02.08.2011 0

Deepwater Spill Was Just an Excuse

By Bill Wilson

We have to get our priorities straight.

When even Cuba, which minus Chinese assistance lacks the technological capability to do so, is looking to drill for oil in the deep waters just 50 miles off the coast of the U.S., but we refuse to do so, clearly the nation is falling behind in the global energy race.

Writing for Politico, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) raises the alarm bells: “We cannot allow this project to move forward.” Buchanan has introduced legislation that would deny oil permits to any company that does business with Cuba.

That’s a start, and if Republicans can force votes in both houses of Congress, the American people may gain some insight into the Obama Administration’s intentions. Is the White House going to block U.S. domestic energy production and then allow the communist thugs in Cuba to do it?

This could be one of the most telling decisions Barack Obama will make. It will show clearly what side he is on.

The problem the U.S. faces, of course, is not too much overseas competition per se from adversaries like Cuba or China. It is domestic restrictions and regulations that restrict the nation’s ability to drill for its own oil and natural gas. This has been a long time coming.

According to data collected by the Energy Information Agency (EIA), in 1970 the U.S. produced 9.6 million barrels of oil every day. Now only 5.5 million barrels are produced a day, a 42 percent decrease. So precipitous has this decline been that the U.S., which was once energy independent, now imports more than half of its energy.

Making matters worse, since the deepwater Gulf oil spill of 2010, government’s iron grip around drilling has only tightened.

“[N]ot a single deepwater permit has been issued in nine months,” said Offshore Marine Service Association President Jim Adams in a report by Bloomberg News. The association is calling it an informal moratorium, even though Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar supposedly lifted a second government moratorium on deepwater drilling.

In fact, so rampant has the Obama Administration’s obstruction of U.S. drilling been that federal Judge Martin Feldman blocked Salazar’s first moratorium from being implemented, and then found the government in contempt of court because it refused to follow the order.

But it’s even worse than that. As noted by the editorial board of Investor’s Business Daily, “The moratorium is driven by ideology and not safety. Its purpose was to further the administration’s war on domestic energy production, including a seven-year ban on offshore drilling off both coasts and the eastern Gulf.”

In other words, the Obama Administration is exploiting the oil spill as an excuse to shut down domestic oil production, something the Hard Left has sought for decades.

These restrictions will mean thousands of lost jobs and billions of dollars in lost revenue for American companies, and have the unfortunate added effect of increasing the nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy. The effects are already being seen in EIA’s data, which projects that domestic crude oil production “declines by 20,000 bbl/d in 2011 and by a further 130,000 bbl/d in 2012 (U.S. Crude Oil Production Chart)”.

How does this advance American interests?

As the nation is learning by the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, the U.S. cannot afford to be dependent on foreign sources of fuel. Today, we are at the mercy of hostile regimes in Venezuela and the Middle East, and unstable nations like Nigeria, Mexico and in others in Central and South America.

The shame is that we have enough energy and other resources in America to provide for our own needs as a nation, but we choose not to. Federal restrictions are in the way. Those restrictions should be lifted to open 650 million acres of federal lands and to dramatically expand oil, mineral, rare earth metals, and nuclear leasing and permitting.

The Obama Administration could do this immediately, for example by reopening the Gulf to drilling, expanding drilling leases in Alaska, rescinding the EPA’s endangerment finding, and allowing Texas refining to go forward unhindered. Additionally, we must begin exploiting our oil shale, coal, and nuclear capabilities.

A rapid expansion of the nation’s natural resources production would create tens of thousands of jobs and investment opportunities, increase revenues through economic growth, and reduce our dependency on foreign natural resources.

Instead, Cuba and China are drilling for those resources right in our backyard, and Obama is busy making sure that we can’t. It compels one to question just why it is this Administration and the leftists that support it are so opposed to America being energy independent and able to produce its own resources. Whose side are they really on?

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

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