- The Washington Times - Friday, December 9, 2011

They are clueless about reinvigorating the economy, but Congress and the administration have proved they know how to kill jobs, prosperity and hope. Their energy policies are especially destructive.

President Obama made clear that under his tutelage electricity costs would “necessarily skyrocket,” gasoline prices would soar, “green” energy would be the law of the land, and he would “fundamentally transform” America. He is keeping his promise.

America’s vast storehouses of untapped oil, gas, coal and uranium could generate millions of jobs and countless billions in revenues. Unshackled from excessive regulations that do little to improve health and environmental quality, our electricity-generation industries and the factories and other businesses that depend on reliable, affordable energy could do likewise.

Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Energy and Interior departments and other government bureaucracies continue to impose a near-total shutdown of onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing, foot-dragging or outright rejection of drilling permits, antipathy toward hydraulic fracturing to tap our 100-year supply of shale gas, and truckloads of punitive air and water rules designed to shutter dozens of coal-fired power plants.

The president claims he will “pare back regulation” by several billion dollars - out of an estimated $1 trillion in total annual regulatory compliance costs. In just one example, the EPA offered “$126 million” in supposed paperwork reductions while imposing several hundred billion dollars’ worth of new regulations.

Mr. Obama finally suspended the EPA’s proposed ozone rules, which many had warned would be the most expensive environmental edicts in history. They almost will certainly return after the 2012 elections. Then Mr. Obama bowed to EPA and environmentalist pressure and postponed action on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have created 20,000 almost-shovel-ready jobs.

Even businesses on the leading edge of the “green revolution” that engage in crony capitalism and lobbying for dollars are faring poorly. After lapping up $1.5 billion in government red-ink subsidies and loan guarantees, three U.S. solar companies filed for bankruptcy and fired more than 2,000 workers. And the Energy Department shoveled billions of tax dollars into still more wind and solar projects despite voter concerns and objections.

The Energy Department also sponsored programs that created 14 jobs and weatherized four Seattle houses in a year at a cost of $20 million. It spent $80 billion to create 225,000 other “clean energy” jobs - at $356,000 apiece.

This isn’t “green” energy. It’s “greenbacks” energy. It requires perpetual infusions of taxpayer money, confiscated from hardworking, productive sectors and given to companies that have proper political connections. That is unconscionable and unsustainable.

America must promote and permit projects that actually generate energy, jobs and revenues. It must reward and encourage companies that provide affordable, 24/7 energy to power virtually everything we make, grow, transport and do.

Unleashing America’s vast supplies of shale oil and shale gas, conventional petroleum, coal and nuclear energy isn’t a magic potion. But it is a vital part of the solution.

The petroleum industry alone currently supports about 9.2 million jobs but could do much more. Recent studies by Wood Mackenzie, ICF International and other analysts conclude that opening currently off-limits onshore and offshore areas could generate an additional $800 billion in government oil and gas revenues and another 1.4 million jobs by 2030.

We could do likewise with coal and nuclear projects.

We need American energy for American jobs, tapping resource bounties to help balance the budget, drive down unemployment and get the country going again.

We can and must protect human health and environmental quality - from real threats, not exaggerated ones generated by computer models. We can and must do so without raising prices even higher, killing more jobs and stifling private-sector and government revenue opportunities.

Overregulation brings energy poverty and blackouts, destroys jobs, impairs families’ living standards and nutrition, leads to foreclosures and homelessness, increases stress and alcohol abuse, makes it harder for families to afford proper heating and air conditioning, and harms people’s health and welfare.

Those impacts must be fully considered, along with putative benefits of current and future regulations. If laws and rules don’t pass muster, they need to be rewritten, rejected or repealed.

Subsidies do not create jobs. Getting overzealous government out of the way, ending government deficit spending, letting businesses work within a sensible regulatory system, ensuring that companies have the affordable energy they need - these actions would create permanent, sustainable jobs and bring renewed prosperity. They also would generate revenue streams that would curb the need to raise taxes on productive companies and workers.

Unaccountable politicians, bureaucrats and environmental ideologues have strangled our economy long enough. American energy can ignite a renewal and restore American jobs, opportunity and prosperity. Voters need to send Congress, the White House and the EPA a message:

We need American resources for an American recovery. Slash the crippling regulations. Drill here in America. Produce affordable energy to create jobs and fix our economy. Do it now.

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and author of “Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death” (Merril Press, 2010).

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