Bet You Missed This On Friday
We sure did.
While he’s wasting your tax dollars giving loans to companies who make batteries that blow up – before their own bottom lines blow up and your tax dollars blow up as well – the president is busy attempting to regulate hydraulic fracturing out of existence by executive fiat.
The Executive Order in question, which was released in a classic Friday document dump, offers up some boilerplate language about how important shale gas is and how goosing production is super-important. But it then launches into the creating of an “interagency working group” which will promulgate policies on fracking on federal lands. And of course if you think they’ll stop there, you’re insane.
Think this group isn’t going to be grabbing at as much regulatory power as they can? Here’s who’s in that group…
(i) the Department of Defense;
(ii) the Department of the Interior;
(iii) the Department of Agriculture;
(iv) the Department of Commerce;
(v) the Department of Health and Human Services;
(vi) the Department of Transportation;
(vii) the Department of Energy;
(viii) the Department of Homeland Security;
(ix) the Environmental Protection Agency;
(x) the Council on Environmental Quality;
(xi) the Office of Science and Technology Policy;
(xii) the Office of Management and Budget;
(xiii) the National Economic Council; and
(xiv) such other agencies or offices as the Chair may invite to participate.
You can be sure whatever these guys come up with will be a horse designed by committee. And you can also be sure said horse will be held up as a model every regulatory body should be charged with enforcing, whether it makes sense or not.
And it won’t make sense. Because geological conditions in the Marcellus Shale are not the same as the Barnett Shale or the Haynesville Shale or the Utica, Bakken or Eagle Ford or Tuscaloosa Marine, and one reason why fracking is showing such outstanding promise as a method to revolutionize the American economy is that it’s regulated locally by state agencies who see a need to actually promote energy production as a local economic engine, rather than distant federal bureaucrats who’ve swallowed the Green Energy Kool-Aid and want to raise the price of conventional domestic energy so that windmills, solar panels and ethanol all of a sudden become something other than ways to destroy taxpayer wealth.
On the surface, this is relatively innocuous stuff. But nothing with Obama’s fingerprints on it has ever stayed that way, and you can count on this interagency group becoming a monster dedicated in short order to controlling that which Congress has denied them power to control.
Not to mention that the person in charge of this cabal is Heather Zichal, Obama’s climate/energy czar. Zichal is the successor to Carol Browner, who was the instigator behind that fraudulent report which purported to justify the administration’s offshore drilling ban following the 2010 BP oil spill, and she’s hardly distinguished herself in that position – if for no other reason than her propensity to spread lies like manure about Obama’s vigor in the promotion of oil and gas production.
A quick perusal of Zichal’s Wikipedia entry indicates that her background is anything but one which producers of natural gas will find appetizing…
While at Rutgers she had interned at the state chapter of the Sierra Club and was part of a panel interviewing candidates for U.S. House of Representatives in New Jersey’s 12th congressional district. The support of her and other environmentalists helped Democrat Rush D. Holt, Jr. stage an upset victory over Republican incumbent Michael J. Pappas.Impressed by her sharpness, Holt hired Zichal, and she went to Washington, D.C., where she served as a legislative director for him. She held the same position for RepresentativeFrank Pallone from 2001 to 2002. She then was a legislative assistant and later director for U.S. Senator John Kerry from 2002 to 2008, She also worked as an assistant for theSenate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. In these positions she worked on legislation to address climate change, reduce the country’s dependence on oil for energy, and to protect American natural resources. She also served as a top advisor on energy and environmental issues to the 2004 Kerry presidential campaign and the 2008 Obama presidential campaign (having first met Obama when he was lost in one of the Senate buildings and asked her for directions).
After serving on the Obama-Biden Transition Project in its Energy and Environment Policy Working Group, where she achieved some public visibility, she was named to be Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change in December 2008, to serve as deputy to Carol Browner, who was named director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy (as such, Browner’s position was also informally referred to as the “Climate Czar” or “Energy Czar“). Zichal took office in January 2009.
When Browner left the White House in March 2011, Zichal took over the general responsibilities of coordinating the administration’s energy and climate policy, now operating from within the U.S. Domestic Policy Council (the “czar” position itself having been reorganized away by the White House and its funding subsequently abolished by Congress in the mid-April 2011 federal spending agreement that averted a possible government shutdown). Zichal and the administration faced a political challenge; with Republicans having taken over the House of Representatives following the 2010 midterm elections, chances of the large-scale climate and energy legislation passing that Browner had worked towards were essentially nil. Instead, the administration intended to pursue more modest goals that could attract bipartisan support, such as reducing oil imports and promoting clean or renewable energy sources. Zichal’s past experience in both legislative and political campaigning was seen as valuable in trying to achieve such goals.
Can’t get any worse than Rush Holt, Frank Pallone, John Kerry, Obama and Browner as mentors. They’ve all demonstrated a deep-seated hatred for conventional domestic energy production and a willingness to throw away sane policy in the name of global warming fantasy. And yet Zichal is being put in charge of the federal government’s efforts to ride herd over shale gas.
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey has a pretty good take on this stuff…
Hey, this could be good news, too. Maybe Obama has decided that the federal oversight of fracking activities has become too fragmented for efficient issuance of permits and clearances, and wants to streamline the process. Getting all of the executive-branch stakeholders together for that effort could relieve a lot of red tape and costs to producers.
Does anyone believe that, though? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? If the Obama White House wanted that as an outcome, the EO would have been signed in time to get play in the news cycle, with its own press event. Obama would have declared his support for fracking and oil extraction. The EO wouldn’t have been snuck out of the West Wing in a Friday night news dump, to be buried by Buffett Rule arguments and demands to see Mitt Romney’s tax returns.
Where Morrissey – if he’s in fact suggesting this at all – is wrong, of course, is that the federal government never streamlines anything. To the extent a common standard is a worthwhile theoretical regulatory goal, you can bet your bottom dollar that the standard the feds would promulgate will be the most economically and practically untenable monster anyone could imagine. And anybody who knows about fracking can tell you no two well sites are the same, and no two frack jobs are the same, and you’ve got to design each drilling plan based on the geography and geology of the site in question. Think a uniform standard is useful to regulate that kind of activity? Think again.
But he’s exactly right that the fact this was put out on a late-Friday docu-dump instead of heralded by a press conference is a sure sign they’re going to use this to strangle fracking – and they’ll try to do it on the sly, with the effects of whatever policy this “interagency working group” comes up with going into effect after the election. And they’re hoping nobody will call them on it in advance, which of course they’ll get lucky with because the legacy media didn’t even report on it outside of the small mention it got from The Hill.
UPDATE: Jeffrey Folks at the American Thinker links the fracking EO to another Solyndra-style debacle, the canceled IPO offering at BrightSource, and sees the same motive we see…
Obama’s plan all along has been to drive up fossil fuel prices in the U.S., subsidize wind and solar with extraordinarily large subsidies and mandates, and collect his own election-year bounty from well-funded environmental groups and green energy investors. The only ones who’ll be hurt are those boobs all over America who are still toting their guns and clinging to their religion. But Obama has nothing but contempt for ordinary citizens who will be paying higher energy prices.
And he has nothing but contempt for the free market. The creation of a fracking council headed by an environmental activist is one more example of this contempt. Instead of allowing markets to work — and they are working very well, with the production of natural gas increasing by 40% and prices for consumers near all-time lows — the president believes that a single task force, composed of environmental activists and operating under his direct control, should have the power to regulate oil and gas drilling throughout the U.S.
The creation of a task force to regulate fracking should be seen for what it is: an unprecedented power-grab at the expense of the nation’s states, which have always enjoyed the prerogative of regulating drilling within their borders.