Sunday, March 13, 2011

Clinton Calls Obama Energy Policy "Ridiculous"

The Governor of Alaska recently penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal expressing some of the frustration felt by those of us questioning the motives of the Obama administration's mule-headed opposition to domestic drilling for oil and natural gas.

By delaying leasing and permitting for exploration and development, and by locking up lands without congressional approval or authority, these agencies have locked down domestic oil with no responsibility for the consequences. The rest of us feel them: increased reliance on Middle East oil and lost economic opportunity.

As we watch fuel prices rise, inflation take hold, and government debt reach record levels, Alaskans and those in other oil-producing states are frustrated. We wonder why the Obama administration is openly hostile to a sector of our economy that has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, kept the country on an even keel even during the recession, and produces a global commodity we depend on every day.

As residents of our individual states, we desire responsible resource development. We don't want to live and work in a spoiled nest. We also want to create jobs that contribute to our economic recovery. Why should we spend billions overseas for foreign oil when we could spend those dollars here at home?

He explains the very real consequences reaped by unnecessary layers of red tape and new programs created when those in place should be used and enforced.

Alaskans have significant limits placed on us by the federal government, but we are hardly alone. In Wyoming, it takes years to get permits for oil-related development. Republican Gov. Matt Mead has asked the Interior Department to rescind its "Wild Lands" policy, which removes a state's discretion for land use. Last year Gov. Bobby Jindal (R., La.) pleaded with the Obama administration to end the moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which affects 33 permitted exploratory wells. To date, only one new well has been approved.

We remember campaign speeches of then presidential candidate Obama who waxed poetically about "green" energy initiatives that will be decades in the making, in the real world. He frequently voiced approval of rising energy prices at the pump and for operating a home because he sees that as a vehicle to persuade Americans of the necessity of anything but fossil fuels used for our energy needs.

But paying $4 at the pump is not really an emergency – based on Mr. Obama’s moves to wean Americans off oil.

His budget proposal last month, for instance, would repeal $46.2 billion in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the next decade – a move designed to raise oil prices in order to boost investment in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

Obama is also reluctant to expand offshore oil drilling. And he’s also trying to boost the sales of electric cars – something that won’t be easy if gasoline prices go down – as part of a broad government effort to reduce carbon emissions and boost energy security.

Even Bill Clinton is weighing in on the "ridiculous" Obama energy non-policy:

Former President Bill Clinton said Friday that delays in offshore oil and gas drilling permits are “ridiculous” at a time when the economy is still rebuilding, according to attendees at the IHS CERAWeek conference.

Clinton spoke on a panel with former President George W. Bush that was closed to the media. Video of their moderated talk with IHS CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin was also prohibited.

But according to multiple people in the room, Clinton, surprisingly, agreed with Bush on many oil and gas issues, including criticism of delays in permitting offshore since last year’s Gulf of Mexico spill.

So, as all this comes to light, and the fact that recent polling shows that Independent voters' support of President Obama has dropped by a solid 10 points in a month, mostly over frustration of rising energy costs with no end in sight, guess what the consummate Chicago politician did? Why, his Interior Department Secretary granted a second deep water drilling permit.

Don't get too excited, though. The permit is like the one issued to Noble Energy recently. It is for work already underway and also a permit held up since the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010.

Even so, political attacks on Interior's slowness to approve new permits for deepwater drilling have hardly abated, even after DOI's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement issued a deepwater permit to Noble Energy on Feb. 28.

Like the Noble Energy permit, BHP Billiton's permit is for activity that was under way before the April 20 blowout of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

And like Noble Energy’s, it complies with all new Interior offshore drilling regulations and uses a well-capping mechanism developed by Helix Energy Solutions Group, a BOEMRE official said. Helix and the Marine Well Containment Co., a coalition of major Gulf oil producers led by Exxon Mobil, are developing competing containment systems to meet more stringent Interior guidelines for preventing and containing oil spills.

Ridiculous, indeed.

No comments: