Monday, April 16, 2007

Can Someone Please Explain?

Huguo Chavez, president of Venezuela, is hosting an energy summit of South American leaders today.

At the two-day summit, Chavez will promote a much-heralded project to build a 5,000-mile (8,000-kilometre) natural gas pipeline linking the OPEC nation's gas reserves to nations such as Brazil and Argentina.

But what about the caribou? Oh, right, never mind.

Chavez is seeking "to consolidate regional support for his anti-U.S. policies."

Chavez, who governs atop the hemisphere's largest oil reserves and wins political influence with subsidized exports to neighbors, wants the 12-nation conference to focus on regional integration as a counterweight to the United States.

Now ... this is where things get confusing for me. Chavez is using his country's oil wealth to buy power around South America , is the fifth-largest exporter of oil to the United States, and stand FIRM in his opposition to Ethanol. Why? Because people will starve. Ok, at least that is sort of consistent. But, now here is the kicker:

But with Cuban help, the government has installed millions of power-saving light bulbs in recent months that Chavez -- who often speaks in apocalyptic terms about the environment -- said can serve as an inspiration at the summit.

"This planet is in danger, the human race is danger," he said after railing about high U.S. energy demand. "Let's do what we have to do to save mankind."

Chavez wants everyone to keep buying his oil, but he's installing power-saving light bulbs. I guess those are his offsets? That should do the trick. The Venezuelan government is dependent upon oil (since it has nationalized the petroleum industry) yet Chavez needs only go on TV to spew propaganda, and the greens lap it up:

While the leader of the world’s most powerful nation, George W. Bush, denies the existence of global warming, Venezuela’s Chávez has made environmental issues a top concern of his government and is actively engaging in efforts to raise awareness throughout South America about the importance of conservation. Venezuela also recently initiated Misión Energía (Mission Energy), a social program aimed at energy conservation that has funded hundreds of “brigadiers” (young activists) all over the country in efforts to replace common heat-burning light bulbs with more environmentally friendly cold energy bulbs. President Chávez has ordered that all government buildings must use the energy conserving light bulbs and must lower excessive air conditioning in State offices. During television and radio appearances, Chávez never fails to comment on the importance of turning off water faucets when not in use, not leaving televisions on when they are not being watched and switching off unnecessary lights.

A nation under the constant aggression and verbal attack of the United States, as well as the victim of several direct interventions (such as the failed coup d’etat against Chávez in April 2002), Venezuela is setting an important example about how government truly can play a protagonist role in stopping global warming and environmental decay. Greens and activists around the world should support and encourage, as well as aid with expertise and solidarity, Venezuela’s green agenda.

Why, it's paradise! Unlike the US:

During his seven years of power, he has increased the government’s military budget and taken complete control of the military by establishing militias. The president has given positions of prestige to those in his favor, and established a system of surveillance and punishment against those who oppose him. With this power, he persecutes political dissenters, undermining any sense of legitimacy associated with rival leadership; he has systematically averted the reorganization of other political parties. The president has also instituted a "gag" law and has pressured journalists and the media as a means to control information and ideas presented to the people of the U.S.

Oops, except that isn't about the United States. But, you fell for it didn't you? It sounded just an article on HuffPo for a second, didn't it? No, those are the comments of Rafael Alfonzo, Former Chairman of the Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber, referring, of course to the changes in his country after seven years of Chavez. He continues:

As part of his national takeover, Chávez has taken complete control of the government and has seized control of the congress, the national electoral council, the attorney general’s office, the Supreme Court, the public defender’s office and the office of the national comptroller. He has even gone as far as organizing a network of intellectuals who provide a legitimizing ideological dimension to his "revolution." Chávez’s "state-run capitalism" has made Venezuela a polarized country.

Yes, Chavez is setting a wonderful example on how a government can implement an energy policy. First, you start with a dictatorship ...

But, I cannot but add that Chavez has contributed to the green movement by reducing the oil production of Venezuela. In 1968, it was at 3.6 mbpd. In 2006, production was below 2.5 mbpd! Well DONE, Chavez. And how did he accomplish this wonderful feat?
The qualified, trained and expert personnel that used to run the country’s oil business were fired and blacklisted by the government. In other words, the people who used to run our oil industry are barred from participating in it at any level. Not only are they barred from PDVSA’s operations, but also from any company related to the state-owned oil industry.

As a result, Venezuela’s oil production has decreased. Currently, our country’s actual production level is 2.6 mbpd. To make matters worse, refining problems have forced several products out of the normal production line. Finally, it is hard to quantify the effects of the pressure placed on foreign companies that have invested in Venezuela’s oil industry. Companies have been forced into joint-venture agreements that make it very difficult for foreign investors to consider our country as a secure investment destination.

Environmentalism through incompetence.