Remember the shell game? The magician keeps up a steady stream of patter and diversions to make it difficult or even impossible to know where the pea is hiding. Our national energy policy today is much like the shell game.
In his patter President Obama says we need an “all of the above” approach—we heard it in his State of the Union address to Congress, meaning the country will benefit most by developing its vast oil, natural gas and coal resources along with hydro and nuclear power, while pursuing the development of renewable technologies.
But the President’s actions, as reflected by his budget proposal and his Administration’s various regulatory initiatives, reveal a strong bias against “all of the above” and a big tilt toward energy forms that are not able to compete in the marketplace. There is no level playing field.
Take two recent examples. In mid-April Obama ordered creation of a “task force” to “coordinate” the efforts of ten federal agencies seeking regulatory authority over hydraulic fracturing, the decades-old technology that is unlocking vast amounts of oil and gas from shale rock deep in the ground. Does anyone believe that a larger federal bureaucracy and more federal regulations piled atop state regulations is going to expedite responsible development of domestic oil and natural gas?
In another display of magical misdirection intended to shift focus from high gasoline and diesel prices, Obama asked Congress for $52 million to expand the federal bureaucracy to fight “oil speculators” and “market manipulation” and “illegal activity.” Oil companies are among his targets, but as The Washington Post pointed out, “a senior administration official deflected questions about whether regulators have detected any hint of manipulation and would not give an example of the sort of rigging the president suspected regulators might find with more resources.”
The problem isn’t speculators. The problem is we need more supply and this Administration throws up more roadblocks.
These roadblocks can’t alter chemistry. The energy sources that provide the most bang for the buck are oil and natural gas. And there is more domestic oil and gas available than experts previously thought. In fact, there’s an energy revolution underway in the United States, sparked by the application of hydraulic fracturing to reserves of oil and natural gas once thought to be uneconomical. It’s happening in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Texas, North Dakota, and right here in Colorado.