Obama Uses Oil Spill to Push Failed Energy Policies

Obama Uses Oil Spill to Push Failed Energy Policies

June 19, 2010
Originally published in Opposing Views

In his speech, President Obama used the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to push his failed energy policies, such as a “green jobs” program that has replaced American jobs with foreign “green” jobs, and a climate-change bill that includes ecologically-devastating ethanol subsidies.  Meanwhile, Louisiana residents rated Obama’s inept response to the oil spill as worse than Bush’s much-criticized response to Hurricane Katrina, in a public opinion poll–perhaps because Obama delayed the clean-up of the oil spill by blocking assistance from many foreign experts.

Obama used the oil spill to push for more so-called “green jobs” programs, deceptively boasting that “over the last year and a half,” the government has subsidized the so-called “clean energy industry.”  This was a reference to the February 2009 stimulus package, which contained so-called “green jobs” funding, 79 percent of which went to foreign firms, replacing American jobs with foreign green jobs.  (The administration never bothered to define what a “green job” is, and some so-called “green jobs” turn out to be harmful to the environment.)  The stimulus package also contained regulations that destroyed jobs in America’s export sector.

In his speech, Obama also used the spill to push the so-called “comprehensive energy and climate bill” passed by the “House of Representatives” late “last year.”  That bill expands ethanol subsidies, which cause famine, starvation, and food riots in poor countries by shrinking the food supply. Ethanol makes gasoline costlier and dirtier, increases ozone pollution, and increases the death toll from smog and air pollution. Ethanol production also results in deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution. Subsidies for biofuels like ethanol are a big source of corporate welfare: “BP has lobbied for and profited from subsidies for biofuels … that cannot break even without government support.”

Obama said nothing about waiving the Jones Act, a law that bans foreign ships from working in the U.S. waters unless the President waives the ban.  Past presidents have waived the ban after hurricanes to allow foreign experts to assist the U.S., and speed shipping of relief to hurricane victims.  But Obama refused to do so after the spill, report Voice of America News, the Washington Examiner, and Canadian, Australian, and European newspapers, even though it would make obvious sense to accept help from oil-producing, maritime countries like Norway that have big fleets and expertise in handling oil-drilling and oil-spill issues.   As a result, the Obama administration rejected various offers of assistance from Norwegian, Belgian, Dutch, and Mexican firms.

(The Obama administration has belatedly accepted some foreign equipment for use in fighting the spill, although it continued to block ships with foreign crews, delaying the foreign equipment’s use.  As Voice of America notes, although ”the Netherlands offered help in April,” such as providing ”sophisticated” oil “skimmers and dredging devices,” the Obama administration blocked their crews from working in U.S. waters, and as a result, this crucial ”operation was delayed until U.S. crews could be trained” in June.  “The Dutch also offered assistance with building sand berms (barriers) along the coast of Louisiana to protect sensitive marshlands, but that offer was also rejected, even though Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had been requesting such protective barriers.”)

In April 2009, the Obama administration granted BP, a supporter of Obama, a waiver of environmental regulations.  But after the oil spill, it blocked Louisiana from protecting its coastline against the oil spill by delaying rather than expediting regulatory approval of essential protective measures.  It has also chosen not to use what has been described as “the most effective method“ of fighting the spill, a method successfully used in other oil spills.  Democratic strategist James Carville called Obama’s handling of the oil spill “lackadaisical“ and “unbelievable“ in its “stupidity.”

In April 2009, the Obama administration granted BP, a big supporter of Obama, a waiver of environmental regulations. But after the oil spill, it blocked Louisiana from protecting its coastline against the oil spill by delaying rather than expediting regulatory approval of essential protective measures. It has also chosen not to use what has been described as “the most effective method” of fighting the spill, a method successfully used in other oil spills. Democratic strategist James Carville called Obama’s handling of the oil spill “lackadaisical” and “unbelievable” in its “stupidity.”

Obama is now using BP’s oil spill to push the global-warming legislation that BP had lobbied for.