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Economy, Regs, & Taxes

Obama Says 'No' to Oil Production in Alaska

Interior Department moves to shut off ANWR from drilling.

Jan. 27, 2015
ANWR

Over the last several months, Americans have enjoyed paying much lower prices at the gas pump than they did the previous five years. While the relief at the pump is a welcome reprieve to Americans who have struggled to make ends meet, there’s trouble on the horizon.

During the State of the Union address, Barack Obama proudly announced, “We are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years. … And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save about $750 at the pump.” While this is welcome news, the truth is, to borrow his own phrase, Obama didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

Rebutting Obama’s claim, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said, “Our nation’s energy industry deserves the credit for the growth we see today. We are experiencing an energy revolution in spite of the president’s policies that are intended to stifle the development of our domestic resources.”

At least someone in Washington is willing to give credit where it is due.

Obama made clear during the SOTU that he would veto any legislation concerning the Keystone XL pipeline, which doesn’t comport with his frequent rhetoric about creating jobs. Senate Democrats followed the Pied Piper and temporarily blocked Republican legislation on Keystone Monday. But Obama isn’t just stopping with Keystone.

In a recent video depicting the beautiful wilderness in Alaska, he announced – from gas-guzzling Air Force One, no less – “I’m going to be calling on Congress to make sure that they take it one step further … designating it as a wilderness so that we can make sure that this amazing wonder is preserved for future generations.” That’s right, he wants Congress to designate the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as a wilderness, so that it can never be used to drill for oil.

His Interior Department proposed on Sunday preserving more than 12 million of the 19.8 million acres of land in ANWR, which includes approximately 1.5 million acres believed to contain an abundance of oil and natural gas. Consistent with Obama’s contempt for Congress, The Wall Street Journal notes, “This abrogates a 1980 deal in which Congress specifically set aside some of this acreage for future oil and gas exploration.”

It’s worth mentioning that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has pushed for ANWR to be opened for drilling to boost Alaska’s economy and allow for America to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. “What’s coming is a stunning attack on our sovereignty and our ability to develop a strong economy that allows us, our children and our grandchildren to thrive,” Murkowski said in a statement. But Democrats and now the president have said “no.”

Certainly, the Republican-led 114th Congress will reject any such proposal, so what’s the big deal? In short, Obama doesn’t think he needs Congress. According to another Wall Street Journal story, “[T]he proposed move puts the area into a state of de facto designation as wilderness and would prevent drilling.” Worse, the move could endanger the Alaska oil pipeline itself.

Clearly, the president lied to America when he said he wanted to work with Congress.

America has so much land full of natural resources such as oil and natural gas that can be extracted safely while doing minimal damage to the environment. And yet we can’t expect the price of oil to remain low, in part because Obama’s regulatory bonanza will always put ecofascism and his climate change agenda ahead of economic growth.

John Hofmeister, founder and chief executive of Citizens for Affordable Energy, warns that Americans are likely to see $5 per gallon of gas later this decade. Oil prices fluctuate and, although we are enjoying the benefits of an increase in American production and an increase in the global supply that has driven prices down, it would be naive for us to think that these prices will stay this low forever.

Put simply, government needs to get out of the way. Rather than creating regulations and job-crippling policies that impede our nation’s advance toward acquiring untapped sources of energy, it needs to allow ANWR and other federal lands to be put to use. Our economic future depends on it. And, by the way, there will still be plenty of wilderness left for caribou, polar bears and future generations to enjoy.

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