Jazz Shaw and I have repeatedly made the argument here at Hot Air that we could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, deliver cheaper energy, and reduce the outflow of hundreds of billions of dollars overseas with an energy policy that encourages domestic exploration and extraction in oil, natural gas, and coal. At the very least, we could stop killing existing jobs by getting out of the way of the exploration and extraction that’s going on now, on land and offshore. Unfortunately, Exxon has discovered firsthand what it’s like to deal with what Investors Business Daily calls “regulatory pirates” in the Gulf of Mexico:
ExxonMobil, and its Norwegian partner Statoil made the biggest discovery of all — a field worth a billion barrels of oil — 7,000 feet below sea level in its “Julia” field in 2007.
Exxon tried to keep its discovery secret to keep marauders away. Sadly, the pirates in this instance are U.S. regulators — and their aim is to stop them.
That’s right: Instead of marvel at the continuing treasures of the New World, or hail the human ingenuity that made retrieval of so much oil possible, or simply quantify how this discovery will boost U.S. energy security, Interior Department bureaucrats moved instead to snatch Exxon’s permits and shut the whole thing down.
Employing an extreme technicality, these regulators claimed that Exxon’s request in 2008 for a short suspension of activity to upgrade and make safer its drilling operation amounted to an abandonment of three of its five permits, simply because Exxon hadn’t signed a contract with another partner, Chevron, by the time the suspension was completed. …
Exxon is now fighting the permit action in a federal court in Lake Charles, La., calling it “arbitrary,” “capricious” and “an abuse of law.” It’s also a textbook case of the anti-business climate fostered by the Obama administration which should be bending over backward to help Exxon create jobs and profits.
So let’s look at what the Obama administration is trying to accomplish, and what it’s costing you as a result.
Well, it’s going to cost us jobs in the Gulf, and not just there, either. As IBD points out, drilling requires a lot more support than just people working on the rig. The rigs have to be built, and then the heavy machinery has to be manufactured — “in places like Youngstown, Ohio,” at a steel plant that makes the pipes for the rig.
So killing the project means killing those jobs, which means less tax revenue for Uncle Sam, And speaking of revenue, let’s not forget that Exxon would have to pay taxes and royalties on production, with revenue reaching into the billions. Wouldn’t that help us out with our fiscal troubles in Washington, at least in some small measure? You bet it would.
Government regulation should balance between risks and rewards, allowing industry to succeed especially in vital economic markets as energy production, and treat all players equally. The Obama administration’s use of regulatory adventurism goes way beyond the legitimate regulatory function of government to punish industry and discourage growth and success for its own political agenda. There may be a more apt description of this administration than “regulatory pirates,” but if so, I’d have a tough time naming it.