Winners and losers energy policies
By Paul Driessen
Governor Mitt Romney strongly supports North American energy independence as the foundation of renewed US employment and prosperity. President Obama is waging war on fossil fuels, job creation, and efforts to end our economic recession and reduce dependence on Middle Eastern and Russian oil.
Romney's emphasis on careful analysis and due diligence brought him and Bain Capital notable winners like AMC Entertainment, Burger King, Burlington Coat Factory, Domino's Pizza, Dunkin' Donuts and Staples. Obama's focus on ideology, political calculation, cronyism and campaign contributors produced scandalous losers like A123, Abound Solar, Crescent Dunes, Ener1, Fisker, Mountain Plaza, Solyndra, Tesla, and a host of wind and biofuel projects that would collapse if their taxpayer subsidies were cut off.
Not surprisingly, US gasoline prices are double what they were the day Obama took office. Some 25 million Americans are without full-time jobs – leaving 23% of the workforce unemployed, involuntarily working part-time or at jobs where they are overqualified, making far less money than they did previously, or no longer looking for a job. Our 64% "labor participation rate" is at a 30-year low.
There are still 4.5 million fewer jobs than in 2007, even though our population has grown; the hourly wage of college-educated Americans age 23 to 29 fell 4.7% between 2007 and 2011; median household income plummeted $3,040 since the recession (supposedly, officially) ended in June 2009; and a record 45 million Americans are on food stamps.
Meanwhile, the ever-unstable Middle East is even more unstable. Terrorists murdered our ambassador to Libya. A pitiful anti-Islamist video excused riots in Egypt, where a Muslim Brotherhood leader is now president. More than 33,000 have died in a nasty Syrian civil war. Internecine conflicts continue in Iraq and elsewhere. The seemingly perpetual Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains poised to intensify. the Taliban and Al Qaeda continue to build power and launch vicious attacks, such as gunning down the US embassy's Yemeni security chief in Sana'a. And we are importing oil from brutal human rights violators.
Outside the Middle East, the Putin government is using energy to pressure and blackmail European nations dependent on Russian oil and gas, while orchestrating anti-fracking campaigns to keep EU countries from tapping their abundant shale gas supplies. Politics, events and human rights violations raise further questions about Russia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nigeria and Sudan. And many of these countries are among our most important oil suppliers – because we refuse to develop our own deposits.
Since oil is sold in a world market, producing more in the United States means we could import less from abroad, free up more oil for other nations, and push prices down. Exporting US natural gas and drilling, fracking and production expertise would make other nations less dependent on the Middle East and Russia, bring natural gas prices down further, turbo-charge economies, and encourage African countries to use gas to generate electricity, rather than "flaring" it as an unwanted byproduct of oil production.
Romney understands this. He is calling for more oil and natural gas production here in the United States, changes to excessive and counterproductive federal regulations that raise energy costs and kill jobs, and increased use of friendly Canadian oil to serve America's consumers. He knows this will protect us against disruptions in Middle East oil supplies, reduce the flow of American dollars to totalitarian human rights violators, create American jobs, increase tax revenues, and jumpstart our sluggish economy.
President Obama, by contrast, continues to ignore reality and embrace policies based on hope, green dreams, and a determination to "fundamentally transform" America's Constitution, economy, society and business system. He continues to waste billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize unreliable, unsustainable, inefficient, insufficient energy forms that are at best decades from competing in the free market – even as 80% of Department of Energy grants and loans went to companies owned or controlled by Obama contributors; DOE restructured its $465 million loan to Tesla, to make sure the electric-car company doesn't run out of cash right before the election; and President Obama says malnourished, energy-deprived Africans should avoid fossil fuels and rely instead on wind, solar and biofuel power.
Many recipients of involuntary taxpayer largesse are donors to Obama and Democrat re-election campaigns; have electoral clout in crucial swing states, where corn growers and others benefit from ethanol, wind and solar schemes; or provide crucial propaganda and campaign services via government employee and labor unions and tax-exempt radical environmentalist organizations.
While Obama turns his back on the reliable fossil fuels that power America's economic engine, he denounces and demonizes companies that produce this hydrocarbon energy, pay billions of dollars in taxes and support millions of American jobs. He singles out America's oil and natural gas sector for discriminatory tax increases and excessive regulations, and makes more and more federal lands, waters and resources off limits to responsible exploration and development.
Environmental activists and the Obama Administration express outrage about subsidies for traditional, efficient means of generating electricity, which amount to $0.25-$0.44 (25-44 cents) per megawatt-hour for coal and natural gas and $1.59 per MWH for nuclear. But they are eerily silent about enormous subsidies for wind ($23.37 per MWH) and solar electricity ($24.34 per MWH).
They express equal outrage about importing petroleum from Canada's oil sands via the Keystone Pipeline – but are silent about imports of thick, gooey crude from Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. They brag about increased US oil and gas production on private lands, but insist that there be little or no drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Rocky Mountains or even National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, which Congress set aside decades ago specifically to safeguard our national security by increasing exploration in areas with the best potential for oil and gas.
Lisa Jackson's Environmental Protection Agency is imposing draconian restrictions on power plants and other CO2 sources, as another way of "skinning the cat" and hyper-regulating coal out of the US energy picture, after Congress rejected cap-tax-and-trade legislation. Meantime, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) has introduced the Managed Carbon Price Act, which analysts say will impose regressive taxes that will rise to $5.20 per gallon of gasoline by 2024 and equally hefty surcharges on other hydrocarbon use.
The impact on transportation, shipping, commuting, manufacturing, jobs and families is frightening to contemplate. So is the fact that these actions are coming even as Britain's Meteorological Office released data showing that the world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago – and that average global temperatures rose an impossible-to-measure and statistically insignificant 0.03 degrees C per decade.
Meanwhile, Germany, Italy and Japan plan to phase out nuclear power, thereby increasing their use of natural gas and coal for electricity – while China and India plan to build 900 new coal-fired power plants to electrify their growing economies. All will pump millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – dwarfing any reductions the USA might achieve by closing more power plants and further shackling our economy.
The Administration's actions have been arrogant, irresponsible and autocratic. Win or lose in November, the White House, EPA, DOE and Interior Department will impose boxcars of punitive new regulations that have been put on hold until November 7.
We can dig ourselves out of this hole. We can and must rejuvenate and reinvigorate our economy, by developing America's resource bounties.
We don't need to "fundamentally transform" America's economy, society and free enterprise system. We need to fundamentally transform the anti-hydrocarbon culture that pervades the Congress, White House, Executive Branch and radical environmental groups that have brought us to where we are today.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality, and author or Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.