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At the rate he’s going, our president will soon be taking credit for the discovery of natural gas.
In Ancient China, the Emperor went out every spring and walked the fields to bless the harvest and encourage the crops to grow. Sure enough, when the peasants put the seeds in the ground, the crops appeared and the Emperor took credit.
The job of President of the United States is often much the same. According to the legend embraced by some, he is responsible for just about everything good that happens in the country. If a group of wildcatting oil geologists in North Dakota, for instance, use 3-D seismographic to discover a whole new strata of shale oil, and if “fracking” techniques developed in Texas should make these deposits accessible for the first time in history — well then, it must be the President who made it all happen.
This was the mantle, at least, that President Barack Obama was willing to assume last week when he declared in his State of the Union address:
Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now — right now — American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right — eight years. Not only that — last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years.
Now those with long memories might be wondering at this point from whence this new enthusiasm for fossil fuels. They might remember the President’s Inaugural Address three years ago when he proclaimed:
We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.
They remember that the words “oil” or “gas” or “fossil fuels” were never mentioned on that January afternoon.
Then there was the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill after which the President suspended all new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and then after the ban was lifted made it so difficult to secure new permits that most drilling rigs have long left the Gulf for Brazil, the coast of Africa, and other more hospitable places around the globe.
Most curious of all, however, is the President’s claim to have opened up “millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration,” implying that this is why “American oil production is the highest it has been in eight years” so that “we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years.” As more than one wag suggested, once you’ve run an economy into the ground with 9 percent unemployment, you’re bound to get a little decreased oil consumption.
The Institute for Energy Research is one of those Washington think tanks that runs around trying to keep track of such proclamations. Before the newspapers were on the stands the next day, IER had put out a report casting a little light on the President’s claims. One of its graphs shows the number of permits for oil and gas exploration issued by the Bureau of Land Management. As IER notes, the Obama Administration has auctioned off less than half the number of leases annually as the Clinton Administration.
Then there were graphs illustrating the production of oil and gas on federal lands as opposed to private and state lands: As the numbers show, the obvious trend has been reduced production on federal lands and increased production from the private and state sector:
Now this is not necessarily a bad thing. When Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot conceived the Conservation Movement, they cast the federal government in the role of an aristocratic landholder who is not troubled by an immediate need for money but is able to hold resources off the market in anticipation that they will later become more valuable. This speculative venture is the way the market conserves resources. It is not the government alone that follows this practice. Last week Chesapeake Energy, the nation’s second largest developer of natural gas, announced it will drill no more wells in the Marcellus Shale for the time being because the price of gas has dropped so low. It will save the resources for another day. President Obama is doing the same thing with federal resources. He can certainly take credit as the nation’s Chief Conserver. But Oil-and-Gas-Developer-in-Chief? Best save that for the wildcatters out in the Marcellus and the Bakken.
Most curious of all was the President’s claim that if there has been a boom in natural gas production over the past decade, government research was responsible:
The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock — reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online