By Paul Driessen
Dec. 17. 2015
Omnibus budget deal ends oil export ban, perpetuates renewable subsidies, redistributes wealth
President Reagan once said, “The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.” The omnibus budget package being negotiated on Capitol Hill is a perfect example.
The wheeling and dealing is too complex and fast-moving for anyone to follow or understand. But its energy components center on trading an end to the 40-year-old oil export ban in exchange for extending and perpetuating renewable energy programs and President Obama’s dictatorial Clean Power Plan.
It is especially maddening when supposed Republican fiscal conservatives are supposedly in charge of Congress and the purse strings. It’s especially despicable when the energy policies are based on lies and fraud about “dangerous manmade climate change,” and on blatant crony corporatism that gives coerced taxpayer subsidies to companies that then make campaign contributions to helpful legislators. It makes it perfectly clear why voters are spitting mad, and “outsiders” have an inside track on presidential races.
The not-a-treaty arrangements just concluded in Paris allow climate alarmists to claim 100% of countries now agree that climate change is a huge problem – even though most American disagree, and some 90% of those countries signed the agreement just to get their “fair share” of the $100 billion per year that they demand from developed nations, which are now expected to de-carbonize, de-industrialize and de-develop.
But where are the dangerous, unprecedented rising seas and stronger storms? They’re not happening in the Real World. They exist only in computer models and White House press releases. But we are supposed to accept the hysteria as fact; base laws and policies on them; and destroy millions of coal, oil, natural gas and factory jobs, while we prop up wind, solar and biofuel industries to replace fossil fuels.
The ban on exporting American crude oil was enacted after the Arab oil embargo, and long before the fracking revolution, when politicians thought we were running out of petroleum. Now the United States and world have abundant oil and natural gas, oil prices have plummeted to $40 per barrel, oilfield jobs are threatened, and letting American companies export crude to Europe and other regions would spur drilling and job preservation, generate major tax revenues and greatly reduce balance of trade deficits.
However, Democrats detest drilling and fossil fuels, and President Obama had threatened to veto any bill that ends the export ban. So congressional leaders cobbled together a deal that would lift the ban – in exchange for extending wind and solar subsidies, and sending billions of dollars to “poor” countries like China and India, for climate change “adaptation and reparations,” while they burn more and more coal.
The reported deal extends subsidies five more years. The wind energy Production Tax Credit would be reduced 20% in 2017, 40% in 2018 and 60% in 2019, after which it would finally expire (unless Congress extends it yet again). For solar, the 30% Investment Tax Credit would remain in place past 2017, then drop to 26% through 2020, then to 22% through 2021, then remain at 10% in perpetuity. Biofuel mandates would also remain.
Just as bad, wind and solar would continue to be exempt from the Endangered Species Act. Companies would still be allowed to bury, hide, incinerate or ignore millions of eagle, hawk, other bird and bat carcasses – and never be subjected to penalties imposed on oil and coal companies for a few dozen deaths.
As Politico explains, the “logic” behind these arrangements is that solar (and wind) companies need this “lifeline” so that they can survive over the next few years, “until EPA rules kick in and boost demand for their carbon-free power.” As I see it, the omnibus bill sanctifies EPA’s draconian Clean Power Plan and other anti-coal regulations, which force coal-fired power plants to close in favor of wind and solar.
That would mean millions more jobs lost in factories and communities that depend on low-cost coal-based electricity, and on natural gas-fueled power plants that are also under environmentalist and EPA assault. It would mean ruling elites again get to decide whose jobs get preserved, and who get the shaft.
It seems Congress doesn’t dare imperil jobs and companies created via government diktats and taxpayer largesse. They are granted eternal life. It likewise doesn’t dare furlough federal workers for a few weeks, during another government shutdown over the budget. Fear of being blamed for a government shutdown drives Republican decisions – even though the feds would again get full back pay when they return to work, unlike private sector workers whose jobs get destroyed, often sacrificed on the climate altar, or for campaign contributions from crony corporatist friends.
As to “carbon-free” power, there is no such thing. Enormous wind and solar installations require coal or gas-fired backup generating plants, operating at peak inefficiency as they ramp up and power down when wind or sun conditions repeatedly change. That means even more carbon dioxide emissions.
And as even Secretary of State John Kerry recently admitted, with nearly 200 other countries still operating, building and planning thousands of coal-fired power plants, even if Americans all biked to work and ended all U.S. fossil fuel use, atmospheric CO2 levels would continue to rise. So even if carbon dioxide actually does drive climate change (which it doesn’t), our sacrifices would be for nothing.
In fact, even EPA analyses make it clear that a fully implemented job-killing Clean Power Plan would bring an undetectable, irrelevant reduction of 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.05 F) in average global temperatures 85 years from now – because the rest of the world is not about to stop burning oil, gas and coal.
But meanwhile we are supposed to blanket millions of acres with solar panels and wind turbines, convert millions of acres of crop and habitat land into biofuel plantations, send electricity prices “skyrocketing” for families, factories and hospitals, and kill millions of jobs – because our government says we must.
Then, even more insane, the Republican leadership also seems prepared to end the ban on using American dollars to bankroll our “fair share” of the $100-billion-a-year Green Climate Fund. And they’re planning to participate in this massive global wealth redistribution program in a sneaky, stealthy way.
They plan to let the Obama Administration have total control over $171 million that’s been appropriated in the omnibus spending bill for the Clean Technology Fund and $50 million appropriated for the Strategic Climate Fund – both of which feed into the GCF. They’ll also end prohibitions on reprogramming $168 million of Global Environment Facility money, so that it can be transferred to the GCF, and let the Treasury Department use $50 million of International Bank for Reconstruction and Development money for the same purpose. Otherwise no ending the oil exports ban.
Presto! $439 million in hard-earned taxpayer money becomes a down-payment to the Green Climate Fund, as “reparations” for climate changes we never caused, and “adaptation” money for future climate changes that will be no different or worse than what humans have experienced throughout history. Of course, the president and Democrats want a lot more – something closer to $3 billion a year.
Finally, let’s assume Republicans agree to all this pain, waste and joblessness, to end the oil export ban – and Mr. Obama refrains from vetoing it, because he gets the “renewable” energy subsidies he wants. Can we trust this president not to impose more regulatory edicts to block leasing, drilling, fracking, pipelines and exports? Or will we again be left holding an empty bag and looking like suckers?
Simply put, would it be better to give up on ending the export ban until we get a less anti-American occupant in the White House – and just eliminate these wind, solar and climate fund subsidies right now?
Voters should remind their rank-and-file representatives and the Republican (and Democrat) leadership that they are sick of the duplicity, double dealing and job destruction at the hands of ruling elites. No budget deal is better than a domestic version of the Iran nuclear deal or Paris climate non-treaty.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.cfact.org), author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.