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False Premises on Energy and Environment

A bright spot of the humming, gleaming pre-COVID U.S. economy was the remarkable performance of domestic oil and gas production and jobs in the U.S. energy sector. America became a net energy exporter for the first time in decades.

Thanks to fracking technology, extracting smaller petroleum deposits efficiently, safely and economically revved a blue-collar industry that produced low gasoline and oil prices, thousands of good-paying jobs and new wealth. And Holman Jenkins writes that “the one innovation that greens opposed, fracking, has done more to reduce emissions than all government efforts combined.”

Importantly, domestic energy’s flourishing brought the United States as close to energy independence as we’d seen in years and years. This U.S. economic independence that put good money in the pockets of hard-working Americans contributed to several Islamic Middle Eastern nations’ cooperation with U.S.-led advances toward peace with Israel and pariah status for Iran. Thus, real national security progress occurred, thanks to freely making use of our abundant natural resources.

Unfortunately, that progress is at risk because of policy reversals by Washington’s new regime. Climate change has become the new priority.

The new Washington regime is wrecking productive, valuable jobs in a government-induced exercise in futility. Yet, there’s little if any gain from this poor-odds bet. C. Boyden Gray notes that electric car quotas “do nothing quantifiable to reduce carbon emissions.” Jenkins, of the Wall St. Journal, says, “No matter how you fiddle the data, personal EVs are a single-digit factor and belong low on any list of [greenhouse emissions] priorities.”

Most threatening to property rights and republican self-government is the recklessness being used to reverse course. For instance, Executive Order 13990, Executive Order 14008, Secretarial Order 3395 and other unilateral actions aim to stall domestic energy production and critical mineral extraction, while repealing and replacing gas autos with electric vehicles.

This makes us dependent on troubled nations’ raw-materials supply for critical minerals and on China’s supply chain for ion batteries that run electric cars. It places excessive demand on U.S. electrical grids to keep those expensive new EVs charged, also costing consumers more for cars and on utility bills.

Rather than smooth, market-driven transitions as new technologies become viable and economically sensible, drastic federal measures dictate quick switches that could well leave America vulnerable to adversaries and quash our economy while doing little for the environment. That’s the approach Democrats say they’ll take in the next highway and infrastructure bills. California seeks to impose its own electric car quotas. Talk about wholesale politics; the term now takes on frightening meaning.

There is pushback. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) has introduced H.R. 859, the Protecting American Energy Jobs Act. This constructive bill would protect America from dangerous, unilateral actions such as those mentioned above and restore the status quo ante for energy jobs while a closely divided Senate and House could debate a constructive course. There’s little chance of enacting safeguards to preserve our domestic energy progress and to block administrative overreach, given the my-way-or-the-highway tyranny in D.C.

Nevertheless, it’s encouraging that a freshman in the minority party could attract the support of about 30 national, state and local industry and policy organizations for her legislation. Perhaps H.R. 859 and similar bills will foster a more deliberative, collaborative, bipartisan approach to crafting solutions. Unilaterally giving the pendulum a big, sudden swing the opposite direction risks not only jobs and overwhelming levels of disruption. Partisan strong-arming threatens private property rights, self-government and liberty, not to mention any hope of national unity.

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