As you drive America’s ribbon of highway, from California to the New York island, there’s one reality that can’t be escaped — gas prices keep going up, with no end in sight. But instead of taking action to bring relief to the American people, the Obama Administration is patting itself on the back for a job well done while mocking those who are calling for a commonsense energy policy.
This week saw the highest average gas price ever recorded in March — a whopping $3.87 per gallon. That’s up 4 cents from over a week ago, and 30 cents more than last year. On the West Coast, it’s up to $4.23 a gallon, but no matter where you go in America, you’ll feel the burn.
Meanwhile, the President is still beating the drums for his energy strategy, which he highlighted yesterday in a visit to the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility in Boulder City, Nevada. Anticipating the obvious criticism — that his investment in the Solyndra solar plant went belly up, costing American taxpayers $535 million — the President mocked those who question his ideas, saying they “lack imagination,” and he turned to name calling in order to deflect legitimate concerns about the viability of his green pipe dream and the fact that it has not produced the jobs that he promised:
One member of Congress who shall remain unnamed called these jobs ‘phony’ — called them phony jobs. I mean, think about that mindset, that attitude that says because something is new, it must not be real. If these guys were around when Columbus set sail, they’d be charter members of the Flat Earth Society.
But as Heritage’s Nick Loris points out, those who criticize the President’s policies aren’t opposed to new ideas. The Administration’s record of burning billions in taxpayer dollars to somehow transition America to a new energy economy have not produced results that earn confidence. The American people’s money is being used to offset private-sector investments and artificially prop up industries until they go bankrupt, like Solyndra, Beacon, Ener1, Abound, and so on. Only when technologies such as solar, wind, and biofuels become affordable and reliable will consumers embrace them.
While the President is out West selling his spending and tax hikes, back home in Washington his Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, is giving himself kudos for a job well done. In testimony before Congress this week, Chu was asked whether he would give himself an “A minus” on controlling the cost of gasoline. His response? “I would I say I would give myself a little higher in that since I became Secretary of Energy, I’ve been doing everything I can to get long-term solutions.” For the record, this is the same Steven Chu who said, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe” (which are routinely above $8 per gallon). Perhaps in that context, he does deserve an “A.”
Heritage’s Rob Bluey reports that ”the Obama Administration is overseeing a sharp decline in fossil fuel production (coal, oil, and natural gas) on federal lands, which recently hit its lowest point in nine years.” Those actions include withdrawing areas offered for 77 oil and gas leases in Utah, canceling lease sales in the Western Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast, delaying exploration off the coast of Alaska, keeping other resource-rich areas off limits, finalizing rules that establish more hurdles to onshore oil and natural gas production on federal lands, and withdrawing 61 oil and natural gas leases in Montana as part of a lawsuit settlement over climate change.
And then there’s the issue of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast refineries. When given the chance to approve the project, President Obama flat out said “no.”
Now, though, he is attempting to have it both ways, and is expected to announce plans to fast-track the southern portion of the pipeline. But this is all for show, as his announcement won’t change anything. TransCanada told Bloomberg News that the President’s announcement won’t affect their schedule at all, where construction on the southern portion is already slated to begin in June.
If the President were truly supportive of the project, he would not have personally lobbied Senate Democrats two weeks ago to vote against an amendment that would have authorized construction of the entire pipeline. He cannot now say he is expediting anything. President Obama is merely putting political rhetoric over smart policy in order to appease his environmental base and boost his sagging poll numbers simultaneously.
According to Gallup, those who are following the issue favor building the pipeline by a 78-22 margin. And even including those who are not following the issue closely, the pipeline still has the support of 57 percent of the nation.
President Obama uses the language of “all of the above,” but his actions speak greater volumes. Rather than give themselves an “A” for gas prices and mock their opponents, the Obama Administration should immediately speed up the permitting and leasing processes, remove litigation risks, reform punitive regulations, and stop throwing billions in taxpayer money at broken companies like Solyndra and calling it an answer.