Broken Promises on Energy Independence

by Ilario Pantano

Last night we heard some lofty language from our campaigner-in-chief about exploring America’s energy potential. We heard about the development of offshore gas, and about reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. What the president failed to mention is that he recently killed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have put thousands of Americans to work and is the best way to supply oil to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

Terminating the XL Pipeline project is not the first time the president has done violence to a blossoming American energy industry. This administration, with the aid and direction of their liberal cronies, has already crippled the nuclear-power industry in America — a business this country pioneered yet no longer leads. Again, his promise to develop and implement clean, efficient, and domestic energy solutions has been broken, despite the lofty rhetoric reiterated so disingenuously last night.

In cancelling the XL project, the president opted once again to embrace the desires and demands of a special-interest lobby. This pattern has had a ripple effect across industries, but has been particularly harmful to the vital national interest of energy independence. Some Americans might not have noticed, but businesses and investors everywhere saw a $1.9 billion investment by Keystone go up in smoke, after 40 months of careful adherence to an overly burdensome federal regulatory process.

I wish I could say this was an unprecedented federal overreach by Obama, but the truth is that this  decision followed right on the heels of the National Labor Relations Board’s bullying of Boeing with regard to their planned plant in South Carolina, once again sending billions in private investment up in smoke for millions in liberal campaign contributions. And while you were watching President Obama’s lips move, his subordinates were killing the Yucca Mountain project, which would have provided a safe and secure solution to the problem of nuclear waste, which is piling up around the country. Without a place to put nuclear waste, any future nuclear development will disappear. Again, investors are paying attention. Who would build a plant knowing there is no viable Yucca-type waste solution? Right here in southeastern North Carolina, where we have reactors of the same G.E. design as those at Fukushima, there is waste being stored. And also like Fukushima, that waste is located on the coastline, in North Carolina’s “Hurricane Alley.”

When Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act over two decades ago, it promised American communities that the U.S. Department of Energy would begin removing that waste to a remote underground storage facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, by 1998. During the last 25 years, the government has spent over $11 billion to plan and license the facility, more than it should have cost to build it. But today we have no plan, no license, and no facility. Once again, a promise to the American people has been betrayed.

But the president kept his promise to Senator Reid. In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama promised Reid that he would terminate the Yucca project. Guess what? He did. After the election, President Obama directed Secretary Chu and Chairman Jaczko to close Yucca’s doors. The president’s priorities, and his loyalties, are abundantly clear.

Most Americans understand that what we need is an energy policy that doesn’t hamstring American entrepreneurship, but that takes advantage of the tremendous natural resources with which God has blessed us. This is as true in North Carolina as it is in any other state across the nation, with our shale and offshore gas. With energy demand projected to rise dramatically over the coming decades, we have no choice but to explore every option, and to do our very best to encourage investment. The president’s promises to the American people have been broken, even before they passed through his mouth last evening.

— Ilario Pantano is the author of Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy and a congressional candidate for North Carolina’s 7th district.