Republicans are often accused of being ideologically inflexible. But President Barack Obama stubbornly refuses to budge on his belief that Americans must be forced to stop using fossil fuels such as oil, gas and natural gas as soon as possible and instead begin depending on clean energy. In his own words, this policy means “electricity prices must necessarily skyrocket.”
Obama’s rigidity on energy policy is also an obstacle to economic recovery. The unemployment rate has been above 9 percent during most of his tenure in office, and there are multiplying signs that it could go back into double digits in coming months. Everything Obama has tried — including his $757 billion economic stimulus package, massively expanding federal regulation of the economy, record-setting levels of federal spending, bailing out Wall Street and Detroit, funding clean energy fiascos such as Solyndra — has failed to put America back to work. In some respects, Obama’s policies might have made things worse.
The saddest part of this, however, is that Obama could turn things around tomorrow, and he wouldn’t even have to get an act of Congress to make it happen. He only needs to instruct his Environmental Protection Agency administrator and Interior Department secretary to stop suffocating the American oil and gas industries.
Five steps would be required: reopening the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf to exploration and production of oil and natural gas, expediting pending exploration and drilling permits in the Arctic region, removing unnecessary bureaucratic impediments to exploration and production on federal lands, approving the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada to the U.S., and admitting that hydraulic fracturing — aka “fracking” — is environmentally safe and the key to unlocking vast new resources that can make America the Saudi Arabia of energy for the 21st century.
More than 1.4 million new jobs would be created by 2030 if Obama were to take each of the five steps recommended above, according to an econometric study by the energy forecasting firm Woods MacKenzie.
And those jobs would be spread across the entire U.S., not just concentrated in a few energy-rich states. New York, for example, would see 50,000 new jobs, while 20,000 would be created in Pennsylvania, 50,000 in Utah, 130,000 in Florida and 85,000 in California.
Along with the new jobs would come more than $800 billion in new revenue for governments at all levels. That would be enough to cover the projected budgets of the federal departments of Transportation, Interior, EPA, the Small Business Administration and the General Services Administration until 2030. The American Petroleum Institute has posted a powerful video titled “What If … ” on YouTube that provides additional details. The man in the White House ought to be open-minded enough to spend five minutes watching it.