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Editorial comment

When talking about energy, Barack Obama, the US president, likes to vaunt his “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. He did it again last month in the annual State of the Union (SOTU) address when he claimed: “The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.”

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Unfortunately and despite the president’s apparent fondness for the term, the “all-of-the-above” strategy does not exist. It is a political spin that has little anchor in reality. Yet the president was right, in part, when he claimed the US has moved closer to energy independence under his adminstration. It’s worth taking a moment to understand why this is – and how this highlights just how deceptive the “all-of-the-above” catchphrase actually is.

Simply put, the president is in the fortunate position of leading a country in the midst of a natural gas boom. It is this boom that has helped the US towards energy independence – but it is not the result of any government policy. Warren Meyer’s comments on last year’s SOTU address still stand: “This surge in energy production is a fabulous reminder of how markets work […] As hydrocarbons run short, rising prices tend to spur both innovation and new, more expensive exploration activity. Oil and gas companies […] should be given a lot of credit for the recent production boom.”

Meyer continued: “The one person who deserves no credit for this boom is Barack Obama.” Not that this inconvenient fact stopped the president from claiming credit in last year’s SOTU speech – and repeating this claim last month.

But it is not simply a matter of riding the natural gas bandwagon and claiming credit where it is not due. The Obama administration is doing something far more destructive. While touting an “all-of-the-above” strategy on the one hand, it is actively attacking the US energy source that is most abundant and affordable: coal. There was no mention of this in the SOTU speech, but the actions of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have already spoken louder than any empty political words: coal has no place in President Obama’s energy strategy. It is to be regulated out of existence; it is a fuel of the past.

That is the reality. It is time the president admitted it and allowed the energy debate in the US to restart on more honest foundations. Unfortunately, that does not seem likely any time soon. Americans will be poorer for it.