Jim Cramer: Renewables Religion Is Dangerous

Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 7:37 a.m. EDT on Real Money on Sept. 17. To see Jim Cramer's latest commentary as it's published, sign up for a free trial of Real Money.

NEW YORK ( Real Money) -- I am giving up on any hope that Washington will understand the carbon/fossil fuel renaissance in this country.

Yesterday we interviewed Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mt.), an energy and mineral-rich state. He was holding a conference on the economy, including a presentation involving the Bakken, which will soon be producing one million barrels a day, up from about 300,000 a couple of years ago. I thought, here we go, commonsense senator from a reasonable state where mining jobs had always been a mainstay of the economy. So, I asked a benign question about whether they would be discussing the positive prospects of all the newfound energy in this country and what it means for the U.S. economy given the Bakken segment of his conference.

The senator wasted no time getting right to the heart of the matter: the importance of renewable energy. I almost fell out of my chair. I figured this was the one senator that might actually admit that we are close to energy independence on the continent, provided we can get the oil and gas where it is needed, something that would create a huge number of jobs. Nope, it's all about renewables, all about subsidized power. It's all about the government helping an industry that can't solve the big issue, which is how to stop the importation of oil from countries that aren't friendly with the United States while hiring many more people in this country. I figured he would at least give me some love on natural gas, which is cleaner than so many other fuels, certainly dirty diesel, which is responsible for 25% of our imported fuel.

Nah, renewables.

I pressed. How about all of the jobs that could be created if we just had a program that could get the unemployed where the jobs were in the Bakken and the Eagle Ford and the other shales that are oil and gas rich, but people poor. Nope, he wanted to talk about training people. Darn it, the companies will train them. They are willing to pay well above the nation's average if they can just find a way to get the people to these godforsaken places. The government doesn't need to train a soul.

I was going to follow up with a question about Keystone, but I knew it was just hopeless.

This squandered opportunity is painful, even as objection after objection has been met. Two years ago the New York Times took after the natural gas industry, saying there wasn't enough of it to justify the possibility of using it for a surface fuel. I was so disgusted  because already the glut was so evident that we would have to burn off more natural gas -- a natural byproduct of oil drilling -- that I contacted the ombudsman and got a critical word in about the coverage.

Then the objection was drinking water and "Gasland." Encana had a couple of wells that environmentalists charged were leaking gas. The EPA was all over it, but upon proper investigation found that there was no issue and no leak from Encana.

Then it was methane pollution and how drilling for natural gas caused more particulate damage than people thought, which meant it was no cleaner than oil. This came despite a dramatic decline in our own carbon footprint because of our aggressive switch to burning natural gas, not coal, as a power-plant fuel. Yesterday a University of Texas study showed that the government was dramatically overstating the methane leakage and that it wasn't even a real issue.

It's all coming together to use natural gas as a surface fuel except Washington only wants to talk about renewables and the importance of the government getting behind them, not unlike the Spanish thrust to do so, which almost bankrupted that state. The U.K. went that way too and it cost them mightily.

I think that we are on some sort of ridiculous path that simply won't acknowledge the potential here for self-sufficiency. We are exporting 2 million barrels of gasoline a day because of rules that don't let us ship it to where it is needed unless the tankers fly under U.S. flags, which almost none do. That jacks up our gasoline prices in the Northeast, which I now believe is by design to use less fuel. The military doesn't seem to care about the leverage our nation has over the Middle East if we didn't need their oil, which we wouldn't if we embrace natural gas as a surface fuel. We know the skies would be cleaner. We know pipelines punch above their weight when it comes to job creation.

But they only want to talk renewables. It is a religion, one that can't be touched. And it could destroy our nation's best opportunity to get strong and create more jobs instantly.

We have such a surfeit of natural gas right now that we have virtually stopped drilling. We are permitting net gas export plants all over the place that won't be built. It is almost as if we are suicidal.

Mark my words, we are going to crucify our nation on a cross of renewables.

It's insanity.

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