The President’s Energy Two-Step

Bob Beauprez
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Posted: Mar 03, 2012 12:01 AM

Starting with his State of the Union address last month and carrying into his University of Miami speech, the President has been raising eyebrows and hopes with his seemingly pro-energy stances. From unconventional-gas exploration to adoption of the “all of the above” moniker Republicans have used to describe their approach to energy development, Barack Obama sounded downright, well, Republican. However, actions still speak louder than words, and despite the President’s rhetoric about turning over a new leaf, his administration is still playing the same old tune.

Think for a moment about the President’s praise in his State of the Union for domestic manufacturing: “If you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.”

Considering the hit American manufacturing has taken since the start of the 2008 recession, it seems reasonable that the author of the $800 billion Economic Stimulus would want to stimulate some American jobs this way.  That’s why it is somewhat puzzling that he continues to rally for the repeal of so-called “incentives” for oil companies. In truth the U.S. oil and natural gas industry does not receive taxpayer-subsidized payments. They utilize the same tax credits and deductions available to other American companies – regardless of industry – designed to encourage economic growth and expansion.

However, the President’s latest proposals would deny these long-standing deductions to only one industry – and in some instances, only selected companies. This punitive tax policy will discourage domestic production – which means fewer jobs – and, put American companies and energy industry workers at a disadvantage compared to foreign competitors.

The President has surprised both his environmental base and supporters of natural-gas production by publicly supporting the natural-gas exploration technique of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Considering that both the left-leaning Center for American Progress and the Sierra Club have taken money to support this innovation, it seemed like the President was interested in joining the choir. 

However, even as he publicly voiced support for natural-gas production, his Environmental Protection Agency was actively trying to undermine the practice, both by supporting a flawed report alleging drinking water contamination due to fracking in Wyoming, and drafting rules under jurisdiction of the Clean Air Act requiring gas companies to reduce their emissions by 95 percent.  Perhaps even more disturbing, the State Department has chosen to display the widely discredited documentary “Gasland” to overseas audiences – a blatant slap in the face to the domestic energy industry.  Both actions seem geared toward severely handicapping a booming industry as it fights to provide jobs and economic development despite the Obama administration’s best efforts.

Yet the clearest indication of the President’s true energy wish-list came when discussing alternatives.  Virtually blind to market realities, but obsessively willing to satisfy campaign contributors and his environmental constituency, Obama set aside $80 billion of the Stimulus to distribute like candy on Halloween to anybody that could say “green energy.” Already many of these heavily funded fantasy ventures have collapsed igniting at least five separate federal investigations, including the FBI and two Congressional Committees.

Jobs – that was a big reason Obama gave for the billions he lavished on green energy.  But, an investigation by the Wall Street Journal found new permanent jobs were about as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth.  Another analysis by Investor’s Business Daily discovered that each new job cost as much as $20 million for several of Obama’s green funded fantasies.

Yet, when the ultimate no-brainer job creating, energy delivering project was on his desk – the Keystone XL pipeline – Obama killed it.

Energy has become a familiar election-year battleground issue. “Drill, Baby, Drill” was the anthem of the 2008 Republican Convention.  The same year, House Republicans, then still in the minority, took over the House Floor to protest the anti-energy policies of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Four years later, President Obama is saying all the right things, but his actions are still the job-killing strategies of an administration with the “most anti-oil and gas record in U.S. history,” according to Steve Forbes.  The rapid escalation of gas prices pinches every family’s budget, and will further slow job creation and economic recovery.  Come November, Obama may find that his misguided war against energy has cost him his job, too.

This article was originally published on the Minority Report.