Sharpe: Election, elation and tribulation

George Sharpe
Merrion Oil & Gas Investment Manager
George Sharpe, Merrion Oil and Gas investment manager

Please join me in a collective, “Wow, how did THAT happen?”

I don't think many of us thought Trump would overcome a substantial deficit in the pre-election polls to pull off the victory.  I have to admit, I threw my vote away, not necessarily voting FOR Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, but for the socially liberal, fiscally conservative position he represented.  Poor Gary.  Bless his heart!

There is a lot I like about Trump, including his stance on energy (which I will eventually get to, being that is my assigned topic). However, there is much about him that I find distasteful. Let’s just say he isn’t the poster boy for Garth Brooks’ song, “Humble and Kind”. I know that many shared my distaste, but choked back their bile and voted for him anyway because, in their minds, the positives outweighed the negatives, particularly given the alternative.

As an aside, my son posted the following comment on Facebook: "I've seen a lot of complaints from my friends who voted for Trump about being grouped in with the racists and white supremacists who are celebrating his victory.  Maybe this helps you understand how the Muslims feel about getting grouped in with the terrorists, or the Mexicans with the rapists and criminals, or maybe the blacks being grouped in with all the gang members. I guess there IS equality in America in that we can all make generalizations about others based on the worst of their bunch, and sort ourselves into groups based on these generalizations."

He speaks the sad truth.

There is plenty of hate to go around, on both sides of the aisle, and in every race or group.  Let's please leave the hate at the door.  Let's learn to disagree on the issues respectfully, without hating on those with whom we disagree.

There are few "issues" that generate more haters than the carbon energy industry.  While Hillary understood both the benefit and necessity of fracking, she was being won over by the obstructionists yelling in her ear-holes.  As secretary of state, she argued that gas was "the cleanest fossil fuel available for power generation," and lauded the lower energy costs and job creation generated by the energy revolution.

But coming out of a close primary contest with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in an effort to woo his carbon-hating supporters, her stance had changed to "by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place."

Trump, on the other hand, is a bit like a box of Cracker Jacks — we aren't REALLY sure what we are going to get. I'm cautiously hopeful that the prize at the end won’t be too cheesy.

As on several other issues, maybe the best we can say at this point is, "Well, at least he's not Hillary!"  Here are some of his stated positions:

1. He wants to see total American energy independence.  Who can argue against that? Wait, there they are — the environmental obstructionists.

2. He supports renewable energy, "but not at the exclusion of other forms of energy."  So do I, so do I!

3. On climate change, he is a denier, calling global warming an "expensive hoax."  I'd comment on that, but I need to finish this article so I can get out and enjoy this nice 72-degree November afternoon.

4. He is "very strongly in favor of nuclear energy."  I see the environmentalists over there losing their lunch. You’d think they would be praising the zero greenhouse gas emissions!

5. He vows to "save the coal industry", and supports clean coal technology.  Maybe the cuts we have seen at the Arizona Public Service and Public Service of New Mexico power plants will be the last, at least for four years.

6. He supports infrastructure projects, like the Keystone pipeline.  That is SUCH a no-brainer.  Better Canadian oil by pipe (or better yet, North Dakota oil) than Middle Eastern oil by boat.

7. He supports fracking, and wants to reduce regulation on the oil and gas industry.  I would forego any reduction in regulation for just stemming the tide.

In closing, I'm hopeful Trump can change the overall attitude of federal regulators toward the industry.  Currently, small independent operators are treated like enemies of the state, causing them to spend more time watching their backs than concentrating on how they are going to stay in business.

It is not necessarily the regulations themselves, as many of them are well meaning and beneficial, but the application of those regulations by over-zealous bureaucrats following Obama’s anti-oil-and-gas mandate.

For sure that mandate is going to change.

Hopefully it will result in operators being respected as important contributors who develop the nation's resources, pay royalties and taxes, create jobs, and give generously to their local communities — all the while doing their best to protect the environment, with or without someone watching over their shoulder.

Yes indeed, that would be a pretty nice prize to find at the bottom of our box of Cracker Jacks!