Thursday, July 13, 2017

ObamaCare Repair -- July 13, 2017

What sanctions? U.S. Boost to Oil Drilling Will Barely Dent Russia’s Energy Monolith. From The WSJ --
But some industry observers say the U.S. shale boom—which reshaped world markets for crude oil and natural gas before Mr. Trump took office—has only limited impact on Russia’s standing as a major energy provider to Europe and Asia.
Sounds like a Euro-centered article. I'm not exactly sure why The WSJ would even publish this story. The tone almost sounds like something I would expect to see in the most liberal "national" newspaper, The LA Times. Maybe I'm missing something.

ObamaCare: On June 30, 2017,  I said that it was Medicaid that was THE sticking point for the US Senate regarding ObamaCare. Today on CNBC the talking head said the very same thing. ObamaCare is now all about Medicaid for the US Senators. I think it's a most interesting spectacle.

Feds caved to CAVE: that was easy -- Federal Agency Drops Rail Plan in Connecticut and Rhode Island. From The WSJ:
The Federal Railroad Administration released Wednesday its final version of a $153 billion plan to speed up service and improve reliability on Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor, dropping a controversial plan to build a new rail segment through Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The federal agency said its plan will shave off 45 minutes of travel time for Amtrak riders between New York and Boston and 35 minutes from Washington, D.C., to New York. The project for the nation’s busiest passenger rail segment—which stretches 457 miles from Washington to Boston—still needs funding from Congress.
Travel, Scotland. A Keats-Inspired Tour of Scotland, From Pubs to Peaks From The WSJ -- 
An hour's drive from Glasgow, on the banks of Scotland’s misty Loch Fyne, the Cairndow Stagecoach Inn makes an unlikely home for poets.
At the tartan-carpeted bar, locals gather for themed dances, complete with fog machines and pulsing laser lights. It’s easy to miss a small frame on the wall, which carries a quote from the poet John Keats, who spent a weary night at the roadside stop-off in 1818.
In a letter to his younger brother Tom, Keats wrote of the stay: “We were up at 4 this morning and have walked to breakfast 15 miles through two tremendous Glens.” He described taking a bath in the saltwater lake, opposite the Inn’s windows.
“Quite pat and fresh but for the cursed Gad flies,” he wrote. One thing or another had dogged the 22-year-old Keats since leaving London that summer on an epic walking-tour which would stretch over 600 miles.
From June through August, he and his friend Charles Brown wound their way through the Lake District up to Scotland, where they trekked the muddy Isle of Mull and climbed the U.K.’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. They began in Lancaster, England, and parted at Scotland’s tip, Inverness, where Keats felt too sick to go on.
If I had all the money in the world, I would have a home in Scotland. A friend I met some years ago offered me the use of his summer home on a southwestern Scottish peninsula but I was never able to take advantage of that invitation. 


  1. On sanctions:

    --- Democrats introduce new bill on Russia and Iran sanctions ---

    "Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a new version of a Russia and Iran sanctions bill on Wednesday, hoping to send a message to President Donald Trump to maintain a strong line against Moscow.

    Seeking to force Republican House leaders to allow a vote, Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee introduced legislation unchanged from what passed the Senate by 98-2 on June 15 but has been stalled ever since....

    Trump's attempts to mend relations with Russia have been hindered by allegations that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and colluded with Trump's campaign. Russia denies meddling and Trump says there was no collusion.

    The issue has become even more heated since emails released Tuesday showed that Donald Trump Jr, the president's eldest son, eagerly agreed last year to meet a woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Hillary Clinton, the Democratic rival in the 2016 presidential election.

    Lawmakers and aides said news of that meeting, and the failure to disclose it, added new urgency to the push to pass the Russia package....

    The U.S. energy industry has been lobbying against the bill...."

    1. Let's see ... Democrats introduce new bill ... US energy industry lobbying against the bill...

    2. Bruce,

      I question whether ALL the US energy industry has been lobbying against the sanctions.

      Sure, I can see where BIG oil would, because the IOCs (international oil companies) want to do business in Russia. But LITTLE (domestic) oil?

      Here's an interesting insight from one of the Mexico City dailies (translation mine):

      "On June 15, the US Senate passed Law S722… [M]ost of this new instrument is dedicated to Russia….

      The most important part of the new law expands the sanctions that already apply against Russia in the energy sector. Existing sanctions currently prohibit companies in Western countries from providing goods and services for the development of so-called next-generation projects in the Russian energy sector. These projects include offshore platforms in the Arctic, very deep drilling, as well as shale oil and gas… This makes the acquisition and assimilation of new drilling technologies by these Russian companies more difficult.

      Moreover, the new law applies sanctions to foreign companies that make significant investments in next-generation energy projects. This is a case of secondary sanctions that has many implications. The extractive industry of shale oil in the United States has suffered the collapse of crude oil prices, but has been able to recover with a great effort to reduce production costs. However, its fear that some competitors might snatch up market shares is a strong motivation to impose restrictions on investments in this sector in Russia.

      The impact of these sanctions on the energy sector in Russia is considerable. It is most likely to delay the development of new projects for many years to come."

    3. If I'm reading this correctly, this explains why existing sanctions have not seemingly made a huge impact yet: sanctions affect "next-generation projects." Something tells me there's a lot of smoke and mirrors politically with the sanctions.

    4. Bruce,

      The new sanctions would also affect pipeline construction. As the article continues:

      "The new law would penalize companies participating in the Nord Stream II project, which connects Russia and Germany via a pipeline from the Baltic. In fact, this measure is aimed at hindering exports of energy through pipelines...."

      As a proud resident of Cowboyistan (little oil, or domestic oil and gas), who would like to see more US LNG sales to Europe, this sounds like the best thing since sliced bread.

      However, if pipelines to Europe from Russia are bad, then why are pipelines from the south good?

      So here's the rub: the same anti-Russia sentiment that is being used to shut down Nord Stream 2 is also being used to justify US intervention in Syria. And if one subscribes to the theory that US intervention in Syria is to achieve regime change so that a terrestrial pipeline can be built across the country, which I do, then how does that help Cowboyistan sell LNG to Europe?

      From the point of view of the economic interest of Cowboyistan, there's no coherence in the anti-Russia policy.

    5. Thank you. Earlier France suggested it was going to close a significant number of nuclear plants (taking a page from Angela Merkel's playbook). From my perspective, only natural gas can replace those nuclear plants. France could have a couple of options: gas from the East or gas from the West.

    6. Some people predict Germany's natural gas consumption will increase significantly in the future as it phases out coal and nuclear. So maybe France will join the club?

      --- Germany Is Addicted to Russian Gas ---

    7. Exactly what I was thinking. The public announcements will be an emphasis on solar/wind, but it won't be enough, and intermittent energy needs dependable back-up, like natural gas.

    8. Russia is also very good at playing the competition-eliminating game:

      --- Congressmen: Russia Funds U.S. Anti-Fracking Groups to Suppress ‘Domestic Oil & Gas’ ---

      "The Russian government has been funding radical environmental groups to “suppress the U.S. domestic oil & gas industry,” according to leading Congressional House members.

      In a newly released letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Lamar Smith (R-TX), and the chair of the Subcommittee on Energy, Randy Weber (R-TX) allege that Russia “is behind the radical statements and vitriol directed at the U.S. fossil fuel sector” and formally request that the Treasury Department launch an investigation into Russian funding of radical environmental groups.

      Russian financing makes up a significant part of “a concerted effort by foreign entities to funnel millions of dollars through various non-profit entities to influence the U.S. energy market,” the congressmen assert in their letter.

      They also reference public statements by European officials as well as the U.S. intelligence community declaring that “Russia and its government corporations are funding a covert anti-fracking campaign to suppress the widespread adoption of fracking in Europe and the U.S.—all in an effort to safeguard the influence of the Russian oil and gas sector.” ....

      In their letter, the congressmen request a federal investigation into the funding of major environmental groups, including the Sierra Club Foundation, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Council, who have all allegedly received Russian money to finance their anti-fracking crusades.

      The investigation would seek to find out whether “foreign entities working to influence U.S. policy are in violation of federal statutes pertaining to foreign governments or those lobbying on behalf of domestic and foreign interests,” the letter states.

      In a press release accompanying the publication of the letter, Congressman Smith declared: “If you connect the dots, it is clear that Russia is funding U.S. environmental groups in an effort to suppress our domestic oil and gas industry, specifically hydraulic fracking.”

      He said that the Russians have established an elaborate scheme that funnels money through shell companies in Bermuda, which “may violate federal law and certainly distorts the U.S. energy market.”

      “The American people deserve to know the truth and I am confident Secretary Mnuchin will investigate the allegations,” he said.

    9. For a 3rd world country, Russia certainly knows how to play the game.

  2. And here's a very insightful article, not specifically about sanctions, but on the "intelligence" that the John McCains and Nancy Pelosis of the world are using to justify the sanctions against Russia.

    Brennan's, Clapper's and Comey's "Intelligence Community Consesus" on Russia's interference in the election sounds entirely too much like this:

    "[T]he intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

    --- Throwing a Curveball at ‘Intelligence Community Consensus’ on Russia:
    Definitive assessment was not what it proclaimed to be. ---

    1. Thanks. Folks who said intel agencies were above politics were so full of crap...I was part of Air Force intel agency years ago and saw politics on a daily basis....