Does Udall Still Believe in ‘Peak Oil’?

After bottoming out, in the fracking era, at 359,000 barrels per day in December 2015, field production of petroleum in the Land of Enchantment rebounded to 439,000 barrels per day in March. The Permian Basin, primarily located in Texas but spilling across the border into southeast New Mexico, is booming. The Bakken is coming back. Nationally, rig counts are up. The Wall Street Journal reports that the “global oil glut is proving immune to the limits set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.” And last week, it must have stung for The New York Times to run a story headlined “Drivers Head Into Summer With a Gift at the Gas Pump.”

In other words, it’s a terrible time to be a peak oiler.

The assumption that global production of petroleum — or at least, affordable petroleum — would soon crest, and then collapse, has been eco-alarmist theology for decades. It’s always been nonsense, since its adherents are unable or unwilling to grasp that humanity is relentlessly finding new ways to extract and efficiently consume oil.

So Errors of Enchantment has question for New Mexico’s senior senator: Do you still believe in peak oil?

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, while a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was instrumental in forming the “Peak Oil Caucus.” In 2005, the group of towering ignoramuses decreed that “United States domestic production” had peaked in 1970 and would not recover, and that “the peak in the world’s oil production … is likely to occur in the next decade.” What was needed, of course, was “an energy project with the magnitude, creativity, and sense of urgency of the ‘Man on the Moon’ project to develop a comprehensive plan to address the challenges presented by Peak Oil.”

Almost a dozen years later, it’s more clear than ever that the hysterics were wildly off base. So is Udall willing to come clean with his constituents, and admit he was duped?

That’s probably asking too much from a fedpol who’s cozied up to the corporate-welfare-grabbing, politically savvy folks behind “green power.” But Udall’s junk science is something to remember the next time you hear him weigh in on energy and environmental issues. If he could be so spectacularly erroneous on such an important matter, what else is he getting wrong?

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5 Replies to “Does Udall Still Believe in ‘Peak Oil’?”

  1. I’m amused by Udall’s perennial claim that he favors an “all of the above” energy policy. Based on his actions, “all of the above” excludes coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy.

  2. Udall admittedly is a tree-hugging sort but I think it is safe to say that few people predicted all the technology that has enabled enhanced recovery and hydrofracturing to get more hydrocarbon out of the ground. Still, I think it would be good for people to go back and see what Hubbert actually said in his fifties paper if you are going to put the smackdown on “peak oil”. It was a theoretical scientific statement by an oil company geologist based on mid twentieth century technology, not a doom and gloom political piece. Even now it is a good idea to keep it in mind. Technology evolves wonderfully, but resource still depends on what is in the ground. thanks.

    M. King Hubbert’s paper

    1. Thanks for your input, Khal. But more than a few people knew that “peak oil” was nonsense long before 2005. I’d refer you to the work of economists Morris A. Adelman and Erich Zimmermann. Julian Simon, Eugene Gholz, Daryl G. Press, Michael Lynch, Jerry Taylor, Daniel Yergin, Jude Wanniski, Paul Gilmour, David Deming, Michael Fumento, Peter Huber, Mark Mills — the list goes on.

      Thomas Gold’s theories about the abiotic origin of oil and gas, developed in the ’80s, are very interesting.

      Hubbert was not a professional alarmist — a great “business” to be in today — but his deeply flawed thinking contributed “bigly” to all sorts of terrible policy decisions on energy. Happily, much of the worst of the ’70s-era stuff has been scrapped. But plenty of liabilities remain on the books, such as “renewable portfolios standards” and the crazy notion that U.S. taxpayers should pay billions to “keep the oil flowing” in the Persian Gulf.

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