Project 21 New Visions

Deneen Borelli

Obama's Energy Policy Benefits America's Elites


by Deneen Borelli (bio)

 

Our nation's natural resources and access to affordable energy are under assault from environmentalists, business interests and progressive politicians. Their plan is to raise the price of fossil fuels to make renewable energy economically competitive.

But too many Americans already face significant financial difficulties due to soaring energy costs and rising food prices. For example, a May 2011 USA Today/Gallup poll found that seven in ten Americans say high gasoline prices are causing them personal financial hardship.

Lower-income families are hardest hit by soaring energy prices. A recent study concluded that these households are spending nearly a quarter of their incomes on energy costs. Considering income inequalities, energy price increases have a disproportionately large effect on black and Hispanic households.

This crisis reverberates. Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, cites higher gasoline prices for disappointing sales. A poll conducted by the wholesaler website DollarDays.com found 25 percent of small business owners fear high fuel prices will lead to layoffs.

President Obama's energy policy is a major contributor to this economic pain. Instead of taking advantage of our nation's abundant supply of domestic natural resources — coal, oil and natural gas currently provide about 85 percent of our energy needs — Obama is waging a war on fossil fuels.

Obama's energy policy is designed to raise the costs and reduce the supply of fossil fuels through regulation of natural resource development and use.

Unfortunately for America, it's the only way Obama can make renewable energy competitive to meet his goal of generating 80 percent of electricity from "clean" energy sources by 2035.

It's a command-and-control energy policy where the federal government takes an active role in picking energy winners and losers, causing energy prices to "skyrocket" while stifling economic growth and driving jobs overseas.

The winners in President Obama's energy policy are the well-connected corporate and social elite, while the losers are the hardworking Americans. It's fundamentally a wealth transfer mechanism from middle- and lower-class households to corporate heads and billionaire investors who want to profit from renewable energy.

While campaigning for the White House, then-Senator Obama admitted his cap-and-trade emissions policy would make electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket." This proposal failed in the Senate, but now President Obama is wielding his executive powers to discourage the use of fossil fuels by allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

By cracking down on emissions such as carbon dioxide, which is released when fossil fuels are burned, EPA regulations would raise the price of energy with a particularly devastating effect on coal-fired electricity generation. Coal is a cheap and abundant natural resource that currently provides about half of our country's electricity.

Since the beginning of Obama's deepwater drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico, the approval process for drilling permits has been extremely slow. As a result of the uncertainty surrounding drilling approvals, seven deepwater rigs have left the Gulf, taking their high-paying jobs with them.

To lower energy costs, grow our economy and become energy independent, our nation needs a new energy policy that encourages domestic development. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the United States has more natural resources than any other country. Imagine the amount of economic growth that could be generated under an energy policy that allowed the development of the resources cited by the CRS study.

In addition, the American people support this sort of development of our natural resources. According to an April 2011 Rasmussen Reports poll, 67 percent of those surveyed support offshore oil drilling and 76 percent say the United States doesn't do enough to develop its own oil and gas resources.

There is something terribly wrong when the corporate and social elite can use the power of government to advance their narrow interests while harming the standard of living of hardworking Americans, denying them their right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The powerful few should not block the will of the people.

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Deneen Borelli is a fellow with the Project 21 black leadership network. This commentary is based upon testimony she gave the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources on May 25, 2011 and was also published in the Daily Caller. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.


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