A pity that Americans don’t get to hear more speeches like President Obama gave in Africa. In the course of a tour of poverty and sub-Saharan political corruption, Obama talked in Tanzania and South Africa last week of deregulation and building more fossil fuel power plants. This from a president whose regulatory overreach – including a war on coal and oil generation – has strangled his home country’s economic recovery.
“Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age. It’s the connection that’s needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy. You’ve got to have power. And yet two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lacks access to power,” the president said at the University of Cape Town in South Africa as he outlined his “Power Africa” initiative that invests $7 billion in U.S. dollars with the goal of doubling Africa’s electricity output by exploiting Africa’s vast oil and natural gas reserves.
Cheap carbon energy is what runs the U.S. and the industrialized world. Visit underdeveloped nations (no need to go all the way to Africa, just visit the Dominican Republic or Haiti) and the lack of centralized power – an electric grid tied to megawatt coal and gas and hydro plants – is a severe shortcoming.
Yet one wonders if Obama – green ideologue, lifetime activist – comprehends what his own speechwriters have penned for him.
The country from which he gave his speech, South Africa, is the continent’s powerhouse thanks in part to huge reserves of coal – 93 percent of the country’s electricity comes from that plentiful resource. But at home, Obama’s comprehensive climate strategy – delivered just before he embarked to Africa – is an all-out war on coal, America’s most abundant energy resource. In its place, Obama embraces the Green Utopia of a return to decentralized power – windmill, solar panels – that is a recipe for expensive power and brownouts.
Indeed, Europe – Obama’s energy model – is now experiencing “energy poverty” as hundreds of thousands of Eurozone citizens can no longer afford the continent’s sky-high electricity rates brought on by years of green mismanagement. As a result, Europe has turned to the U.S. for coal exports to feed its electricity appetite.
The irony is rich. While Obama’s EPA tries to eliminate America’s use of coal to fight global warming, the globe – Europe, China, India (soon Africa?) – is coming to America for its cheap coal reserves. In the last six years, American coal exports (including to Europe) have nearly tripled – negating Obama’s attempt to eliminate coal’s carbon emissions even as it deprives the U.S. of a competitive fuel.