Obama’s EPA riding over the bodies of energy producing companies
Why is the US economy a wreck? Why are we paying sky-high prices at the gasoline pump? We have an administration in Washington that is philosophically bent on treating the productive free market economy the same way a conquering Roman general or invading barbarian horde would treat a foreign territory. The democrat party left views the private sector economy as a victim it is entitled to conquer, rule over, and loot at will.
You couldn’t have a clearer demonstration of the total incomprehension on the part of the left of the role of freedom and the rule of law in making possible economic growth, innovation, and prosperity. When this country elected Barack Obama, it really in essence turned over control of the government to someone with the same economic perspective as Attila the Hun.
The central conflict of the Obama Presidency has been between the jobs and growth crisis he inherited and the President’s hell-for-leather pursuit of his larger social-policy ambitions. The tragedy is that the economic recovery has been so lackluster because the second impulse keeps winning.
Yesterday came proof positive with the White House’s repudiation of the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada’s $7 billion shovel-ready project that would support tens of thousands of jobs if only it could get the requisite U.S. permits. Those jobs, apparently, can wait.
Unless the President objected, December’s payroll tax deal gave TransCanada the go-ahead in February to start building the pipeline, which would travel 1,661 miles from Alberta to interconnections in Oklahoma and then carry Canadian crude to U.S. refiners on the Gulf Coast.
The State Department, which presides over the Keystone XL review because it would cross the 49th parallel, claimed yesterday that the two-month Congressional deadline was too tight “for the President to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest.” The White House also issued a statement denouncing Congress’s “rushed and arbitrary deadline,” which merely passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
This is, to put it politely, a crock.
Keystone XL has been planned for years and only became a political issue after the well-to-do environmental lobby decided to make it a station of the green cross. TransCanada filed its application in 2008, and State determined in 2010 and then again last year that the project would have “no significant impacts” on the environment, following exhaustive studies. The Environmental Protection Agency chose to intervene anyway, and the political left began to issue ultimatums and demonstrate in front of the White House, so President Obama decided to defer a final decision until after the election.
Robert J. Samuelson, in the Washington Post, calls the decision to block the pipeline an act of insanity, noting that it is an act of pure symbolism, no utility, not even supposititious enviro-utility is actually thereby served. But reality is never allowed to stand in the way of ideology by this administration.
President Obamaâ€™s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isnâ€™t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and â€” beyond the symbolism â€” wonâ€™t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.
Aside from the political and public relations victory, environmentalists wonâ€™t get much. Stopping the pipeline wonâ€™t halt the development of tar sands, to which the Canadian government is committed; therefore, there will be little effect on global-warming emissions. Indeed, Obamaâ€™s decision might add to them. If Canada builds a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific for export to Asia, moving all that oil across the ocean by tanker will create extra emissions. There will also be the risk of added spills.
Now consider how Obamaâ€™s decision hurts the United States. For starters, it insults and antagonizes a strong ally; getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder. Next, it threatens a large source of relatively secure oil that, combined with new discoveries in the United States, could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil.
Finally, Obamaâ€™s decision forgoes all the projectâ€™s jobs. Thereâ€™s some dispute over the magnitude. Project sponsor TransCanada claims 20,000, split between construction (13,000) and manufacturing (7,000) of everything from pumps to control equipment. Apparently, this refers to â€œjob years,â€ meaning one job for one year. If so, the actual number of jobs would be about half that spread over two years. Whatever the figure, itâ€™s in the thousands and thus important in a country hungering for work. And Keystone XL is precisely the sort of infrastructure project that Obama claims to favor.
The big winners are the Chinese. They must be celebrating their good fortune and wondering how the crazy Americans could repudiate such a huge supply of nearby energy.
Jeff Jacoby, in the Boston Globe, debunks the Puritan meme of an addiction to petroleum.
The explosion of BPâ€™s oil rig in the Gulf has been a calamity in so many ways, above all the loss of 11 human lives. With hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil gushing daily from the crippled wellhead, the environmental impacts have been excruciating. BP is responsible for a dreadful mess, one that will take years and many millions of dollars to clean up.
Awful as the catastrophe has been, however, life without oil would be far, far worse.
Americans consume oil not because they are â€œaddictedâ€™â€™ to it, but because it enriches their lives, making possible prosperity, comfort, and mobility that would have been all but unimaginable just a few generations ago. Almost by definition, an addiction is something one is healthier without. But oil-based energy improves human health and reduces poverty â€” it makes life longer, safer, and better. Addictions debase life. Oil improves and expands it.
â€œOil may be the single most flexible substance ever discovered,â€™â€™ writes the Manhattan Instituteâ€™s Robert Bryce in â€œPower Hungry,â€™â€™ a new book on the myths of â€œgreenâ€™â€™ energy. â€œMore than any other substance, oil helped to shrink the world. Indeed, thanks to its high energy density, oil is a nearly perfect fuel for use in all types of vehicles, from boats and planes to cars and motorcycles. Whether measured by weight or by volume, refined oil products provide more energy than practically any other commonly available substance, and they provide it in a form thatâ€™s easy to handle, relatively cheap, and relatively clean.â€™â€™ If oil didnâ€™t exist, Bryce quips, weâ€™d have to invent it.
Of course there are problems created by oil, as the Deepwater Horizon calamity so heartbreakingly demonstrates. But most things of great value come with downsides. There are 40,000 traffic fatalities in the United States each year, but no rational person suggests doing away with cars, trucks, and highways. Airplanes sometimes crash and boats sometimes sink, but air and sea travel are not derided as â€œaddictionsâ€™â€™ we need to break. Deaths due to hospital infections, medication errors, or unnecessary surgery number in the scores of thousands annually, but who would recommend an end to medical care?
Someday there may be an energy source that is as abundant, efficient, clean, and economically viable as oil. But nothing today fits that bill â€” certainly not biofuels, wind farms, or solar power. Besides, it isnâ€™t only energy products that we get from petroleum. Crude oil refining also makes possible plastics, synthetic fibers, lubricants, waxes, asphalt. â€œOther products made from petroleum,â€™â€™ notes the US Energy Information Administration, â€œinclude ink, crayons, bubble gum, dishwashing liquids, deodorant, eyeglasses, CDs and DVDs, tires, ammonia, [and] heart valves.â€™â€™
We are not “addicted” to oil. That is a metaphor based on the generally illusory notion of addiction, and it is wrong. We need petroleum or an equivalent source of energy to fuel our vehicles, heat and light our homes, and to operate our machines… to live. We also need food in pretty much the same way. Does it make sense to assert that we are addicted to food? We use petroleum because it is currently the cheapest fuel source. If there were not politicians backed by armed men with guns, at home and abroad, levying whopping extortion fees on any and all petroleum extracted from the ground, it would be really, really cheap.
The cost of the energy we use is not really a problem. We have so little difficulty affording it, that we let our own government attach huge taxes to every gallon we consume and we let primitives in far off lands squat on top of oil supplies and accumulate trillions by charging us for oil we discovered and extract for them. If the cost of petroleum really bothered anybody, we would insist on allowing oil drilling not only in the incredibly remote Arctic howling wilderness, but in everyone’s backyard. If the cost were a genuine problem, we’d have long ago sent the marines into a number of Middle Eastern countries and put all their rulers out of the oil business and back into the sheep herding/caravan ambushing business again.
Peter Zeihan, at Stratfor, discussing the impact of the ongoing collapse of oil prices from to a current $40 a barrel from $147 last July.
Happily, the list of losers is headed by the worst outlaws.
Venezuela and Iran top this list by far. Both are led by politicians who have lavished vast amounts of oil income on their populations to secure their respective political positions. But that public approval has come at its own price in terms of economic dislocation (why diversify the economy if strong oil prices bring in loads of cash?), low employment (the energy sector may be capital-intensive, but it certainly is not labor-intensive), and high inflation (high government spending has led to massive consumption and spurred rampant import of foreign goods to satiate that demand).
Of the two states, Venezuela is certainly in the worse position. By some estimates, Venezuela requires oil prices in the vicinity of US$120 a barrel to maintain the social spending to which its population has become accustomed. Iranâ€™s number may be only somewhat lower, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in the process of at least beginning to bow to economic reality. On Dec. 5, he announced massive cuts in subsidy outlays with the intent of reforging the budget based on a price of only US$30 a barrel.
House Republicans have recently produced a major reversal in the momentum of the 2008 campaign by actually fighting democrats over their crazy environmental fanaticism and determination to maintain federal regulatory roadblocks to domestic oil exploration production at a time when prices at the pump are over $4. Tourists have come into the Capitol to applaud them.
Congressional Republicans actually find a winning issue, so what happens next?
Why, naturally, the Third Senator from New York, Lindsey Graham arrives with four other weak-kneed RINOs accompanied by a matching set of five democrats to propose a bipartisan sell-out which would protect the democrats from Republican attacks. Sheer genius! Isn’t it obvious just whom John McCain ought to be picking as his running-mate?
Speaking for real Republicans, Kimberly Strassel had a few choice words about all this.
It’s taken time, but Sen. McCain and his party have finally found — in energy — an issue that’s working for them. Riding voter discontent over high gas prices, the GOP has made antidrilling Democrats this summer’s headlines.
Their enthusiasm has given conservative candidates a boost in tough races. And Mr. McCain has pressured Barack Obama into an energy debate, where the Democrat has struggled to explain shifting and confused policy proposals.
Still, it was probably too much to assume every Republican would work out that their side was winning this issue. And so, last Friday, in stumbled Sens. Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Saxby Chambliss, Bob Corker and Johnny Isakson — alongside five Senate Democrats. This “Gang of 10” announced a “sweeping” and “bipartisan” energy plan to break Washington’s energy “stalemate.” What they did was throw every vulnerable Democrat, and Mr. Obama, a life preserver.
That’s because the plan is a Democratic giveaway. New production on offshore federal lands is left to state legislatures, and then in only four coastal states. The regulatory hurdles are huge. And the bill bars drilling within 50 miles of the coast — putting off limits some of the most productive areas. Alaska’s oil-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is still a no-go.
The highlight is instead $84 billion in tax credits, subsidies and federal handouts for alternative fuels and renewables. The Gang of 10 intends to pay for all this in part by raising taxes on . . . oil companies! The Sierra Club couldn’t have penned it better. And so the Republican Five has potentially given antidrilling Democrats the political cover they need to neutralize energy through November.
Gasoline is $4+ a gallon. It takes over $70 to fill-up my car, and around $10 more to put some gas in the plastic jerrican for the lawnmower.
Congressional Republicans want to pass a bill to do something about this by freeing up more domestic production. They have the votes, but democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to allow a vote, has adjourned the House of Representatives for a five-week vacation, and turned the lights off in the Capitol in an effort to evict Republicans who have stayed on the floor in protest.
As Patrick Ruffin notes, a watershed has occurred in which Republicans are succeeding in mobilizing a grassroots protest effort using the Internet.
The prime tool for organizing currently is Twitter free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send updates, known as “tweets,” text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.
As President Bush traveled to Saudi Arabia to ask the House of Saud to open the oil spigots a bit wider, Congress showed once again how clueless it is when it comes to energy policy.
Underscoring its failure to grasp the nature of our current problems, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday refused to end its moratorium on oil shale development in Colorado.
“If we are really serious about reducing pain at the pump,” Colorado’s senior senator, Republican Wayne Allard, said, “this is a vote that would make a difference in people’s lives.” He’s right.
But the shale proposal went down to defeat with Allard and 13 other Republican members in favor and 15 Democrats opposed. Once again, Democrats were on the wrong side, opting to keep oil in the ground and punish you with higher prices as a result.
This was no minor thing. Estimates put the amount of oil locked in shale in both Canada and the U.S. at more than 1 trillion barrels. Pulling out even a tenth of that would quadruple our current reserves.
This is the same Congress that refuses to allow drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which holds up to 20 billion barrels of crude, or offshore, where another 30 billion await.
Meanwhile, Brazil â€” which recently made a major oil discovery almost in sight of Rio’s beaches â€” announced that it has leased 80% of the world’s deep-sea offshore oil rigs. In other words, Brazil unlike the U.S., isn’t dithering as prices soar. It’s drilling. …
The U.S. uses about 21 million barrels of oil a day. But only 8 million come from our own sources. That leaves a 13-million-barrel-a-day deficit that, at $126 a barrel, will cost us $600 billion to plug this year. That’s more than two-thirds of our total trade deficit.
Congress could reduce much of our oil shortfall by drilling for more on our own territory. This would lower prices and increase security. Yet, Congress seems dead set on doing the opposite.
With its failure to tap the vast supplies in ANWR and offshore, its passage of costly global-warming legislation and now its refusal to exploit our massive resources of oil shale, Congress has set us on a path to less energy, higher prices and weakened national security.