Although I differ with President Obama on many domestic and foreign policy matters, I do agree that the United States needs to eliminate it dependence of foreign sources of energy. I also agree that alternative energy sources—wind, solar, tidal, and others (specifically excluding ethanol which is a massive boondoggle that does little, if anything to help)—represent significant potential in the long term. They must be developed, and it’s not a bad idea to provide intelligent and targeted government subsidies for these new technologies.
But what about the short term? There is little debate (except among radical “greens”) that fossil fuel energy sources (i.e., oil, natural gas, shale, and coal) will remain important for the next two decades and possibly longer. A recent report indicates that the United States has the largest fossil fuel reserve in the world. But it seems the Obama administration is doing everything possible to retard development of that reserve. The consequence will soon be $5.00 per gallon gasoline, with its negative impact on the poor, the economy as a whole, and our national security.
Given the continuing stream of development restrictions that the White House has implemented, domestic oil production is down 13 percent from a year ago. That means we import 13 percent more oil from folks like Hugo Chavez and the Saudis. The Washington Examiner comments:
At today's prices, the Obama-induced loss of production represents $40 million per day in lost oil revenue. Spread over a full year, that comes to $14.6 billion that could be supporting thousands of sustainable, good-paying American jobs at no cost to the taxpayer. That is a much better deal than Obama's $800 billion stimulus package, which appears to have added far more to the national debt than it ever will to national employment. It seems clear that ideological and not economic considerations are at work in this administration's energy policy. The same politician who once said that energy prices would "necessarily skyrocket" under his plan seems less intent on job creation or energy security than he is on putting oil producers in a regulatory straitjacket and browbeating Americans into accepting the lower standard of living that inevitably results from energy scarcity.
The Obama adminstration seems to allow ideology, rather than good strategic judgment, to guide its decision making in a wide array of domestic and foreign policy matters. That’s not uncommon for any administration, but this administration’s ideology seems to be couched more in fantasy than reality.
We can all wish that solar and wind would eliminate the need for fossil fuels tomorrow, that "green jobs" will proliferate, and that clean energy with become dominant over the next few years. Sadly, it won’t happen, and soaring speeches or wishful thinking won't change that harsh reality. Now that nuclear power is dead (think: Japan) our only viable option in the short and mid-term is the domestic development of fossil fuel sources. There are literally hundreds (possibly thousands) of opportunities.
The White House should be working hard to facilitate the development of these domestic energy sources, rather than placing a wide array of regulatory roadblocks in their path.