If it ever was a secret, it’s not a secret any longer: The Obama Administration is on a vindictive campaign to injure America’s oil and gas industry. The proof materialized last week when video of an Environmental Protection Agency official revealed the White House’s vicious attitude toward the very industries that supply the American people a reliable, affordable energy source. Yesterday, that official fell on his sword and resigned to spare the president any further embarrassment from the truth he disclosed.
Last week, Heritage’s Lachlan Markay reported on a video showing EPA Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz describe his agency’s “philosophy of enforcement” with respect to the regulation of oil and gas companies — likening it to brutal tactics employed by the ancient Roman army to intimidate its foes into submission. With a wry smile, Armendariz detailed the joy with which the EPA inflicts punishment on the disfavored industries:
It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer the villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.
Lest there be any doubt, it’s worth reiterating the point — according to Armendariz, the EPA views its enforcement efforts as a violent crucifixion used to strong arm companies into submission. The Constitution bars cruel and unusual punishment, but evidently that doesn’t apply to the axe-wielding EPA when it comes to enforcing regulations.
None of this, though, should be a surprise coming from what very well may be the most anti-energy administration in history. For the president and his cadre of bureaucrats, “Big Oil” is the enemy that deserves to be beaten into submission.
Exhibit A: The president’s unremitting crusade to raise taxes on the oil industry by denying it access to tax credits available to other industries. This, of course, is a game of semantics and populist rhetoric. In his appeal to the American people, the president is claiming that oil and gas companies enjoy special loopholes and subsidies that need to be eliminated. In reality, they get the same tax treatment enjoyed by producers of clothing, roads, electricity, water, and many other goods manufactured in the United States. Actually, oil companies receive less of a tax break than those manufacturers. (Oil companies receive a six percent reduction while all other manufacturers receive a nine percent reduction.) Yet the president wants to impose a higher targeted tax hike and take the tax break away completely.
When President Obama lashes out at “Big Oil,” guess who’s going to pay the price? You. First, raising taxes on any company means that the costs will be passed on to consumers. If you’re tired of paying high gas prices, you would pay even more if the president levies new costs on the industry that is supplying your fuel.
Second, when the president talks about “Big Oil,” keep in mind who “Big Oil” is — it could very well be you. Thirty-one percent of U.S. oil and natural gas shares are owned by public or private pension plans. On top of that, individual retirement accounts hold 18 percent of shares, individual investors have 21 percent, and asset management companies including mutual funds account for 21 percent — comprising more than 90 percent of oil and gas stocks in 2011. That means when those companies profit, there’s a good chance you profit. And when those companies suffer, there’s a good chance that you suffer, too.
That doesn’t matter, though, to an Administration that is in an unyielding pursuit of a singular “green” agenda. Billions in taxpayer dollars are spent to fund solar companies that go bankrupt and to give tax credits to wealthy Americans so they can buy a handful of electric vehicles. Meanwhile, the president’s Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, gives himself an “A” for his work in lowering gas prices, despite their reaching all-time highs under his watch. And all the while, the president is saying “NO” to domestic energy exploration, including his decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline.
So when Armendariz spoke of “crucifying” oil and gas companies, it was not a surprise. His crime was saying what the rest of the Obama Administration — including the president — have been thinking and doing all along. Last week, Armendariz apologized and called his comments ”an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation’s environmental laws.” In fact, though his words were vivid, they were all too accurate. The Obama Administration has an obvious political agenda that is not focused on enforcing rules, but on vindictively assaulting an industry that doesn’t comport with its green agenda — even though Americans depend on oil and gas companies each and every day.
President Obama has said he favors an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy policy. “All of the above” apparently means taking no prisoners as he marches toward a “greener” future, regardless of what it costs the American people.
Mike Brownfield oversees execution of The Heritage Foundation’s social networking strategy and online media outreach as the think tank’s senior digital communications associate.
This article was originally published at Heritage.org. Used with permission.