While President-Elect Donald Trump is focused strongly on keeping jobs from going to Mexico and China, he must also fight to deliver on campaign promises to unleash America’s energy industry — creating new jobs and more affordable energy.
Under President Obama, domestic energy production — especially oil, natural gas, and coal — have become political footballs. Decisions in the last two years of Obama’s tenure have hurt energy jobs and put various land and methods of shipping off-limits.
“Building the pipelines and other energy infrastructure … could create more than 1 million shovel-ready jobs that don’t rely on taxpayer funding.”
The current administration is also quietly working to make Trump’s job more difficult when he assumes office.
On Nov. 18, the U.S. Interior Department released a final five-year plan for offshore drilling leases. According to the Alaska Dispatch News, Interior officials allowed 10 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico but eliminated two proposed Arctic offshore options.
Trump could reverse that — but it could take years, experts told Alaska Dispatch News. The decision brought condemnation from the American Petroleum Institute, which maintains the move benefits Russia.
“Keeping the Arctic off-limits to development also puts the U.S. at a serious competitive disadvantage,” said Jack Gerard, API president, in a statement to the media. “Russia has been actively exploring in the region, and military experts warned earlier this year that removing the Arctic from the leasing plan would ‘signal retreat, needlessly reducing U.S. flexibility for promoting our national interests and our ability to ensure international cooperation.'”
Arctic offshore drilling has typically been controversial. But the truth is the Left and all its factions are almost never happy about power production anywhere in the United States.
They blame conventional energy plants for global warming. They blame them for damage to soil and water. They suggest widespread threats to health and safety.
These kind of attacks are playing out in the Great Plains like nowhere else. The Plains States have suffered from being a political target for years due to the anti-oil hostility of President Obama’s administration.
Two different Great Plains pipelines, which could assure decades of affordable oil to most of the nation, have been targeted by President Obama: the canceled Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline, which is delayed.
The political attacks are odd, too — pipelines are much safer than how the Canadian oil will otherwise be shipped, via rail cars and trucks.
‘The Tyranny of Oil’
In 2008, many thought Obama’s rhetoric was simply political. He referred to America’s dependence on petroleum as the “tyranny of oil.” But when he got into office, the hostility became policy.
Perhaps the most damaging thing Obama did was the political game he played with the expansion of the Keystone XL expansion. Wary of canceling TransCanada’s oil pipeline before his re-election campaign in 2012, Obama famously traveled to Cushing, Oklahoma, where the pipeline did not need State Department approval to expand.
But the pipeline did need approval at the U.S.-Canada border. Delays kept coming after TransCanada announced the expansion in 2008. The delays lasted through the 2010 midterm election, the 2012 presidential election, and the 2014 midterm election.
Despite congressional votes in favor of the pipeline, Obama rejected the pipeline permit officially on Nov. 6, 2015. TransCanada is suing the U.S. government on the grounds that the refusal is a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The pipeline would have brought about 700,000 barrels of Canadian oil, per day, to U.S. refineries in the southeastern United States.
Such supply not only would have likely dropped gasoline prices further, but would have helped create booms in manufacturing, airline travel, and tourism in the United States.
And activists still threaten the Dakota Access pipeline, although federal officials promise to kick protesters off public land in December.
Boom on Non-Federal Land
One thing that made the issue less pressing to politicians and consumers has been the drop in oil prices. It’s hard to be passionate when oil is nowhere near the $150-per-barrel price it hit in the summer of 2008.
On Monday, oil came in at about $47 per barrel. That translates to $2-per-gallon gasoline in many states. It’s one reason Obama has been able to put off leasing America’s land to oil companies.
In 2008, about 1.5 million barrels were pulled from public land per day. That increased to 1.98 million barrels by 2015.
It isn’t much compared to the boom on non-federal land. In 2008, 3.5 million oil barrels per day were extracted on private lands. In 2015, that number had soared to about 7.4 million barrels of oil per day.
Part of the reason for this boom isn’t just increased drilling on non-federal land, but increased efficiency thanks to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The technique involves injecting liquid into the ground, creating fissures into which previously unavailable oil and natural gas can escape.
The cheaper energy, used for automobiles and electricity production, has had real effects on U.S. household savings accounts. Gerard told the media in a post-election conference call that the average U.S. driver has saved more than $550 annually, and household budgets grew by $1,337 due to utility and other energy-related savings in 2015.
Gerard said Trump needs to start approving pipelines and similar projects to get the economy out of its slow-moving funk.
“Building the pipelines and other energy infrastructure … could create more than 1 million shovel-ready jobs that don’t rely on taxpayer funding,” Gerard said in his post-election teleconference. “Oil and natural gas pipelines transport energy at a 99.999 percent safety rate, and investing in additional energy infrastructure will ensure we can continue to deliver affordable energy to homes and businesses throughout the nation.”