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Obama Cheer: Lose, Team, Lose

February 25, 2012
By Mike Myer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

President Barack Obama reportedly enjoys playing basketball. If so, he probably understands teams composed of players who go for the realistic two-point shots are more successful than those on which there are too many wannabe heroes trying for three-pointers.

So why does Obama insist, in effect, that our nation has to shoot from half-court?

That is precisely what the president is doing on energy policy. Even worse, he's decided we ought to be banned from scoring via those reliable lay-ups.

Here's what I mean: Obama's energy policy is focused solidly on "alternatives" such as solar and wind power. But they aren't really alternatives, any more than is sticking solely with three-point shots in basketball games.

Without massive government subsidies and orders to utilities they must shut down coal-fired plants and find ways to supply customers with wind and solar power, the alternatives just aren't feasible. Even a hint of forcing them to compete in a free marketplace sends them to the bench. Remember Solyndra? Even after burning through half a billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies, the company went bankrupt.

Meanwhile, our two-point shooters - coal, oil and gas - are called repeatedly for alleged fouls by the fellow who's supposed to be our coach.

Coal still accounts for nearly half the electricity generated in the United States. In fact, according to the Energy Information Administration, in 2009 it was the leading source of all energy consumed in this country. About twice as much of our energy comes from coal as from oil.

But Obama wants to stop that. His Environmental Protection Agency's rules, being implemented though Congress already has rejected some of them, have convinced utilities they'll have to close about 30 coal-fired power plants, including some right here in the Ohio Valley.

Sure, the companies can change to natural gas - but that will send electric bills soaring.

Understand this: Obama doesn't just want the United States to stop burning coal in power plants. He doesn't want us to use the stuff for any purpose, in any form.

Ask the folks in Benwood. Back in 2008, Consol Energy and a Texas company, Synthesis Energy Systems, announced they planned to build a coal liquefaction plant in Benwood. Months later the idea was scrapped. SES said it would build in China - where government red tape was not seemingly aimed at thwarting such innovation.

In addition to helping the local economy, the plant would have been a step toward energy independence - a two-pointer, but still progress.

Again, Obama doesn't want that. He won't even allow a pipeline to bring more oil into the United States from Canada. It's not wind or solar, so he's against it.

A friend asked recently why the United States can't produce gasoline from coal. Germany did it during World War II, after all.

For decades, the answer was that it wasn't economically feasible. Cost was no object to German officials who needed fuel for their war machine. It is to Americans who, for generations, have enjoyed reasonably priced gasoline from petroleum.

But I've been told the price break, at which liquefied coal becomes a viable alternative to petroleum, is at about the point that oil costs $100 a barrel.

Guess what, folks? We're there.

And the federal government continues to push "alternatives" that aren't, really. Meanwhile, the program that provides federal loan guarantees for energy innovation sits on a $10 billion balance. Not enough new Solyndras seeking handouts, I suppose. How much progress toward commercial coal liquefaction could we make with that money?

So why are we still dependent on foreign oil? Because Obama rejects drilling in many domestic oilfields, won't import from friendly Canada, and is determined to destroy the industry that could save us - coal.

Shoot the three-pointers, team. Go inside for a lay-up, and I'll send you to the showers.

Are we certain we're not taking orders from the other team's coach?

Myer can be reached via e-mail at

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