The President spoke at length last night about his energy policy. He implied that under his administration the United States was producing more energy than ever before and took credit for the current shale oil and gas boom. And yet he has a terrible record on energy.
His War on Coal began long before the 2008 election. On January 17, 2008 in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, the candidate said:
“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s Thousands of jobs at both coal mines and power plants have already been lost.
Immediately, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior began to work hand in glove to re-write existing regulations on emissions; on new technology implementation; and even on the remediation of mining sites. Energy Secretary Chu re-stated this in early 2011. Credit Suisse estimated that by 2020 the targets would take over 35 Gigawatts of power off-line. Already numerous power plants and mines have been forced to close.
In the meantime, Secretary Chu, long before he took the job stated while at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” in order to reduce dependence upon foreign oil. he seems to have gotten his wish.
A few weeks into the new administration in March 2009, the President proposed his Cap & Trade Bill in the depths of the worst economic recession in 75 years. This would have done absolutely nothing to reduce greenhouse gases but would have created a market for hundreds of billions of dollars in credits to be traded. The power companies would have passed the bill onto the customer, and people like Al Gore, who has already made over $100 Million on the practice, would have made even more. The bill passed in the House but died in the Senate. Both houses were controlled by the Democrats at the time, but the bill was so egregious enough Democrats voted against it to kill it. But it was very close.
The president was proud to point out “Over the last three years my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada. And we’ve opened millions of acres for oil and gas exploration. All told we plan to make available more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.” A small part is true, but the rest is clearly pure smoke, as will be demonstrated.
It is true that the president approved the southern part of the Keystone XL pipeline but he dramatically cancelled the much more important northern portion, which would make Alberta’s massive oil sands an integral part of the North American oil infrastructure. He wildly misstated his pipeline approvals.
He also said: “In 2010, our dependence on foreign oil was under 50 percent for the first time in over a decade. We were less reliant on foreign oil than we had been. In 2011, the United States relied less on foreign oil than in any of the last 16 years. ” Perhaps the worst financial downturn since the great depression may have had something to do with this.
But the Energy Information Administration reported in January that production of oil and gas on federal and Indian lands is down 40% from 10 years ago. In January, the Bureau of Land Management reported that 2010 was the worst year since 1984 for new lease sales, and there was only one lease auction in all of 2011. Once again, the president’s statement is at odds with the facts.
Between 20 April, 2010 to mid 2011, all offshore and much inshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was shut down because of the Deepwater Horizon moratorium. It was only in early – 2011 that permits for offshore drilling began to be issued. Only recently have those levels returned to normal in the face of $4.00/gallon gasoline..
The war on conventional energy in Alaska alone is worth noting. In Alaska, The Department of Interior just banned drilling in 50% (11.5 million acres) of Alaska’s National petroleum reserve.The state of Alaska sued the federal government in 2010 for violating federal regulations in banning offshore drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Shell Oil has been trying to drill for several years and has been blocked by various federal agencies at every step by any means possible. Exploratory drilling in the Cook Inlet has also been blocked by methods including the Jones Act, which requires U.S. hulled ships to be used. But in this case, there are no U.S. hulled ships that can be used. Catch 22 again.
The President also touted his approval of new nuclear power plants. There have been four reactors approved; all of them additional reactors at existing plants. No new plants have been approved. New plants are caught up in a Catch 22 because the President’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was supposed to offer a form of credit insurance that would allow the operators to go to the markets for capital, but has yet to do so. Vague, yet effective Senator Harry Reid was also been very effective in quashing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site in cooperation with Obama’s NRC Chairman Gregory Jackzo. Jackzo was forced to resign in May for intimidation, harassment and a harsh working environment. Jackzo was adamantly against new nuclear power plants.
Last night the President bragged about the new natural gas rush. the only problem is that the federal government has once again done its best to stop this bonanza. If you recall, in 2010 EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz, responsible for the Texas/Louisiana oil patch, recommended (video) that the EPA crucify companies engaging in fracking. he was involved in a number of controversial cases in his region where he was apparently using these tactics and was forced to resign earlier this year. This seems to be official policy as there have still been no leases granted on federal land and the EPA has repeatedly been challenged successfully on their data.
Oil, Coal, Nuclear, and Natural Gas. The facts contradict the president and yet he remains unchallenged. The war on Hydro in the Northwest is also well-known, but is not at the same level yet.
Green Energy is problematic and a niche resource at best. I am not sure what the President’s game is, but he has done his best and has lied about it. Watch what he does; not what he says.