Marita Noon

President Obama made headlines during his visit to Seoul, South Korea—though not for his public policy statements, rather for his private comments, unintentionally broadcast, in conversation with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Believing he will be reelected, President Obama addressed dealing with “controversial issues”: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
 
The comment was made specifically about missile defense. But there are many other “controversial issues” plaguing his presidency about which he is likely to feel that he has “more flexibility” when he no longer has a pending campaign keeping the lid on his actions.
 
One controversial issue facing President Obama today is energy. Since gas prices have been climbing dramatically, his rhetoric has changed. He is now bragging about increased oil production—though fact-checking shows that his statements are about as valid as “a rooster taking credit for the sunrise.” This apparent “change” is really just electoral posturing, not a new energy policy.
 
With the election behind him, four more years in the White House would allow President Obama to finish off the American dream—making all of us subjects of the state.
 
Some might think my claim is too harsh. Yet, looking strictly at energy issues, a third world is where we are headed. It is widely accepted that energy use, wealth and health are connected. The countries with the highest energy consumption are also the countries with the longest life expectancy and wealth: human well-being and material well-being.
 
When we study the words and actions of both President Obama and his administration, we see that given “more flexibility” our available energy will be greatly curtailed and what we do have will be far more expensive during an Obama second term.
 
“Energy” refers to both liquid fuels for transportation and electricity for residential and industrial use. In both cases, the Administration’s policies favor reduced use and increased cost. Use less, pay more.
 
Because gasoline prices, transportation fuels, are the headline issues, we’ll start there.
 
During his 2008 campaign, gas prices spiked—similar to the current increase. At that time, candidate Obama was asked about high gas prices. His response: “I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment. The fact that this is such a shock to American pocketbooks is not a good thing.”  And then, Energy Secretary Steven Chu wants to “figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” Under the pressure of a campaign, Secretary Chu has recanted, saying that he no longer “shares that view.” Yet, when asked about attempts to lower gas prices, he acknowledged that was not his goal.
 
President Obama continues his rant about penalizing the oil companies while promising to “double down on investment in clean energy technologies” such as “wind power, solar power and biofuels.” The biofuel he currently favors is algae: “Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17% of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in America.” The study his quote is based on also notes that it would “take acreage equivalent to the area of South Carolina to generate that much oil. It takes 350 gallons of water for every one gallon of oil you produce” and “meeting that water requirement would take 25% of our irrigation capacity.”
 
Due to the global nature of oil markets, President Obama doesn’t think that drilling for more oil will lower the price of gasoline. In his second term, we can expect to see higher prices for gasoline (perhaps, to European levels) and increased “investment” in biofuels. At the same time, he will continue to push for vehicles with higher MPG, despite the fact that Americans don’t want them. Oh, and don’t forget, we’ll have to keep our tires inflated.
 
Like President Obama believes investment in biofuels is important, he feels the same way about wind power and solar power—though they have virtually nothing to do with transportation unless we all drive a Volt. While he is pushing for electric cars, he is systematically raising the cost of electricity.
 
Despite his “all of the above” claim, he really only likes wind, solar, and biofuel.
 
During the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama stated that “it is wildly expensive to pursue nuclear energy” and that he planned to enact a cap and trade program through which electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket.” He claimed that if “somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can, but it is going to bankrupt them.”
 
Now, with the election looming, the Obama administration is already causing electricity prices to skyrocket by killing coal-fueled generation while pushing wind and solar that are intermittent and considerably more expensive.
 
Just this past week, in addition to the onslaught of new regulations on coal, the EPA rolled out new rules for coal-fueled power plants that will effectively “bankrupt” anyone who tries to build a new power plant. The greenhouse gas rules do not currently apply to existing plants, but EPA officials won't rule out issuing climate rules for existing power plants—and environmental groups want them. Given the Administration’s propensity to give into environmental demands, we can be sure that a second term of the Obama Administration will shut down more coal-fueled power plants. Coal-fueled power plant closures are already hurting communities that are struggling with the lost tax revenue that funds schools and essential services. However, the EPA doesn’t take job loss into its decision making process. These closures not only increase the cost of electricity and cause the loss of jobs, they threaten the reliability of the grid.
 
Some might think, no problem, we will replace the coal-fueled plants with natural gas. This is a possibility. But, it will require new construction or expensive conversions—paid for by the ratepayers (you and me). The abundance of natural gas has resulted in record low prices. However the supply growth is a result of hydraulic fracturing—a practice currently regulated on a state-by-state basis, for which the EPA wants oversight. Given the EPA’s overzealous hand, it is easy to picture the Obama Administration banning fracking altogether—which would cut the supply of natural gas and consequently raise the cost and cause a price increase in electricity generated from natural gas. A ban on hydro-fracking, would kill the economic growth in blue states like Ohio and Pennsylvania—states Obama needs to win reelection—so such a ban is not likely in 2012, but would probably be part of the “flexibility” of a second term.
 
And, I haven’t even touched on the dearth of drilling or mining permits issued, the impact of high gas prices on everything else and the resulting inflation, the growing number of failed renewable companies, or the rolling blackouts you can expect. But you get the picture of life under a continued Obama administration—now with “more flexibility.”
 
So if you like high gas prices—albeit gradually increased, if you can afford the high price of a Volt and can tolerate the low range—while the rest of us subsidize it, if you don’t mind being hot in the summer and cold in the winter, you know how to vote. If you want the health and wealth energy provides, you’d better revolt this November.




Marita Noon

Marita Noon is Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great.