After licking his wounds for a few months, former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is picking up right where he left off, by misleading Americans about the Obama administration’s energy and public lands policies.
Most blatantly, Ryan this week wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the Obama administration is “buying up land to prevent further development” of energy resources. “Our budget opens these lands to development, so families will have affordable energy,” he added, playing to the lowest common denominator of his conservative base as if he were still campaigning for office.
Ryan’s simplistic and false statement about the connection between public lands and energy costs is flat-out wrong. Domestic energy production has grown under Obama; the administration has been leasing land for onshore production and selling offshore leases at a vigorous rate.
Ryan would be hard-pressed to find a single example of this, or any other administration, buying land specifically to block energy production. The federal government has a very limited budget for land acquisition. Most purchases target small parcels that are already surrounded by public land, improving access to trails or for some other similarly specific purpose. Suggesting that federal agencies are buying land to block energy development is preposterous — the statement serves only to inflame public opinion based on falsehoods.
It’s also pretty clear that some energy development has shifted from public to private lands, not because of any policies the block energy development, but because that’s where the fossil fuels are.
And while Ryan claims that the the proposed GOP budget “puts the country on the path to North American energy independence” by approving the Keystone XL pipeline, the truth is that Obama’s push for renewable energy is the real path toward long-term energy independence.
The proposed GOP budget once again includes a pet project of radical right-wing western Republicans — selling off millions of acres of public lands to help reduce the deficit. This pie-in-the-sky plan most recently surfaced last November, when Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Stephen Pearce (R-Ariz) said that such sales could ease federal budget woes.
The congressmen went on to specifically identify the Green River formation, repeating the myth that the area could yield more than one trillion barrels of recoverable oil shale, “nearly four times the reserves of Saudi Arabia,” claiming that the area has been placed off limits by the Obama administration.
Of course the real idea is to enable unbridled development on those lands, including real estate speculation and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, including oil drilling in Alaska and oil shale development in Colorado.
Ryan’s budget ideas are a retread of a campaign platform that was soundly rejected by voters last November. Most westerners outside the radical fringe know better the value of our public resources.
Environmental coverage made possible in part by support from Patagonia. For information on Patagonia and its environmental efforts, visit www.patagonia.com. In affiliation with Summit County Voice. Photo by Shutterstock