Dependence day

Thomas Pyle President, Institute for Energy Research
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Happy Dependence Day! This weekend, we celebrated our nation’s most important holiday—the birth of this great country and the freedoms and liberty it provides us.  But while we celebrated our independence as a nation, we continue to face increasing and alarming dependence in our energy sector, the lifeblood of our economy.

The oil spill off the Gulf Coast is a horrible tragedy, but even more distressing are the policies the Obama administration has put into place to respond to the spill.  The deepwater moratorium and increased regulations are dangerous and destructive.  There is no doubt that the moratorium will lead to higher energy prices—a fact the market has already started to digest.  Gas prices have already risen over the past few weeks and are likely to go even higher later this month.

Additionally, thousands of oil rig workers are out of work.  And though the moratorium has been called a temporary “pause” in drilling and production, those thousands of unemployed workers have little reason to believe that the energy companies that previously employed them will allow their extraordinarily expensive equipment to sit idle off our coast when other nations welcome the investment, jobs, and affordable energy resources these wells provide.

Couple this moratorium with the lurking national energy tax in the form of cap-and-trade that the Obama administration and Congress will no doubt attempt to ram through this summer; throw in the president’s sham oil spill commission stacked with anti-oil activists whose life’s work have centered around criminalizing domestic energy production.  It is clear to anyone paying attention that the Obama administration will not rest until it has made it as difficult as possible to produce energy in the United States.

Under this moratorium, which the judge was right to overturn, and the new moratorium the administration seeks to replace it with, these rigs are likely to leave America’s shores and never return.  Who can blame them? The federal government has made clear where it stands: they’re not welcome.

Meanwhile, what do we gain from the president’s moratorium?  We’ll grow even more dependent on the oil from foreign nations that don’t particularly like us.  We’ll import foreign oil on tankers, which are even more prone to spills or accidents.  We’ll purchase foreign oil at prices that are higher than necessary because our own government has shut off a significant supply of our very own—a supply that is affordable, can be obtained safely, and belongs to us.

The Obama administration and some in Congress have waged a war against traditional sources of energy. They argue we need to stop using oil to lessen our dependence on foreign sources at the same time they are making it harder to produce, transport, and consume our most abundant resource to generate energy.  They say windmills and solar panels and the expensive and unreliable electricity they produce will reduce imports of oil—which we don’t even use to make electricity.  If listening to them discuss energy leads you to wonder whether they are deliberately deceptive or dangerously ignorant, you’re not alone.

We celebrated our independence Sunday by driving to visit family, grilling out with friends, or even basking in the comfort of air conditioned homes. We should all take a moment to consider how important energy is to our American way of life.  And then remember that while we may celebrate Independence Day, a federal government that keeps energy under lock and key ensures that we are anything but.

Thomas J. Pyle is the president of the Institute for Energy Research and the American Energy Alliance.