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  • Drilled There, Drilled Then, Now Denmark Paying Less

    Matthew Yglesias kicked off his new Center for American Progress blog this week with a post favorably citing a Thomas Friedman article on Denmark’s energy sector. Yglesias writes:

    Denmark, by contrast, some time ago adopted policies aimed at promoting energy efficiency and conservation and, consequently, has an infrastructure that’s well-adapted to energy being expensive. Not only does that make Denmark greener than the United States but it also makes Denmark much less vulnerable to energy supply shocks than the United States is.

    And it is true, Denmark is more buffeted from energy price shocks than the U.S. But not for the reason Matt states. Friedman, at least, nods towards reality in passing when he writes:

    Unlike America, Denmark, which was so badly hammered by the 1973 Arab oil embargo that it banned all Sunday driving for a while, responded to that crisis in such a sustained, focused and systematic way that today it is energy independent. (And it didn’t happen by Danish politicians making their people stupid by telling them the solution was simply more offshore drilling.)

    What was the trick? To be sure, Denmark is much smaller than us and was lucky to discover some oil in the North Sea. …

    We don’t know what Danish politicians told their people at the time, but the facts on the ground (and in the sea) seem to indicate that a big part of the solution they sold their people on after 1973 was offshore drilling. Not only were the Danes “lucky to discover some oil in the North Sea,” unlike America, Denmark had the political will to develop those resources. Denmark now produces more 344,000 barrels of oil per day and 369 billion cubic feet of natural gas every year. This makes them a net exporter of both oil and natural gas which not only helps their bottom line, but also protects them from Russian threats to cut off natural gas supplies.

    For as green as Denmark is, however, it still is not energy independent. All the money they take from oil and gas exports helps pay for the 6.5 million tons* of coal Denmark has to import every year just to keep the lights on (neither Friedman nor Yglesias bother to mention this inconvenient truth).

    UPDATE: * figure now correct. Earlier version mistakenly identified coal imports by  nt Btu imports.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Drilled There, Drilled Then, Now Denmark Paying Less

    1. Stephen Kruiser, Los says:

      Importing coal! You mean all the windmills aren't magic? I read Friedman's article the other night and found it particularly interesting that a Times writer would focus on the toilet first.

    2. mark , Houston says:

      I'm sure that the Danes didn't have a "nancy pelosi" in their government otherwise they would be living in the dark by now .

    3. frederik, århu says:

      In the 1970ties saudi arabia was able to stop a critical program about the saudi royal family on public danish tv- now they can go to hell if they try something like that. It is the highest form of patriotism helping your country being getting rid of the oil addiction.

      every gallon you buy helps finance bullets in american and allied soldiers

    4. Pingback: Matthew Yglesias

    5. Dan, Chicago says:

      Please correct the 145 million figure. It is absurdly wrong. According to the US Energy Information Administration, Denmark used approximately 6.5 million tons of coal in 2005. Even Britain with 12 times the population doesn't use that much coal. See this link.


    6. Conn Carroll Conn Carroll says:

      thanks for the catch Dan!

    7. Pingback: America Needs Me » Magic Windmills Update

    8. Princeton Pete says:

      The writer suggests that the reason the Danes are energy independent is because they had the political will to drill offshore, something which we do not seem to have in so far as expanding our offshore drilling goes. Fair enough, then again, the Danes also have the political will to have national health care, free college education with stipends for living, high taxes, bike lanes, low-flush toilets, and, despite the aformentioned high taxes, seem to be the happiest people on earth [maybe it is all those Leggos].

      Perhaps one day we too will have some political will and do what it takes to make ourselves energy independent and efficent, provide universal health care to those who cannot afford private health care, and free higher education, and perhaps we will get off our arses and start riding bicycles to work, and stop wasting water everytime our body eliminates waste.

      But, I don't see it happening, why, because some people think that windmills are evil, free education is dangerous [well yes, it is] and so too is free health care, that taxes are `unconstitutional' and bike lanes are just plain wrong, at least that is how many act; rather knee-jerk don't you think, no, well then, think again.

    9. Pingback: Recent Links Tagged With "america" - JabberTags

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