In a 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, then-candidate Barack Obama explained that electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket” under his ideal energy policy of capping carbon emissions from coal plants.
“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can,” Obama said. “It’s just that it will bankrupt them.”
Senator Obama could not have been clearer: his administration’s policy goal would be to make new coal plant construction in the United States economically impossible, regardless of the negative impact on American job creation.
Incredibly, President Obama now wants to punish American suppliers of new equipment for coal plant construction taking place overseas -- even if it costs thousands of American jobs.
Last week the U.S. Export-Import Bank denied a loan guarantee that would have financed the sale of about $600 million in mining equipment made by Bucyrus International Inc., a Milwaukee, Wisconsin based company. Bucyrus had contracted to build equipment for a new coal plant in India and the loan guarantee was key to the Indian project’s ability to buy the equipment from Bucyrus.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank is taxpayer financed and the entire reason for its existence is to support the export of U.S. manufactured products made by companies like Bucyrus through loans and guarantees.
The chairman of the Export-Import Bank, Fred Hochberg, immediately issued a statement explaining the rationale for its decision. The Obama administration, according to Hochberg, has made a “commitment to transition away from high-carbon investments and toward a cleaner-energy future.”
According to Bucyrus CEO Tim Sullivan, the equipment will now be built in China or Belarus, putting over a thousand Americans out of work.
Apparently to President Obama, a “cleaner-energy future” means a jobless American future.
Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) said the denial of the loan “doesn’t prevent a coal power plant from being built…it only ensures that the jobs connected to it are not American.”
Wisconsin’s Democratic governor, Jim Doyle, was even more direct in his assessment: “It was the most shortsighted, unconscionable decision you could imagine, and I can't see any justification for it.”
Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers of America, also was quite direct in his condemnation: “At a time when we are losing good-paying jobs, and at a time when President Obama wants to double U.S. exports, how can the Export-Import Bank deny a loan that would create and protect jobs at Bucyrus International? It was a dumb decision.”
This is only the latest example of the Obama administration’s pursuit of a radical agenda that jeopardizes the livelihoods of hardworking Americans.
Consider the six-month moratorium that the administration imposed on deepwater oil and gas drilling after the April 20 rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The administration consulted experts from the National Academy of Engineering to develop a proper response, and those experts advised against a moratorium on existing deepwater drilling.
Democratic strategist and Louisiana resident James Carville echoed this opposition to the moratorium, saying that offshore drilling is “essential” to the Louisiana economy. “If you take fishing and you take petroleum away [from southern Louisiana], you don't have a whole lot left,” Carville said.
The administration ignored all them and imposed the moratorium. Even a recent federal court decision overturning the moratorium has not deterred the Obama administration’s plan to impose it. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar dismissed the court’s decision and declared that the administration would issue a new finding in the next few days.
In a meeting with Interior officials, officials from industries impacted by the moratorium said they were “disappointed at the lack of serious attention that was paid by the Department of the Interior on the horrible economic impact” that the moratorium is having, not only for them but also for Gulf coast communities. Several of those officials also told Salazar that they’re in the final stages of moving their operations to West Africa and the Middle East.
Add to this the job-killing national energy tax that President Obama has been urging Congress to pass and it’s clear that the creation of new jobs in this country is not the number one priority of this administration.
Creating jobs for the economies of China and West Africa at the expense of the American economy may be what the enlightened leadership that participates at global summits believes in, but it’s certainly not the type of leadership needed by American citizens looking for jobs.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich is a Fox News contributor. He currently serves as General Chairman of American Solutions, a citizen-action network with 1.5 million members. Steve Everley is Manager of Policy Research at American Solutions.
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Newt Gingrich, a Republican, was speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. He is the author of the new novel "Treason" (Center Street, October 11) and co-author, with his wife Callista Gingrich, of "Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation's History and Future" (Center Street, May 17, 2016).