Regarding Barack Obama’s speech yesterday on so-called “climate change,” the Washington Post asks, “Is Obama waging a ‘war on coal’?”—and answers, “To a large extent, the answer is yes,” in that he is seeking to expand costly regulations of coal-fired plants.

But it’s worse than that.

Among other things, Obama also wants to expand the use of government lands to produce uneconomic “renewable” energy, and he wants to force auto manufacturers to produce vehicles that use less fuel—never mind the trade-offs in safety and performance.

What Obama is waging is not merely a war on coal, which would be horrific enough, but a war on energy producers and consumers.

To the degree that the economy continues to function at all amidst this sustained assault, it will be only because energy producers have already made enormous strides in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking), technologies that enable them to extract massive quantities of otherwise untappable oil and gas.

Obama, of course, has taken credit for the energy produced by these means, despite the fact that the government has relentlessly throttled the energy industry with regulations and taxes, and despite the fact that Obama’s environmentalist supporters have consistently demonized everyone involved in producing and delivering the life-serving goods.

Congress, too, deserves a share of the blame for the assault. As Brigham A. McCown writes for Forbes, Obama’s “plan is designed to sidestep Congress, by using a presidential memorandum” to control the Environmental Protection Agency’s actions. Congress has the constitutional power to pass legislation and to regulate (or refrain from regulating) interstate commerce, but it has inappropriately ceded its powers to the executive branch in this case.

Obama refuses to admit the Economics 101 fact that expanded controls of energy production will shut down power plants, require costly overhauls in those that remain operative, raise energy prices in general, and thus raise prices across the entire economy. Instead, a “senior White House official” told ABC News that Obama’s proposed regulations will make “power plants more efficient, which will save families money.” Such Onion-worthy claims would be humorous if there weren’t so much at stake.

Energy is the lifeblood of the economy; it supports our very lives. To get the electricity we need to run our electronics, light our homes, cook our food, cool our living spaces, clean our clothes, and live a civilized life, we must extract energy-dense forms of fuel—such as natural gas, coal, and nuclear material—and process them to suit our purposes. To run the vehicles we need to drive to work; to take the kids to school; to haul lumber, food, and millions of other things; to get to the hospital in an emergency; to travel for pleasure—and on and on—we must burn gasoline derived from oil. (Alternatives today cannot begin to meet our needs.)

We need energy to live and prosper. By waging a war on energy producers and consumers, Obama is waging a war on human life. What does that make him?

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Creative Commons Image: Geoff Livingston

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