Free Markets, Free People
Note the capitalized word in the title?
President Obama is campaigning as a champion of the oil and gas boom he’s had nothing to do with, and even as his regulators try to stifle it. The latest example is the Interior Department’s little-noticed August decision to close off from drilling nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
The area is called the National Petroleum Reserve because in 1976 Congress designated it as a strategic oil and natural gas stockpile to meet the “energy needs of the nation.” Alaska favors exploration in nearly the entire reserve. The feds had been reviewing four potential development plans, and the state of Alaska had strongly objected to the most restrictive of the four. Sure enough, that was the plan Interior chose.
Why? Because Ken Salazar in his infinite wisdom, knows more about all of this that you proles, especially the proles in Alaska. The excuse?
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says his plan “will help the industry bring energy safely to market from this remote location, while also protecting wildlife and subsistence rights of Alaska Natives.” He added that the proposal will expand “safe and responsible oil and gas development, and builds on our efforts to help companies develop the infrastructure that’s needed to bring supplies online.”
Got that? Restricting use of a area designated by Congress for a specific purpose, a purpose backed by the state in which the area is located, will “help industry” and expand “safe and responsible oil development”.
George Orwell, call your publisher. Time to update Newspeak. Up is now down, and restrictions now “help industry” and “expand” development.
Meanwhile in coal country:
Two coal companies in Pennsylvania blamed President Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the layoffs announced last week.
“[T]he escalating costs and uncertainty generated by recently advanced EPA regulations and interpretations have created a challenging business climate for the entire coal industry,” said PBS Coals Inc. President and CEO D. Lynn Shanks in a statement on Friday, as noted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The company also cited weaker-than-normal demand for coal.
Shanks’ comment on the EPA came as he announced a 28 percent work force reduction. “PBS Coals Inc. and its affiliate company, RoxCoal Inc., laid off about 225 workers as part of an immediate idling of some deep and surface mines in Somerset County,” Post-Gazette added. “The company now employs 795 workers.”
Yes, the Obama promise to essentially put coal out of business is indeed making progress.
So wait, we have the administration restricting the oil industry in Alaska and the EPA causing layoffs in coal country, and my guess is Obama will attempt to brag about how many jobs he’s created tomorrow night. Any takers?
That said, guess who is getting “fast tracked”?
The Interior Department set aside about 285,000 acres for commercial-scale solar in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The federal government will offer incentives for development, help facilitate access to existing or planned electric infrastructure and ease the permitting process in the 17 zones.
“Energy from sources like wind and solar have doubled since the president took office, and with today’s milestone, we are laying a sustainable foundation to keep expanding our nation’s domestic energy resources,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. …
The development program approved Friday cuts some up-front costs for developers, as the federal government already has performed National Environmental Policy Act assessments for the sites.
The administration fired the most recent volley Wednesday by affirming tariffs on Chinese imports. The Commerce Department determined Chinese solar panels were sold below fair value and that its solar businesses unfairly received direct government support.
Now for the irony:
Yes, you read that correctly — even with all of the many types of subsidies and special government treatment the solar industry receives, they still can’t compete, so the government affords the domestic industry protectionist tariffs… purportedly because China gives its own industry unfair government help.
Anyone who still thinks this isn’t the most political, inept, corrupt, ideologically driven and opaque administration in the history of this country has to have been living under a rock for a few hundred years.
This bunch makes one pine for Jimmy Carter.
The irony, of course, is inescapable. Democrats, seeking answers to why gas prices were so high, spent the week grilling oil company CEOs and attempting to make “Big Oil” the scapegoat (btw, their “profits” are not the reason for high gas prices and cutting out their tax breaks won’t bring them down) … again. And, we’ve had two years worth of the administration throwing roadblock after roadblock in front of oil companies trying to get permits to drill in the Gulf (so many months of delay, in fact, that most of the rigs idled have moved elsewhere in the world).
Now, suddenly, as November 2012 begins to creep inexorably closer, Barack Obama discovers the need for speed in exploiting oil and gas domestically – something we could be well into already if his administration hadn’t decided to essentially halt everything.
The broad energy plan, coming as gas prices continue to rise, would also fast-track environmental assessment of petroleum exploration elsewhere.
Yes, we now have an administration that, after two years of doing everything in its power to discourage oil companies, now claiming it suddenly “gets it?” Sorry if I’m not buying yet. After all, with the other hand, it pursues removing tax breaks in a capital intensive and competitive business sector that would discourage many oil producers from working here. More Hyde than Jekyll. To skip to another metaphor, how much of this is the usual smoke and mirrors show?
There are politics and there is reality, and one of the things I’ve learned since this administration has been in office is to take everything they say with a huge grain of salt and wait until you actually see something happening before you believe it.
I’m glad that’s the plan. But until I see this administration walking the walk, not just talking the talk, I’ll reserve any approbation for that moment. And then it will be muted given the “policy” the administration has pursued until now.
OK, I’m metaphored out – over to you.
The Alaska GOP Senate race has been fascinating to watch. Primary voters sent a pretty strong message to Washington – “we’re tired of business as usual and, as such, we’re turning out one of the “ruling elite””
Except being one of the “ruling elite” is akin to being a crackhead, apparently. Unsatisfied that the people don’t want her as their Senatorial representative anymore, Lisa Murkowski first approached the Libertarian party asking for their nomination (already filled by the way by an actual libertarian). As presumptuous (and outrageous) as that was, she seemed miffed with the LP didn’t jump at the chance.
So, instead of gracefully acknowledging that she’s yesterday’s news and no longer wanted by the party of which she was supposedly a member and the people she represented, she’s decided not to endorse their candidate of choice, Joe Miller, and instead run as a write in.
And what’s the first thing she and her campaign staff did prior to announcing a write-in bid? A little “business as usual” – hit the lobbyists in DC up for money:
Karen Knutson, Murkowski’s chief of staff, emailed scores of top lobbyists in town and employees at some of the largest oil companies – including Chevron, Conoco Phillips and Marathon Oil – to ask them to join the senator on a conference call Saturday, according to a copy of the e-mail and a recipient list obtained by POLITICO.
“To my friends in D.C. – if you are so inclined, please join us for a conference call with Lisa Murkowski tomorrow at 2:30 D.C. time and 10:30 Alaska time,” wrote Knutson. “She would love to have the chance to talk with you and answer any questions you may have. Please let me know if you intend to call in.”
Of course Knutson also wants them to have their checkbooks handy at the time of the call as well.
And that wasn’t the only appeal the erstwhile “libertarian’s” campaign made:
Knutson also sent the invitation to Democratic superlobbyist Heather Podesta – a clue that Murkowski could seek bipartisan financial support in order to fund her write-in campaign. Federal Election Commission records show Podesta has been a consistent and generous Democratic political donor and has never given to Murkowski before.
Anyone want to bet she gets it this time? After all, funding Murkowski’s effort only enhances the chances of the Democratic contender by helping split the Republican vote. If Dems could snag that seat by helping Murkowski, it would be a coup. And if Murkowski managed to pull of a write-in victory, she’d be beholden to those who financed her win.
A win-win for Podesta and the Democrats, but certainly not the people of Alaska. But more importantly it is an indication of addictive nature of the power certain personality types just can’t seem to give up gracefully. And so they do things like Murkowski has committed too – unable to break their addiction to the power and perks of office. They end up being willing to sacrifice their integrity, principles and dignity for another six year hit of their chosen drug – power.
They are definitely not the type person or personality any voter should be eager to return to office. And every time one of them is identified, as is Murkowski, they should be summarily turned out and ignored.
I‘ve put my full Alaska travelogue up at the other place, if you’re interested in the rather lengthy description and pictures of my trip.
But there is a bit of a political interest, in that one of our stops was in Ketchikan.
Ketchikan, Alaska is where the famous bridge to nowhere was supposed to be built. We saw the place where it was supposed to be constructed, crossing over the Inside Passage from Ketchikan to Gravina Island, where the airport–and about 50 inhabitants–is located. The bridge was supposed to cost $315 million, before the project was killed. Because that part of the inside passage is part of the Alaska Marine Highway, the plans were for it to be tall enough to allow cargo and cruise ships to pass under it safely.
The thing is, though, is that Ketchikan cannot be reached by land. It can only be reached by boat or airplane. So the whole point of the project was to build a bridge to connect one remote island that can only be reached by air or sea, to another remote island that can only be reached by air or sea. And spend a third of a billion dollars to do it.
They’ve already got a ferry service that runs every 15-30 minutes depending on the time of year. Practically everybody has a boat. So, now that I’ve been there and seen the place, I guess that cancelling the bridge was a good thing. Call me a selfish jerk, but you don’t get to choose to live on a remote island and then demand my tax money to build you a bridge, because living on a remote island is inconvenient.
Previously, I opposed the Bridge to Nowhere out of simple principle. But now that I’ve gone there and personally seen the place, I realize how dumb an idea it actually was.
Anyway, here’s some more video that I shot.
I‘ve been to Alaska, and seen the glaciers, bears, eagles, whales, and about 30 inches of rain. But, now I’m back, and regular blogging about motorcycle goodness will begin in due course.
In the meantime, I leave you with this little video I slapped together earlier this evening. It’s still a bit rough, but I put it together in about an hour. I’ve got hours of video, so more will be forthcoming.