Deliberately Making Americans Poorer; Obama's Energy Policies Hit Hardest below the Poverty Belt

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Deliberately Making Americans Poorer; Obama's Energy Policies Hit Hardest below the Poverty Belt


Byline: Richard W. Rahn, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Obama administration's policies are causing Americans to pay far more for gasoline and other fuels than necessary. America is awash in fossil-fuel energy sources with almost 30 percent of the world's coal and 80 percent of the world's oil shale - which contains an estimated three times the recoverable oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Canada, with its oil sands, has the world's third-highest oil reserves, after the United States and Saudi Arabia. New technologies that enable low-cost natural gas production from shale mean that many countries, including the United States, will have gas for centuries at current production rates.

Fossil fuels at some prices are interchangeable. Coal, gas and oil can all fuel electric power plants. Liquid motor fuels can be made easily from natural gas, and, in fact, many auto, truck and bus fleets already use natural gas. For more than 70 years, the technology has been available to turn coal into liquid motor fuel.

Natural gas now sells in the United States for a British thermal unit (BTU) equivalent of $30 a barrel of oil, and coal sells at roughly half that price. Much of the Canadian oil sands, U.S. domestic oil shale and offshore oil in the Gulf of Mexico can be produced at prices well below $75 per barrel. The United States should be an energy exporter; Canada already is and is the single biggest source of oil for the U.S.

Most countries try to produce oil, gas and coal and sell it on the global market as a way of increasing the real incomes of their citizens, but not the United States. The Obama administration has a hatred of fossil fuels and is determined to reduce their use despite the economic damage. So-called green energy often is not very green and cannot possibly serve as a substitute for most fossil fuels. Windmills and solar panels are far more expensive than coal and gas; their production is intermittent, unreliable and largely unstorable. Because of the physics of the electrical grid, wind and solar can never produce more than about 18 percent of electrical production - at least not until low-cost storage devices are developed. Many biofuels, and in particular corn-based ethanol, are not only more expensive than the natural fuels but have a bigger total carbon footprint.

The Obamaites believe carbon dioxide (CO2) is evil because they think more of it will cause global warming. They ignore the facts:

* Earth has been at times in the past both cooler and warmer with higher concentrations of CO2.

* Other factors, such as sunspot activity, are more important than CO2 in determining Earth's temperature. …

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