The connection is simple and obvious: in order to prop up failing solar companies, Obama needs to force natural gas prices higher.
Solar energy companies like BrightSource can't seem to compete without government subsidies, loan guarantees, and mandates. Left to their own devices, without a trillion dollars in direct and indirect subsidies, state mandates requiring the purchase of green energy at whatever price, and the support of environmentally active nonprofits, companies like BrightSource might not have gotten off the ground in the first place. One has to assume that the withdrawal of Friday's IPO occurred because private investors were skeptical of the ability of BrightSource to produce a profit. To date, the company has generated only large losses of $71.6 million in 2010 and $111 million in 2011. That might have something to do with the market's skeptical outlook, even though at least one major investor claims that the failed IPO will not affect the company's work on the Ivanpath solar-thermal plant, one of its major projects.
It was not just Friday the 13th for BrightSource -- other solar companies had a rough day in the markets as well. First Solar, whose stock price has fallen over 90% off its peak, fell another 5.4% Friday. Others solar firms dropped as well, with the global market index of solar companies having fallen 74% in the past two years. It would appear that without much larger subsidies and mandates, green energy is going the way of the dodo. Obama would love to be able to write another $100-billion check to green energy, but in the post-Solyndra era, he is unable to do so. That's where regulating fossil fuels out of business comes in.
Administration officials have known since last Wednesday that BrightSource planned to withdraw its IPO. That might not be the reason for Obama's creation of the fracking task force, but it might have something to do with the timing of his announcement. It is always a bit embarrassing, or it should be, when a company to which one has committed $1.6 billion faces a setback in the markets. It is all too reminiscent of Solyndra, in which Obama's $528-million politically motivated "investment" went belly-up and taxpayers were left with the tab. Obama needed a distraction from the bad news of BrightSource's IPO withdrawal. So why not announce the creation of a federal task force to coordinate regulating of fracking that same day?
More regulation of fracking is sure to shore up Obama's election-year backing by environmental groups. It will help to boost campaign contributions. It may reignite a bit of enthusiasm from younger voters. But it will do a great deal of harm to the American people.
So what? When is the last time Obama expressed concern for the American people? Those are the folks he considers the bigoted ones "clinging to their guns and religion." Those are the ones who caused his wife to never be proud of America until they elected her husband president.