During last week's State of the Union Address (SOTU) President Obama extoled efforts to increase fuel efficiency to "help America wean itself off foreign oil." He touted the new reality of "more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world, the first time that's happened in nearly twenty years." Then, he promised to use his "authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations" — which is code for more national monuments and endangered species designations that will lock up federal lands from productive use.
Electricity and extreme poverty
Concern was expressed for Americans who "are working more than ever just to get by." He wants to help Africans "double access to electricity and help end extreme poverty." But his policies are limiting access to electricity in America and raising the cost (20 percent in the past 6 years). Higher-cost energy is the most punitive to those struggling "just to get by."
The "Energy Cost Impacts on American Families, 2001-2013" report found: "Lower-income families are more vulnerable to energy costs than higher-income families because energy represents a larger portion of their household budgets." For households with an after-tax income under $30,000, the report shows that energy costs account for 27 percent of the family budget — up 11 percent from 2001. For those with after-tax incomes higher than $50,000, the numbers were 5 percent in 2001 and 9 percent in 2013 — a 4 percent increase.
All of the above
President Obama took credit for his "'all-of-the-above' energy strategy" saying it has "moved America closer to energy independence than we have been in decades." And, regarding natural gas, he says that he'll "cut red tape to help states get those factories built and put folks to work." POTUS proclaimed: "I'll act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible." The Department of Energy has dozens of permits for liquefied natural gas, or LNG, export facilities languishing on some bureaucrat's desk. One of the few approved terminals: Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG Terminal Project in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, created more than 2000 jobs in 2013 and looks to create another 2000 jobs in 2014. Here Obama could act on his own to get the permits issued — cut the red tape and slash the bureaucracy.
A Jan. 16, 2013, letter sent to the White House from 18 environmental groups, whose opinions seem to be held in such high regard by the Obama administration, challenged the president's approach — calling "all of the above" a "compromise that future generations can't afford." The letter states: "We believe that continued reliance on an 'all of the above' energy strategy would be fundamentally at odds with your goal of cutting carbon pollution and would undermine our nation's capacity to respond to the threat of climate disruption."
They claim: "an 'all of the above' approach that places virtually no limits on whether, when, where or how fossil fuels are extracted ignores the impacts of carbon-intense fuels and is wrong for America's future." The groups see it as a threat to "our most sensitive lands." Despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary, they posit: "clean energy and solutions that have already begun to replace fossil fuels" save Americans money. The letter concludes: "We believe that a climate impact lens should be applied to all decisions regarding new fossil fuel development, and urge that a 'carbon-reducing clean energy' strategy rather than an 'all of the above' strategy become the operative paradigm for your administration's energy decisions."
As if an executive decree could make it so, he announced: "the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact." True, climate change is a fact — the climate changes, always has, always will. But the debate as to what causes it or what should be done about it is far from "settled."
"We have to act with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming Western communities struggling with drought and coastal cities dealing with floods," he announced. However, droughts and floods have been going on throughout history when CO2 emissions (which he calls "carbon pollution") were much lower than today. His solution? "The shift to a cleaner economy," which gobbles up taxpayer dollars in crony corruption (more than 30 such projects have gone bust since the 2009 stimulus bill released nearly $100 billion for "clean energy").
He believes that the minimum wage needs to be increased to $10.10 an hour. He wants to "Give America a raise." Yet, in North Dakota's boom economy, workers at Walmart and McDonalds are paid in the teens — without government meddling. The best wages are paid with a fully employed workforce. The Keystone XL pipeline would provide thousands of good paying (often union) jobs, but, it was never mentioned.
Yes, "opportunity is who we are," but the policies coming out of the White House hurt the poor and block job creation. Early in the State of the Union address Obama stated: "The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress." The question he should ask himself is "Am I going to help Americans or hinder our opportunities?" This question should run through every decision he makes in 2014.
President Obama says he wants to help. Yet, his policies repeatedly hinder.
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).