Gregg Laskoski is a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com
A USA Today editorial last week (November 23) on the opportunities and risks of the oil and gas boom caught my attention.
Almost reluctantly it seems, the editorial accepts the forecasts that we've all heard in recent weeks, specifically, the International Energy Agency's assessment that the United States will become both the world's largest natural gas producer and the world's largest oil producer, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia respectively within the next five years.
And a string of rhetorical questions came to mind: Isn't that an exceptional piece of good news? Isn't that exactly what the United States needs to generate long-term economic growth? Isn't this boom already creating thousands of jobs? Doesn't it improve our nation's security if our fuel needs are met by U.S. production and/or supplemented from North American suppliers rather than the Middle East?'
If you need a moment to let that sink in, you're not alone. Interestingly enough, the paper acknowledged that "by 2035 the U.S. could become virtually energy independent…" But in a tone that only 'politically correct' media embrace, the editorial goes on to talk about all the negatives the U.S. energy boom might bring.
The USA Today editorial said that energy independence has been the "holy grail of every American president since the 1973 Arab oil embargo" (actually, every president since Harry Truman has expressed this goal) but it goes on sounding a lot like the nattering nabobs of negativism Spiro Agnew disdained.
"The increase in fossil fuel supplies also comes with potential serious environmental costs," the editorial warns.
Where I thought we had extraordinarily positive news in this energy boom, USA Today sees only gloom. Their hand-wringing continued: "Lower prices for oil and gas can undercut progress toward clean-energy sources such as wind and solar."
There you have it; the obligatory 'politically correct' orthodoxy on energy that skates past the fact that the current administration's glib "doubling down" on green energy imposed billions of dollars of additional debt on American taxpayers. That's the debt we incurred after politically connected companies like Solyndra and about a dozen others were granted White House access, federally guaranteed loans, and then went bankrupt.
Hopefully President Obama will learn from the mistakes he made in his first four years and let the energy industry's success take root with the ebb and flow of free markets—not politically contrived stimulants and subsidies that accelerate failure and create irreparable voids once they're removed.
Hopefully too, media outlets like USA Today will recognize that the need for transparency and careful oversight of government loans is just as important as "the need for the careful oversight of fracking."