, “Bush did this…”/”Obama will do that” mentality. It is just a steady period in history where every resource is exploitable and monetized. I suspect it will be more difficult for lone wolf and Maverick scientists to exist but do not get discouraged… say all the mantras and do what you need to do, collect your money, and then sabotage the wicked projects when the chance comes along.

  4. To mega energy companies the American people are just as insignificant as the Polar bears are,only wearing the label of a scientist you are easier to identify and deal with if you become an obstacle to their insidious and odorous big money making schemes at the expense of everything else, including decency.
    Their spiteful and vindictive methods of bullying and intimidation like this one really stink don’t they ? They are such a despicable bunch of people bereft of any conscience or sense of humanity.It is obvious that whatever they say and do it is just a malicious ploy to get what they want without interference.I feel really sorry for Dr.Monet but most of all for the Polar bears that are presently enduring their last gasps of air on this planet.So very sad that we should come to a point in human history such as this.

    • Well, that’s a very sweeping generalization. I understand why you feel that way, but I don’t think it’s productive or fair to paint all the individuals associated with the oil industry with the same brush.

      • True. It’s actually the petro lobbyists in DC that are the slime behind this attempted character assassination. What the citizens would like (and need) to know is exactly who in congress prodded the Interior Department to start this investigation. Anyone that thinks the investigators just stumbled onto this by themselves, I have a bridge for sale and you can move it anywhere you like.

        This is as slimy as pushing U.S. Attorney’s to charge your political opponents with something (anything, even if it’s made up and will never stick) in October of an election year.

        The billions of dollars being given to the petro industry in tax breaks should be spent on subsidizing production/installation of renewable sources instead. If half the money spent on the war in Iraq (ignoring what’s been spent on Afghanistan) had been spent on photovoltaic panels across the southern half of the USA and solar hot water collectors across the whole USA, we could’ve cut our use of coal by 50% and our imports of oil by at least 15%.

        We need to stop burning off the natural gas on the northern slope and build some pipelines through Canada to bring it down here… that would convince more truck stops to add natural gas filling stations to free up diesel fuel for 60-70 MPG clean-burning modern car engines. T.Boone is not just a gadfly… he has real-world practical ideas, but nobody is/was listening to him. They may need some engineering to make them work, but not doing anything different is going to leave us in the same fix we’re in right now, 10 years in the future… and our kids in that same fix 20 years from now.

    • Perhaps you’re right, but we’re still here. According to many similar enviro-hippies of the previous generation(s), the world should have ended years ago. The oceans were supposed to have started boiling by now, and the rain forests should be but a distant memory. Guess what? Neither has happened. Leave it to those who know what they are doing, rather than just regurgitating a bunch of Al Gore’s talking points and anti-corporation rants. Granted, there ARE many in the oil and gas industry who are responsible for inexcusable and appalling amounts of destruction and permanent damage. That said, there are an equal amount of bored, uneducated d-bags who wouldn’t know science if it bit them on the ass and who couldn’t even begin to comprehend how to begin to separate the propaganda from the facts. Even the facts can be twisted, distorted, slanted and misquoted to represent either side’s point of view. Stick to what you know, Yemil. You’re in way over your head here.

      • look who’s talking about being in over your head…
        oceans ARE getting warmer. no one says they should be boiling.
        rain forests ARE disappearing. where have you been?
        and corporations are bound to make money at all costs, regardless of harm they might inflict in the process.

    • Yeah, keep bitchin’, but keep sending them as much of your money as you can.

      The only power Americans have lies in how they spend, but they refuse to wield it. Hummers are cool, but bikes are lame…go figure.

      • The only power Americans have lies in how they spend, but they refuse to wield it.

        Sure they do, and on a regular basis. Why do you think the American auto industry collapsed and those of Japan/Korea have ascended?

        Hummers are cool

        Hummers *are* cool… but impractical. It’s why so relatively few have actually been made, and the H2 and H3 had to be released.

        but bikes are lame…

        Bikes aren’t lame, they’re just as impractical as Hummers, but for exactly the opposite reason: it’s impossible to carry more than one person with a *small* amount of cargo, gets wet when it rains, gets sweaty/grimy when traveling any distance and the temp is above 70F (where I live, at least) and you can’t wear “office” clothes.

  5. Oil companies no doubt have hundreds of well placed people in the Energy Dept, Commerce Dept and other agencies on their payroll. I tried to access the complaint of scientific misconduct and the suspension order at 8:40 PM EST and got only a blank page. Perhaps someone trained in computer science could look into this.

    • Perhaps you should put the bong down, step away from the bar at the Blue River Bistro and check to see if your modem needs resetting.

  6. Just another example of how big business controls America

    • Big business IS America. Where the f have you been the last 50 years?

      • Trite tripe. ‘Big business IS America’ suggests that some 300 million plus USAns don’t count. The corporations have taken over; the rest of the world is waiting for ‘you the people’ to reclaim your nation.

  7. Corporate slavery seems to be the fashion. Anyone producing facts that counter corporate interests, even if hiding these facts mean the destruction of spaceship earth, will be muffled or muzzled. By the time corporate America is restrained from mindless destruction, it will be too late for human survival. IMHO….

    • Corporations are very heavily regulated – especially as to their seeking to “maximized shareholder return and value”. Boards of directors and corporate officers are personally accountable to state and federal governments for their actions as well as to stockholders.

      Over the past three to four decades, lobbyists and activists representing political, union and environmental sectors have been successful in increasing the power of shareholder groups (the largest and most powerful being public employee unions, i.e. CALPERS (California’s public employee union pension fund) over public companies and so enabled them to wield vast power over corporate decisions, priorities and directions.

      Prior to that time, most (not all, but most) corporations (those that did not have heavily unionized components anyway) were known for taking into account customers, shareholders and employees when making key management decisions and setting directions.

      Hewlett Packard was famous for its fairness and equanimity to employees, the communities housings its facilities and return to shareholders. People bought stock in HP because they believed in and supported that philosophy as the right way to achieve long term results.

      All that changed with the onslaught of federal and state regulations pushed by lobbyists and “social-justice” activists that made management near slaves of activist and in some cases militant shareholders who would not tolerate decisions that in any way minimized their returns in any given quarter or year. Fund managers who are measured on their performance by the quarter and/or year squeeze Boards and executives to focus on the same short term periods and to maximize returns to shareholders over that period – eschewing longer term investment in employees, facilities, etc. And the regulations back them up: Difficulty of expanding/building new facilities, increasing mandated employee costs/taxes, etc.

      To an entity like CALPERS with almost $240B in investments (the largest in the US), pennies per share that may have gone to employees or the community, adds up over time. These super large funds wield far too much power (IMO) over corporate decision-making and so our economy.

  8. We must not worry.
    Jesus is the
    1)Kingdom
    2)The Power
    3)The glory
    Forever.
    God’s heavenly armies will fight against those who destroy the earth in the last days.

    Nobody else can convict us, if we are in Jesus.
    If we have Jesus, we don’t need ANYONE else to teach us.

    Do not kill
    we can’t fight thermonuclear weapons, not even with guns.
    This is not a democracy, nor has there ever been one.

    The only party is the Jesus party, and his enemies will dig their own graves.

    You’ll feel these words when you see their faces again. Be good, don’t be afraid to be a child!

    • ah…try a laxative. That might help.

    • The first sentence was great advice, but the remainder nullified it by betraying how detached from reality you are.
      Next time you feel the need to pipe up, remember that it’s far better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to say something and remove all doubt.

    • Right on. Some people seem to think that us humans have the last word on how the world, and everything in the universe, depends upon how (we) perceive it, and so can derive the just punishment and reward for our own behavior and zeal for whatever it is we happen to worship. How narrow-minded can we be? It’s also quite ironic how much vehemence and contempt people who decry intolerance and discrimination (look the word up and please try to understand what it actually means) really have for Christians. To paraphrase Emmet Fox; what Jesus meant when he said “love your neighbors as yourself,” could possibly be understood as “you are only able to love youself as much as you love your neighbor, and vice versa.” One last observation. The non-believers are usually the only ones who tell the rest of us to “shut the @#$% up!” It is the pinnacle of arrogance to tell someone that what they have to say means nothing, and that you should just choke and die, and that everyone else is on board with you. You will eventually learn that we are indeed to be judged. So stand back and try to judge yourself for once. Oh wait, you can’t. Only God can:)

  9. Drill baby drill i dont care if you have to drill through fifty polar bears to get that oil just get some oil why should we be shipping our money to terrorists when we can drill in the arctic and keep our money here oh but we have to save the environment we might contaminate some freakin ice

    • They’re going to sell the oil on the open market. It’s not coming here, it’s going to the highest bidder, and the taxpayers will be left to clean up the mess when the oil companies are gone – and don’t forget, the oil companies aren’t going to pay any taxes on it, either. Don’t you get it? The government works for the big corporations, keeps looting the treasury, and pushing the pay-back into the future. One day the Ponzi scheme will collapse, but the rich will have left town by then.

    • Effin’ moron. Like that will solve anything. You’ll still have expensive oil, but you won’t have Polar Bears–happy now?

  10. Is EVERYBODY in Summit County a paranoid douche?

  11. This story is factually wrong and does not mention the actual reason for the suspension of this scientist. To present this story as full and complete information is completely ethically wrong. At this point, what has been written here is nothing short of abject propaganda.

    • Stu, you must have better sources than I do. I asked BOEMRE why he was suspended and they chose not to answer. If you read the transcript of the “interview” with Monnet, it certainly seems like the investigators were honing in on his polar bear paper. I’ll be eager to report on the “real” reason he was suspended and is being investigated when that information is released.

      • I do have better sources, Bob. Please seek them out. You will find them once you address your myopic predisposition. True journalists, as opposed to propagandists, present the full story. You haven’t dug deep enough.

        Stu.

        • Stu, I personally actually have a hard time imagining the U.S. government persecuting its own scientists, but stranger things have happened, and based on what I saw, heard and read, that’s how it looks right now. I hope it’s not the case. BOEMRE had every opportunity to clarify why he is being investigated and suspended.

        • If you have better sources then you can name those sources and tell everyone the actual reason he’s been suspended…instead of playing childish, arrogant games in order to pretend that you have some otherwise unknown information.

        • Well Stu, out with ‘em; your better sources that is.

        • If you have sources Stu, why won’t you reveal them? Are you afraid that by revealing your sources you’ll make a convincing argument and prove your point?

        • Well, don’t be coy now, Stu. What are your sources? Why won’t you share them with us and put myopically predisposed rants to rest? Why won’t you stake your claim to the truth? Why so shy, Stu, why so shy?

  12. Polar bear population has increased dramatically over the same period of time as the climate alarmists claim ice is melting. This guy saw a few polar bears drowned after a storm, supposedly, and his thesis fell into the hands of the anti-capitalists who were looking for anecdotal nonsense to champion their attack on prosperity. It’s about time he and his ilk were investigated.

    • Yep. Thanks, Todd. Are you listening, Bob? Science has been so badly damaged by this warmist bunch, even rudimentary investigation of a claim is avoided. Too bad.

      Stu P.

    • Could you please source this fox news polar bear increased dramatically fact? Please ensure your source has been peer-reviewed also. The time period we are concerned with should include as close to the present as possible since ice sheets are still melting. If you can’t provide this info then please shut the f up because you don’t know what you are talking about.

    • When your big old caddie don’t make it up the hill are you gonna write your suicide note on a $100 bill? (Credit to Commander Codie and the Lost Planet Airmen.)

    • Yep, I agree Todd! We should investigate these people and if they’re using tax dollars, we should recoup every dollar they’ve spent on this research. Then we should go after their parents who programmed them into thinking in this paranoid fashion. Then we go after their neighbors who just sat idly by when they should’ve done something about it. Then we should go after their teachers who put this stuff into their heads in the first place. Then we can go after the people who hired those teachers. Then we shut down the schools those teachers were teaching at. I love your plan, Todd! If you run for President, you have my vote!

  13. Thank you for the very informative, yet sadly unsurprising article. According to some of the reader responses above I must be a Hippie, douchebag, Whatever. The Polar Bears are as good as dead and what I find distressing is that people like Al Gore have probably done more harm than good by focusing on Global Warming. I do not believe nor disbelieve the theory. I don’t have enough trustworthy information. I do know that the Human race is destroying itself by mishandling and abusing the limited resources the planet contains. There are so many valid reasons to move away from a limited-resource based economy that have nothing to do with Global warming or Polar Bears that it seems Gore and his string-pullers could have come up with much more palatable and persuasive agendas that would have remedied the same issues without creating this very Political stalemate that impinges any real progress. He picked a stupid battle and I often wonder how such an intelligent man could have been so stupid.
    This article just solidifies my disgust in out Government (as if the debt fiasco weren’t enough).

  14. Stu, you’re clearly and ignorant troll. Don’t you have some Glenn Beck tapes to wan* off to?

  15. The scientist should have invested his money in oil instead of an education. I would like to say that I feel bad for the polar bears, but I guess if God wanted them to live then he wouldn’t have put them on an oil-rich planet. Pump and burn I say.
    Meanwhile maybe we can get Sarah Palin to film a show where she puts the last of the polar bears out of their misery? We’ll call it Polar Palin Paradise!

  16. Man has always feared that the end is close (the woman is smarter in every sense) . But now it is possible. My fear is that we may only find the answer when it is too late. But pass the bong and let my kids worry???????

  17. I’m a meterologist and have been studying the Arctic Ice situation for several years now. I’m trying to study the effects of disappearing ice, the warming Arctic Ocean and the possible changes to the Arctic Oscillation and other upper level wind patterns.

    I’m really confused about the polar bear situation. Are they endangered or not? The massive amount of conflicting information is incredible. Somebody is obviously flat out lying.

    • Well, those would be the scientists who are lying because, as any good American knows, big corporations would never lie just to make hundreds of billions of dollars. It would be impossible for that to happen because they’re far too ethical.

    • You don’t sound like a scientist to me; more like someone baiting a hook.

    • Yeah, I find your claim of being a meteorologist who’s studied the Arctic for years questionable – pics or it didn’t happen…

      • I’ve worked for the National Weather Service for 22 years and I have my degree in meteorology from Florida State University.

  18. @StuP – if you KNOW why he was suspended, why don’t you share that with this forum, instead of dropping vague hints about ‘bad science’ and ‘this warmist bunch’. i read through the entire transcript and the investigators (who clearly aren’t capable of performing basic math, calling into question their ability to investigate scientific misconduct) are CLEARLY zeroing in on the dead polar bear counts.

    if BOEMRE won’t give a reason for the suspension, how is one to draw any conclusion as to the validity of this so-called “investigation”? and Bromwich’s claim that this has nothing to do with Monnet’s research is clearly BS – again, start reading the transcript at page 83, and you’ll see the entire line of questioning is directed at this previous research and the investigators admit that the counting and methodology are directly related to the so-called charges. but i suspect you already KNOW that.

    if you have additional info, share it, or you’re simply the propaganda tool you’re accusing the article’s author of being, and just waving your arms while shouting ‘nothing to see here’.

    @Todd Sessions – if Monnet simply “saw a few polar bears drowned after a storm, supposedly” and “his thesis fell into the hands of the anti-capitalists who were looking for anecdotal nonsense to champion their attack on prosperity”, why do you champion “investigating” him for these so-called charges? What has Monnet done wrong? If your ‘theory’ is correct, isn’t the malfeasance here with those who tried to mis-use this data, and not with those that collected the data?

    your comment pretty much marks you as a ‘tool’ as well.

  19. Suck up the methane hydrate from the sea floors and burn it for fuel.

  20. See it only takes a few people that have bought into the corporate backed, anti-science / anti climate change mantra and they can make it seem like there is some doubt.
    Think cigarettes and lung cancer.

    In the arctic it is called Albedo, which is, the ratio of IR heat the earth absorbs vs. what it reflects back into space.
    Snow and ice very reflective, ocean water not. This is just a fact.

    We are in the middle of Peak Oil. Also a mathematical fact, it is not a theory. Peak oil is when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, production declines and demand continues to increase.
    It helps if you just picture the oil boom in Texas.
    Why would the outcome for the entire world be any different?

    And then maybe putting all this stuff in our air maybe isn’t a good idea.
    I see it like we live in a fish bowl, it is a closed system.
    Then there is the Pacific Plastic Island that is bigger than Texas.

    Ask yourself what is the benefit and who benefits from the anti-science? Follow the money.
    The Hippies are right. Right is wrong.

  21. Oh! So the theory is, environmental scientists can’t and don’t LIE. Very interesting. An environmental scientist, on a mission to prove his religion, claims to have seen a dead polar bear floating in the Arctic waters. Ipso facto: the oil companies killed it or global warming snuffed out it’s life. It would be impossible for a polar bear to die of old age or some natural cause or from a native American’s bullet. It’s only logical to assume big oil did it, when your observations are seen through the rubric of a foregone conclusion.

    • Gary, I don’t think you get that the idea is not that the polar bear has been killed directly by oil companies, but indirectly through climate change and the potential of another oil spill within their habitat. Also, just because you probably worship an imaginary being in the clouds without any physical proof doesn’t mean that educated scholars are willing to do the same with their life’s work. Scholarly respectable scientists like Dr. Monnett have dedicated their life to disproving theories. Your oil companies and your religion set out to defend falsehoods. There is a substantial difference.

      • I will never understand how atheist scientists will buy the global warming argument with such a small amount of data. I would think a Christian with a belief of a 5000 year world would be more likely to believe that a change in temperature over 100 years would be statistically significant.

        For a timeline in the billions an accurate sample size of just the last few hundred years seems woefully insignificant. Might there be other factors for warming, we did have an ice age before right, you do believe in that?

        I wonder what early man argued about in 9000 BC?That they were killing too many animals for food and the decomposing bodies were giving off methane which was rapidly warming things up. What were they to do with all their winter gear when the weather warmed up?

        At some point whether now or in the future the Climate WILL CHANGE. I do believe we need to reduce the human impact on that change, but what will be our answer when the next ice age hits? To burn more fossil fuels? We just need to learn to be ready for change and to adapt.

        We can’t ask the river to not erode its bank and change path, or the continents not to shift. The universe is a hostile place. Change or go the way of the Dinosaur. (The earth was a lot hotter in their time and they were able to survive for a couple hundred million years.)

    • How did religion get in this? Talk about foregone conclusions with one slip of the tongue.

  22. We’ll all be oil someday.

  23. Nothing new here. A scientist studying the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada met the same fate when his research would have proved that the site that congress selected would be unsuitable. He was fired and his hydrology report showing an unacceptable risk of ground water contamination has been shelved and ignored.

  24. It seems like the internal memo was “leaked” intentionally to impune Dr. Monnet’s identity. This its a classic ad hominem logic fallacy.

  25. The simple truth is that there is not likely to be a single viable alternative to fossil fuel based automobiles on the technological horizon within the next 10-15 years. Cars can be made more efficient but only at increasing cost. The developing world (the bulk of up and coming auto sales) and cash strapped Americans will continue to purchase gasoline and diesel fuel cars into the foreseeable future because of their lower initial cost regardless of any advanced fuel/battery technology.

    We need to learn to live with the consequences of this until the evidence is unequivocal that fossil fuel emissions are creating challenges to which the world’s population cannot adapt. So what if a few species die? There is perhaps nothing more inevitable than eventual extinction. Human intervention into the preservation of particular species that are unable to adapt to a changing environment is the most unnatural of acts.

    Oil dominance is the future source of economic prosperity for the United States. Regardless of the consequences, it is probable that much of America’s national security strategy and long-term economic prosperity hinges on home-based U.S. oil reserves (ground oil). The reason the U.S. is not drilling for oil now is because the US is allowing the Middle East to deplete its own oil supplies. As a result of the production declines in the Arab countries, the United States will be one of the few large-scale producers and exporters of oil at nearly any chosen cost. Americans be proud of what your country will become as a result of its subterranean oil-reserves, the cost may be several species – but its not the end of the Western-world.

    • > The simple truth is that there is not likely to be a
      > single viable alternative to fossil fuel based automobiles
      > on the technological horizon within the next 10-15 years.

      Not true… if you live within 20 to 50 miles from your job, you can replace your main petrol-powered transportation with a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf and commute daily for about a quarter the cost of putting gasoline in a car that gets 40 MPG (assuming $4/gal gas). That technology is available now, and it’s only going to get better.

      > Oil dominance is the future source of
      > economic prosperity for the United States.

      If you mean fossil fuels, then we’re well and truly funked, because it takes a couple million years for bacteria to make in the quantities we’re burning through, and we’re quickly running out. It may not happen in our lifetimes, but it’s very-likely to happen before our kids reach the end of their lifespans. Then it will be marauding gangs like Mad Max and Waterworld except there won’t be any gasoline like

      • like they were still using. (Why isn’t there an edit button here?)

      • Yes, but where will you get the electricity you will using in your wonderful electric cars? COAL is still the number one source of electricity in this country.

        Not saying we can’t increase the use of solar and wind power, but they tend to be like Nuclear. No one wants them in their backyard or wants them to upset a desert ecosystem.

        All the while China will continue to burn as much fossil fuel as it likes to fuel cheap manufacturing . (Yes it does take power to make things). This will continue to suck jobs out of our economy.

        I agree that fossil fuel use isn’t sustainable, but Natural Gas is a much cleaner/realistic option than electric for the immediate future.

      • Yo dwag. Get with the program that is not influenced by the deception and propaganda of the electric-car lobby. Electric cars only transport the emissions from one location to another. The fossil fuels are instead burned at the power plants. Overall, given the relatively short life-span of battery cells and the huge amount of chemical energy required to manufacture high-tech batteries causes higher emissions over the lifetime of a vehicle. Electric cars are a “feel-good, stop-gap”, they are not a long term solution.

        Like batteries, current renewable energy either sources either suck (solar and to a lesser extent wind) or are not necessarily renewable (geo-thermal).

        My post is specifically suggesting that we won’t have a Mad Max scenario. What we talk about when speaking in terms of “peak oil” is predominantly related to Middle-Eastern countries. The U.S. has vast untapped oil reserves that will sustain the United States and much of the world for decades (albeit with the necessity of cutting back consumption i.e. walking instead). Besides, it seems very likely that barring circumstances that decimate society as we know it, national governments will impose fuel rations and guide fuel into the hands of transportation companies and military applications. Oh, no. If oil runs out we’ll be forced to buy bicycles and move closer to our places of work.

        • > Electric cars only transport the emissions from one location to
          > another. The fossil fuels are instead burned at the power plants

          Again, not true. You can charge them using PV panels and/or wind turbines and not have any 666 footprint besides from their manufacturing and delivery processes.

          And some people get their electricity from hydro (I’m wondering why more coastal towns haven’t harnessed the tides), REALLY cheap (like, under 5cents/KWh).

          Charging them from utility electricity is still far cheaper than buying gasoline. If the utility doubled your KW-hour price to pay for better scrubbers and CO2 sequestration, it would still be half the price of a gasoline-powered commute, even throwing away half the power from voltage drop during transmission (see the light gray ‘tubes’ in the charts at https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/ ).

          It should also be against the law to burn off natural gas from oil wells… just because the petro companies wouldn’t make as much profit off a pipeline to bring it down here from the North Slope wells, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

          • Can you find me a PV cell that can charge a car in a reasonable amount of time (even without accounting for the relatively high costs)?

            I’ve never felt that one should buy an electric car because driving it is cheaper. At current gas prices the electric premium and added cost of the batteries negates any cost advantage of battery powered vehicles (charged by the power-grid). The same is seen in rural America and much of the third world where it is cheaper to pay for the instillation of electric infrastructure than to install solar or wind solutions.

            I researched a forum to discover why hydro power is relatively rare: power = flow (mass) x height. The dams need to be high or the water flow particularly rapid. Thus, most flowing water bodies do necessitate the building of prohibitively expensive dams. Also, there is huge political opposition to the hydroelectric solution because hydroelectric energy requires the displacement of water which drastically transforms local environments.

          • Too deep to reply directly to your message, guesta. I suggest you pickup a copy of or subscribe to Home Power magazine (homepower.com). You can easily find PV panels for under $3/watt, and you should count on another $3/watt for installation (though many installers can do it cheaper)… that makes the installed cost about the same as nuclear, but without the 98% uptime (also without the waste containment/disposal problems, and typically less than 4% transmission losses if mounted near the point of use). You’ll average only about 30% “uptime” (depends on latitude, too). Highly-efficient inverters are less than $1/watt. I don’t recommend battery systems if grid hookup is readily available. A backup generator is generally more cost-effective.

            But I’m not shilling for any particular brand, so no – I’m not going to find or recommend a PV panel. I am a licensed electrician, though, so I would advise you to hire a qualified installer. :-)

            We need laws that require utilities buy excess power from micro-generators… most states only require they offset your usage, and anything extra you generate the utilities get to take for free.

  26. Very fine story!! Thanks for the good ol’ fashioned reporting work!

  27. Poor poor barbaloots- “They loved living here but I can’t let them stay, they’ll have to find food and I hope that they may- Good luck boys, I said as I sent them away.”

    The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

  28. the one fact left out of this article is that there are more squirrels per square yard in Club Fed, and Interior is infested with them

  29. Couldn’t be that Monnet and Al Gore are partners in BS could it??? Nah. I am sure he is a scientist with no bias. None whatsoever.

  30. More polar bears now than ever and retreating ice is impacting them? No more like political power monger are ignoring reality.

  31. “He has not been informed of any specific charge or question relating to the scientific integrity of his work”

    A simple google news search on Dr. Charles Monnet will show you that the real journalists did a little investigating and found that he was put on leave because of the integrity of his work.

    The AGW movement is dying. No one believes the BS anymore — not even the Obama Administration, who suspended him.

    • “Integrity” issues? What, exactly, is that?

      BOEMRE had every opportunity to give some sort of information on what might be going on, but … nothing. As I replied to a previous comment, I will follow up when there’s more information. Until then, it looks like he’s being muzzled because the science is inconvenient to the process of approving drilling in the Arctic. I hope that’s not the case. I’d like to think better of my government.

  32. Life has transformed this planet before. When photosynthesis developed, it resulted in the largest extinction event in Earth’s history. Stop coddling weak species. The adaptable survive, the rest die. It has always been that way.

  33. Global Warming is a fraud, Scientists such as this man are just political hacks willing to publish anything that will get them funded. We need to drill as safely and cleanly as reasonably possible but we need to drill, NOW.

  34. Dan, I found a rough calculation claiming that it would take 14k watts to allow an electric automobile to achieved sustained travel at 75 miles per hour. A PV setup at 3.00/watt plus 1.00 per watt cost for the inverter is prohibitively expensive.

    My initial comments also specifically refer to people who will continue to buy gasoline vehicles even in the presence of more efficient vehicles simply because the older technology has a well developed infrastructure and is initially cheaper. The only people buying Leafs and Volts are a) car dealerships (to scam the tax credit for themselves) and b) misguided “do-gooders”.

    • Whence did you get your “rough estimate”?

      From the lowest level its battery is allowed to get (the computer switches to the gas-powered generator @ 20% charge, which takes between 40 and 50 miles), the Chevy Volt requires 8.5KW-hours to fully recharge.

      Also, I said “LESS THAN $3/watt” for PV panels, and “UNDER $1/watt for high-efficiency inverters”. My estimates were conservative; as a matter of fact, you can easily find both items for half that cost. e.g. see http://www.affordable-solar.com/store/solar-inverters-grid-tied_2/sma-sunny-boy-7000us-inverter

      Up at the top they have 240W Kyocera panels for $420 ($1.75/watt), and that 7000W inverter is less than 50 cents per watt. With R.E. tax credits, a 7.2KW system built from 30 of those panels and that inverter would amortize in about 10 years, and it should last at least 30 years. How long does it take your monthly utility bill to amortize… oh – that’s right – you NEVER get that money back.

  35. So if he’s found inoccent of lying-then it’s just proof of a capitalist pig conspiracy, and if he’s found guilty of lying-it’s just proof of a capitalist pig conspiracy. Whatever happened to Ward Churchill?

  36. @StuP:

    http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/new-details-suspension-arctic-polar-bear-scientist

    “Federal investigators now say a respected Arctic scientist who was suspended from his job at an agency that regulates offshore oil development is under the microscope for his oversight of a recent polar bear study that has now been put on hold.”

    care to retract your ‘i do have better sources’ claim and your charge of ‘propaganda’ now that it appears Mr. Berwyn’s article is indeed accurate, and Bromwich’s claim that the investigation has nothing to do with Dr. Monnet’s research has been exposed as BS?

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