Energy is the key to America's economic future. In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama promised to fundamentally transform the nation into one increasingly dependent on sunshine and breezes to power the economy. As a result, his lofty vision of U.S. prosperity will likely be clouded by the reality of another four years of stagnation.
Mr. Obama praised his own leadership on the energy issue, one of the few bright spots in the economy. He boasted that the United States produces more domestic oil and uses less foreign crude than it has in 20 years. Yet these accomplishments were not inspired by White House policy prescriptions -- they happened in spite of them. Just as he did in his speech a year ago, the president was claiming credit for the hard work done by the private sector.
There was no mention of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which could bring 830,000 barrels of black gold a day from Canada to the United States. If Mr. Obama were genuinely determined to curtail the need for overseas oil, approval of the project would have been at the top of his energy to-do list. His silence suggests the project's approval is doubtful.
In place of a proven job creator like Keystone, the president peddled a new "Energy Security Trust" that would grab revenue from gas and oil sales to "drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good." Innovation is quintessentially American, but using taxpayer dollars to force technology to take a centrally planned path simply slaps a new label on a worn-out idea.
The Heritage Foundation compiled a list of 34 "green energy" companies copping federal cash that are either failing or have gone bankrupt. Solyndra was the most notorious, wasting $535 million, but others piled up losses in the billions. Mr. Obama is merely recycling this proven money-loser.
The president justified this strategy by pointing to Hurricane Sandy, but blaming the weather betrays his fevered view of "global warming." By contending that 12 of the hottest years on record have occurred in the last 15, Mr. Obama continued to advance his war on "greenhouse gases" -- including nature's own carbon dioxide. The administration's fight against respiration, oil and internal combustion is having a real impact. During Mr. Obama's first State of the Union speech, gas averaged $3.48 a gallon. On Wednesday, it stood higher -- $3.59. In between, prices have swung wildly, climbing more than 30 cents in just the past 30 days. Instability is a sign of policy failure, not progress.
In his Republican rebuttal, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida urged a more balanced approach to energy. "God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas," said the junior senator from Florida. "Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called 'clean energy' companies like Solyndra, let's open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration. Let's reform our energy regulations so that they're reasonable and based on common sense." Indeed, common sense argues for the use of the nation's bounty of energy resources.
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