America depends on abundant, reliable, affordable energy – 85% of it hydrocarbons. Coal generates half of all US electricity, and up to 90% in its manufacturing heartland – versus 1% from wind and solar. Newfound natural gas supplies promise a sea change in US energy supplies and electricity generation. However, oil still powers transportation, shipping and petrochemicals – and in 2010 the United States exported $337 billion to import 61% of this precious liquid fuel.
Thankfully, the Obama Administration, environmentalists and (mostly Democratic) politicians take this situation very seriously, and are doing something about it … according to their parallel universe.
Democrats are willing to trim up to $5 billion from the $3.8 trillion 2011 federal budget (0.15%), while Republicans insist that $57 billion (1.5%) should be “slashed.” As to reducing the deficit by increasing revenues, most of that discussion still centers on raising taxes on whatever “rich” people are still out there. On the energy front, things are truly disconnected from reality.
Unlocking America’s still abundant hydrocarbon resources and unleashing our innovative, hard-driving free enterprise system would generate hundreds of billions of dollars in leasing, royalty and tax revenues for federal, state and local governments. It would put millions back to work … help stanch the flow of red ink … keep tens of billions of crude oil spending and investment in America … and create enormous new wealth, instead of redistributing a dwindling pool of old wealth.
We must drill safely, use fuel more efficiently in vehicles and power plants, and get more from every underground reservoir. And we could do so, if government would allow it.
Just consider the incredible revolution that the genius of American capitalists has presented the world: hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” to tap previously inaccessible oil and gas deposits. This technology has turned “depletion” and “sustainability” claims upside down. It has already doubled US natural gas reserves and given North America over a century of recoverable gas, at current consumption rates.
It is also unlocking oil wealth in the vast Bakken shale formation of Montana, North Dakota and Saskatchewan. Oil production there has already soared from 3,000 barrels a day five years ago to over 225,000 today. The US Energy Information Administration says it could reach 350,000 barrels a day by 2035; industry sources say it could top a million barrels by 2020. Related oilfield employment has soared from 5,000 to over 18,000 in the same five-year period, and could eventually reach 100,000 jobs. At $100 a barrel, even 350,000 barrels a day could mean $1.6 billion in annual royalties, from Bakken oil alone.
The new Made in America technology is already changing energy, economic and political landscapes in Europe, and will soon do so across the globe. It is a technologically possible and economically affordable solution that generates bountiful jobs and revenues – as opposed to pixie dust solutions that require perpetual subsidies and address speculative problems. Offshore and ANWR drilling could do likewise.
Unfortunately, the White House, Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department, and too many in Congress, courts and state legislatures are determined to restrict and obstruct this hydrocarbon revolution. They want to select business winners and losers, force America to convert to expensive, subsidized, unreliable, land-intensive wind, solar and ethanol power – and tell people how much energy they can have, and when.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is using groundless claims about possible groundwater contamination to delay fracking operations. Because Congress rejected cap-tax-and-trade, she has rewritten the Clean Air Act to label plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide a “pollutant” and restrict CO2 emissions from power plants, refineries and other facilities. That will further increase energy costs for families and businesses, forcing more companies to lay more people off or close their doors – even as China and India build new coal-fired power plants every week, sending global CO2 levels higher and higher.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has shut down leasing and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, put tens of thousands out of work, ignored court orders to end his moratorium, and issued decrees that make millions of additional onshore and offshore acres off limits to drilling. He has blocked exploration in ANWR because its oil riches won't make us energy independent (as though even massive wind, solar, ethanol and electric car programs would do so).
President Obama wants oil, gas, coal and electricity prices to “skyrocket,” to make “green” energy appear more attractive. Energy Secretary Steven Chu wants to “boost the price of gasoline to levels in Europe” – over $8 per gallon! Most of all, these anti-hydrocarbon politicians want a self-sustaining political-environmentalist-industrial-public sector union complex based on government subsidies to favored industries and companies, in exchange for campaign contributions that will keep them in power.
This palpable, intolerable insanity must end. It’s time to tell Congress we need real energy for real jobs, real revenues and a revitalized America. And we need it now.
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