The enemies of energy self-sufficiency and jobs are everywhere, even when they don't think they are being the enemies.
Look, it is one thing to try to block Keystone, the heavy crude pipeline from Canada that some say could endanger key aquifers in the U.S. I get that. There is always going to be something endangered when you move energy from one place to another. Always. There are a lot of jobs on the line, but I can see where if the big aquifers can be avoided you have to try to do so.
But you and I know that with this president the jobs are going elsewhere and this pipeline is going to swing west to export oil to Asia, not come here. Hey, green's here to stay. I get that, too. I want the jobs and the North American energy here. But that's not what seems to be the imperative in a White House that is willing to lose billions to back any cockamamie solar project.
But it is another thing to work so hard to stop our own resources from coming in to play and block new jobs from being created simply on principle.
Last week I asked former Senator Rick Santorum a question about whether he would provide some sort of federal incentives to get workers where they are needed to get the oil out of the ground in North Dakota. I asked because North Dakota's a real conundrum. The Bakken is producing 470,000 barrels a day and I think that would double overnight if we just had the number of people needed to man the rigs, get the train lines, had the truck drivers and could extend the pipelines.
It could, ultimately, be much more than that as there is plenty of good work from Continental Resources (CLR) that shows there could be a Prudhoe Bay, the largest discovery in 46 years, under the state.
We just don't have enough people to get it out. At the same time, we have millions of people in other states who are qualified for these jobs that are going begging to build out this oil infrastructure, but they can't afford to get there or live there because there is no residential infrastructure. They need roads, schools, homes, apartments, hotels, restaurants and malls. In other words, they need what we used to build when we were a growth country.
My question was designed to see if Santorum would be willing to put some federal money out to get those workers there because the job is too big for private industry.
The results of the answer were disappointing, if not predictable. He said that as Senator he presided over the Marcellus boom in Pennsylvania and that didn't need any federal aid.
Now, you have to be respectful in these events, even as that doesn't come all that naturally to me. I wanted to say, hey, chief, you missed the entire point. North Dakota, unlike Pennsylvania, has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. They didn't need any help in Pennsylvania because there were so many idle workers.
I am simply saying that North Dakota is where the jobs are, but the people aren't. Why not make us more energy self-sufficient with easy-to-refine light Bakken crude (not a lot of impurities) and create as many as 300,000 jobs?
The answer, according to Santorum, is let the market figure it out.
The market can't. If it could, why would I be asking the question? To hear myself talk?
Anyway, neither the left nor the right is really focused on a simple precept: when you can produce cleaner energy here and create jobs at the same time it is a win-win for both parties. The federal monies will go after truly shovel-ready projects that will advance the private sector's ability to put people to work in high paying jobs that will be provided by Halliburton (HAL), Clean Harbors (CLH), Continental Resources, Brigham Exploration (BEXP) (soon to bought), Schlumberger (SLB), Lufkin (LUFK), Continental (CTTAY), EOG (EOG), Hess (HES) and all sorts of construction companies.
We would have more, cleaner oil, more jobs and an infrastructure that would last. It's exactly what the mission of government has been in the past. It's what creates the growth that spurs the tax receipts that pay for themselves while making us more independent of foreign powers.
We know this president won't do it. We know that Santorum represents the new strain of the GOP, a sort of abolish the government except for defense as private industry will take care of everything.
To which I say, if that could only be the case. But some projects, like the Panama Canal, the interstate highway system and the Hoover Dam, to name three too-large-for-private-industry jobs created by the Republicans, are made for the federal government.
Just not under either of the current parties.