The Real Reason Obama's EPA Targets Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas

The Obama administration is trying to prematurely force the United States into a "new" energy future.

A coal truck passes under an array of conveyer belts that move coal at the processing plant at Mettiki Maryland Coal Mine in Red House, Md., Friday, Sept. 15, 2006. Mettiki, owned by Alliance Resource Partners LP. of Tulsa, Okla., is ending its Maryland mining operations after 29 years of extracting more than 66 million tons of coal from Backbone Mountain. It will cut the last coal from its Maryland reserves in the Freeport seam Oct. 4, and then begin disassembling and moving the huge longwall mining machine to the new Mountain View mine seven miles away in West Virginia.

Daniel Kish is senior vice president at the Institute for Energy Research.

Indicative of today's ideological schism over energy policy, Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia recently lectured the coal industry and his coal-mining constituents to embrace "a sustainable future … [and] stop denying science." Translation: Stop whining, side with climate alarmists, and support the Obama administration's coal-killing agenda.

The administration's Big Brother approach to energy and environmental policy—coming from a coal-state senator no less—seeks to fundamentally alter the way our factories, vehicles, and homes are fueled. President Barack Obama's plan involves raising the price of oil, coal, and natural gas to force America to embrace energy resources that are deemed clean and green, such as wind and solar. As he stated before his 2008 election, his plan was to make energy prices "necessarily skyrocket" to make expensive, inefficient forms of energy more competitive.

[See a collection of political cartoons on energy policy.]

The Environmental Protection Agency, known as the EPA, is the administration's carbon dioxide-reduction enforcer. Among its weapons are complicated-sounding things like coal New Source Performance Standards for greenhouse gases, Utility MACT, soot and dust rules, and a ground-level ozone standard which was proposed and later withdrawn by the White House.

EPA claims these regulations are core to its mission to protect human health and the environment. But the agency is twisting sound science in pursuit of an agenda to divide-and-conquer (and extinguish) oil, coal, and natural gas. EPA says power plants are the "biggest source of mercury" emissions and claims the Utility MACT regulation "will avert up to 11,000 premature deaths…every year."  Willie Soon, the Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist, examined the regulation and found that power plants emit only 0.5 percent of U.S. airborne mercury while some of the largest emitters are volcanoes, forest fires, and crematoria.

[See a collection of political cartoons on gas prices.]

Kathleen White of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment looked into the science behind EPA's airborne soot and dust regulations and found the agency had no scientific basis for concluding that small airborne particles can cause "early death." White calls EPA's regulatory health benefits claims "misleading at best and deceptive at worst."

Donald Norman, senior economist with the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, estimated the cost of EPA's proposed ozone standard to be a whopping 7.3 million jobs by 2020 and $1 trillion in compliance costs between 2020 and 2030. The White House delayed the new standard until after the November elections.

[See a slide show of a reality check on U.S. energy sources.]

Air quality regulations are not the only anti-affordable energy arrows in the administration's quiver. The Obama administration has slowed federal oil and natural gas development both onshore and offshore, refused to grant a permit for the entire Keystone XL pipeline, proposed raising taxes on oil companies, and sent EPA regulators on a witch hunt to find evidence linking hydraulic fracturing to groundwater contamination. They failed.

In fact, hydraulic fracturing, directional drilling, and sensor technologies are being credited with creating thousands of jobs in our otherwise lackluster economy. Energy analysts say the extraction of shale gas, made possible by fracturing, is increasing natural gas supplies, lowering prices, and fueling a manufacturing renaissance in the United States.  

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Despite the administration's efforts against coal, oil, and natural gas, these three energy resources will continue to fuel the U.S. economy for many years to come. The Energy Information Administration projects the nation will need 10 percent more energy by 2035, and more than three fourths of that demand is expected to be provided by coal, oil, and natural gas.

The administration's near-religious fervor attacking coal, oil, and natural gas are part of a misguided attempt to force a premature transition to a "new" energy future. An administration that hurts the economy and American families to attain some ideological goal could receive its comeuppance at the polls in November.

  • Read Michael Lynch: India Blackout Shows Government Failures in Energy Policy
  • Follow the U.S. News On Energy blog on Twitter.
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly: An insider's guide to politics and policy.