Obama’s job-creation bag of tricks is just about empty (anyone up for another stimulus? cash for clunkers redux?) and the unemployment rate stands at 9.2 percent, two years after the recession officially ended.
Maybe it’s time to try something a tad more straightforward, like making use of the massive amount of oil and natural gas sitting beneath America’s western sates. How much are we talking? According to a new report from Western Energy Alliance, it’s more than the US imports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela, Algeria, Nigeria, and Russia combined.
We have access to these massive reserves thanks to recent improvements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, a process in which gas is released by forcing water, sand, and chemicals into extremely deep wells. Environmentalists delight in damning hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” because they fear the process will contaminate drinking water. It’s created such a stir that President Obama’s EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson took up the topic during a recent U.S. House Oversight Committee. But, instead of fulminating against fracking she said, “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water, although there are investigations ongoing.” Turns out, as Reason’s science correspondent Ron Bailey notes, fracking gets blamed for problems that arise from poorly designed wells.
So fracking’s not the great evil it’s made out to be and accessing energy can be done with a much lighter touch than in years past. Thanks to technological advances, a job that used to require 20 wells can now be done with just one, which means all that the energy sitting beneath America’s western states could be accessed by touching only 0.07 percent of America’s public land.
Such little environmental impact, and accessing that energy is estimated to yield more than 500,000 jobs by 2020. Yet instead of making the most of the opportunity, the Obama administration continues to thwart domestic energy producers.
Here’s what happens …
The typical western state energy producer is a company with around a dozen employees and these companies lease land from the federal government for a period of 10 years. The clock starts but it’s a long time before any energy is produced. There’s red tape. Lots of it and all kinds of regulations–often it’s the same regulation over and over.
The whole process can take up to 9 years, leaving little time on the clock to produce energy.
In a recent speech Obama seemed to signal a change in policy when he said,”We want to work with you, with technology and support, to help develop these oil reserves safely.” Trouble is he made those remarks in Brazil while touting that nation’s energy potential. He went on to say, “And when you’re ready to start selling we want to be one of your best customers.”
Behold Obama’s energy policy: obstruct American producers and import oil from foreign nations! That approach does create plenty of jobs, it’s just that the jobs are created in places like Brazil, Saudia Arabia, and Russia.
(Accompanying video produced by Ted Balaker)