Obama Pushes Unwise Energy Policy
by Deneen Borelli (bio)
Fearing a political backlash over his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, President Barack Obama tried to use his State of the Union address to appease critics of his war on fossil fuels.
By stealing conservatives' "all of the above" energy policy, Obama is trying to diffuse criticism of his flawed energy policy.
In particular, Obama's call for more oil and gas drilling in his State of the Union address was meant to deflect attention away from his failure to approve TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada has already invested $1.9 billion in the project and abided by the federal regulatory process, and its pipeline provides a whole new meaning to Obama's "shovel ready" phrase.
The president's refusal to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, at a cost of an estimated 20,000 jobs, is proof he is putting his radical ideology before the well-being of American families.
A majority of Americans are disappointed with Obama's stance on the Keystone XL pipeline. According to a Rasmussen Reports poll, 56 percent of those surveyed favor building the pipeline — believing it will help the economy. Americans are focused on fixing the economy and creating jobs, with 59 percent saying that creating new jobs tops environmental protection goals.
If Obama were serious about finding ways to create jobs, he would allow the construction of the pipeline, which would not only generate jobs along the pipeline's path to Texas but would also generate tax revenue and help make our nation less dependent on oil from unstable Middle Eastern countries.
Furthermore, Obama's energy policy excludes coal. Coal now provides approximately 45 percent of our electricity, but regulations generated by the Obama EPA are imposing significant costs on utilities, costs that are forcing some power plants to close and others to spend billions of dollars in order to comply. Those compliance costs will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher electricity prices. Those higher electricity prices will inevitably force more companies to build manufacturing facilities overseas.
Fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas — provide roughly 85 percent of America's energy needs. Yet, despite the failure of companies such as Solyndra, Obama is doubling down on renewable energy by calling for a national renewable energy mandate, forcing the Department of Defense to buy enough renewable energy to power a quarter of a million homes and using public lands for "clean" energy development but not for fossil fuel production.
Renewable energy, however, isn't all it's cracked up to be. At this stage of their development, renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar are inefficient, costly and require a significant amount of land.
An analysis by Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute sheds light on the fundamental limitations of renewable energy. Bryce compares the footprint of the two nuclear reactors at Indian Point, New York, which generate 30 percent of New York City's electricity, to the footprint of a wind farm that could generate the same amount of power. Wind turbines would require a space equivalent to the size of Rhode Island to produce the same amount of electricity as Indian Point does on approximately 250 acres of land.
It's hard to understand why Obama would pursue such a foolhardy policy. The answer seems to be that the President's folly is encouraged by his financial benefactors.
Despite his class-war rhetoric, Obama's command-and-control energy policy drains our budget to reward crony capitalists such as General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and his fellow presidential jobs panel member and billionaire venture capitalist John Doerr.
Ironically, the Obama war on fossil fuels hurts hard-working Americans because high energy prices have a disproportional impact on middle- and lower-income households and jeopardizes U.S. manufacturing.
And although Obama has called for fairness and a level playing field, the mandates and subsidies for renewable energy he favors would stifle competition by picking winners and losers.
Competition and consumer choice drive the success of goods and services. Even the President of the United States can't force the success of renewable energy through mandates.
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Deneen Borelli is a fellow with the Project 21 black leadership network. This commentary previously appeared on the web site of the Daily Caller. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints
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