Free Markets, Free People

oil reserves

The latest "crisis" speech

In a word, unimpressive.

Now there are those who are going to say that this man could say nothing that would impress me. Not true. He could say I’m resigning for the good of the country and I’d be mightily impressed. Mainly because that would be the right thing to do and I’d respect that.

However, that’s not his choice. Instead he gave an uninspired speech with a few falsehoods and a few mixed messages.

Primarily it did absolutely nothing to ease my mind or calm my fears that there is any coherent plan in place. In fact, if you review the so-called “response”, it has three components.

1. Continue to try to clean up. We got a lot of statistics and a lot of claims, but essentially oil is still washing up on the shore.

2. Make BP pay. Of course that’s been the plan since the beginning.

3. Appoint lots of commissions. Ray Mabus will form one to develop a “long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan” as quickly as possible. And Obama claims to have established a “National Commission” to “offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place.”

And that’s pretty much the plan. Of course we will have a czar appointed as well, so that Obama can remove himself from these pesky leadership demands once again.

The rest of the speech was an exercise in what Obama does best – selling smoke. He begins it with a false premise:

But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean – because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

Of course his claim about drilling in deeper water because we’re running out of places to drill in shallow water is false. 97% of the shallow water on the Outer Continental Shelf -97%- has been placed off limits by government. The oil companies are forced into deeper water not by the lack of oil, but by government refusing to allow them to drill there.

He also uses the figure for “proven reserves” of 21 billion barrels. However, estimates for the OCS run in the 150 billion barrels and the Bakken Formation (on land) 134 billion barrels.

But those falsehoods provide a platform to launch into another “crisis” that only government can handle – completely revamping our energy mix and insisting on changing it now. After this and health care, who would trust him and the Congress to do that?

And, he tells us the solution he prefers – the House version of cap-and-trade (what he calls “a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill”). He further states, in the midst of a horrible recession, that “there are costs associated with this transition”. Of course there are – and certainly no guarantee any of it will do anything to either “change” the climate or mitigate our energy needs. But it will certainly give government control over another aspect of our lives.

Finally, he throws out a bunch of legislative and regulatory trial balloons all based on breaking our “addiction to fossil fuels”. Like “raising efficiency standards in our buildings” – straight out of the House bill which would require a federal inspector to OK your house before you could sell it to ensure it meets all fed standards. He pitched wind and solar energy as a new “standard”. And he also wasn’t happy with the amount the energy industry was spending on research and development for new sources of energy. He’d like to see that boosted.

In effect, the bottom line is more government – much more government. The same government so magnificently handling this crisis in the gulf and may others.

If nothing else, this speech cemented in my mind what this President is – an administrator, not a leader. And in that position, that is not a good thing to be.