May 14, 2011

Rhetorical Drilling For Votes

At Yahoo News (here) we learn:

“Amid growing public unhappiness over gas prices, President Barack Obama is directing his administration to ramp up U.S. oil production by extending existing leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska's coast and holding more frequent lease sales in a federal petroleum reserve in Alaska. But the moves won't calm spiraling prices at the pump any time soon.”

Isn’t that wonderful? Mr. Obama has finally seen the light and is actually taking steps that might actually reduce energy prices for Americans! Hold on there buckaroos. What is far more likely is that he is feeling the heat and is taking rhetorical steps only. There is immediate and long term evidence that supports this contention. From the good folks at Hot Air (here), we discover a bit more clarity:

“His announcement followed passage in the Republican-controlled House of three bills--including two this week--that would expand and speed up offshore oil and gas drilling...The White House had announced its opposition to all three bills, which are unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, saying the measures would undercut safety reviews and open environmentally sensitive areas to new drilling...But Obama is adopting some of the bills’ provisions.”

The immediate reality of what looks like a real concession to reality, common sense and lower gas prices is that Mr. Obama is talking about nothing more than approving extension for existing leases, and will--possibly--finally allow a lease sale for oil production in the Gulf of Mexico that was supposed to take place last year. This is nothing more than a piecemeal, tiny step toward eventually getting back up to past production levels, not opening additional, new avenues of production.

There is every reason to believe that this is nothing more than a cynical attempt at conning the American public with slippery rhetoric. For what he seems to give with his right hand, he takes away with his left:

“Obama on Saturday also reiterated his call on Democrats and Republicans to vote to eliminate $4.4 billion in taxpayer subsidies to oil and gas companies. Industry advocates, including most Republicans in Congress, have argued that doing away with the tax breaks will raise companies' cost of doing business, crimp their investment in exploration and production and lead to higher gas prices.”

Let’s not forget that what Mr. Obama has said is that he is “directing his administration,” to do something. He did not specify how or when. This is not a niggling concern. Mr. Obama has established a pattern of saying a very great deal but doing very little. He is likely making this statement for its potential political effect while simultaneously winking at those in his administration who will have to carry it out. Six months from now, I suspect that we’ll see virtually no movement toward actually authorizing oil production. Mr. Obama’s multitude of bureaucrats will see to that.

Remember too Mr. Obama’s--and the Democrat’s--frequent claims that drilling for oil is futile because it would take years for it to yield any benefits at the gas pumps. Of course, had they not taken that approach in 2008, we might very well be experiencing much lower costs at the gas pumps today. Two years will pass very quickly and we will have no less need of affordable energy in two years than we do now. Consider too that Democrat claims of years and years before benefits are manifested are almost certainly false; it would almost certainly take substantially less time than they claim.

And even if Obamian czars and their functionaries began issuing new leases and permits today, leases and permits that would open up the new, vast fields about which we know, in good faith and with great speed and efficiency, Mr. Obama knows that a multitude of environmental groups--including James Hansen of NASA--will tie up any increased production in red tape and lawsuits far into the future. Mr. Obama won’t even have to wink at them. They’ll do it anyway, and as long as Democrats control the Senate, any attempt to interfere with harassing and frivolous environmentalist lawsuits will be dead on arrival.

As with virtually everything Mr. Obama has said and done, rhetoric read from his teleprompter is cheap and easy. Actually doing anything positive for the American people, anything that won’t bankrupt the nation, anything that would actually benefit America and Americans, is quite another story. We have a president who claims to be all about jobs, yet one might be tempted to think that virtually everything he does is calculated to destroy jobs in the American oil and gas industries. Brazil, that’s another story...

Posted by MikeM at May 14, 2011 06:03 PM

If Obama were serious about increasing oil supplies and reducing prices, he would have said this:

"Monday morning, I am issuing an Executive Order to the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately lift all moratoriums on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and off the east and west coasts of the United States. Additionally, I am ordering the immediate opening of ANWR to exploration and drilling."

That would be a president who is serious about fixing our energy problem. Unfortunately, that is not the person who is in the White House.

Posted by: Just Sayin' at May 15, 2011 12:29 AM

"But the moves won't calm spiraling prices at the pump any time soon."

Actually, they probably will. The market responds to more than simply supply and demand - consumer and investor confidence plays a big role. But more to the point, had he expanded drilling right after his inauguration we'd be seeing the results already. The "we can't do anything now because it won't have an effect for years" excuse is BS.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at May 15, 2011 04:06 AM