Opinion

Energy, Made In America, Is The Key To Our Future

(REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/File)

Peter Roff Contributor
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As the White House moves forward with workforce development week it’s important to remember what a gift the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords was. The rules were heavily slanted in favor of our economic competitors. While other nations prospered we would have struggled with handcuffed American industry, American manufacturing, and American energy production handcuffed by onerous regulation.

Executed properly, getting out of Paris will unleash the enormous potential for gains across all sectors of the economy. American capital has been given an incentive to remain here, investing in the future of the United States rather than fueling economic growth in China, India and elsewhere.

This is particularly true in the energy markets where, thanks to fracking and other new technologies, we’ve experienced a boom that may someday lead to energy independence. It’s helped free us from the clutches of the Saudis and other oil producers in politically unstable regions of the world who move the price of oil in world markets by increasing or cutting production.

Harnessing our potential here at home thanks to the all-of-the-above (or more properly all-of-the below) ground energy production strategy President Donald Trump is pushing leaves open the possibility for further advances in the nuclear and renewable energy sectors as well. When energy is freely available at competitive prices we all benefit. When options are limited, as they were under President Obama, we force manufacturers and producers into artificially high cost situations because government policy distorts the market’s ability to set prices. Similar to the idea of divesting from fossil fuel projects, this leads to lost jobs and higher prices for consumers.

When we let the market determine the winners and losers rather than the government the taxpayers benefit. The energy development strategy being implemented by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Energy Department, Secretary Ryan Zinke at Interior, and others within the new administration goes hand-in-hand with the infrastructure modernization program spearheaded by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The revitalization of the nation’s infrastructure through new projects that generate power and transport energy resources by rail and truck and pipeline through a network of public/private partnerships will improve the efficiency of energy production and create thousands of well-paying American jobs.

That’s really what government’s job is: To create a political, legal, and regulatory environment where job creation is the norm and economic growth is at three percent per quarter if not better. The radical environmentalists who until recently have carried the day believe otherwise. In the past they’ve championed ideas like the ill-advised “keep it in the ground” philosophy of energy production and opposition to the construction of much-needed, job creating energy infrastructure. Now they’re pushing policies like fossil fuel divestment in order to limit future investment in energy projects despite the fact these policies hurt workers and depositors. Still, they’re demanding financial institutions curtail investment in fossil fuel development to force the hand of projects lenders hoping to block new initiatives from going forward.

It’s a serious effort, one you’ll be hearing about more and more as the domestic energy industry thrives. A coalition of environmental groups have begun to lean on leading financial institutions not to fund the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in Canada Kinder Morgan would like to undertake. U.S. Bank, apparently as the result of pressure from the same sources recently announced they’d not be funding oil and gas projects anymore. This is a new thing for them but when faced with intolerant demands from fringe environmental groups whose members one day might just take up residence in the lobby of the corporate headquarters, capitulation may sound like a better option than resisting.

Actions like that have consequences. Multiple federal agencies use U.S. Bank to provide financial services including, ironically enough, the U.S. Department of Energy. Secretary Perry might want to rethink that relationship given the way company policy is now in direct conflict with the stated objectives of his boss, the president of the United States, to revitalize America’s energy sector with new projects and public/private partnerships.

The America worker is not dumb no matter what the ivory-tower thinkers and main stream media titans believe. They know the role infrastructure improvements play in keep our country great, in part because they’re there working to bring them to life. U.S Bank is not the only major institution whose policy statements put it at odds with workers and consumers and depositors, not to mention progress, as well as the need to, as the president puts, “Make America great again.”

The president could send a strong message if he chose to leave those companies who aren’t with the program out of the conversation, cutting them off from their lucrative government contracts. Let the fringe groups pressuring them to sit on the sidelines make up the difference. I’m sure the stockholders will understand.

Peter Roff is a former senior political writer for United Press International and commentator on the One America News network.