When the Center for American Progress (CAP, or as wags suggest, Center for Reversing American Progress) issues a press release calling for higher energy taxes, you can bet it’s going to sound a whole lot like the Obama administration. No left-wing organization is more closely tied to the White House since ACORN slunk away than the Center for American Progress, whose president, John Podesta, headed President Obama’s transition team. His team vetted the personnel and developed the policies largely responsible for the president’s performance so far. When those people leave the administration, they go right over to CAP, two high-profile cases being “green jobs czar” Van Jones and “climate and energy czar” Carol M. Browner.
So last week’s missive from CAP was a twofer for the organization and the White House: support the president’s call for increasing taxes on energy produced in the United States while hiding from the Solyndra bankruptcy scandal, which, as it turns out, CAP had a lot to do with.
In its post “Big Oil’s Mountain of Cash,” CAP argues that oil companies are guilty of having lots of money but not investing it, especially in things like Solyndra. CAP thinks the government should tax energy more and use the money for nonsense like Solyndra. After alleging that oil companies aren’t hiring more Americans (which sure would be news to the folks in North Dakota’s Bakken and Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale energy formations) the authors pose the following question: “So if the big five companies aren’t hiring additional workers, are they investing in research and development?”
Their answer is pulled sans context from a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report: “Total R&D expenditure of the five [largest oil] firms in 2010 was $3.6 billion.” Had CAP included context, readers would have learned that the CRS report was referring to “green energy investments” by oil companies, which, at CAP’s analysis of 4.7 percent of earnings, ought to send shareholders of those companies to the next annual meeting screaming.
The government provides companies like Solyndra with money borrowed from China that our grandchildren will have to work or sell Alaska to pay back. CAP wants the oil companies to dump money down the same rathole the government does, and if they won’t, they want the government to seize the money oil companies usually spend on drilling new wells and spend it on $16 muffins, green energy and dead people’s pensions.
In truth, America’s energy producers support 9.2 million jobs and are prepared to contribute hundreds of thousands more if new drilling projects are permitted - a fact conceded by the Department of Energy just this week. Those jobs funneled more than $470 billion into the economy through spending, wages and dividends last year, a sum more than half the size of the 2009 stimulus but one that didn’t require taxpayer money.
The CAP report suggests that a $41 billion annual tax increase on the industry, on top of the $86 million in taxes oil companies already pay, will miraculously stimulate job growth. In reality, it will result in a national energy tax, which is something the White House and CAP have been trying to put in place by hook or by crook since the administration’s Day One.
Moreover, energy companies are making huge investments in the U.S. economy and would do even more if CAP and the Obama administration would get out of the way. A recent study by Woods Mackenzie shows that if CAP and its friends would stop opposing investments that companies are seeking to make in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, onshore lands in the West and pipelines from our energy allies in Canada, the result would be 1.1 million jobs and $36 billion in additional revenue over the next decade.
Places like Youngstown, Ohio, are building steel-pipe manufacturing plants again because of the real jobs created with real investment in domestic energy production that CAP says isn’t happening. And while those jobs aren’t at Google, which has more cash on hand than 100 nations, they’re mighty good jobs for people who need them. Our economy, after all, should be more diverse than just academics, lawyers, government workers and tech millionaires led by a Central Controlling Authority.
So how about it, CAP? If it’s really investment and jobs you want, how about supporting permits in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf and in the Rocky Mountain West on lands owned collectively by the proletariat? How about that Keystone XL pipeline from Canada just waiting to hire 20,000 Americans and ensure future supplies of energy from our ally Canada? How about all those coal plants that have been canceled, pipelines stalled, nuclear plants not permitted and wells not drilled because “green groups” oppose anything but the most expensive forms of energy that are so ridiculous only the government will invest in them - with our money?
I already can give you their answer: Nyet. That’s Russian for “No.” No energy development here. Speaking of Russia, that nation is the No. 1 oil producer in the world, and we’re not.
Dan Kish is vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research.