Still, in his trademark fashion, this president says one thing and does another. He has aggressively rescinded policies enacted by his predecessor to encourage drilling, making it extremely difficult for independent companies to get leases on federal lands, where roughly 65 percent of this oil lies. This means fewer jobs, greater foreign fuel dependency and a weaker economy.
Natural gas is another part of the solution. It’s a cheap, clean-burning fuel source and, according to a 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, it lies within our borders in 92 years’ worth of rich abundance.
Here’s the problem: Most of this natural gas is accessible only via fracking. In Colorado, for example, 90 percent of gas wells require fracking. The technique, which occurs thousands of feet below ground, involves pumping a solution of water, sand and .5 percent lubricating chemicals at high pressure to create cracks in the rock that will allow oil and gas to flow out and be collected.
Yet, where free-market innovation and progress occur, Berkeley-type liberals are sure to tread. A huge anti-fracking lobby has emerged, asserting - against all the evidence - that fracking is harmful to the environment (mustn’t disturb the Sugarloaf tree).
The lobby’s primary claim is that fracking contaminates groundwater - a claim refuted by Mr. Obama’s own head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, who recently admitted, “I am not aware of any proven case where the fracking process has affected water.”
Yet the anti-frackers demand that this clean, safe technology be banned or at least regulated into nonviability. When greenie activists say “jump,” Mr. Obama asks “how high?” His administration’s regulatory heavy-handedness has rendered 90 percent of this natural gas and oil inaccessible.
According to studies by Penn State and the energy consultant Wood Mackenzie, if the president would back-off the frack-off and allow those who actually produce something to use these fantastic new oil and gas technologies, more than 800,000 new jobs would materialize quickly.
Imagine an immediate need for natural gas vehicles and new natural gas power plants. Someone has to build them. Every drilling project stimulates the local economy as landmen, roughnecks and drilling crews fill hotels and restaurants and shop locally with their honorably earned greenbacks.
According to an ICF International study, the industry could produce nearly $2 trillion in government revenue as well through lease payments, royalties and taxes. Billions more would stay here at home that would otherwise go overseas to OPEC and other foreign oil interests.
Over the years, the left has successfully seeded major misconceptions about the “Big Oil” boogeyman. The fact is that hundreds of small, independent oil companies help supply the country with energy. They pump millions into the economy through private and government leases and royalty payments. They employ hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Economist Peter Ferrara, writing recently in Forbes magazine, observed, “While [Ronald] Reagan used to say that his energy policy was to ‘unleash the private sector,’ Obama’s energy policy can be described as precisely to leash the private sector in service to [his] central planning ‘green energy’ dictates.”
Mr. Obama, tear down this leash. Who knows - Brazil and Saudi Arabia might actually become two of our “best customers.”
Jared Barber, Matt’s brother, is an Independent Petroleum Landman working in the Oil and Gas industry. He is a member of the AAPL.
Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber).