New unemployment claims rose this past week and total unemployment across the nation edged upward to 9.2 percent. Job creation has all but ground to a halt in recent months. If the country is not at the precipice of the second dip in a double-dip recession, it clearly is in the midst of a jobless recovery.
One bright spot in the national economic picture is Texas, which has an economy busting out all over with new jobs. Nearly half of the estimated quarter-million new jobs that have been created since February 2009 were created in Texas. But the Obama administration seems determined to use suffocating bureaucracy to bring Texas down with the rest of the country.
Consider the excessive delays imposed on the energy industry in the Gulf of Mexico by the Department of the Interior in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Other states border the Gulf, of course, but the Gulf region’s energy industry is centered on Texas, so when the federal government stops issuing drilling permits and promulgates costly new regulations on drilling in the Gulf, Texas suffers most. An econometric study released Friday by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrel Issa, R-Vista, describes the magnitude of the regulatory strangulation of the Gulf energy economy: “The Obama administration has systematically blocked domestic energy production in the Gulf of Mexico, and today’s report puts that action in stark terms. It documents a 250 percent increase in the deep-water exploration permit backlog with a decrease of nearly 80 percent for plan approvals and deepwater drilling. That means a loss of $9 billion in capital investment in 2011, along with a projected loss to the government of $25 billion in royalties and tax payments over the next three years, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of jobs lost.”
Also getting into the anti-Texas act is the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which could shut down coal-fired electrical power-generating plants in the nation’s heartland. Because industry has too little time to adapt to the rule, millions of people are going to have to make do starting next year with less electricity for air conditioning and heat. Lots of people will be put out of work as well.
Bryan Shaw, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, notes that EPA’s own computer modeling showed his state does not contribute significantly to the emissions the rule seeks to reduce. But officials refuse to explain why they insist on applying the new rule to Texas. At this rate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry may have to run for president as a matter of self-defense.