Opinion

ANALYSIS: Obama says ‘all-of-the-above’ but promises more flawed energy policies

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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President Obama’s State of the Union Address laid out his agenda for the next year: the same failed policies as last year.

Despite his soaring rhetoric, Obama will continue to cripple the coal industry and cut off oil and natural gas development while promoting costly renewable energy.

In his speech Tuesday night, Obama was not shy about touting the energy boom occurring under his watch — one of the few bright spots in the economy. The president took credit for the oil and natural gas boom which is helping to revitalize of of the country’s manufacturing prowess.

“The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades,” Obama said in his address to Congress and the American people.

What he failed to mention is that the oil and gas boom is happening on state and private lands, not federally owned lands. In fact, most federally-owned lands are off limits to energy development, and an increasing amount are being dedicated to wind, solar and geothermal power.

“President Obama’s energy and climate messages contradict one another,” William Yeatman, an energy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In one breath, he incorrectly takes credit for growing U.S. oil and gas production, which, in fact, took place despite his administration, rather than because of it.”

Oil and gas production on state and private lands has boomed in the last few years, all while production on federal lands has plummeted. Oil production shot up 35 percent on non-federal lands from 2007 to 2012, while production on federal lands in 2012 fell below 2007 levels. Natural-gas production in the states and on private property has shot up 40 percent since 2007, while falling 33 percent on federal lands.

On top of falling production, Obama’s ordered agencies to slap hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations with more regulations — increasing the costs of the very drilling technique that has caused the oil and gas boom. He is also promising to put more lands off limits to energy production.

“He has tried to impede that boom,” Myron Ebell, director of global warming and international environmental policy at CEI, told TheDCNF. “There is the fantasy that we must protect more federal lands from resource production. Most of the federal lands are already locked up legally or de facto. The environmental consequences are appalling.”

With one breath Obama praises energy production, and with the other he bashes it. The president promised to give more support to solar and renewable energy companies while taking away the so-called $4 billion in tax benefits the oil and gas industry gets every year.

“Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced,” Obama said. “Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.”

Industries shouldn’t get special handouts, but the oil and gas industry’s supposed benefits pale in comparison to what renewable energy gets. The Congressional Budget Office found that green energy got $7.3 billion in energy tax subsidies last year, nearly double what oil and gas supposedly got.

This is on top of the billions the Obama administration spent on failed green energy companies like Solyndra and Abound Solar. In fact, the Department of Energy spent more than $11 million per job created in their green loan programs –yielding only 2,308 permanent jobs. This is all while the oil and gas industry have created 162,000 jobs in drilling, extraction and support activities since 2007, according to federal data — with no taxpayer dollars.

If Obama is serious about fighting income inequality and raising the living standards of Americans, he might do well to facilitate energy production rather than stymying it as these jobs pay seven times the minimum wage, according to industry statistics.

“The president has the opportunity to seize this moment by approving the Keystone XL pipeline, opening up new areas for responsible energy development, and pulling back unnecessary and costly new regulations,” said Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, in a statement. “These pro-growth energy policies would create millions of stable, good paying jobs, which is the American people’s No. 1 priority.”

Despite the huge potential of U.S. energy development, Obama has given a nod to environmentalists that he will continue to stymie oil and gas where he can and continue to burden the coal industry with regulations aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions. All this in the name of stopping global warming, which hasn’t been seen in 17 years.

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