In his time in office, President Obama has made some seriously bad proposals and decisions on energy policy, and Americans are paying the price, whether it’s in higher energy costs, wasted tax dollars, or in jobs that have been left on the table. For those who aren’t keeping track, we’ve compiled a list of the President’s ten worst energy policies:
1) Saying “NO” to Keystone XL: With oil prices going through the roof, the best way to drive down prices is to increase the supply of oil and it can be done by safely increasing access to resources in North America. The Keystone XL pipeline would bring up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to the United States (as well as jobs, economic growth and stat tax revenue) but President Obama said “NO” the project despite bipartisan support and despite the Department of State’s conclusion that the project would pose no significant environmental risk.
2) Wasting Billions on Loan Guarantees: President Obama has a grand vision for a green energy revolution, funded by taxpayer dollars. So in his trillion dollar stimulus, he added billions of dollars to the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, empowering it to to hand out Americans’ money to alternative energy companies. His plan failed miserably, as company after company went bankrupt, including Solyndra, Solar Trust of America, Beacon Power and Ener1. Others including Abound Solar and A123 Systems laid off American works despite receiving millions in loan guarantees. The federal government should not be playing venture capitalist with taxpayer money.
3) Banking on Electric Car Dream Machines: President Obama made electric cars like the Chevy Volt a central part of his energy policy with subsidies for both the production and purchase of electric vehicles. But the trouble is the American people just aren’t buying them, even with $7,500 taxpayer-funded rebates. In 2011, GM missed its projected sales volume for the Volt, shipping 7,671 of the vehicles — well short of its target of 10,000. Meanwhile, the DOE handed half a billion dollars in loan guarantees to Fisker, an electric car maker that has delayed production in the U.S., and another half billion in low interest loans to Tesla Corporation, which produces six-figure electric sports cars that can only travel 55 miles. Even if electric cars save fuel, they still cost more to own than similar gasoline-only vehicles.
4) Saying “No” to Domestic Energy Production: While Americans struggle to cope with high energy prices, President Obama has made it even harder for companies to explore and extract domestic energy resources. Federal production onshore and offshore has been down from 2010 to 2011. The Administration either cancelled, delayed or withdrew a number of lease sales for exploration and development. Meanwhile, huge swaths of federal lands have been put off limits for energy exploration. Delays and restrictions in oil and gas production has resulted in abundant energy sources being unavailable and prevented job growth, economic activity and increased government revenue. The federal government also withdrew an approved permit for a coal mine and blocked and obstructed uranium mining.
5) The EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck: The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ream of new regulations will adversely affect existing power plants, requiring them to be retrofitted or in many cases shut down because it will be too costly to install emission-reduction controls The most recent announcement of the President’s ongoing campaign against carbon-based fuel, the EPA released a new rule to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants, which would effectively ban new coal power plants, as its emissions standards are too low to be met by conventional coal-fired facilities. That will result in higher energy costs, fewer jobs, a less prosperous economy and no discernible difference in global temperatures.
6) Cap-and-Trade and the Clean Energy Standard: When he came into office, President Obama latched on to the notion of cap-and-trade — a system of energy taxes and credits designed to reduce carbon emissions. The end result would have been disastrous for American businesses and the economy. When that legislation failed, the President proposed a Clean Energy Standard mandating that the power industry meet government-determined goals with respect to renewable energy production. The effect, though, is the same. Both serve as a draconian energy tax that burdens businesses and consumers – with no environmental benefits.
7) Subsidies for Some, Higher Taxes for Others: President Obama likes to play favorites in the energy industry, handing out subsidies for those that he thinks are the “right” industries — in his view, wind, solar — while calling for higher taxes on the “wrong” ones — namely, oil. Whether it is for fossil fuels or renewable energy sources, subsidies waste taxpayer dollars, stifle innovation, create industry complacency, crowd out investment, and give industries the incentive to lobby Washington for handouts and special protections. Meanwhile, the President wants higher taxes for oil companies — the costs of which would be handed down to consumers who are already suffering from high gas prices. The problem is that the President is manipulating language to frame the energy debate to his liking while disregarding the facts.
8) Terminating the Nuclear Waste Repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The Obama Administration says it wants to pursue nuclear power, but its rhetoric does not match its nuclear policy. Its decision to abandon the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project without any technical or scientific data is a case in point. With nearly $15 billion spent on the project, the data indicates that Yucca would be a safe place to store America’s used nuclear fuel. Yet purely for political reasons the Obama administration decided to terminate the program without having anything to replace it. Absent any nuclear waste disposal options, the United States simply will not significantly expand nuclear energy.
9) Green Jobs Stimulus: With the U.S. economy struggling to recover from a recession, President Obama turned to a trillion dollars in stimulus spending in an attempt to spend America out of the economic doldrums. A significant part of that stimulus was directed toward a new “green” economy with taxpayer dollars directed toward creating alternative energy jobs. Obama promised to create five million green jobs over 10 years. The trouble is that his plan didn’t work, and the jobs didn’t materialize. As The New York Times reported, it was nothing more than “a pipe dream.” Further, these are taxpayer-funded jobs that destroy jobs elsewhere in the economy. When the government gives money to build a windmill, for example, those resources cannot simultaneously be used to build other products. The net effect is job and income losses.
10) Job-Killing CAFE Standards: Obama’s EPA has imposed a corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard requiring auto makers to hit an average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025—a 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared to today. The Center for Automotive Research warned that overly stringent standards could add $10,000 to the cost of a new car, decreasing sales and thereby reducing production, destroying as many as 220,000 jobs, according to a report by the Defour Group. And a 2002 National Academy of Sciences study concludes that CAFE’s downsizing effect makes cars less safe and contributed to between 1,300 and 2,600 deaths in a single representative year.
Mike Brownfield oversees execution of The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/ social networking strategy and online media outreach as the think tank’s senior digital communications associate.
Nicolas Loris is a Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/ Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. Loris researches and writes about energy, environment and regulation issues such as the economic impacts of climate change legislation, a free market approach to nuclear energy and the effects of environmental policy on energy prices and the economy.