Energy: You have to give President Obama credit. Knowing well that much of his legacy is soon to be erased, he’s not going quietly. One of his final acts as he hits the door will be to take one last swing with government’s giant mallet at the fossil-fuel industry.
For his biggest swipe at the oil business, Obama hopes to block the sale of new offshore drilling rights in both Alaska and parts of the Atlantic. To do so, he will use a somewhat obscure 1953 law that lets the president make more or less peremptory decisions on oil and gas leases off the coast.
Make this clear: He’s twisting the law to do this. As Bloomberg notes, “Until now the law has been used sparingly to permanently preserve coral reefs, walrus feeding grounds and marine sanctuaries.” Why is he doing it? Of course, to cement his reputation as a champion of climate change.
“If true, millions of people around the world will be grateful to President Obama for permanently protecting the Arctic and Atlantic coasts from catastrophic oil exploration and development,” said Greenpeace spokesdude Travis Nichols.
The problem with this is that Obama is president of the United States, not the rest of the world. And Americans have made it abundantly clear in poll after poll: They don’t give fig about climate change, and want cheaper energy. And based on government estimates, which most experts believe are far too low, the U.S.’ share of the Arctic holds 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
With prices low due to the fracking revolution — which Obama has tried to take credit for, despite doing everything he could to stand in the way of further fossil-fuel development — oil companies aren’t willing to put up a big fight. They know that right now, it’s not even really economically feasible to get at that Arctic energy.
But if, as the White House asserts, Obama’s act can’t be undone by Donald Trump, then the oil industry may come to regret it. Using the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a 1953 law, Obama has already removed big chunks of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas from drilling. He’s doing his best to end energy exploration in the Arctic region.
That’s not Obama’s only parting salvo at fossil fuels. On Monday, he imposed new regulations on coal mining, again in the name of cleaning up the environment. But the rules are really intended to hurt an industry that Obama has made clear he’d like to see disappear entirely. And he scheduled them to go into effect one day before Trump becomes president.
This has all the earmarks of a political vendetta by Obama, Hillary Clinton and other green Democrats against coal country. Normally a lock for the Democrats, coal country — West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky — all went for Trump this time around. They did so after Hillary Clinton last March told a town-hall meeting, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” That, not Russian cyberhacking, doomed her candidacy.
Nor were these idle threats. As science reporter Andrew Follett of the Daily Caller recently noted, since Obama took office in 2008 the coal industry has lost 83,000 jobs and 400 coal mines have been shut — despite the fact that clean-coal technology now makes coal a cheap and reasonably clean form of energy. The Democrats’ war on coal has caused real casualties.
Fortunately, Senate Majority Leader Mich McConnell has said he will use the Congressional Review Act — which lets Congress overturn particularly bad regulations before they become permanent — to reverse the coal measure.
Calling it a “regulatory assault on coal country,” McConnell ripped Obama for again going after the industry. “The president’s eight-year war on coal has wrecked the lifeblood of the economy and the livelihoods of coal country workers and their families,” McConnell said.
One thing must be said: After eight years of this kind of thinking — yoked as it is to the global anti-energy and anti-industrial climate-change cult — it will be refreshing to have new energy-friendly policies in the U.S. As it is, Americans are being subjected to nonstop global-warming propaganda, including U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s comment this week, without a shred of scientific proof, that abandoning the Paris Climate deal will “condemn future generations to untold suffering.”
Actually, what will condemn future generations, including in the U.S., to untold suffering will be denying them the cheap and plentiful energy they need to develop their economies fully, and to pull hundreds of millions of people around the world out of dire poverty. We hope that Trump’s Cabinet, filled with energy experience as no Cabinet before, will undo this madness.