by Craig Masters
With the Constitution relegated to no more than a footnote in today’s ‘common core’ curriculum textbooks, it might seem out of date to mention another specific example of the Obama administration czars trampling all over our budgets from their perch high above what used to be the law. However, for the sake of gas pump conversations here in energy rich Weld County, consider the most recent attack on America’s energy producers by the side door policies of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
In order to prevent massive increases in the cost of energy – electricity as well as auto fuel and everything dependent on energy – the BLM is required by law to conduct an extensive economic assessment of the impact any new regulations would have on the public. If those regulations are projected to impose costs exceeding one-hundred million dollars annually, (that’s $100,000,000 every year) congress must approve the measures. That, at least, is the law. However, as we have all learned in the past five years – those of us who have tried to keep our head out of some dark place – the people in power in Washington just laugh at the law as some aspect of life the poor people in the rest of the country have to contend with in order to receive their benefits.
Today’s example of the government’s abominable lawlessness is the BLM dictating new regulations on oil and gas wells which rely on hydraulic fracturing. The “F-bomb” those drillers drop on our children. The hands-on daily oversight and regulation of oil and gas drilling is mostly a state or tribe level function. The Department of the Interior / BLM has virtually no one more expert than the people on the ground in the states and reservations where drilling is taking place. So to avoid being embarrassed – again – by citing faulty data generated by faulty practices not even acceptable by their own regulations, the DoI/BLM simply writes regulations without the scientific or economic background research to support them or the authority to implement them. Then the bureaucrats sit back and wait for the industry to point out the most obvious mistakes before calling on the emotions of the public to shout down the science with platitudes from the internet – see the typical Ft. Collins city council meeting minutes for details on those.
Because ‘fracking’ is so maligned by misinformation, it would serve no purpose to include the details of the new BLM rules here. And since the focus of this article is on the expanding impact on taxpayers of the lawlessness of the central government, the details of the rules would only serve to cloak the real situation of the double dipping by government into our wallets. First by imposing higher cost to produce energy which are passed along to consumers and second by increasing taxes to pay for the costs of expanding the bureaucracy needed implement the new regulations.
The respected independent economists at John Dunham & Associates determined that the annual costs to the energy producers to implement the new BLM rule would be more than a third of a billion dollars every year. That’s some $345,000,000 every year added to our energy bills. That’s more than triple the amount required to trigger congressional approval. Add to that amount the higher taxes the federal government will charge us in order to implement the rules.
If we ignore the law that requires congressional approval for such expensive regulations to be allowed, we should at least expect that such rules would be based on real science and their cost estimates based on existing conditions at the BLM or DoI. But as is the record of this administration in the field of energy, sound-bites trump science and increased costs just mean simply printing more money. Consider that, “DOI still has not justified the rule from an economic or scientific point of view, and continues to lack the budget, staff or expertise to implement it,” writes Kathleen Sgamma VP of Government and Public Affairs for Western Energy Alliance.
“Budget, Science, staff with expertise” what the heck is she talking about? I read on the internet that fracking caused a bunch of children in Africa to starve to death. Meanwhile environmentally aware Americans burn food to drive their flex-fuel cars to fracking protests. Maybe we can we power our electric plants with beetle kill trees?