Kingman Column: Keeping the brakes on the economy

Perhaps the biggest surprise from last week's news that Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar frowned upon uranium mining in the Arizona Strip would be that anyone was surprised.

The decision is entirely consistent with what we have come to expect from this administration. The fact that Interior is extending the temporary ban on new mining claims to "protect" 1 million acres is refreshing in the sense that Salazar is at least following procedure, rather than finding some rule to void all mining claims within 100 miles of the Grand Canyon for the next 1,000 years.

As an aside, let me tip my hat to The Associated Press for reporting that some existing uranium mining claims are "within five miles of the park's boundaries." In previous coverage of this issue, some reporting seemed to indicate the mining would occur in the canyon itself.

Uranium is essential in the production of nuclear energy - and therefore gets Team Obama's full doublespeak treatment. Barack Obama continuously pays lip service to America's energy needs and the efforts being made to develop it, but attempts at drilling and digging are thwarted by his administration whenever possible. For specifics, check the recent history in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.

Syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg has his own take on Obama's economic policies, which tie in directly with mining and drilling. You can read Goldberg's essay online, but his key point regarding a "steady-state economy" is that "scientists set the rules," according to Herman Daly, a proponent of the movement.

What that really means, Goldberg said, is that "if the ecologists don't like an idea, that idea is out."

This is also linked, I believe, to the theme that America's success has come at the rest of the world's expense. How many times have you heard someone say, "The United States has 2 percent of the world's population, but consumes 25 percent of its energy"?

The figures may not be exact, but you've heard it before. It's as if the energy is in a strongbox on top of the stagecoach and America is hiding behind the big rock up ahead, pistols drawn.

You may have even heard that statement the first time and felt bad for about two seconds, then realized it was so much bull. We're buying the energy at the market price, and that's neither good nor bad - it just so happens that capitalism (freedom) generates the need for more energy and the wherewithal to buy it.

So you may have concluded that the person who made that statement the first time you heard it 10 years ago, the one about 2 percent of the population and 25 percent of the energy consumption, was pretty dumb.

And then you heard our president say it a couple of years ago. It would have qualified as an "uh-oh" moment for me, but I already knew Obama was in over his head and that he was anchored to a belief system that will drag this country down.

The proof is all around us. Obama touts the benefits of a "green economy" and Kingman has a photo opp for people who have learned how to weather strip a home. It's one of those high-paying jobs our president loves to talk about. Somehow, though, they just haven't caught on.

Here's what I do know. Uranium mining creates jobs that pay well. So do other types of mining as well as drilling for oil and natural gas. Those jobs also serve to lower the price of energy, and that's good for all of us.

And I'm not surprised that Obama, Salazar and the rest of the gang haven't figured that out.