As well as attacking banks, corporations and successful businesses, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are opposing domestic oil and gas drilling and nuclear power. They demand more energy from solar, wind and biofuels, which now produce about 5% of Americas electricity.
On Saturday, at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, climate activist Bill McKibben declared, “The sky does not belong to Exxon. They cannot keep using it as a sewer into which to dump their carbon.”
But the protesters environmental campaign directly contradicts another of their stated goals: jobs. They appear to be unaware that inexpensive energy, which they deride, gives America the possibility of creating the jobs demonstrators reportedly desire. Hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created through projects they revile, such as the Keystone Pipeline, which would enable the shipment of Canadian oil to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico - and hydraulic fracturing, a new method of extracting oil and natural gas, including from the shale in upstate New York.
Its easy to see why demonstrators are frustrated. Since President Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate has risen from 7.8% to more than 9%, and remained at that level for 29 consecutive months. The percent of the unemployed out of work for six months or longer has risen from 22% in January 2009 to 45%. In January 2009, 61% of the adult population was employed. Now, the percentage is 58%, the lowest level since 1983.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters might scoff at the assertion that environmental regulations can be associated with increases in unemployment.
But this is a point on which the President agrees. After a dismal jobs report in September, he instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to refrain from adopting stricter standards on ozone.
The new rule would have tightened the requirements for ozone allowed in the air, putting 85% of American counties with ozone monitors out of compliance.
These counties would then have had to restrict activities such as manufacturing, energy production and infrastructure construction, potentially costing $20 billion to $90 billion a year, according to the EPA. That would have meant fewer jobs.
By canceling the new regulations, Obama effectively admitted that imposing new, more costly regulatory requirements on business may conflict with hiring additional workers, which is now most Americans primary goal.
Indeed, many of the other 308 regulations now pending at the EPA are unneeded. Our air and water are already getting cleaner as new equipment replaces old. Many Americans would prefer to wait until the unemployment rate declined before tightening air and water standards further.
Would the Occupy Wall Street crowd?
In contrast, domestic energy production creates jobs. North Dakota has seen a decline in unemployment to 3.5%, the lowest in the nation, as its production of oil from the hydraulic fracturing process attacked by the demonstrators has increased.
America is forecast to produce 24 trillion cubic feet of marketed natural gas this year, 15% more than in 2001, and 5% more than in 2010. About 25% of this gas comes from shale, through hydrofracturing.
Trillions of cubic feet are available, and have driven the price of natural gas down to its current level of $3.64 per million BTU from $7 or $8 per million BTU between 2004 and 2009.
Gas is needed due to the administrations planned phaseout of coal, which now produces 45% of our electricity.
Something has to take coals place. The prospects for generating renewable energy, such as wind, solar and biofuels, may excite some on the left, but they are not yet available in large enough quantities or at sufficiently low prices.
Americas shale gas reserves can be used to generate electricity and to power commercial and passenger vehicles. Those who demonize shale gas may well be demonizing our transition to clean energy independence.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators appear to be torn. They want a healthier planet protected from what they see as corporate profiteering. They also want more jobs. These two goals are not always in conflict - but right now, America has a pretty stark choice: Develop the energy under our feet and create jobs now, or ignore those resources and bank only on renewable energy technologies that will probably take a decade to mature.
Which will it be?
Original Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2011/10/20/2011-10-20_occupy_wall_street_must_choose_between_jobs_and_the_environment_the_two_goals_ar.html