Monday, April 16, 2012

Obama Bureaucracies Poised to Pull Plug on Shale Boom

One of the few bright spots in the dismal Obama economy has been the shale oil & gas boom. Several US states have benefited from the rapid growth in energy drilling, and consequent boom in local manufacturing, housing, and service investment that has taken place.

Unfortunately, the unconventional energy boom has proved inconvenient to many of President Obama's key supporters, potential allies, and constituencies, including the foreign government of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But given the enormous beneficial economic effect of the shale boom on large parts of the US economy, Mr. Obama cannot openly move against the industry. He must first provide himself with as much bureaucratic and faux environmental cover as possible.

Update: Obama a threat to low cost natural gas

While Mr. Obama has the Department of Interior (Ken Salazar) and the EPA (Lisa Jackson) well in hand, the Department of Energy has been a bit too eager to help the energy industry to expand and develop, for Mr. Obama's taste. When one has devoted so much of his time to taming the private sector economy in order to establish the uncontested dominance of the public sector, one cannot easily allow any industry to "break out" of the pack -- particularly an industry as politically incorrect as the oil & gas industry.
The US Departments of Energy (DOE) and of the Interior (DOI), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a formal partnership to coordinate and align all research associated with development of the US’ unconventional natural gas and oil resources such as shale gas and oil. The partnership exemplifies the cross-government coordination required under President Obama’s executive order released earlier today, which mandated a new Interagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources. (Earlier post.)

The new partnership will help coordinate current and future research and scientific studies undertaken by the three federal agencies. A primary goal of this effort will be to identify research topics where collaboration among the three agencies can be most effectively and efficiently conducted to provide results and technologies that support sound policy decisions by the agencies responsible for ensuring the prudent development of energy sources while promoting safe practices and human health. A broader set of activities will be coordinated under the newly ordered Interagency Working Group. _GCC
More at GCC, with links to public documents and announcements.

One must read between the lines in order to interpret the underlying intent of bureaucratic coordination of this type. While the announcement is worded to suggest that the Obama administration is promoting new energy sources such as unconventional oil & gas, the sad reality is that Mr. Obama is using two ideologically subjugated bureaucracies to subdue a third, which has failed to submit itself totally to getting its ideological mind right.

In an election year, the president cannot be too careful in covering his donkey. Particularly when his planned policies are likely to hurt the US economy by attacking crucially important energy supplies and economic activity.

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