Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oh, the irony

Presidents who don't want to do something, but seek to seem like they're doing something, like to establish commissions and advisory councils to investigate policy questions. They roll out these blue ribbon groups with a lot of fanfare and then proceed to ignore them except when they need to answer a question about what they're doing to approach that policy question. Exhibit A was Obama's debt commission. They worked hard and came up with bipartisan proposals. Obama ignored them. That was, to me, one of the most telling signs that he had no interest in decreasing the debt.

Another one of his blue-ribbon groups is his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. They rolled out their final report yesterday and guess what they're recommending?
“[W]e should allow more access to oil, natural gas and coal opportunities on federal lands,” states the year-end report released Tuesday by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

The report does not specifically mention the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but it endorses moving forward quickly with projects that “deliver electricity and fuel,” including pipelines.

“The Council recognizes the important safety and environmental concerns surrounding these types of projects, but now more than ever, the jobs and economic and energy security benefits of these energy projects require us to tackle the issues head-on and to expeditiously, though cautiously, move forward on projects that can support hundreds of thousands of jobs,” the report says.
Although the report doesn't mention the Keystone XL pipeline directly, it's clear what their approach would be.
“The Council recognizes that providing access to more areas for drilling, mining and renewable energy development is controversial, but, given the current economic situation, we believe it’s necessary to tap America’s assets in a safe and responsible manner,” the report says.

“Additionally, policies that facilitate the safe, thoughtful and timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects are necessary to facilitate the delivery of America’s fuel and electricity and maintain the reliability of our nation’s energy system.”

Stakeholders should work together to develop “best practices” aimed at ensuring safety, while also expediting energy projects, according to the report.

“[R]egulatory and permitting obstacles that could threaten the development of some energy projects negatively impact jobs and weaken our energy infrastructure need to be addressed,” the report says. “Speedy adoption of best practice standards would allow government officials to reduce regulatory and permitting obstacles to important energy projects.”
By February 21, Obama is supposed to come up with a final decision on the XL pipeline. What do you want to bet that he'll ignore his own council's recommendations and cater to his environmentalist base?