The unity march following the brutal attacks in Paris containing forty world leaders but no U.S. leaders sparked a question: “How has the state of our union gone from being the shining city on the hill to a country whose light has dimmed?”
Of the policies and initiatives put in place by President Obama, none have increased our international influence and many that have minimized it.
At Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address (SOTU), he will likely tick off a list of accomplishments designed to polish up his legacy and make us feel good while distracting us from reality.
Within that list he will likely include, as he did last year, America’s growing energy independence. He will address how America’s energy abundance has lowered gasoline and heating-oil costs for consumers. Both are true—though no thanks to his policies, but rather in spite of them. Oil production under his administration is up 61 percent on state and private lands. It is down 6 percent on the federal lands his policies influence.
I expect the SOTU to tout his environmental bona fides, but not mention that he has committed the U.S. to extreme cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, while the world’s biggest offenders continue increasing emissions.
“The Indian government has launched a crackdown on Greenpeace and other U.S.-linked environmental groups after intelligence officials accused climate activists of harming the country’s economic security,” the Los Angeles Times reports. The story adds: “groups are being targeted for campaigning against India’s coal-based energy industry, the source of 80% of the country’s domestic power production and a linchpin of the government’s economic development plans.”
India obviously understands that abundant, available, and affordable energy forms the linchpin of economic growth. While India chips away at regulations, the Obama administration piles them on—first against coal-fueled electricity generation, and now aimed at the oil-and-gas industry.
Obama’s policies, such as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), and the new methane regulations announced on January 14 (just to name two) will kill jobs and raise energy costs.
The CPP, announced in June, will ultimately cause hundreds of coal-fueled power plants to shut down prematurely. These power plants supply America with reliable and cost-effective energy—and our comparatively low-priced electricity helps gives us a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.
The new methane rules, scheduled to be finalized sometime next year, are, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), “designed to help the administration meet a commitment it made in Beijing in November to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” However, even the Energy Information Administration admits that, while domestic oil production has nearly doubled and natural-gas production is up by about 50 percent since 2005, “methane emissions from the sector have dropped roughly 15 percent over that period through 2012.” Because methane is a valuable commodity, innovations in the industry have successfully captured it and ongoing improvements will continue the emissions downward trend.
It is expected that the SOTU will push for an increase in the minimum wage—though I wish he’d address the loss of quality jobs in the energy sector, as a result of his policies.
While the oil-and-gas industry sheds jobs as a result of the low price of oil (somewhat a victim of its own success), Obama could announce some initiatives that could help stem the losses, such as supporting Congress’s plans to lift the four-decade-old oil export ban. Likewise, he could call on the Department of Energy to expedite approval of applications for liquefied natural gas export terminals—something a new Senate bill proposes.
The SOTU should address drilling on federal lands. One of the reasons the oil industry reels is that most of America’s new production is “nonconventional”—meaning that it requires expensive technologies, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to extract. But, easy-to-access, i.e. cheap, oil in off-limits federal lands awaits leasing and development. Opening up some of those sites could transfer production to lower-cost locales—saving jobs and increasing our energy security in the process.
Instead, we’re apt to hear about GM introducing new electric cars—despite the high cost and the public’s resistance, or the growing implementation of renewable energy, but not about wind-energy projects going bankrupt once the government subsidies dry up.
The list of policies that have plunged America into darkness on the global stage could go on and on. Being a bright light in the world requires a strong economy—which, as India knows, needs energy.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.