- - Thursday, December 3, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Wealthy individuals including Tom Steyer and others are driving an effort to effectively “short sell” the American economy by attacking oil, natural gas and coal producers while touting the benefits of “green” energy resources that are still unreliable or are contributing minuscule amounts of power to our nation’s energy demands.

For those who are unfamiliar with investing, “shorting” a stock means that an investor who thinks a stock will go down in price will borrow shares of that stock from a brokerage firm and then sell those shares. If that stock does indeed go down, the speculator can buy it at a lower price and make money. Short-sellers love to see stocks they target suffer big declines in their prices.

“Shorting” is exactly the strategy of many well-funded, radical environmentalists who are targeting our traditional energy producers and our manufacturing base while supporting a “green energy” agenda that cannot survive in a free market without huge government subsidies — our tax dollars — to buttress them. The agenda of many of these wealthy activist donors is to target and eventually take down our fossil fuel industry. That is simply a recipe for disaster.

Sure, it sounds great to talk about conserving energy and reducing carbon and other emissions. But the inconvenient truth is that the United States is presently at a near 30-year low in carbon emissions. No wonder: our energy producers spent $90 billion to develop zero and low carbon technologies between 2000 and 2014.

The Tom Steyers of the world want to ignore that we all benefit from a healthy U.S. energy industry. Domestic energy production — oil and natural gas — is now saving the average U.S. household $360 annually. Further, our fossil fuel industry has been one of the few bright spots in our lagging economy. Oil and natural gas industry jobs increased 40 percent between 2007 and 2013 even while the U.S. economy weakened, declining three percent.

We enjoy enhanced national security through domestic energy production. This and reasonable U.S. energy prices promote job growth with some one hundred new manufacturing plants planned by 2018.

Yet those who work actively to stifle U.S. energy production are clearly getting the president’s attention as well as leaders of the Democratic Party. We have watched the president in the waning months of his term empower agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, and others, to move forward with a plague of new environmental regulations governing carbon, methane and ozone emissions that will require oil, natural gas and coal producers to pay costly fines or shut down.

New ozone regulations imposed by the EPA, for example, would reduce GDP by nearly $2 trillion from 2017 to 2040 and could cost each U.S. household $840 per year. In addition, the White House and key Democrats have blocked the Keystone pipeline project and oppose oil exports — all of which could create thousands of good paying, blue collar jobs in rail, shipping and other industries.

It goes without saying that most of these new environmental regulations will not improve air quality or our quality of life in America — but they will drive up energy costs for all American households. It’s time for the liberal billionaire’s club to stop attacking our energy producers and work with Congress and the White House to develop sensible energy policies that don’t shackle our dependable energy resources.

Steve Forbes is chairman and editor in chief of Forbes Media.

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