On Jan. 21, the very day America learned that three of its citizens had been killed in a hostage-taking at a Saharan natural gas facility, President Obama was sworn in for another four years and delivered a speech that said nothing about terrorism.
In fact, his inaugural speech failed to address many of the most pressing issues confronting America today. Rather than pay respects to the families of the Americans lost in Algeria or at the Benghazi consulate, he talked about “hope,” “engagement,” and turning “sworn enemies into the surest of friends.”
The president made no mention of the more than 8 million Americans without jobs. And only a passing reference was made to the burgeoning federal deficit. About the budget-busting entitlement programs, the president said they “strengthen us.”
In short, President Obama’s inaugural address downplayed the clear and present dangers that confront us, played up the theoretical threat of climate change, and signaled that he intends to continue the profligate spending that led to the $16 trillion budget deficit at the conclusion of his first term.
High on his agenda are climate change and sustainable energy, both of which require massive government intervention in the private sector and huge outlays of capital. President Obama attempted to take action on these issues in his first term but with limited success.
The cap-and-trade bill, aimed at lowering carbon emissions, was not enacted despite having a Democrat-controlled House and Senate in the first two years of his presidency. Dubbed “cap-and-tax” by its critics, a Heritage Foundation analysis showed it could have cost the average family $3,000 per year and eliminated one million U.S. jobs.
After the bill died in the Senate, the administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did an end-run around Congress by asserting it had the authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed, and EPA moved forward by proposing new rules. Last fall former EPA Administrator Carol Browner predicted climate regulations are likely to move forward on a “sector by sector” basis.
“The president has been willing to use his executive authority ... I think you’ll see that kind of leadership,” Browner said during a panel discussion in September.
On the sustainable energy front, the president used taxpayers’ dollars in his first term to place bad bets on solar, wind, and electric car and battery companies. The 2009 stimulus bill contained $80 billion in loan guarantees and other forms of government support for green energy projects. Many of the recipient companies went belly-up, among them was Solyndra, the poster child for wasteful spending and cronyism on failed energy pipe-dreams.
At the same time, the administration went to extreme efforts to discourage the consumption of traditional fuels. New regulations have made it nearly impossible to mine coal or build new coal-fired power plants. The Interior Department added new layers of rules and approvals on offshore oil and natural gas drilling, which added costs and delayed projects. The president also refused to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to cross our northern border, precluding the transport of about 860,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil to Gulf Coast refineries.
The administration also has hydraulic fracturing in its crosshairs. EPA has been conducting studies on fracturing’s alleged impact on groundwater, but serious concerns have been raised about the agency’s methodology. Recently EPA extended the comment period for its water quality studies conducted in Pavillion, Wyo., raising the ire of elected officials.
Senators David Vitter (R-La.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) wrote a letter to EPA saying, “The additional eight-month delay further illustrates that the EPA’s initial findings failed to be based on sound credible science, and [were] hastily rushed out the door for political purposes.”
Hydraulic fracturing, a technology that has been used in U.S. oil and gas fields since the 1940s, holds the key to U.S. energy independence and sustained economic vitality. By creating tiny cracks in rock beds deep below the surface, fracturing is tapping U.S. shale formations that were considered impervious to energy production just a few years ago. Today these formations are yielding oil and gas in large quantities and greatly increasing U.S. energy production. The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the United States could become the world’s largest oil producer by 2017.
That is, if federal regulations do not delay or stop progress. The White House has formed a task force of no fewer than 13 federal agencies to consider new federal fracturing rules. And this is occurring despite the fact that fracturing already is regulated effectively by the states. Furthermore, not one confirmed case of groundwater contamination has been linked to fracturing operations.
One would think that the president would glom on to a made-in-America technological success initiated by the private sector to improve our economic and national security. Unfortunately, it does not fit his view of progress. In his inaugural address, President Obama said the United States needs “collective action” to “meet the demands of today’s world.” Translation: Big Government, not the private sector, should solve our problems.
Pardon me, Mr. President, your ideology is showing.