Washington’s energy debate has been focused on President Obama ’s endless opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, but maybe that was only a warm-up. His new fossil fuel shutdown target is Alaska.
President Obama announced Sunday that he’ll use his executive authority to designate 12 million acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, walling it off from resource development. This abrogates a 1980 deal in which Congress specifically set aside some of this acreage for future oil and gas exploration. It’s also a slap at the new Republican Congress, where Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been corralling bipartisan support for more Arctic drilling.
The ANWR blockade also seems to be part of a larger strategy to starve the existing Trans-Alaska pipeline, the 800-mile system that carries oil south from state lands in Prudhoe Bay. ANWR occupies the land east of that pipeline. The Interior Department this week will release a five-year offshore drilling plan that puts vast parts of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas—the area to the north of the pipeline—out of bounds for drilling. This follows an Administration move in 2010 to close down nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA)—the area west of the pipeline.
One has to give the President points for chutzpah – only days ago, in his rather defiant State of the Union address, he brazenly took credit for the dramatic drop in energy prices that his Administration has taken every effort to prevent. This latest attack on American energy independence is just the latest. Meanwhile the Imperial Mansion seems an inexhaustible font of taxpayer dollars for any green energy scheme cooked up by an Obama campaign contributor – Solyndra, anyone?
Still – there may be hope for some sort of sanity from the Imperial City. It appears that the House Republican leadership may have discovered they do in fact possess some balls. The subject of their intransigence is immigration, not energy, but it’s a step.