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American Energy can Jump-Start US Recovery

Tapping abundant US energy deposits would create jobs and restore prosperity  

Our nation’s economic growth may finish an anemic 2% on the year. Faced with looming taxes and regulations, few companies are expanding, hiring or buying equipment. More than 14 million Americans are unemployed, excluding the nearly 9 million who have been forced to take part-time jobs, or the 2.5 million who’ve given up on finding work.

Meanwhile, 140,000 have been added to government payrolls, and the nation is spending $4 billion a day more than it’s taking in.

That is unacceptable, demoralizing – and unnecessary.

The White House and Democrats are clueless about reinvigorating the economy. But they have proven they know how to kill jobs, prosperity and hope. Their energy policies are especially destructive.

As President Obama made clear, under his tutelage electricity costs would “necessarily skyrocket,” gasoline prices would soar, “green” energy would become the law of the land, and he would “fundamentally transform” America. He is keeping his promise.

America’s vast storehouses of untapped oil, gas, coal and uranium could generate millions of jobs and hundreds of billions in revenues. Electricity generation industries and the factories and other businesses that depend on reliable, affordable energy could do likewise, if they were unshackled from excessive regulations that often actually harm health and environmental quality.

Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency, Departments of Energy and the Interior, and other government bureaucracies continue to impose a near-total shutdown of onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing. They drag their feet or simply reject drilling permits, display antipathy toward hydraulic fracturing to tap our 100-year supply of shale gas, and impose truckloads of punitive air and water rules designed to shutter dozens of coal-burning power plants.

The President claims he will “pare back regulation” by several billion dollars – out of an estimated $1 trillion in total annual regulatory compliance costs. EPA alone promised “$126 million” in supposed paperwork reductions, while imposing several hundred billion dollars in new EPA regulations.

Mr. Obama finally suspended EPA’s proposed ozone rules, which many had warned would be the most expensive environmental edicts in history. But they will be back with a vengeance after the 2012 elections. Meanwhile, bowing to EPA and environmentalist pressure, he postponed action on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have created 20,000 almost-shovel-ready construction jobs.

Now EPA wants 230,000 new bureaucrats, just to process future carbon dioxide emission permits, based on bogus climate chaos models and scenarios. Even our worst nightmares cannot fathom the job-killing compliance costs this would impose on the 6,000,000 businesses these regulations would affect.

Again using questionable to fraudulent assertions about catastrophic manmade climate change to justify its actions, EPA is also demanding 54.5 mpg fuel economy standards – which will result in thousands of deaths and millions of injuries, as cars are further downsized and plasticized.

Even businesses on the leading edge of the “green revolution,” crony capitalism and lobbying for dollars are faring poorly. After lapping up $1.5 billion in government red-ink subsidies and loan guarantees, three US solar companies filed for bankruptcy and fired over 2,000 workers. And still the Energy Department shoveled more billions of tax dollars into more wind and solar projects, despite voter objections.

DOE also sponsored programs that cost $20 million to create 14 jobs and weatherize four Seattle houses in a year. It spent $80 billion to create 225,000 “clean energy” jobs – at $356,000 apiece. It shells out $6 billion a year to grow corn on an area bigger than Indiana, and convert it into ethanol that gets a third less mileage per gallon than gasoline.

This isn’t “green” energy. It’s “greenbacks” energy. It requires perpetual infusions of taxpayer money, confiscated from hard-working, productive sectors, and given to companies that have better political connections. That is unconscionable, and unsustainable.

America must promote and permit projects that actually generate energy, jobs and revenues. It must reward and encourage companies that provide affordable 24/7 energy to power virtually everything we make, grow, transport and do.

Unleashing America’s vast supplies of shale oil and gas, conventional petroleum, coal and nuclear energy isn’t a magic potion. But it is a vital part of the solution to what ails our nation.

The petroleum industry alone currently supports some 9.2 million jobs, but could do much more. Recent studies by Wood McKenzie, ICF International and other analysts conclude that opening currently off-limits onshore and offshore areas could generate an additional $800 billion in government revenues and another 1.4 million jobs, by 2030. That includes primary jobs for roughnecks on rigs; secondary jobs in steel making, construction, pipelines, refineries, transportation and other sectors; and indirect jobs in hotel, restaurant, retail and other sectors that benefit from the increased energy, payrolls and economic activity.

We could do likewise with coal, nuclear and hydroelectric projects.

We need American energy for American jobs – tapping resource bounties to help balance the budget, drive down unemployment and get the country going again.

We can and must protect human health and environmental quality – from real threats, not exaggerated, speculative or computer-generated threats. We can and must do so without raising energy and business costs even higher, killing more jobs, and stifling private sector and government revenue opportunities.

Over-regulation brings energy poverty and blackouts, destroys jobs, impairs families’ living standards and nutrition, leads to foreclosures and homelessness, increases stress and alcohol abuse, makes it harder for families to afford proper heating and air conditioning, and harms people’s health and welfare.

Those impacts must be fully considered, along with putative benefits of current and future regulations. If laws and rules don’t pass muster, they need to be rewritten, rejected or repealed.

Subsidies do not create jobs. Getting overzealous government out of the way, ending government deficit spending, letting business work within a sensible regulatory system, ensuring that companies have the affordable energy they need – that creates permanent, sustainable jobs and brings renewed prosperity. That generates revenue streams that curb the need to raise taxes on productive companies and workers.

As election year 2012 dawns, voters must demand that presidential and congressional candidates explain how they will reform our legal and regulatory system, to tap US energy bounties, while protecting environmental values from actual risks, and ignoring exaggerated, imagined and invented dangers.

Unaccountable politicians, bureaucrats and environmental ideologues have strangled our economy long enough. We the People must now lay the foundation for producing more domestic energy, creating jobs, and ensuring that our children can look forward to a brighter future.

American energy can ignite America’s renewal, and restore American jobs, opportunity and prosperity. Voters need to send Congress, the White House and EPA a message:

We need American resources for an American recovery. Slash the crippling regulations. Drill here in America. Produce affordable energy, to create jobs and fix our economy. Do it now!

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Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

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