Pork-Filled Stimulus Bill Fails to Tackle Real Energy Issues
February 2, 2009
As Democrats in Congress cobble together an obscenely massive spending bill, tens of billions of these dollars are intended to be force fed into so-called green and renewable energy programs under the pretense of job creation. There are also hundreds of millions more being proposed for climate-change research under the dubious banner of stimulating the economy.
In fact, climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels slammed the stimulus package for its climate-related pork. “We already fund global climate-change research to the tune of $5-6 billion. What’s going on here I am guessing is to fatten up some programs or some budgets from some agency or administrator that didn’t get exactly what he or she wanted in the last budgetary cycle,” Michaels told CNN on January 28.
Beware of Gore’s OK
This funding boost’s real purpose may be to further the political aims of the Obama Administration when it comes to offering alleged global-warming “solutions.” Caution is a must when former Vice President Al Gore touts the stimulus as some sort of “solution” to global warming.
While some renewable energy programs included in the proposed stimulus may be promising, they unquestionably cost more and offer uncertain benefits. Instead of endlessly adding to the substantial government subsidies renewables already enjoy, Congress should address a handful of commonsense policies to encourage real energy and job creation—policies that wouldn’t cost the American taxpayer a dime.
ANWR, OCS and Oil Shale
For instance, Congress should open ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf to environmentally sensitive oil and gas exploration, resulting in tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. Democrats should allow a sustained development of the oil shale in the American West, which the Rand Corporation estimates contains up to 1.1 trillion recoverable barrels. That is the equivalent of 145 years of domestic supply at current rates of oil consumption. In addition to reducing our dependence on foreign oil, this increased domestic energy production would provide both state and federal taxes, pay royalties to mineral owners, and keep jobs and dollars on American soil and in American pockets.
Expand Clean Coal Use
Additionally, let’s create a streamlined and consolidated permitting process for new refineries in which EPA would be required to either approve or disapprove of a project within a year for new applications. France currently derives more than 75% of its electricity from nuclear power, a clean, proven, and economical resource. Congress should encourage a reasonable and predictable process for the construction of the next generation of nuclear power. The American Coal Foundation says that U.S. coal deposits contain more energy than of all the world’s oil reserves, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity states that today’s coal-based electricity generating fleet is 70% cleaner than it was in 1970 and is getting cleaner. Washington should promote the development of clean coal technologies, not institute regulatory and legal roadblocks to bankrupt the industry.
What is the government actually doing when it spends nearly a trillion on a stimulus? That money doesn’t just materialize out of thin air. It comes from the taxpayers or if it’s deficit spending, it comes from private lenders when they buy Treasury bonds. Either way, this money is taken out of the private sector marketplace and then put right back in when it’s spent by Uncle Sam. And don’t be fooled into thinking that the entire trillion dollars is put back into the economy. No doubt a large percent is wasted on government overhead and bureaucracy. At best it’s a zero sum game. It’s not stimulus. This is bigger government and it is more likely to harm economic performance than to improve it.
Despite today’s lower energy costs, Congress must confront long-followed government policies that unnecessarily restrict our access to plentiful supplies of America’s own natural resources. Those restrictive policies heavily contributed to the $4 gasoline prices we experienced last summer. Since it’s also reasonable to conclude that those high prices played a role in our current economic downturn, America can’t wait until prices once again hit $4.
Where Are Deficit Hawks?
This historic spending binge, touted as an economic “stimulus,” reveals that the taxpayer’s hard earned money truly now has become an almost meaningless commodity in Washington. It is amazing how many of yesterday’s deficit hawks are now suddenly today’s top cheerleaders for a massive stimulus bill. Restoring fiscal sanity in Washington looks more and more like a dream of yesteryear.
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