It is virtually impossible to listen to a conservative media program these days without hearing a celebration of Sarah Palin's sound bite...."drill, baby, drill." Whether it is fracking in Ohio or Pennsylvania.....or North Dakota's "oil boom", conservative media seem almost obsessed with talking about new energy production inside the U.S.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that new drilling and fracking pisses off environmentalists who normally vote Democratic. If environmentalists are against something, conservatives are usually for it. Another is that conservatives have talked themselves into believing that "drill, baby, drill" is a winning economic strategy. Alongside cutting tax rates on very rich Americans and deregulating the industries that those very rich Americans own, the third constant in any conservative screed is drilling our way to robust employment and economic growth.
GOP darling, Paul Ryan, repeated those three items, almost verbatim, when he made an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Blow last Thursday. Ryan....and without breaking himself up while saying it.....explained how lower corporate tax rates, fewer regulations on big business, and an energy policy of drill, baby, drill were the "pro-growth" policies conservatives would continue to fight for.
Those three items....lower tax rates on rich Americans, fewer regulations on the industries which rich Americans own....and drilling...well...everywhere....was Rep. Jim Renacci's (R-OH) "message" to Suffield Twp. citizens last Tuesday. If you pay close attention when Republicans are talking, I think you'll find that those three policy items are the sum total of conservative economic policy.....all she wrote.
But the disconnect seems obvious.....and was made even more obvious in a Renacci answer to a township trustee's question last week. Eastern Portage County is being fracked. The trustee's question to Renacci was: how could rural Portage County citizens get access to that natural gas being extracted from their county?
Many city dwellers don't know that in more rural areas, citizens do not have a natural gas line running in front of their homes. Obviously for economic reasons, natural gas suppliers have failed to make their product available to thousands of homes in Portage County. Thus, the trustee's question. Was there any way that Mr. Renacci could come up with that could rectify this problem?
Renacci's answer was telling. You see, as Jim Renacci sees things, all this new drilling and fracking is costing energy companies a lot of money. Furthermore, with all the new finds, natural gas costs have gone down and so.....rural citizens would have to "wait a while" for energy companies to reap their rewards before those companies could entertain natural gas line expansion into more rural areas.
Absent in Renacci's answer was any notion of a public-private enterprise to advance the expansion of natural gas access. The reason Renacci omitted any public-private answer is because most of today's Republicans hate government with a passion and don't believe government has any role in anything, except getting out of the way of boot-strapping business people.
Therein lies the disconnect. What good are new natural gas finds if American citizens can't get access to natural gas? Don't tell me..."lower prices"....cause I've seen this movie before in the late 70's when natural gas companies simply capped wells, holding their product back from the market to manipulate pricing. Yes, the U.S. can export more natural gas which helps our import-export differential....but that doesn't help rural citizens with skyrocketing energy bills.
The proper answer to the township trustee's question would have been a public-private endeavor which would put Americans to work installing new rural gas lines.
Government could provide the funding because energy companies are tapped out with all their new exploration costs.....the unemployed could find jobs installing gas lines and retrofitting heating systems......natural gas providers would get new customers....rural citizens would save money from burning natural gas. Everyone wins...and the economy grows.
But no Republican will ever be heard giving that kind of answer. Americans have been informed that government is the problem and never part of the solution....no matter what the question is. Additionally, Republicans have informed us that if government is part of something, then Americans are not "free."
And so, the township trustee will just have to wait for the boot-strapping individualists to get around to installing more miles of natural gas line. America's timetable must be our energy overlord's timetable.
And that's what's wrong with "drill, baby, drill."
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