Now, I don’t have much affection for coal. I think mountaintop-removal mining should be phased out. But you can’t really say you’re pursuing an all-of-the-above energy policy, or deny that you want energy prices to go up, and declare war on coal at the same time.
The inanity of all this is that the real impulse behind the war on coal is the belief that we need to stamp it out to reduce global warming. But even if you believe the full suite of global-warning-crisis complaints, the policy is nuts, because the net result will be to lower the price of coal and increase the amount we sell to places like China. Is it better if we burn the coal here, with cleaner emissions and more jobs for Americans, or there, with dirtier emissions?
But forget coal. What about oil? The president killed the Keystone XL pipeline. After the BP oil spill, his administration overruled its own panel of experts to implement a moratorium on offshore drilling (while suggesting it was the experts’ idea). Obama wants to revoke “subsidies” for oil companies, which are in fact the same tax write-offs that any business gets. He takes credit for the increase in oil drilling on U.S. soil but leaves out that drilling on federal and American Indian lands has gone down under his administration. He also forgets to mention that he opposes drilling off the mid-Atlantic coast and the Florida coast, and anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or the Rockies.
When those resources aren’t exploited, oil rigs don’t sit and rust, they go to other countries (often ones with fewer environmental safeguards) to find oil elsewhere — oil we will then buy.
Romney is right to suggest that Obama is saying things he doesn’t believe in order to get reelected. But, at least on energy, he’s not taking a new position. When you’re the incumbent president, you can say that your position is whatever you want. But the truth of the matter isn’t determined by what you say, but by what you do. And judged against what he is doing, Obama’s all-of-the-above strategy isn’t a policy change, it’s just a lie.
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can write to him by e-mail at [email protected], or via Twitter @JonahNRO.