COLUMN: President’s Failing Energy Policies Harmful to Economic Growth

Mar 25, 2012

When Senator Barack Obama campaigned for President of the United States, he promised energy rates “would necessarily skyrocket” under his policies.  Over the past three years, the President has held firm to this pledge. The prices of energy sources have nearly doubled since President Obama was sworn into office in January 2009. Over the past month alone, the price of gas has jumped thirty-one cents, increasing the average cost to $3.83 per gallon. These rising costs are causing South Carolina families to spend more of their hard-earned paychecks filling up their tanks, making it much more difficult to afford daily necessities which are also rising due to energy costs.  With a national unemployment rate of over eight percent for the past three years, and with South Carolina’s average much higher at 9.5 percent, it is absolutely necessary for the leadership of our country to support an all inclusive energy plan.  I have been working for years with a bi-partisan group for a real “all of the above” energy plan led by Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) promoting nuclear, hydrogen, drilling, and biomass energy sources.

More recently, the President has changed his position on energy and now claims to support an all-of-the-above energy policy. Based upon his actions, this statement could not be further from the truth. Just last week, as Americans are growing more frustrated with Washington due to increasing energy prices, the President travelled to four key energy-producing states on a campaign-style trip to rally support and defend his energy policies. Instead of focusing on ways to help Americans find relief at the pump, our country has watched as the President has put party politics above a sound energy policy.  These political choices are greatly prohibiting job creation and economic growth during this trying time in our nation’s history. 

Last year, our country was exposed to the President’s decision to expedite a government loan to Solyndra, a private, start-up company specializing in manufacturing solar panels to be used as a clean energy source.  In September 2011, Americans watched as Solyndra filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors, releasing 1,100 employees.  Soon after, our nation learned that $535 million of our hardworking taxpayer dollars had been funneled to the unsuccessful energy company by way of the President’s failed stimulus plan.  Instead of offering incentives for businesses to invest in clean energy, the President is giving out government loans to political supporters.  Spending our way to energy independence will not create jobs or spur economic growth. 

And again last fall, the Administration announced its decision to delay the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that would transport crude oil from Canadian oil sands to refineries along the Gulf Coast, until after the 2012 elections. The refineries are directly connected by pipeline to the Colonial Terminal at North Augusta.  The Administration defended its decision on environmental concerns even though a study has found it to be environmentally sound. Once again, the President has chosen to place party politics over helping our nation recover from this economic recession by promoting private sector growth.  The President has shown he is beholden to an extremist environmental base of his party and places the interests of this small, but powerful lobby over the energy interests of the American people.

House Republicans recognize that the President’s failed energy policies are enriching our enemies and weakening America, placing a key element of National Security at risk.  One of the most important components necessary to grow our economy and redeem economic stability is to gain energy independence.   Aggressively increasing energy production will help lower gas prices and create jobs.

The first step that must be taken to increase our production is to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. When completed, our domestic supply of petroleum is estimated to increase by 302 million barrels a year, 830,000 barrels per day. An estimated $20 billion dollars will be injected to the economy. This project is expected to create 20,000 immediate shovel ready jobs and hundreds of thousands throughout its completion without costing taxpayers a single dime.

Last October, I was fortunate enough to visit Alberta, Canada and witnessed first-hand the Canadian oil sands and the positive impact that exploration has for the American people and South Carolinians.  Michelin Automotive Tire Corporation in Lexington employs 500 people to produce massive tires and MTU Diesel in Aiken County creates engines used on equipment in Canada to recover oil. The approval of this project could directly impact the Midlands of South Carolina and allow for job creation.

The President and his Administration must change their energy policy and actually support an all-of-the above energy plan.  In addition to lowering rising energy costs, putting all energy options on the table will create private sector jobs and put America back on the path to prosperity.  The American people should not be held hostage to the President’s political games.  It is past the time for the Administration to do what is best for this country, not just it’s political base, and put America families back to work.