President Obama laid out his vision for the nation’s energy future in his State of the Union address this year and not surprisingly, the plan was incongruous with his actions. While he continues to take credit for America’s dwindling dependence on foreign oil and our increase in domestic natural gas production, the reality is that the Obama administration has an abysmal record of attempting to stymie production and limit the manufacturing of finished petroleum products and petrochemicals by erecting executive and regulatory roadblocks.
The biggest impediment toward reaching the White House’s stated goal of energy independence is its own unrealistic limitations and conditions on developing and manufacturing the energy resources that our nation needs. This reality should concern every American.
Despite the president’s policy of obstructionism, the United States last year produced more oil than it imported for the first time in nearly two decades. Yet increases in both oil and natural gas production are solely due to development on state and private lands, and that’s unlikely to change because the president says that federal lands will continue to be off limits. Too bad, because according to the Institute for Energy Research, access to federal lands could add $127 billion in gross domestic product for just the next seven years alone. And it would also boost federal tax revenue by $24 billion over that same time period, an enticing figure amidst growing concerns over the debt ceiling.
If the president truly believes in an “all of the above” energy strategy, he would lift the ban on developing federal lands, on-shore and off, and streamline the permitting process for construction projects, which would add jobs to the U.S. economy in far greater numbers than those promised by alternative energy sources. And if “all of the above” isn’t just political rhetoric, the president would take the next step by approving the Keystone XL pipeline, which would add to our critical infrastructure needs and further the goal of North American energy independence.
The president’s roadblocks aren’t just limited to the production of oil and natural gas; he also has targeted the production of finished petroleum goods and petrochemicals. While the president talks about developing “shale manufacturing zones,” under current and proposed regulations, it’s all wishful thinking. American manufacturing is held hostage by federal regulations and policies that are ostensibly designed to address climate but will actually hurt the environment and harm our progress in manufacturing.
For example, the United States has been a leader in reducing greenhouse gases and other emissions over the last 12 years. Our air is cleaner than it has been in more than 20 years, and yet, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) are so strict that many of our national parks would violate them. If approved, NAAQS could cost 7.2 million domestic jobs and decrease our economic productivity by $1.6 trillion, as well as bring our nation’s energy renaissance to a halt. And to what end? Any approach to reduce global greenhouse gases and other pollutants cannot be addressed with unilateral measures. There must be international cooperation.