Jewish World Review Feb 10, 2012/ 17 Shevat, 5772
An energy boom looms, despite Obama
By Jay Ambrose
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Even the worst of presidents cannot stop the best of times, and it's beginning to look as if an unprecedented energy boom just might save President Barack Obama's re-election, despite his undying efforts to thwart energy development.
He's worked hard at it, you know, and few things I've read sum it up better than a Wall Street Journal article by Stephen Moore. He interviewed Harold Hamm, an oil-company CEO who first discovered the Bakken oil fields in Montana and North Dakota, which was a bit like discovering gold in California in the 19th century but more than that. This is big, big, big, maybe 24 billion barrels' worth of big, $18 trillion worth of big.
Ho-hum, said Obama when Hamm talked to him on one occasion about all of this. According to what Hamm told Moore, the president said oil and gas may count for something for a few years, but that the future is green, that things like battery-driven cars will save us. And here is a guy who walks his talk in more ways than central-planning goofs that give us such mistakes as a Solyndra solar-panel firm the sun failed to shine on.
There are all kinds of bumbling, bureaucratic delays in granting oil permits. There are proposals for increased, targeted tax hikes for oil and gas that will take much of the energizing profit out of exploration. There are Securities and Exchange Commission rules that complicate matters enough to make criminal mistakes a major possibility. There's the Environmental Protection Agency worrying the energy industry to death, and then there was the Justice Department's unbelievable pursuit of criminal sanctions because oil companies accidentally killed 28 birds that were not even endangered.
I know that sounds impossible, but it's true. A judge saved the day. He threw the silly case out, but we still have near-prohibitions of energy development that no judge can affect.
As big a symbol of dumbfounding intransigence as you can want is the Obama decision to stop the XL Keystone oil pipeline from Canada, which could help provide tens of thousands of jobs over time and thousands just in the short term. Three years of study demonstrated the pipeline would do no damage, and everyone knows China will get the oil if we don't. But Obama said nothing doing.
Did the moratorium on Gulf of Mexico oil drilling go too far after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? Plenty of experts argue that case, and an online article in Forbes estimates losses of $21.4 billion in investment and 91,000 jobs.
The great craziness here is that even if you believe green-energy production is the ultimate answer for us, it will take years to get there unless sustained poverty is your game. Otherwise, we absolutely need oil, gas and coal. We have them, and we have them in such quantity that good days are coming as soon as development gets going full steam ahead. They will come much slower than necessary, but they will come.
The energy boom -- largely a consequence of a horizontal drilling technique called fracking -- has already created 158,000 new energy jobs. Here is what the American Petroleum Institute projects fairly soon, as reported by Forbes: 204,000 new jobs in Ohio, 17,000 in West Virginia, 76,000 in Pennsylvania, 20,000 in New York. A lot of this is happening now and boosting an economic recovery in a country that refuses to be defeated by pork-ridden stimulus packages, an overreaching EPA or regulations that would simply kill off ordinary people without the blessing of great resources.
But don't suppose Obama can't wreck us in other ways, as in refusing to seriously address deficits and debt or in loading us with a health plan that will make things worse, not better, or with a regulatory scheme that will keep us much poorer than we need to be, hurting the poor worse than anyone. An improving economy will help him, but electoral thoughtfulness can yet defeat him.
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Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
© 2011, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE