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Obama’s Words Don’t Match with Action on Oil and Gas

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Romina Boccia
January 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm

At this State of the Union address, President Obama proudly stated that “American oil production is the highest it’s been in eight years” and declared that his Administration would “open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.” While President Obama spoke favorably of the role that oil and gas development play in America, the President’s and his Administration’s actions don’t match with his words.

There are several areas where the President and his Administration are unreasonably hindering access to more oil and gas for Americans and threatening the industry with punitive measures:

  • Keystone permit rejection. The Keystone XL pipeline would deliver oil from our Canadian ally, relieve some of the pain of high prices at the gas pump, and create jobs in America. Nevertheless, and despite a State Department environmental review concluding that the project poses no significant environmental risk, the President chose to reject TransCanada’s permit application to build the pipeline.
  • Targeted tax hikes. The President continues to threaten the oil industry with targeted tax hikes. Under the rhetoric of eliminating subsidies for the industry, the President’s proposal would eliminate certain tax treatments for oil that are available to many industries, effectively singling out the oil industry for a tax hike.
  • Slowdown of production on federal lands. While American oil production has been increasing, the vast majority of that production is taking place on private lands. Production on federal lands is actually 40 percent lower than it was 10 years ago. The House Natural Resources Committee also reports that under the Obama Administration, 2010 had the lowest number of onshore leases issued since 1984.
  • Fracking regulation. Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) is a proven oil and gas extraction process that should not be subject to overly burdensome regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering federal regulation of the fracking process under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The problem is that the agency is following a procedure that even the Department of Energy criticized for its “selective focus” on “negative outcomes.”

Words alone will not make energy more abundant and affordable, nor will they create the energy-related jobs that would make the American economy stronger. If the President is truly concerned about increasing America’s energy access, he certainly has a funny way of showing it.

For policies in that direction, Heritage policy analyst Nick Loris explains in two papers how to make gas and electricity prices more affordable and how to create jobs and raise government revenue through energy exploration.

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Obama loves oil — Not!

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Peter Foster Jan 27, 2012 – 8:00 AM ET

Nothing more clearly indicates U.S. President Barack Obama’s economic muddledom and ideological stubbornness than the dog’s breakfast of energy policies revealed in Tuesday’s State of the Union address. The good news is that hydrocarbons are back (as long as you forget Keystone XL). The bad news is that “clean” energy isn’t going away. Instead it’s “all of the above.”

Without his nose growing visibly, the President claimed the government was behind the technological advances that led to the current shale gas boom, and even suggested that he might take credit for the rise in domestic oil production. In fact, Mr. Obama’s administration has hampered and castigated oil companies at every turn. In the light of the hysterical grandstanding over the BP Gulf spill (whose impact proved to be greatly exaggerated), it was ironic indeed to hear the President now declare a great opening up of offshore exploration.

The industry has responded to attacks by becoming more innovative and productive. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, between 2007 and 2010, U.S. oil production grew from 5.1 million barrels a day (mbd) to 5.5 mbd. The agency predicts domestic production will hit 6.7 mbd by 2020, helping take imports down to 36% of domestic usage in 2035 from 60% in 2005. So much for peak oil. Meanwhile, the EIA also predicts that by 2016, thanks to the shale boom, the U.S. will be a natural gas exporter.

This reluctant acknowledgment of the success of private innovation was accompanied on Tuesday by the usual cheap shots. The oil industry has been subsidized (a dubious claim) for too long. Its profits are too fat. The administration will demand that oil companies release details of fracking chemicals – as if they might wilfully poison Americans without public oversight.

These political sideswipes are unlikely to appease the environmental lobby. If the President thinks he won any Greenie Points by kicking the Keystone XL pipeline down the road, he certainly lost them all – and probably then some – with his support for fracking and offshore drilling. Radical environmentalists don’t want to hear about energy security, objective risks, or practical safety measures: they want to close down hydrocarbons as the work of the climate devil.

Over in the dodgy logic section, Mr. Obama suggested that shale gas success demonstrated that it took time for energy research to pay off, thus he was right to stick with promoting alternatives. However, the cases are entirely different. U.S. government research laboratories may indeed have been involved in technologies such as fracking and directional drilling, but these technologies were first developed in the private sector. Government presence should be attributed more to jumping on winners than skill in picking them. Plus, there is the private sector’s incurable penchant for grabbing government funds. When it comes to alternatives, however, while rent seekers are as thick on the ground as subsidized solar panels, the government has no winners on which to jump.

The President suggested government-stoked success in battery technology, but this is predicated on the success of electric cars, of which the President wants – Soviet target-style – to see a million on the road by 2015. Government support for “clean” energy isn’t an investment in the future: It is money down the drain. Naturally, the half-billion-dollar Solyndra debacle received as little reference as Keystone XL.

Critics have suggested TransCanada’s projection of 20,000 jobs in construction and manufacturing from the Keystone XL line, with many more spin-offs, is exaggerated. Strange how interventionists love the Keynesian multiplier when it refers to government expenditure but deplore the idea when it comes to creating real jobs. More important, job creation in subsidized wind and solar is entirely fictitious. One widely quoted Spanish study suggests that every alternative job costs two jobs elsewhere.

Mr. Obama, now presumably to his embarrassment, has referred to oil as a dwindling “19th-century” resource. If we are talking of being out of date, William Watson noted here yesterday that President Obama’s grasp of economics hasn’t yet absorbed the 18th-century wisdom of Adam Smith. Mr. Owe’s predilection for misconceived trade-is-war “mercantilist” policies was clear from his promise in the State of the Union not to “cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.”

If they put in big destructive subsidies that threaten real trade war, then so will we. Anything they can do, we can do stupider.

One wonders if the President has the slightest clue about the flagging state of the wind and solar industries in Germany, or that what is boosting China’s alternatives industry is government subsidies … from other countries.

The President announced a plan to devote huge swathes of public land to the development of clean energy to power “three million homes.” He also apparently committed the Navy to buying a chunk of this power, as if it weren’t expensive enough to guard the Strait of Hormuz.

Mercantilist alternative energy strategies represent – as Jimmy Carter famously suggested – the “moral equivalent of war.” The problem is that it is war on one’s own economy. At least, with his partial ceasefire against the oil industry, President Obama is now only shooting himself in one policy foot rather than both.

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Obama Puppetmaster Warren Buffett Biggest Winner From Keystone Pipeline Rejection

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Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/24/2012 08:36 –0500

Just when one thinks American crony capitalism couldn’t hit new lows, here comes Warren Buffett and his personal puppet, the president, proving everyone wrong once more. Because if one thinks there is no (s)quid pro quo for all that “sage” advice that Buffett has been giving to Obama on extracting as much wealth as possible from future wealthy Americans (before they decide they have had enough with this crony shit and leave the country for good), one would be fatally wrong. As it turns out, it is not just natural resources and aquifer purity that Obama had in mind when sealing the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. No – it appears there were far more relevant numerial metrics that determined Obama’s decisions. Such as the bottom line number of Buffett’s Burlington Northern, which according to Bloomberg, is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. ‘“Whatever people bring to us, we’re ready to haul,” Krista York-Wooley, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, a unit of Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said in an interview. If Keystone XL “doesn’t happen, we’re here to haul.” And quite delighted to reap the windfalls of unfounded populist fears she forgot to add. Because while the whole “carbon-credit” multi-trillion top line expansion scheme for Goldman under the pretense of actually caring for the environment may have collapsed, it is not preventing others from trying and succeeding where even Goldman has failed.

From Bloomberg:

Rail car production is already at a three-year high as manufacturers such as Greenbrier Cos Inc. (GBX) and American Railcar Industries Inc. (ARII) expand to meet demand for sand used in oil and gas exploration, according to Steve Barger, an analyst at Keybanc Capital Markets Inc. in Cleveland, citing Railway Supply Institute statistics.

Rail-car suppliers can add capacity, Hatch said.

“Railroads are not just a stopgap while we wait for a pipeline,” Hatch said in an interview. “They are potentially part of the long-term solution.”

Railroads are being used in North Dakota (STOND1), where oil producers have spurred a fivefold increase in output by using intensive drilling practices in the Bakken, a geologic formation that stretches from southern Alberta to the northern U.S. Great Plains. During 2011, rail capacity in the region tripled to almost 300,000 barrels a day as higher production exceeded what pipelines handle, according to the State Department report on Keystone XL.

Burlington Northern carries about 25 percent of the oil from the Bakken, said Krista York-Wooley, the railroad spokeswoman. The company can carry higher volumes from North Dakota or Alberta, she said.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP)’s shipments from North Dakota climbed to more than 13,000 carloads last year from about 500 in 2009, Ed Greenberg, a spokesman, said in an e-mail. The Calgary- based company has a similar plan in western Canada.

“With an extensive rail network and proven expertise in moving energy, CP offers a flexible option for transporting crude oil and other energy-related products to and from key locations in North America,” Vice President Tracy Robinson said in an e-mail. “Rail is scalable, allowing CP to effectively keep pace with the shipping needs of producers.”

So those wondering how it is that AAR railroad statistics continue to be so very strong, it is not because the economy actually justifies it: it is because crony interests such as those of the Octogenarian of Omaha demand it as “payment” for their crony collegiality with the biggest dunce president since Carter.

In other news, it is truly amazing how with every new development, America is now becoming like one giant conspiracy theory, only this time it is actually not a theory as with every passing day we see it enacted in practice.

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Brazil Stiffs Obama on Oil Deal, Exposing President’s Incompetence

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By Mark Whittington
Yahoo! Contributor Network – Sat, Jan 21, 2012

COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama has suffered the second embarrassment over oil imports within the space of a week. Brazil, whose offshore deposits of oil were sought by the Obama administration, has signed contracts with China for the product.

According to the Washington Times, Brazilian offshore crude may number about 38 billion barrels. Obama went to Brazil last month to put in a bid for the oil, offering loans and other support to develop the oil in an “environmentally responsible matter,” The Hill reported at the time. Republicans criticized that initiative, pointing out Obama has placed roadblocks in the way of domestic development of oil and gas reserves.

Brazil’s decision comes on the heels of Obama’s refusal to permit the building of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada’s tar sands in Alberta to Texas oil refineries, according to the Los Angeles Times. The decision was criticized by Republicans as well as union officials who point out that 20,000 jobs the pipeline would bring would therefore not be created.

Obama’s policy in regard to oil and gas has been a study in incompetence driven by an ideological mania against hydrocarbon fuel in favor of more politically correct forms of energy production. This has not only led to what amounts to a campaign against oil and gas production in the U.S., but embarrassing scandals such as Solyndra, brought on by unwise federal loan guarantees to dubious green energy companies.

This is occurring at a time when Iran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz through which much of the world’s oil passes from Persian Gulf fields. The very threat has led to a spike in the price of oil and of gasoline.

Unfortunately, Obama shows no sign of learning from his mistakes. A responsible president would move quickly to exploit more accessible sources of oil, lifting restrictions on domestic production and quickly signing off on the pipeline deal with Canada, an American ally. Obama, however, is doing neither of these things.

A new energy crisis this summer, brought on by turmoil in the Middle East, is not outside the realm of possibility. The bad news is Americans will suffer, just as they did in 1973 and 1979. The good news is Americans are likely to make their ire known at the polls in the fall. But it months of turmoil and agony lay ahead until then.

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Obama in Fantasy Land

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Derek Hunter

This Tuesday, when President Obama delivers his State of the Union Address, we can count on it to be filled with the same platitudes, anecdotes, false promises, cooked stats and tenuous connection with reality we find in everything the man does. It will be a laundry list of progressive fantasy, couched in populist rhetoric and designed to make middle-class Americans think he has something more than the zero connection and concern for them he has.

President Obama doesn’t give a damn about the middle class, jobs, the economy or much of anything that distracts from his progressive agenda. But what do you expect from someone who shows such contempt for the nation’s pastime as to wear “mom jeans” when throwing out the first pitch at the All-Star game?

I’m kidding about “mom jeans,” of course, though only mostly. But about the contempt…not at all.

Last week President Obama went to Disney World – returning to his home country of Fantasy Land to deliver a speech about the need to boost tourism. Tourism is hurting, there’s no doubt about that. But taking a vacation is hardly a priority when you’re unemployed, and for the unemployed, Mr. Obama smacked them across the face with a dead fish.

The administration announced he would block the Keystone XL pipeline, a plan to move oil from Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The green left hates it because…well, it’s real energy rather than the “green” energy racket they love to milk for government subsidies. If it’s good for humans, you can count on these people to oppose it unless they’re lining their pockets with tax dollars or preparing to profit from forced customer base through regulation.

The pipeline would have meant jobs, good jobs, lots of them … but it seems, as Vice-President Joe Biden so artfully put it, that three-letter word that is President Obama’s No.1 priority – J-O-B-S – isn’t as much a priority as pleasing the cronies he desperately needs for his reelection.

How many jobs? Conservatives say a lot; progressives say not so many. I’m no engineer, but trenches from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico don’t dig themselves, and that pipe won’t magically appear once it’s dug – nor will it maintain itself. So, more than 100 but less than the millions who have lost jobs since President Obama took office. But creating some jobs beats creating no jobs, which is what President Obama chose when he took the side of his “green” elite friends against normal American workers.

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The Anti-Jobs President

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Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline and blames Congress.

The central conflict of the Obama Presidency has been between the jobs and growth crisis he inherited and the President’s hell-for-leather pursuit of his larger social-policy ambitions. The tragedy is that the economic recovery has been so lackluster because the second impulse keeps winning.

Yesterday came proof positive with the White House’s repudiation of the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada‘s $7 billion shovel-ready project that would support tens of thousands of jobs if only it could get the requisite U.S. permits. Those jobs, apparently, can wait.

Unless the President objected, December’s payroll tax deal gave TransCanada the go-ahead in February to start building the pipeline, which would travel 1,661 miles from Alberta to interconnections in Oklahoma and then carry Canadian crude to U.S. refiners on the Gulf Coast.

The State Department, which presides over the Keystone XL review because it would cross the 49th parallel, claimed yesterday that the two-month Congressional deadline was too tight “for the President to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest.” The White House also issued a statement denouncing Congress’s “rushed and arbitrary deadline,” which merely passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

This is, to put it politely, a crock.

Keystone XL has been planned for years and only became a political issue after the well-to-do environmental lobby decided to make it a station of the green cross. TransCanada filed its application in 2008, and State determined in 2010 and then again last year that the project would have “no significant impacts” on the environment, following exhaustive studies. The Environmental Protection Agency chose to intervene anyway, and the political left began to issue ultimatums and demonstrate in front of the White House, so President Obama decided to defer a final decision until after the election.

The missed economic opportunity was spelled out Tuesday by Mr. Obama’s own Jobs Council, which released a report that endorsed an “all-in approach” on energy, including the “profound new opportunities in shale gas and unconventional oil.” The 27 members handpicked by the President recommended that he support “policies that facilitate the safe, thoughtful and timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects,” and they warned that failing to do so “would stall the engine that could become a prime driver of U.S. jobs and growth in the decades ahead.”

Only last week the White House issued a “jobs” report praising domestic energy production, but that now looks like political cover for this anti-jobs policy choice.

State did give TransCanada permission to reapply using an alternate route, timetable indefinite. The construction workers, pipefitters, mechanics, welders and electricians who might otherwise be hired for the project—well, they must be thrilled with this consolation prize. Not to mention all the other Americans who might fill “spin-off” jobs on the pipeline’s supply chain like skilled manufacturers and equipment suppliers, or still others who might work in oil refining and distribution.

Environmentalists seem to think they can prevent the development of Canada’s oil-rich tar sands, and that their rallies against Keystone XL will keep that carbon in the ground. They can’t, and it won’t. America’s largest trading partner will simply build a pipeline to the Pacific coast from Alberta and sell its petroleum products to Asia instead, China in particular.

Such green delusions are sad, and Mr. Obama’s pandering is sadder, though everything the country stands to lose is saddest. If Mitt Romney and the other GOP candidates have any political wit, they’ll vindicate the Keystone’s “national interest” and make Mr. Obama explain why job creation is less important than the people who make a living working for the green anti-industrial complex.

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Obama set to reject Keystone oil pipeline: sources

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WASHINGTON | Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:53am EST

(Reuters) – A decision on the long-delayed Keystone crude oil pipeline could come as soon as Wednesday, with the Obama administration poised to reject the oil sands crude project, according to sources.

“We’re expecting the pipeline to be rejected,” a source familiar with the issue told Reuters.

(Reporting By Jeff Mason and Ayesha Rascoe)

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The Oil and the Glory: Year of the Pipeline

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Year of the pipeline: Time magazine’s Person of the Year is the protester, and that is probably valid, but we think that the editors missed an important also-ran — the pipeline. Few care to stop and notice the elegance in unsung lengths of steel cylinders stirring fierce passions such as nationalism, greed and tear-inducing anger. We are talking the 24- and 36-inch steel cylinders that carry oil and gas across continents, under bodies of water and over mountains to the 7 billion people of the Earth. Who for instance considered nominating the Keystone Pipeline as political instrument of the year for how it threatened to shut down the whole of the U.S. government, and may yet in the coming couple of months? Then there is Nabucco, a proposed natural gas line that has much of Europe, Russia along with the U.S. tied up in sanctimonious knots over who will exercise geopolitical and economic leverage in Europe. This week Russia notched up the temperature by securing crucial support from Turkey for its repost to Nabucco, a pipeline that it calls South Stream. That battle also will carry over into the new year. And who can forget the proposed trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline, known by the acronym TAPI? A powerful and high-kicking chorus is backing TAPI, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and CIA director David Petraeus, who embraced the line when he was running the ground game as a general in Afghanistan. Observers, including this blog, have cast doubt on TAPI’s feasibility given Afghanistan’s chaos. Yet we celebrate it as a worthy addition to this improbable pantheon — inanimate objects that somehow transmogrify into organic, breathing beings capable of arousing high-stakes emotion in humans.

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