Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that, contrary to President Obama’s and Salazar’s earlier statements, there will be no offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts for the next seven years. That’s great news for our Saudi allies, but bad news for America.
According to General P.X. Kelly (ret.), our dependence on oil from overseas is going to cost America as much as $300 billion this year. Why send all of this money abroad when America could work towards securing its future energy supply, and towards lowering prices at the pump for American consumers, by tapping into its abundant offshore sources? Instead of pursuing sensible policies that would help the American economy grow by creating jobs, and by reducing the cost of doing business through lower energy prices, we longingly gaze at domestic oil supplies, while the Obama administration tells us: Sorry, can’t have it.
Could this have anything to do with the recent report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, calling for a tripling of funds for U.S. Energy Research? You betcha! If Americans aren’t up for giving the government more of their money now, to give to their friends in the clean energy sector, maybe they will be more open to the idea when oil prices rise even further. The government report asks for raising U.S. research funding for energy to $16 billion.
As I blogged on Monday, Government Energy Research is a Waste of Taxpayer Money, because it attracts rent seeking. Money that companies could be investing in pursuing private research gets directed towards lobbying the government. The result is an overall loss to society as all companies taken together end up wasting more money on raising their chances to be on the Department of Energy’s favorites list than is available in the research funding pot.
Additionally, government is terrible at picking winners and losers, because political considerations tend to outweigh economic and environmental reasoning. Al Gore admitting to his “mistake” in promoting ethanol subsidies, because his presidential aspirations got the best of him, is a perfect example of that.
Rather than spend more taxpayer money, the government should pursue an energy strategy that makes sense for America.