Note: this post was originally published on March 5, 2011.
Last fall, Stacy and I put together a post highlighting several of the economic and national security problems have emerged since Barack Obama became president, as Governor Palin warned in her 2008 RNC speech. With the current chaos in the Middle East and northern Africa and with President Obama’s perpetual aversion to drilling for oil in America, more of Governor Palin’s warnings from her 2008 RNC speech are sadly coming to fruition. She said in that speech two and a half years ago (emphasis mine):
When a hurricane strikes in the Gulf of Mexico, this country should not be so dependent on imported oil that we are forced to draw from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
And families cannot throw away more and more of their paychecks on gas and heating oil.
With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus, and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers.
To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world energy supplies … or that terrorists might strike again at the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia … or that Venezuela might shut off its oil deliveries … we Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas.
And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: We’ve got lots of both.
Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems — as if we all didn’t know that already.
But the fact that drilling won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.
Replace the hypothetical situations Governor Palin outlines with the current situation in Libya and throughout the Middle East and we have the today’s current energy situation. Governor Palin warned that America should not become so dependent upon foreign sources that we would have need for tapping into strategic reserves in the case of a crisis. However,the New York Times reports:
As oil prices have risen in recent weeks, calls have been growing in Congress for the Obama administration to consider tapping into the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve, which is now at its full capacity of 727 million barrels.
“Between the lost production in Libya, the crude oil dislocation associated with additional Saudi production and the prospect of further turmoil in the region,” Mr. Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, said in a floor statement late Wednesday, “we are now unquestionably facing a physical oil supply disruption that is at risk of getting worse before it gets better.”
Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee feel that tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserves should only be done in situations like Hurricane Katrina, the most recent time it was accessed, not in our current conditions. At full capacity (as it is now), the reserves hold 727 million barrels of oil, enough to replace foreign sources of oil in the US for about 5 months. The Obama administration feels that this discussion is a reaction to transient oil price increases, and actually, their 2012 budget proposal suggests selling half a billion of oil from the reserves to pay for governmental programs. They feel no need to access this reserve at the moment.
The fact that such a possibility is even being discussed shows that, of course, Governor Palin was right on the need for energy independence, and her assertion that there is an inherent link between energy independence and national security is indeed correct.
The Obama administration has gone out of its way to not tap into our energy resources. Just yesterday, the Obama administration appealed a ruling from a judge calling for the Interior Department to administer leases for drilling in the Gulf. The judge that the administration is appealing is one of two judges who has held the administration in contempt for not appropriately lifting their drilling moratorium in the Gulf by administering drilling leases. On Monday, the Interior Department did issue its first lease since last year’s disastrous oil spill. However, this lease was for a project that had yet to be completed and was halted due to the oil spill. Essentially, this lease allows for an old project to be completed not for new drilling to be initiated.
In addition to Gulf oil, the Obama administration has not sought to extract the abundant energy resources in Alaska. Earlier this week, Doug linked an article at Human Events that questioned the Obama administration’s neglect of ANWR and other Alaskan sources. ANWR has the potential to produce 1 million barrels of oil a day, and yet it has remained untapped. Additionally, the Trans-Alaskan pipeline system is only operating at 1/3 of its current capacity, and the EPA’s over regulation has essentially halted Arctic drilling until 2012. Again, Governor Palin is right. Drilling isn’t going to solve all problems,but President Obama is doing very little to tap into our national resources and is actually obstructing resource development.
Energy has an effect on America’s economy as well. As Governor Palin spoke of in her interview with Bill O’Reilly last night, allowing energy development in Alaska would help lower unemployment and would reduce people’s reliance upon government assistance. The White House has even admitted that their moratorium on drilling in the Gulf would cost tens of thousands of jobs. Their moratorium also led to Texas based company, Seahawk Drilling, to file for bankruptcy. Not only are Obama’s policies killing jobs, they are contributing to increased oil prices (yesterday, prices hit their highest since September 2008). His policies of "diversifying" energy supplies, rather than increasing production of legitimate energy sources, are having a detrimental effect, as the Heritage Foundation reports:
Anyone could have predicted that the recovering world economy, coupled with the continued growth of India and China, was going to push oil prices higher. So if an Administration wanted to keep gas prices down, they could have mitigated increased oil demand by increasing domestic oil production. But that is not what the Obama Administration has done. Instead of increasing domestic oil supplies, the Obama Administration has cut them at every opportunity, and Americans are now suffering because of those choices.
According to Heritage analysts Nick Loris and John Ligon, Obama’s energy policy consists of: increased biofuel production, increased electric vehicle production, and increased renewable power production. These are all terrible public policies. The major source of biomass production, corn-based ethanol, produces less energy per unit volume than gasoline, contributes to food price increases, costs taxpayers $4 billion to produce 2 percent of the total gasoline supply, and has dubious environmental effects.
President Obama’s policies focus on yet-to-be-proven sources and eschew proven and abundant sources that we have right here. Such policies lead to reliance on energy sources from volatile nations, fewer jobs, and higher fuel prices. America cannot be powered on hope and change. Governor Palin, yet again, was right on our need for energy independence.
Update on June 23, 2011:
Today, the Obama administration announced that they will release 30 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve:
The U.S. Department of Energy said it will release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic National Reserve to alleviate Libyan oil supply disruptions, in the midst of already-plummeting oil prices.
The U.S. release is part of a 60 million barrel increase in supply announced Thursday by the International Energy Agency, which includes the U.S. as one of its 28 member nations, "in response to the ongoing disruption of oil supplies from Libya."
"We are taking this action in response to the ongoing loss of crude oil due to supply disruptions in Libya and other countries and their impact on the global economic recovery," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "As we move forward, we will continue to monitor the situation and stand ready to take additional steps if necessary."
Meanwhile, Libya is still locked in civil war, as rebels aided by NATO airstrikes try to unseat Mohammar Gadhafi.
This release re-affirms Governor Palin’s words from nearly three years ago that we should not be so energy dependent that tapping into the strategic petroleum reserve becomes an option. However, that has become the choice for an administration decidedly against development of proven energy resources. In addition to the excessive red tape that the Obama administration has placed on energy production referenced above, the administration has also recently objected to a bill that would increase development in Alaska. Beyond this, however, President Obama’s monetary policies have led to the increase in oil prices that likely provided, in part, the impetus for this decision. As Governor Palin predicted, QE2 has lead to significant inflation which, by weakening the dollar, draws energy prices upward to the tune of an estimated $17.04 per barrel of oil and 56.4 cents per gallon of gasoline.
Additionally, it also shows President Obama’s continued politicization of his policy decisions. In 2005 as a Senator, he agreed with President Bush’s decision to release oil from the reserve following Hurricane Katrina, but said “we shouldn’t be tapping the reserve to provide a small, short-term decrease in gas prices.” In 2008, as a presidential candidate, he said that it tapping into this resource has to be reserved for a “genuine emergency”. Does our current situation constitute a “genuine emergency”, or is this merely a political decision? Perhaps it could be argued that President Obama’s poor economic and monetary policies do constitute a “genuine emergency”. Either way, as Governor Palin often says, “2012 can’t come soon enough!”