Wah wah wah: That was the message the American Petroleum Institute, the nation’s largest fossil fuel trade group, sent to President Obama Tuesday during its annual state-of-the-industry address in Washington, D.C.
API President Jack Gerard whined about the president’s decision to stop development of the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as about the Clean Power Plan and what he sees as a culture of overregulation.
“Emboldened by their ability to stop the Keystone XL pipeline,” Gerard said, “anti–fossil fuel advocates have set their sights on all energy infrastructure projects. Their arguments against this energy infrastructure project were not based on its economic merits or true environmental impact. And the decision to reject the pipeline simply ignores the pipeline’s many benefits,” he continued.
Those benefits, by the way, include lining the pockets of fossil fuel execs, which are already plenty full — thanks, in part, to Obama’s embrace of domestic oil and gas production. As Bloomberg Business reports:
U.S. oil production has surged 82 percent to near-record levels in the past seven years and natural gas is up by nearly one-quarter. Instead of shutting down the hydraulic fracturing process that has unlocked natural gas from dense rock formations, Obama has promoted the fuel as a stepping stone to a greener, renewable future.
The administration has also permitted drilling in the Arctic Ocean over the objections of environmentalists and opened the door to a new generation of oil and gas drilling in Atlantic waters hugging the East Coast. He also signed, with reservations, a measure to lift a 40-year-old ban on the export of most U.S. crude.
“Given an administration that was so committed to combating climate change, they have coexisted pretty peacefully with the industry, despite all the protestations,” said David Goldwyn, a consultant who for two years served as the State Department’s top energy diplomat under Obama. “And the best metric is just look at the production.”
Production has been up — way up. Car sales have been up too, another indicator that the oil industry is doing just fine.
But all this comes at a big cost. We all know about what fossil fuels do to the climate, of course. But Americans are getting hit in another way too: We taxpayers are subsidizing this oil and gas bonanza. The fossil fuel industry gets about $18.5 billion in federal subsidies every year, Oil Change International estimated in a 2014 report.
“There’s a clear relationship here between these subsidies and increased production,” Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, told VICE News.
And yet, API continues to whine about Obama. “As the president’s last full year in office begins,” Gerard said in D.C., “… we hope that he’ll note that the already heavy regulatory burden — almost 100 pending regulations and counting — upon the oil and natural gas industry could hinder, rather than advance, what he hopes to be one of his administration’s defining legacies: environmental improvement.”
HA! Regulation is worse for the environment? It’s an idea almost as rich as the fossil fuel industry. Almost.