President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline wasn’t, as he claimed, based on science or the environment. It certainly wasn’t based on sound economic policy, either. The decision was, in fact, the product of voodoo environomics: a destructive blend of bad science based on fear-mongering and manipulated research, the bad economics of green-job fantasies and “starve the beast” energy politics.
At the very heart of voodoo environomics, of course, is the much-hyped theory linking man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) and climate change. Without the world’s policy focus on CO2 emissions, climate-change alarmists would be robbed of the ammunition they need to change and control human behavior via draconian energy policies. They also would be robbed of the substantial financial support needed to continue their biased research.
When adopted as official government policy, voodoo environomics can wreak havoc on the economy and represents a double whammy for working Americans. The admitted goal of CO2-slashing schemes such as “cap and trade” is to jack up the price of energies like gasoline and coal to make expensive alternative energies more competitive financially. Of course, their proponents hope you don’t realize that it’s ordinary Americans who are stuck paying higher prices for utilities and gasoline.
But the hit working Americans take under voodoo environomics doesn’t end with higher utility bills and gas prices. In bowing to environmental extremists in rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline project, Mr. Obama has abandoned working Americans - or should I say unemployed Americans in search of good jobs?
In fact, Mr. Obama managed the rare feat of uniting business and labor, with both crying foul over this senseless decision. Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, decries the loss of 20,000 direct jobs and another 118,000 spinoff jobs that would have resulted from Keystone. Standing next to him, Terry O’Sullivan, head of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said, “Blue-collar construction workers across the U.S. will not forget this [decision].”
The application of voodoo environomics also puts style over substance. Mr. Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL won’t stop the extraction of oil from Canada’s oil sands - the primary objective behind the pressure to kill the project. Canada will proceed without pause in exploiting its oil sands, regardless of what American politicians or environmental extremists say or do.
Anti-Keystone activists also point to the need to protect the Ogallala Aquifer, which encompasses parts of eight states and underlies a portion of the proposed route of the pipeline. But reviews of the thousands and thousands of miles of oil and natural-gas pipelines over the Ogallala, some of which have been transporting oil for more than a half-century, show no contamination of the aquifer.
What the decision does do is ensure that oil won’t be shipped and refined by Americans and likely will go to other nations, particularly China. This may sound like hyperbole, and I wish it were. But Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in lambasting Mr. Obama’s rejection of Keystone, said Canada would look to China to sell the oil.
America’s energy insecurity is moving into a dangerous new phase, while our economy remains anemic and unemployment systemic. Rather than strengthening America’s energy position with a close ally and neighbor like Canada, Mr. Obama has increased our dependence on energy supplies from less friendly nations that ensure little or no environmental safeguards.
The negative impact of this decision doesn’t end there. America’s risk exposure to dangerous energy disruptions stemming from global hot spots just went up. Such disruptions - for instance, those that could result from the crisis brewing in the Strait of Hormuz - would be a disaster for working Americans and a significant national security crisis for the nation.
The phantom gains and real losses stemming from voodoo environomics are starting to be realized. America needs more opportunities, not lost opportunities.
H. Leighton Steward is a geologist and retired energy-industry executive. He is chairman of Plants Need CO2.