When politicians want to look busy while avoiding tough decisions during an election year, what do they do? They form commissions and councils.
And when President Barack Obama saw Americans struggling with higher
gasoline and home energy prices, did he encourage more domestic oil
exploration, off-shore drilling, or coal production, while lowering
taxes on energy? Of course not.
After all, with political observers
expecting a close presidential race this year, Obama needs the
financial and institutional support of far-left environmental groups. The
result has been the President anointing certain energy sources -- such
as wind and natural gas -- as energies of the future, while
implementing regulatory hurdles for more dependable fuels like oil and
Over the last decade, natural gas has exploded as an important energy
source in the United States, accounting for almost one quarter of all
energy consumed. Natural gas has boosted economic activity in states
like Ohio, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania, and until recently, it has done
so largely without the benefit of preferential treatment from the
But to expedite this natural gas boom, President Obama recently
decided to form an interagency natural gas council run by Cecilia Muñoz, a former community organizer with La Raza and White House
bureaucrat with deep ties to George Soros, the billionaire investor
who made his fortune in currency trading throughout the world while
bankrolling liberal political efforts. Muñoz formerly led the Open
Society Institute and the Center for Community Change, two
organizations which are directly connected to Soros, MoveOn.org,
ACORN, and other fringe groups with a long record of opposing the
development of America's oil and coal resources.
If having a new council run by the far left was not enough, President
Obama continues to support major Democratic donors such as Soros by
picking winners and losers in the energy industry. One example of this government intervention is a package of risky subsidies inside a bill known as the NAT GAS Act. This legislation attempts to
artificially encourage a transition to more natural gas usage by
offering tax credits for natural gas vehicles, fueling stations, and
storage facilities. As we all saw with the collapse of inefficient
companies like Solyndra, when private investors are not willing to
fund a new project, politically connected firms try to force taxpayers
to fund their schemes.
But if natural gas is an already cheap and abundant source of energy,
why would we subsidize it?
The answer may be that the Soros Fund Management, which is
Soros' investment vehicle, owns more than $90 million of shares in a
Vancouver, British Columbia company which produces the same natural
gas-powered engines which the act would encourage the use of. Soros
has personally donated $5,000 to the act's co-sponsor, Rep. Nita Lowey
of New York, and his family donated $121,000 to the Democratic
Senatorial Campaign Committee, while the lead sponsor of the act,
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, was chairman. This is in addition
to the countless (and often untraceable) millions of dollars Soros
pours into Democratic campaigns through the activities of his
non-profit organizations and political committees.
Natural gas is a valuable and commonly used fuel. But it is not a
silver bullet to our nation's massive energy conundrum. And just like
wind, solar, and nuclear, it should be left to succeed or fail based
on private market forces. Government should not have the legal
authority to hand your hard-earned dollars over to a private industry just because a handful of politicians think they have the right to
make decisions about what energy consumers use.
We have seen the costly errors of government manipulating energy
markets, and Obama must not allow wealthy activists to profit at the
expense of taxpayers. Conservatives should oppose the NAT GAS Act and
other measures that give one specific fuel a distinct marketplace
advantage over others.
Ken Blackwell is a member the board of directors of, both, the Club for Growth and
the NationalTaxpayers Union. He is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.