Planet Gore

Obama’s War on the West

I just received the following from a Senate aide (emphases in the original), laying out in strong terms what the Obama administration’s radicalism is proving to mean to that part of the country sneered at by the president’s faculty-lounge base: the heartland. To which I can only say, I told you so:

. . . The president’s policies are costing the country jobs and halting economic growth. These policies specifically target the economies of the American West. This war on the West waged by the president and his allies in Congress must come to an end.

One clear example of the Obama administration’s hostility to the economic health of the West is its ferociously anti-business energy policies. Since President Obama was sworn into office, domestic energy producers across the country have operated with targets on their backs. Heavy-handed federal policies coming from Washington, D.C. stand to severely damage the development of domestic energy production and kill the jobs that accompany such business.

The West has a wealth of oil, coal, and natural gas, and we should utilize these resources in a safe, responsible way. Unfortunately, this White House has chosen to stymie domestic production at every turn.

Efforts to pass cap-and-trade legislation through Congress have cast a dark cloud of uncertainty over many industries that create jobs in the West. Plainly put, cap-and-trade is a national backdoor tax that will increase energy costs for consumers across our country, as well as slash jobs. As a senator, Obama even conceded the inevitable economic damage, stating in 2008: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Families and businesses in Western states will pay a disproportionate share of this national energy tax.

With the Democrats’ plan for cap-and-trade blocked, the Obama administration has pressed forward by circumventing Congress altogether by unilaterally working to regulate carbon dioxide through the Clean Air Act. This burdensome regulation would not only affect large carbon emitters, but would also hurt rural hospitals, schools, and farms, throughout my home state of South Dakota and in the Western front generally. Despite congressional attempts to stop this energy tax, these regulations go into effect in January 2011 and will include more manufacturers and energy producers over the next few years. . . .

Instead of pushing policies that continue to damage the economic well-being of the great American West, the president and his colleagues in Congress should focus on fostering an environment that creates jobs and grows the economy. In a time of historically high unemployment, America is begging elected officials to get out of the way of job creation.

Utah has a rich tradition of independence in both thought and way of life. The growing encroachment by the federal government beyond its charter will not go unnoticed in the Beehive State.

John Thune is a U.S. senator from South Dakota and a Republican member of the Senate Western Caucus.

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