Obama is Strangling Big Oil

There was no "official" announcement. Not in so many words. Connect the dots of what has occurred in just the past two weeks to deep-water oil drilling, shallow-water drilling, and oil refining. The effect is the same. Barack Obama is shutting down Big Oil.

One of the first actions taken by the president after the BP oil leak began was to announce a six-month moratorium on all "deep-water" (deeper than 500 feet) drilling. That immediately affected 33 oil rigs and more than 120,000 oil-related jobs. The industry has an estimated $3-billion impact on the Gulf economy.

The executive order, from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar via Obama, was taken to court by drilling companies. It was quickly enjoined by U.S. District judge Martin Feldman, who wrote a harshly worded opinion critical of the Energy Department's lack of scientific basis for such an overreaching reaction.

Not to be dissuaded by such trivialities as a federal court judge's ruling, what did Obama do? It was announced immediately that an appeal would be made, even though Democrat-elected officials such as Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) oppose the moratorium as a jobs-killer.

The Energy Secretary said he would make a new, reworded moratorium on deep-water drilling. In other words, the Obama administration would simply ignore the will of the court. 

After the court's June 22 ruling, under questioning the next day from the Senate interior appropriations committee, Secretary Salazar disagreed with senators who said the moratorium could impact the Gulf states more drastically than the oil spill itself.  He made it clear that day that the deep wells will be shut down, no matter what.

Salazar's "new" moratorium has yet to issue, but it may not matter. In stealth mode, the administration is attacking other aspects of the oil industry.

Shallow-Water Drilling

Though the president announced shallow wells would not be permanently affected by the moratorium, passive-aggressiveness in the permitting process has kept them off-line.

Connie Hair writes in Human Events:

[N]o shallow-water drilling permits-with the exception of two which were quickly rescinded -- have been granted since the drilling moratorium was first announced on May 6th.

"We're told by the government that the de-facto moratorium doesn't exist," Cassidy said. "By industry, by workers, we're told that it does."

Oil Refining

The other important component of the oil industry is refining. The Obama administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency, has just put 27% of the country's refining capacity into limbo, on the assertion that the plants violate the Clean Air Act. The 27 refining plants affected just happen to be located in Texas, which has battled the EPA for years over the emissions standards and permits process and has followed its own set of rules until now. Someone is showing someone who is boss.

Will one-third of the nation's oil-refining capacity have to be shut down for expensive revamping to meet the Obama EPA standards?

Nuareen S. Malik writes in the Wall Street Journal:
The federal agency proposed striking down the so-called flexible air permits issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ, last September, saying they violate the Clean Air Act. Under the act, all states have to develop a state implementation plan to meet federal requirements to protect public health. The move won't require oil refiners, chemical and plastics makers, and others to shut their plants immediately, but will force companies to meet stricter regulations in order to earn new, more detailed permits. [...]

Bill Day, a spokesman for Valero, which operates six out of seven of its Texas refineries under the flex permits, said the EPA's move was disappointing. These "facilities are caught in the middle, creating significant uncertainty at a time when our economy can least afford it," Mr. Day said in an email.

Let's try to imagine the paperwork, the bureaucracy, and the expense of this pencil stroke by the Obama administration, and what it might further cost in lost jobs and lost product for the country, if any of the Texas plants must eventually shut down for Obama "upgrades."

Texas governor Rick Perry, a Republican, had already locked horns, bringing a lawsuit against the EPA in February over its agency decision to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. He maintains that the EPA is now attempting to "take over" the state's job of permitting its own businesses. The EPA ruling affects 122 Texas plants, including the 27 oil refineries.

Gromer Jeffers Jr. Writes in the Dallas News: "'There are some troubling decisions this administration has made toward Texas,' [Perry] said. 'The EPA is on the verge of killing thousands of Texas jobs.'"

Perry's Democrat opponent in the governor's race has made the Texas tussle with EPA a campaign issue.

There is a seemingly unending wave of ideological bureaucrats in federal offices doing the bidding of radicals whose goal is to have the populace ride bicycles and live in eco-clusters.

The Obama administration environmentalists may not have a mandate from the electorate or even certain members of their own party to accomplish what they want. They may also have to ignore the judicial branch of the government. Right now, they have the power to regulate an industry to death. A side benefit for them is that they may also mow down some of the Republicans who dare to stand in their way.

Jane Jamison is publisher of the conservative news blog, UNCOVERAGE.net.
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