Feature:Opinion

What Obama didn’t tell us about energy

Photo of Hon. Ernest Istook
Hon. Ernest Istook
Former Republican Congressman
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      Hon. Ernest Istook

      Ernest J. Istook Jr. is a Distinguished Fellow at <a href="http://www.heritage.org/">The Heritage Foundation</a>. Istook served 14 years as a U.S. Congressman, then joined Heritage in 2007. He engaged in a wide and robust range of issues in Congress as he served on the House Appropriations Committee and chaired multiple subcommittees. He also served on the Homeland Security Committee.

      His congressional experience ranged from overall budget and spending issues to all forms of transportation, trade, defense, health care, education, labor, financial services, homeland security, religious liberty, and many others. He is a founder of the Republican Study Committee, the principal conservative caucus in the U.S. House.

      Tapping his broad experience, Istook is a frequent fill-in host for several major national talk radio programs; he writes weekly opinion columns for multiple outlets that include <a href="http://www.newsmax.com/blogs/ErnestIstook/id-66">NewsMax</a>, <a href="http://www.humanevents.com/search.php?author_name=Ernest++Istook">Human Events</a>, and The Daily Caller. His daily radio commentaries are heard on over 80 radio stations. He is a regular guest on many network and cable news and commentary programs.

      Istook’s professional background has been as a journalist, practicing attorney, public official and now policy expert. Overall, he served 25 years in elected office, ranging from city council to state legislature to U.S. Congress, all after he moved to Oklahoma in 1972 from his native Fort Worth, Texas. He also was the Republican nominee for Governor of Oklahoma in 2006.

      Istook holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Baylor University and law degree from Oklahoma City University. He and his wife, Judy, have five adult children and are active in church work. Istook served several years as a Boy Scout Scoutmaster. He is the grandson of Hungarian immigrants and the first college graduate in his entire family tree.

      His personal website is <a href="http://www.istook.com">www.istook.com</a>.

      Follow him on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/Ernest_Istook">@Ernest_Istook</a>.

President Obama keeps trying to make our electric bills skyrocket.

Now he’s seized on the BP fiasco as an excuse to do it.

According to Obama, the Gulf of Mexico gusher proves we need billions more to subsidize green energy. That was the President’s claim in his big Pittsburgh speech.

He did not tell the audience about his previous admission that electric bills will “skyrocket” under his plan. Or that our government continues to block access to immense onshore oil and gas reserves that don’t require the risks of deep-sea drilling.

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Obama’s exact words in 2008 were, “under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Converting from fossil fuel power stations, he said, “will cost money; they will pass that money on to consumers.”

If we were rapidly running out of oil, scarcity would drive up its price and make alternatives affordable without needing subsidies. But Obama left out the facts about our abundant untapped onshore reserves. As Heritage Foundation energy expert David Kreutzer notes:

He also could have noted that billions of barrels of “easily accessible” oil have been turned into “impossible to access” oil by federal regulations and moratoria that block any access. There is still a lot of non-deep sea oil available off the coast of California that can be accessed from onshore. And, don’t forget, there are the 10 billion barrels in ANWR. All of this oil has been placed completely off limits by federal regulations.

Instead, Obama’s speech simultaneously condemned overspending and denounced subsidies to big oil–even as he proposed spending billions more in new subsidies for the competitors of oil and gas.

Obama wants to eliminate tax deductions that, according to his own budget plan, “distort markets by encouraging more investment in fossil fuel production than would occur under a neutral system.” Yet he intends to distort markets even further by expanding subsidies and tax preferences for alternative energy. Those would heavily favor wind and solar as preferred by environmentalists who overstate the potential and affordability of those.

Nuclear power, however, has far more abundant potential and needs only the lifting of government barriers rather than subsidies. As noted by Heritage’s nuclear expert, Jack Spencer, “the monthly cost of producing electricity from uranium-based fuel remains slightly less than coal and substantially less than natural gas or oil” because, “Nuclear power is the least expensive form of electricity produced in the United States.”

But nuclear does not fit political correctness. So another proposal is a backdoor subsidy that does not give government money directly toward alternative energy but instead dictates that utilities must generate certain levels of our electricity from sources like wind and solar (but not nuclear)—a so-called RES “renewable energy standard.”

The wind and sun are free, but the expensive equipment to harness them makes these among the costliest ways to generate electricity. RES forces utilities to use this higher-priced power and pass along the rising costs to customers. One study projects that home electric bills would rise by a third and business bills by 60 percent under proposed RES plans.