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How to impose a damaging anti-energy policy.

ITEM: The Washington Post for January 26 reported that the Obama administration was about to propose "setting aside more than 12 million acres in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, the White House announced Sunday, halting any chance of oil exploration for now in the refuge's much-fought-over coastal plain. "

The announcement, continued the paper, "is just the first in a series of decisions the Interior Department will make in the coming week that will affect the state s oil and gas production. The department will also put part of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling as part of a five-year leasing plan it will issue this week and is considering whether to impose additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. "

This move, said the paper, "marks the latest instance of Obama's aggressive use of executive authority to advance his top policy priorities. "

"Environmental leaders, " the Post reported reassuringly, "described the wilderness proposal as a prudent measure rooted in a long-term view of the region s future. " The paper quoted Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society, who said: "Some places are simply too special to drill, and we are thrilled that a federal agency has acknowledged that the refuge merits wilderness protection. "

ITEM: A White House blog dated January 27 ("President Obama Protects Untouched Marine Wilderness") claimed that the "President's all-of-the-above energy strategy has supported economic growth and helped in reducing our dependence on foreign oil, " while maintaining that the most recent action reflected how the "President is committed to preserving our most treasured places for future generations. "

ITEM: The Washington Post for February 25 reported that the "Keystone XL saga " had "hit the spotlight again"--when "President Obama vetoed legislation that would have approved the pipeline. The bill sent to him, wrote the president, 'conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest.

CORRECTION: A half-truth and a complete lie are congenial companions. The president who unblushingly claims to favor economic growth has acted otherwise to support his eco-extremist allies who would gladly leave most of Alaska undeveloped. Together, they keep throwing up roadblocks against even the most reasonable and necessary energy projects.

The president has effectively banned oil exploration, at least for the immediate future, on about 22 million acres of federal lands and waters in Alaska. More than 12 million acres of land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) have been deemed to be "wilderness." To visualize this, consider that the land area that is now no longer available for drilling is larger than all of Connecticut and Massachusetts combined.

As National Geographic has correctly observed: "Only Congress can designate wilderness areas, and with both chambers now under Republican control, such a vote is unlikely. But the move by the administration means the area will be managed as wilderness until Congress or another administration changes course."

And in a separate action, about 10 million acres offshore in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas have been made off-limits to consideration for future oil and gas leasing.

Then there is the Keystone XL pipeline. This is a $5.2 billion project that was proposed years ago by TransCanada. It anticipates carrying around 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. The president has indicated that he will only approve the 1,179-mile pipeline if it can be demonstrated that the project won't exacerbate "climate change."

The suggestion that more time is needed to study the potential consequences of Keystone is eyewash. "The administration has delayed this important infrastructure project for over six years, despite a series of environmental reviews, all of which conclude that the project will have no significant environmental impact," noted Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who introduced the bill in the upper chamber. "It has been more than enough time to make a fair decision on the merits of the project."

As noted above, among the newly announced Obama policies aimed squarely at Alaska is the White House decision to lock away the billions of barrels of oil that are in the coastal areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Obama administration has already "proposed designating 226 million acres of waters off Alaska's coast as a critical habitat for the Arctic ringed seal," comments Michael Bastasch in the Daily Caller. "Alaska's outer continental shelf is believed to be home to the world's largest untapped oil and gas reserves. According to Alaska's Resource Development Council, the outer shelf could hold 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas." Those who live in and represent Alaska are beside themselves over the treatment of their state. "The promises made to us at statehood, and since then, mean absolutely nothing to them," said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). "I cannot understand why this administration is willing to negotiate with Iran, but not Alaska. But we will not be run over like this. We will fight back with every resource at our disposal." Consider how White House advisors John Podesta and Mike Boots bled green in their arguments about why the president felt compelled to add even more "protections" against drilling in Alaska. As they put it in the White House blog (also quoted in The Hill, a D.C. newspaper): "For more than three decades, some voices have clamored to drill for oil in the Coastal Plain--a move that could irreparably damage this ecological treasure and harm the Alaska Native communities who still depend on the caribou for subsistence."

These are just the type of dire warnings that were cranked out decades ago when the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was first proposed. Those Chicken Little scenarios didn't pan out. Economist Stephen Moore and Joel Griffith offer facts as opposed to fears. As they wrote in a "Backgrounder" for the Heritage Foundation in November 2014:

   The most recent census of the Western
   Arctic caribou herd (WAH),
   Alaska's largest herd, was released in
   2011. The report states that the WAH
   had declined to about 75,000 animals
   by 1976. After the pipeline was
   built, "from 1976 to 1990 the herd
   grew 13% annually, and from 1990
   to 2003 it grew 1-3% annually. In
   2003 the WAH numbered >490,000
   caribou but by 2011 it had declined
   to 325,000 caribou."

      As a side note, the Alaska Department
   of Fish and Game downplayed
   concern over this recent minor decline,
   stating that "considering that
   the WAH has numbered more than
   300,000 caribou since about 1988, a
   slow decline is probably preferable
   to continued growth that could lead
   to an eventual abrupt decline as occurred
   during the early 1970s." The
   bottom line is that the caribou population
   is about four times larger than
   it was when oil began to flow.


Just in case anyone is worried about the beneficial effects on human beings, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline has transported an estimated 17 billion barrels of oil worth (at today's prices) about $1.7 trillion, led to about 127,000 oil-related jobs in the state, and accounted for 20 percent of all domestic energy production in the United States between 1980 and 2000.

Several so-called environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the building of that pipeline. As one major group insisted, if the Trans-Alaska Pipeline were to be built, "the wilderness is forever broken." Among the claims in the lawsuit: "A major characteristic of the Alaska wilderness is the unusual fragility of the ecosystem and vulnerability to man's developments. Any disturbance of the plant cover triggers permafrost melt and erosion. The process is essentially irreversible and results in permanent environmental degradation."

If that sounds familiar, you might have been reading the playbook from the current White House that reads as though it was found in a time capsule from the earlier period of scare-mongering. As Obama preached on a video released from Air Force One: "Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible place. Pristine, undisturbed, it supports caribou and polar bears, all matter of marine life, countless species of birds and fish, and for centuries it's supported many Alaska native communities," said the president. "But it's very fragile."

The announcement was made while he was burning up five gallons of jet fuel per mile. The president was flying to India--where cows are sacred.

It is not just Alaskans who are going to be hurt because of these recent moves by the White House, but they are certainly going to be deeply affected. Each dollar that goes to Alaska, writes Alaska State Senator Cathy Giessel, is a dollar that "doesn't go to hostile, volatile regimes" elsewhere in the world. In addition, as she said in the Washington Examiner in March, that development "has helped Alaska's Native peoples thrive, raising their living standards by several orders of magnitude. Alaskan Native Corporations are now some of the state's largest employers."

Rather than treating this as a success story, the efforts of Alaskans "to explore and harvest our own resources have been met by Washington's hostility time and again." The senator offers the following example:

   King Cove, an isolated village in
   western Alaska, cannot even get a
   one-lane, twelve-mile dirt road to
   an all-weather airport for the purposes
   of medical evacuation. That's
   because the Department of Interior
   says the road would potentially harm
   a bird habitat in the Izembek National
   Wildlife Refuge, which the road
   would traverse. Alaska has offered to
   exchange 56,000 acres for the paltry
   206 acres needed to obtain the right
   of way. But birds are more important
   than people to federal officials.

      By the way, the federal land in
   Izembek is literally crisscrossed with
   existing roads used by bird watchers
   ... and bird hunters.

      The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
   coastal plain contains immense
   resource potential--ten billion
   barrels of recoverable oil--and the
   footprint necessary to develop it is
   no larger than Reagan National Airport.
   It is the equivalent to a postage
   stamp being placed on a football
   field, and it would significantly
   increase production levels, which
   have fallen off precipitously in recent
   years.


Meanwhile, the Keystone project has turned into a symbolic fight. The president's latest veto didn't actually kill it, though some accounts have mistakenly suggested that. In fact, the White House still hints that approval is a possibility; though it seems more likely it will be used as leverage, perhaps to be traded in a larger vote to get Republicans to swallow some other poor measure in a "compromise." That remains to be seen. As it is, the president's arguments against Keystone are so bogus that even the "fact-checker" at the left-wing Washington Post has given Obama four "Pinocchios" for deceit. He even called out the president for getting worse on the truthfulness scale than the last time he was taken to task. As Glenn Kessler observed, rather politely, the president has been "misleading," especially when he claimed that the proposed pipeline would have no benefit for those around North Dakota, "given that producers in the region have signed contracts to transport some of their production through the pipeline."

Other Obama claims are also fictions at best. The Post columnist recalled that the president has repeatedly complained, in trying to downplay Keystone's importance, that oil from the project would bypass the United States. Yet,

   he leaves out a very important step.
   The crude oil would travel to the Gulf
   Coast, where it would be refined into
   products such as motor gasoline and
   diesel fuel (known as a distillate fuel
   in the trade). Current trends suggest
   that only about half of that refined
   product would be exported, and it
   could easily be lower.

      A report released in February by
   IHS Energy, which consults for energy
   companies, concluded that "Canadian
   crude making its way to the
   USGC [Gulf Coast] will likely be
   refined there, and most of the refined
   products are likely to be consumed
   in the United States." It added that
   "for Gulf refineries, heavy bitumen
   blends from the oil sands are an attractive
   substitute for declining offshore
   heavy crude supply from Latin
   America." It concluded that 70 percent
   of the refined product would be
   consumed in the United States.


The IHS energy analysis, as Kessler observed, actually "mirrors the conclusions of the State Department's final environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL project."

The president apparently doesn't want to pay heed to the inconvenient findings of his own Cabinet office--until it cooks up a wrong conclusion that he can use as cover.

Of course, there is a way out of this impasse: We could tax political gas. Heck, that's a solution that could even balance the budget.
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Title Annotation:correction, please!
Author:Hoar, William P.
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 6, 2015
Words:2106
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