Sometimes the Goal is Not Really the Goal

Correspondent Clark Griswold reports:

I spent the last three months planning my family’s summer road trip to Wally World. My Trip-Tik anticipated stops at the Grand Canyon, the House of Mud and the World’s Second Largest Ball of Twine, but the ultimate goal of our westward journey is the fabulous amusement park, Wally World. No detail was too small for my Trip-Tik.

On Tuesday, an oversized FedEx envelope bore a certificate to be redeemed for an all-expenses-paid Wally World vacation for my entire family, with First Class round-trip plane tickets, luxury accommodations at Hotel Wally plus $5,000 spending money — extras that I had never dreamed were possible. The Family Truckster will stay in the garage. No Ball of Twine. No House of Mud. No Aunt Edna.

Darn the luck. All that planning down the drain.

Some say that getting there is half the fun. In my case, getting there is all the fun. Because if I can’t control the trip, what’s the use of going?

In 1997, most of the developed nations accepted the Kyoto Protocol, and with them aggressive targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions by 2012. U.S. delegates accepted the treaty, but it was never ratified by the Senate.

We heard much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the green crowd and tut-tuts from the other signatory countries. Certainly cap-and-trade and massive government renewable energy “investment” (handouts) while forsaking fossil fuels represented the only rational strategy for saving the planet. Europe may have been enlightened, but absent the leadership of the United States, the Kyoto targets would never hold and the planet was doomed. Oh, the poor polar bears!

Fast forward to 2014. Renewable energy’s share of our energy use is still in the low single digits. Cap-and-trade died a quiet death in Obama’s first term.

But ironically, the U.S. alone among the major developed countries met its Kyoto goals. How? Two words: natural gas.

Plentiful, abundant, cheap and American natural gas displaced coal in electricity generation, at half of coal’s level of CO2 emissions. At the same time, the petroleum sector has been one of the economy’s few bright spots, providing massive private investment and jobs by the thousands. Gas may even represent a new export market for the U.S.

We reached our goal! Is anyone happy about it?

Not so much. While we may have met the goal, the Griswolds, the Gores and the Steyers don’t like the path we took.

The path we took was market-centric. It did not look to the government for leadership.

Natural gas strategies were hatched in Houston, Oklahoma City and Denver, not D.C. or New York.

Natural gas success depended on who was better, quicker and more efficient, and not on who had the ear of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy who could arrange a Solyndra-style handout.

The natural gas path was largely a non-union path.

As for the producers, some have been winners and others losers.

Consumers have won across the board, with lower utility bills saving the average gas customer about $1,200 per year.

It was a triumph of capitalism. Not the way it was planned at all.

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