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Major Mistruths From Obama's Energy Address

In his Tuesday address to the nation, President Obama used the Gulf of Mexico tragedy to twist the facts, bend the truth, and attempt to capitalize on a national disaster to push job-killing energy tax legislation. Here are six mistruths presented by the president.

Mr. Obama started by saying, “We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got…we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.” 

However, the president has not taken the first and easiest step to allow other countries to assist in the clean-up efforts by waving the Jones Act. Based on the 1920 Merchant Marine Act all goods shipped between U.S. ports must be transported in U.S.-built, U.S.-owned and U.S. -manned ships – yet another gift to Big Labor. President George W. Bush waived the Jones Act to allow assistance from foreign countries during the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita almost immediately. 

President Obama is preventing European companies from Belgian, Dutch and Norwegian firms with such advanced environmental technology to further his political gain.

He continued by saying, “I have issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs.” Apparently, the potential loss of 120,000 jobs and as many as 46,200 supporting jobs becoming idled by the moratorium, during the worst recession our country has experienced, is just a mere “difficulty” for the men and women whom these rigs employ. Glad to see the president has his priorities in line.

Most Americans can agree that, “Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be here in America,” as the president said. 

Yet he must have forgotten that 80 percent of the first $1 billion spent on grants to wind energy companies in the Recovery Act went to foreign firms and jobs to build turbines overseas. In the second round of government grants, 79 percent of the $2.1 billion in grants went to companies based overseas; of this money, $2.9 billion went to wind facilities.

The old factories that are reopening to produce wind turbines and the “small businesses [that] are making solar panels” the president mentioned are not market-created jobs. They are jobs artificially created by injecting taxpayer dollars into a certain sector stimulating artificial supply with no market demand. 

For example, in Florida, the DeSoto Solar Center was supposed to be the “largest solar power plant in the United States,” according to President Obama. The center received $150 million from the Recovery Act. After using 400 construction workers to build the site, the Solar Center now employs only two people. These jobs are simply not sustainable.

It seems positive that the president claimed, “People are going back to work installing energy-efficient windows…” However, the President is referring to a program in the stimulus called “weatherization,” which many argue is the most failed attempt to artificially create jobs in the market where they wouldn’t typically exist. With $5 billion appropriated for this project, less than 10,000 homes have been weatherized nationwide out of 593,000. Only $522 million -- less than 10 percent of the money available -- has been spent on weatherization. 

The Inspector General found the jobs impact “has not materialized” and the Government Accountability Office found the application of costly Davis-Bacon wage requirements equates to over $57,000 per home nationwide. How this helps the economy is yet to be proven.

Obama ended his speech by referencing the House passed cap-and-trade bill saying, “Now, there are costs associated with this transition. And some believe we can’t afford those costs right now. I say we can’t afford not to.” 

The real effects the president refers to are not something our economy can afford. If his vision is passed into law, gasoline prices will rise 58 percent (or $1.38), natural gas prices will rise 55 percent, heating oil prices will rise 56 percent, electricity prices will rise 90 percent and a family of four can expect their per-year energy costs to rise by $1,241.

Can American really “afford not to” endure these costs? I think not. 

Rather than using this tragedy for political gain, the president should support an “all of the above” energy approach that incorporates a diverse variety of energy sources without mandates, subsidies, or taxes that artificially skew the market in favor of one form of energy over another.

That is a national energy vision America can believe in.

Brian Johnson is federal affairs manager at Americans for Tax Reform.

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