As the nation was focused on the U.S. Supreme Court’s health care decision, Obama reinstituted a moratorium on offshore oil drilling that shuts down about 85 percent of America’s Outer Continental Shelf from exploration or drilling. Currently, the federal government only allows searching for energy on 2 percent of the OCS.
The Obama decision, which overrides a previous decision by a Democratic Congress and President George W. Bush in 2008, blocks the exploration and development of an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the OCS.
The July decision is only one of dozens of occasions during the past four years when the Obama administration has stymied, blocked and done almost everything possible to hinder domestic oil, gas and coal energy production.
His actions have reduced America’s energy supplies, cost hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs for U.S. workers and resulted in increased energy costs for American consumers.
Gas prices, which stood at $1.84 per gallon when Obama took office, had climbed to more than double that rate ($3.82) as of Monday, Oct. 8, and he has almost institutionalized $3 to $4 per-gallon gas.
Drilling permits issued, which rose by 58 percent during Bill Clinton’s years as president and by 116 percent during the George W. Bush era, have fallen by 36 percent under Obama.
While U.S. oil production has increased during Obama’s presidency, it has risen — despite his best efforts to stifle energy production — because it has climbed on non-government lands, such as the Bakken formation, where Obama has little power to curtail such production.
To some observers, it is as if Obama is waging a war against domestic oil and coal production, while he touts government subsidies to solar firms like Solyndra that reward his donors and then go bankrupt.
The Keystone XL pipeline: For months, Obama has blocked progress on the construction of the Keystone pipeline that would transport 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada.
Now in its fourth year of review, the pipeline would “have a degree of safety over any other” approach, according to government officials. It would produce 20,000 jobs now and 180,000 jobs by 2035.
The Gulf of Mexico: Obama’s deepwater drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico has been declared illegal by federal judges, and his administration’s drilling permit slowdown has been condemned in a judicial ruling. The administration’s policies have led to a decline in production of 300,000 barrels of oil per day.
Furthermore, last year ExxonMobil sued the federal government for canceling an oil-drilling lease in the gulf that held “billions of barrels of oil.”
Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska: After Shell Oil spent about $4 billion to develop shallow-water drilling on vast tracts already leased from the federal government in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas north of Alaska, the Obama administration rescinded the already-issued permits for drilling in the Chukchi sea.
That decision leaves an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil in the ground that could produce $2.7 trillion for the U.S. economy.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: By drilling for oil in a tiny patch — 2,000 acres of 19.6 million acres, the U.S. could open the door to another estimated 5.7 billion to 16 billion barrels of oil. Opening ANWR would create 736,000 new jobs and is expected to add $325 billion to the economy, according to Wharton Econometrics. Obama opposes this plan.
In conjunction with his fight against drilling for domestic oil and natural gas, Obama has battled against the U.S. coal industry, which provides 40 percent of America’s electricity.
His efforts there have reduced coal production from 1.2 billion tons to 800 million tons and helped close or lead to future closure of 175 power plants.
Obama is on record as supporting higher gas prices — his Secretary of the Interior has said he would oppose offshore oil drilling even if gas prices hit $10 per gallon, and another Obama cabinet member is supportive of gas prices at Europe’s levels (about $8 per gallon).
The president and his team are doing a first-class job helping gas prices rise and hindering the development of jobs in the energy sector.
• Steve Wampler is a Tracy native who holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. He is among a select group of local residents with a rotating column in the Tracy Press.