President Obama has rejected plans to go forward with the Keystone XL pipeline that would have carried unrefined heavy crude from Canada’s Alberta tar sands fields down to Louisiana, to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Incredibly enough, it was the U.S. State Department that made the “recommendation,” citing inadequate time for study of a more ecologically-acceptable pipeline route than the current one through Nebraska. The State Department, not the Department of Energy, the Interior, or the EPA. Go figure that one. (Some arcane technicality about crossing the 49th Parallel, or some such.)

On the surface, for public consumption by the inattentive, the Obama Administration is saying that the Republicans only gave the Administration 60 days to complete the eco study, since this was piggybacked onto the 60-day extension of the payroll tax cut bill. But the reality is that the Canadian firm TransCanada first applied for the pipeline permit in 2008 and the Administration has been stonewalling and delaying ever since, in deference to the powerful Environmental lobby, a key Democratic voting bloc. This latest “60-day” restriction is risible and transparent. Nebraska is already a veritable roadmap of criss-crossed pipelines; the Keystone line does not represent anything radically new or different. Past environmental studies haven’t turned up any reasons not to go forward. This latest decision by Obama is significant mainly for its newness, public visibility, and symbolism.

There are other issues at play here. Major environmental groups are opposed to new oil production anywhere around the U.S. There are several reasons: They feel oil is ‘unclean,’ and the longer we are wed to it, the longer that delays cleaner sources like solar, battery, and hydrogen from reaching the market. They feel the fossil fuel extraction process is environmentally-punishing, and we need to stop “violating” the earth merely to satisfy our energy desires. And there is an undeniable undercurrent of feeling among liberal Green environmentalists—that comes through quite clearly—that so-called Big Energy is the domain of rich, capitalistic, “1%” white Republicans, smoking their expensive cigars and drinking their single-malt Scotch in the inner sanctums of discriminatory, exclusive clubs, and those people need to be punished, and punished badly.

The first two reasons are demonstrably false. Using oil in the near-term does not “delay” the development or deployment of new, cleaner energy sources in the future. As I’ve written many times before, our capitalistic system with its profit motive is the best device for bringing new inventions and superior solutions—in all fields, not just energy— into existence as fast as possible. An untold fortune in profits awaits the company or individual who devises the first large-scale economically-viable alternative to fossil fuel-based energy. The alternative(s) could not possibly be brought into existence faster under a different economic system than ours; certainly not by an inefficient, bureaucratic, somewhat corrupt centrally-managed Government-controlled economic system.

As far as the ecological effects of fossil-fuel extraction, the US does this better than anywhere else in the world. Our technology, our EPA, and the threat of crushing punitive legal action by our army of domestic ambulance-chasing, know-no-ethical-bounds private-practice lawyers keeps things operating on a more efficient, cleaner level than anywhere else, by far. Next time you travel to mainland China, bring a gasmask for the stench of open garbage-burning piles and the unbreatheable smog from unfiltered coal-fired power plants. That can’t—and doesn’t—happen here.

(As for the third reason above, that will not change.)

Yet there is another, more subtle, more insidious, far less obvious gambit at play here.

President Obama has never made any secret of his desire to promote the Green sector, for both good-intentioned and coldly-calculating political reasons.

Unfortunately, Green technology—as defined by Obama and the hard-core Environmental lobby—is not yet ready for “prime time,” as the saying goes. Large-scale solar panel electric generation, hybrid/electric cars, biofuels and all the other pet projects of the Left are abject failures when it comes to the open energy market. Left to their own devices—absent huge Government subsidies—the various Green technologies remain peripheral, bit players in our overall energy picture. They’re simply still too expensive and consumers vote with their wallets, choosing conventional fossil-based energy, since these energy sources are the best value.

But if Green can’t be made less expensive, how about if we make fossil more expensive? All that counts is the absolute differential—the delta—between the two. If that can be made small enough, then Green—the good guys—can win.

That is what is quite likely at play here: President Obama is rigging the game to restrict the supply of oil and cause the price of oil to rise, in order to make Green energy look better in comparison to fossil fuels then it otherwise would in a free, open market. Restricting the supply of local oil also keeps us more dependent on unfriendly foreign suppliers and worsens our balance of trade payments, something even the casually-attentive American recognizes and hates. If the choice is either buy more oil from the sheiks and mullahs of the Middle East (because Obama has seen to it that we can’t increase our local oil supply) or switch to domestic Green energy for about the same price as Mid-East oil, then guess which one people will choose?

This is very clever on his part, and it’s entirely consistent with his aim of re-making America into the kinder, softer, less intrusive egalitarian society that he envisions. As for the supposed job losses we will suffer by not proceeding with the Keystone project, that’s a small (and very temporary, he hopes) price to pay for good standing with the powerful Environmental lobby, and anyway, there will no doubt be multiple opportunities to repay the Unions somewhere down the line.

Of course, some will say that Obama hasn’t thought things through this thoroughly. They’ll say he’s just a fool.

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