Obama's Green War Continues
The Obama Regime has pursued a Green religious crusade on energy policy. Part of this crusade --the soft option, so to say--has been to lavishly subsidize every kind of so-called "green energy" business (such as solar power, wind power, and ethanol), no matter how inefficient it might be.
The preferred tool the Green Regime employs is the covert subsidy -- that is, taxpayer-backed loan guarantees. The company that gets these loan guarantees can borrow freely from the private sector large sums, no matter how financially weak the company is, to capitalize its operations, and until it actually hits the wall and the taxpayer gets hosed (as in the notorious Solyndra case), nobody sees what is going on.
The flip-side of the Green jihad -- the hard option -- is a sustained regulatory attack on fossil fuel industries (oil, natural gas, and coal). The hard option is needed to complement the soft, for even with enormous subsidies, the green energy sources are so inefficient that they are still market losers. The Regime figures that it must destroy the competition to get people to switch to these costly forms of energy.
Two recent stories highlight the hard option in action. The first is the news that the Regime has "put on hold" approval of the Keystone XL pipeline until after the next election (when presumably -- if he is reelected -- Obama will just kill it off altogether).
The Keystone pipeline would have connected the oil sands in Canada -- which contain proven oil reserves of 170 billion barrels, third in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela -- with Port Arthur, Texas, on the Gulf Coast. (The reason that the pipeline was to terminate in Texas was to circumvent the refining bottlenecks now prevalent in the Midwest). The pipeline would have brought 700,000 to a million barrels of oil a day to U.S. refiners on the Gulf of Mexico. It would have created 20,000 new construction jobs in a country suffering from chronic 9% unemployment -- not to mention all the ancillary jobs in creating the steel pipe and transporting it to the middle of the country, along with housing and feeding all those pipeline workers. Unlike the bogus "shovel ready" jobs Obama promised and later laughed about with his stimulus bill, these jobs really were shovel-ready.
Never mind that the project had passed prior extensive environmental reviews, and was supported by the State Department after being held up for three years in these studies. Never mind that it would have been built to standards exceeding all prior pipeline standards (such as utilizing computerized leak-detectors beaming information real-time to monitoring stations via satellite, as well as state-of-the-art puncture-resistant piping). Never mind that these same hysterical environmentalists who predicted ecological Armageddon from the Alaskan pipeline decades ago were proven wrong by history -- no, there weren't massive spills, and no, the caribou didn't die (in fact, the warm pipeline proved a boon to the beasts during the long, cold winters). Never mind that there are already 25,000 miles of pipeline in this region of the country, functioning without any massive mishaps. Never mind that this oil would have been refined in Texas, creating even more jobs. Never mind that this oil would eliminate virtually all our current imports from Saudi Arabia. Never mind that Canada has been a longstanding and loyal ally of the U.S., so importing oil from it -- rather than the likes of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela -- is greatly in our national security interests. And never mind that Canada already is our biggest supplier of oil.
The environmentalist extremists pulling the strings of this Green Regime care nothing for the goals of inexpensive energy, American jobs, or American national security. In fact, they oppose them profoundly. In their loony worldview, allowing China access to plentiful, cheap Canadian oil is better than allowing America access to it. They of course never explain why it is better -- certainly not to stop global warming, since whether China or America burns it, burned it will be, with precisely the same impact on the planet.
Speaking of the Chinese getting the oil, it is no surprise that the immediate reaction of the Canadians is to look to Asia to export that valuable oil. China has eyed Canadian oil for some time and has invested heavily in it in the past. After getting kicked in the teeth by Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper quickly announced that Canada will export more oil to China. Harper sagely noted of the Green Regime's insulting decision that "[t]his does underscore the necessity of Canada making sure that we will be able to access Asian markets for our energy products. ... I indicated that yesterday to President Hu of China." The theory now is that Canada will probably build its own pipeline West to British Colombia, so that the Chinese can easily ship it across the Pacific.
Parenthetically, this affair is quite typical of Obama's foreign policy in general and his policy towards Canada in particular.
His general policy is comprehensively described in one pithy sentence: punish your friends (Canada, Israel, Poland, Mexico, etc.) and reward your enemies (Russia, Iran, Venezuela, etc.).
And Obama seems to have a special disdain for the Canada. You will recall that one of his first acts in office was to start a virtual trade war with her.
The second major news in the Green Regime's jihad against fossil fuels is Obama's action in Ohio. Not content with nixing the Canadian oil project, the Regime has struck another major blow to America's energy independence by canceling a major mineral lease in the Wayne National Forest, thus halting the expansion of shale gas drilling in the state. This cancelation will last at least half a year -- although given this environmentalist-controlled Regime, it may go on indefinitely. The action was taken by the Department of Agriculture, but the motivation was stated by Green jihadist Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar: fear of fracking. This technology puts anger in the heart of environmentalists everywhere.
Again, never mind that the administration's decision will put off another 200,000 high-paying jobs. And never mind that the Wayne National Forest already has something like 1,300 oil and natural gas wells already.
One suspects that Obama took this action not merely out of a desire to fire up the extremist environmentalists, who will furnish him with tens of billions of bucks for his upcoming campaign, but out of a real anger at Ohio. After all, this ban comes just days after the brave citizens of Ohio voted in a referendum to have their state refuse to enact the key provisions of Obamacare.
Philosopher Gary Jason is a senior editor of Liberty Unbound and the author of the new book Dangerous Thoughts.