Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pinnochio Discovers Natural Gas

President Obama has returned from yet another vacation determined to convince people that, despite all indications to the contrary, he really is pro-business, pro-middle class and pro-jobs.

You'll recall that last January brought us a missive from his desk vowing to slash unnecessary regulations.  He also hired a new, business friendly chief of staff to replace political animal Rahm Emmanuel who moved on to rule Chicago rather than Congress.

Daly resigned abruptly this month, ostensibly to spend more time with his family.  Uh-huh.

Now, in an election year conversion typical of his Party,  the President appears to have turned 180 degrees in order to embrace the natural gas industry, which his Administration had spurned in favor of renewable energy boondoggles.
A re-election campaign is a terrible thing to waste, and this year's race is already producing miraculous changes at the Obama White House: The latest example of a bear walking on its hind legs is the President's new embrace of . . . natural gas from shale. 
Last week the White House issued its latest report on jobs and it includes a section on "America's Natural Resource Boom." The report avers that a few years ago there were widespread "fears of a looming natural gas shortage," but that "the discovery of new natural gas reserves, such as the Marcellus Shale, and the development of hydraulic fracturing techniques to extract natural gas from these reserves has led to rapidly growing domestic production and relatively low domestic prices for households and downstream industrial users." 
Please pass the smelling salts to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Lisa Jackson at the Environmental Protection Agency. 
Ms. Jackson was in the news last November for revealing the Obama Administration's actual regulatory approach to energy, in that case, coal.

Psychoanalysis is usually the wrong way to understand politics, but the Obama Administration may be reviving the field with its Freudian slips. The latest to land on the couch is Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson, who gave an unintentionally candid interview this weekend with Thalia Assuras of Energy Now News.
Ms. Jackson was asked about the EPA's regulatory boom and the resulting mass retirements of coal-fired power plants.
When pressed, Ms. Jackson went on to say that "What EPA's role is to do is to level the playing field so that pollution costs are not exported to the population but rather companies have to look at the pollution potential of any fuel or any process or any plant or any utility when they're making their investment decisions."
In fact, when Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, its goal was clean air, not the industrial planning that Ms. Jackson's comments about "levelling the playing field" reveal... It certainly doesn't contain a roving mandate for Ms. Jackson to guide investment decisions (emphasis added). 
What Ms. Jackson really means is that she is trying to make coal—the workhorse of U.S. electric power—artificially more expensive. This is to serve her anticarbon goals, if not the consumers who will bear the costs and may suffer if the U.S. electric grid is compromised.

Back to natural gas, we can apparently ignore all the fang and claw that the Administration has flashed to gore industry with generally, and the traditional energy industry with specifically.  At least through the election, environmentalist ideology will have to yield to the nation's well being.

Maybe Democracy isn't such a bad system after all.

With respect to natural gas:
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time the White House has favorably mentioned the Marcellus Shale, the natural gas reservoir below Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other Northeastern states. And now he's taking credit for this soaring production. 
We checked to see if someone slipped a press release from the Natural Gas Council into the White House report by mistake, but apparently not. 
The catch is that this endorsement runs against every energy policy pursued by the Obama Administration for three years. The Institute for Energy Research reports that royalties from oil and gas drilling have fallen more than 90% since 2008 because of Interior Department permitting delays and rejections.

The EPA recently issued a flawed report on groundwater contamination that could shut down the fracking process the President is now touting as a jobs producer. EPA's political goal is to grab power to supercede state drilling regulation. The industry regards new EPA authority as a real threat to its future.
 Naturally, the reader is free to trust the President's sincerity if  he wishes to.  If you do, Noman is selling a bridge that he'd like to discuss with you.

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