Tuesday, August 21 , 2018, 4:03 am | Overcast 67º


Harris Sherline: Obama Administration’s Contempt for Law at Core of Energy Policy

White House's worst offense has been to ignore a ruling denouncing the restriction on offshore drilling

Can someone explain to me why the Obama administration is preventing us from drilling for oil anywhere in America or in our coastal waters, but when the price of a gallon of gas was hovering around $3.50 a gallon, the administration also talked about drawing down the nation’s strategic reserve in an attempt to keep gas prices down?

The price of gas has increased to around $3.75 a gallon in the Santa Ynez Valley. So, what will happen if it reaches $5 a gallon? How about $6, or $8, perhaps $10?

Think it can’t happen? Think again.

How soon we forget the impact that high gas prices have on our economy and way of life.

President Barack Obama’s March 2011 trip to South America was highlighted by a visit to Brazil, where he appeared at a news conference with that nation’s leader, Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist rebel, and said: “We will help Brazil develop its offshore oil so we can one day import it.”

IBD Editorials observed: “At a time when the president was railing against tax incentives for U.S. oil companies, we supported the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s plan to lend $2 billion to Brazil’s state-run Petrobras with the promise of more to follow.”

We now find ourselves in the inexplicable position of having a seven-year ban (beginning in December 2010) on oil drilling in most of the United States as well as offshore on both coasts and ANWR in Alaska, but for some reason it’s OK to drill off the coast of Brazil — deep water drilling at that — in areas that are deeper than the oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico.

Glenn Beck noted: “The oil that comes from this operation is for the sole purpose and use of China and NOT THE USA! ... The Chinese government is under contract to purchase all the oil that this field will produce, which is hundreds of millions of barrels. ... We have absolutely no gain from the transaction whatsoever.”

Sarah Palin commented (March 15, 2011): “Is it really any surprise that oil and gas prices are surging toward the record highs we saw in 2008 just prior to the economic collapse? Despite the president’s strange assertions in his press conference last week, his administration is not a passive observer to the trends that have inflated oil prices to dangerous levels. His war on domestic oil and gas exploration and production has caused us pain at the pump, endangered our already sluggish economic recovery and threatened our national security.

Obama’s drilling moratorium: “The president used the power of his executive order to impose a deepwater drilling moratorium. The administration even ignored a court order halting his moratorium. ... Is it any surprise that oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to fall by 240,000 bbl/d (barrels per day) in 2011 alone?”

Obama’s 2012 budget: “The president used his 2012 budget to propose the elimination of several vital oil and natural gas production tax incentives, which will discourage energy companies from completing exploratory projects, resulting in higher energy costs for all Americans — and not just at the pump.” According to one study mentioned in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, eliminating the deduction for drilling costs “could increase natural gas prices by 50 cents per thousand cubic feet,” which would translate to “an increased cost to consumers of $11.5 billion per year in the form of higher natural gas prices.”

Obama’s anti-drilling regulatory policies: “The U.S. Geological Survey found that the area north of the Arctic Circle has an estimated 90 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas, one-third of which is in Alaskan territory. That’s our next Prudhoe Bay right there. According to one industry study, allowing Royal Dutch Shell to tap these reserves ... would create an annual average of 54,700 jobs nationwide with a $145 billion total payroll and generate an additional $193 billion a year in total revenues to local, state and federal governments for 50 years.”

As misguided as the Obama administration’s energy policies may be, perhaps their most outrageous behavior has been to ignore the ruling by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who held that the Interior Department acted with “determined disregard” by reinstating policies that restrict offshore drilling.

“Each step the government took following the court’s imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance,” Feldman said in his ruling.

“Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium, and in light of the national importance of this case, provide this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt,” he noted.

Jim Lacey, professor of strategic studies at the Marine Corps University, said: “The answer to our economic problems lies beneath our feet. If a foreign power tried to dictate our energy policies to us, we would declare war. But no foreign power is to blame for our energy troubles. Rather, we’ve pointed a gun at our own head. In a case without historic parallel, the United States has opted for national suicide when the answer to many of our energy problems lies literally under our feet.”

That, to me, exemplifies the core attitude that Obama and his administration have toward the rule of law in America: contempt.

— Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who as lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his blog, Opinionfest.com.

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