In a candid moment while running for president, Barack Obama told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle, “under my plan…electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Last week, the Obama administration moved to make that a reality, using its rule by executive fiat to punish the coal industry. The action comes as the president is halting offshore oil drilling and threatening one state alone with millions of dollars in lost revenue. His most recent action was “unprecedented,” could kill jobs during a recession, and comes as heating oil and gasoline prices are rising.
Obama’s latest environmentalist imbroglio is his declaration of war on the coal industry. Last week, the EPA revoked the mining permit of Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia. The EPA granted the permit in 2007. Since then, Arch Coal has complied with all of the agency’s terms and made millions of dollars of investments in the hard-hit Appalachian state.
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The EPA reversed itself last week, revoking its validly granted permit and calling into question whether it would honor any of its prior obligations. Its pretext was the company’s use of mountaintop removal mining, which it called “destructive and unsustainable.” However, it was known the mine would use this procedure when the EPA granted the permit four years ago.
The mine would have employed 250 people and harvested more than 40 million tons of coal, over 15 years.
West Virginia’s lawmakers are rightly incensed. Newly elected Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s statement read in part: “According to the EPA, it doesn’t matter if you did everything right, if you followed all of the rules. Why? They just change the rules.” Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, called the revocation, “a staged event to reward a core constituency that doesn’t want any coal mining or coal plants, no matter the cost to West Virginia or our nation.”
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Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller told President Obama in a letter that his action “needlessly throws other permits into a sea of uncertainty at a time of great economic distress.”
Industry leaders echoed his concern. “Every road project, construction project or mine site that has received valid CWA 404 permits in the past is now in jeopardy of having that permit vetoed or revoked,” said Bryan Brown, executive director of the Foundation for American Coal Energy. The crippling handicap of uncertainty harms our economy, undermines confidence in the government, and keeps industry executives from making additional investments in energy exploration.
Which was the point. Obama is acting in a lawless manner to introduce uncertainty and stop business from finding additional natural resources, because they want to use skyrocketing energy prices to reduce our nation’s carbon footprint.
…And Oil, Too
Coal is but one front of the president’s war on energy. Obama has issued only two permits to allow deepwater oil drilling since its six month moratorium expired in October; the administration approved an average of nearly six a month before the May moratorium. In addition to the oil the nation is denied, the de facto ban is adding millions to the national deficit. Robert Bluey of the Heritage Foundation has estimated the government is losing $3.7 million in tax revenue every day on oil Obama will not allow to be drilled. He projected this would account for $1.35 billion this year alone.
The ban is also destroying indigenous industry in Louisiana. The nonprofit organization Greater New Orleans Inc. released a report last week revealing that businesses that depend on offshore drilling face imminent collapse if the pace of exploration is not rapidly accelerated. These vendors have exhausted a $20 billion fund set up by BP during the six month moratorium. USA Today reports, “Deepwater drilling contributes about $2.3 million to $3.2 million in direct tax revenue to state and parish governments each month and more than $7 million in indirect monthly revenue to state and local governments, the report says.”
Louisiana drillers and federal tax collectors are far from the only victims. Obama’s Green agenda is costing us all dearly.
Skyrocketing Rates? Yes, We Can!
With a continuing virtual ban on offshore and ANWR drilling, an opposition to nuclear power, and a hostility to building a new refineries to replace the aged facilities currently in use, nation remains dangerously dependent on foreign oil. The cost of imported petroleum rose by 3.9 percent in December alone.
Rising fuel prices are the key driver to rising prices throughout the economy. The Consumer Price Index rose by 0.5 percent in December — an 18-month high, and more than analysts expected — while the Producer Price Index rose 1.1 percent. Rising gasoline prices drove down consumer sentiment last month, further putting off the hopes of an economic recovery.
And that suits some people in the Obama administration just fine.
Making You Poor for Your Own Good
This collapse gladdens the hearts of Obama’s environmental advisers. Obama’s Science Czar John Holdren — a self-described “neo-Malthusian” who would like to see the world’s population greatly reduced — wrote in 1997 that raising the price of natural gas was “actually a good idea.” His close friend Dr. James Hansen, whom Holdren called “one of the most distinguished climate scientists in the world,” suggested to Obama in late 2008 that he should tax gasoline up to “$4/5 gallons again.” The higher the cost of fossil fuels, and the fewer economic resources Americans have, the less they can consume. The Green Left believes the impoverishment of millions of Americans is a good thing, because it reduces our carbon footprint, “saving the planet” at the expense of your happiness and possibly your life.
As the Republicans come into power on Capitol Hill, Barack Obama has put the full force of the executive branch at the disposal of scientists who value nature over human beings.