Libya, Gas Prices, Ken Salazar, and You

As Americans watch the price of gasoline skyrocket and average families wonder how they’re going to make it to the end of the month, we are reminded that because of our short-sighted energy policies, what happens in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East affects the very economic strength of the United States.  We could do much to reduce the effect of foreign entanglements on family budgets and the price of everything from food to clothing to government itself, but the government deliberately and publicly stands in the way of reducing our dependency.  As Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problem, it is the problem.”

The revolt in Libya has raised serious questions about Libya’s ability to export about 1.4 million barrels of oil per day to the world.  Meanwhile, the largest pipeline in America—the trans-Alaska pipeline system or TAPS—is currently using less than one-third of its original capacity, meaning that if our government would allow it, Alaska could send 1.4 million barrels more per day to consumers in the U.S.  Alaska is hugely rich in energy resources, but unfortunately the government owns most of the land and all of the offshore waters, and it won’t permit development of new resources.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, could produce 1 million barrels a day by itself.  At today’s $100 per barrel, ANWR’s 10.4 billion barrels of oil are worth over $1 trillion to the U.S. economy.  The imports we need to replace the oil the government won’t let us put into TAPS means Americans spend more thana $51 billion per year on foreign oil—and on foreign workers—instead of being able to buy American oil and employ American workers with that $51 billion.

But ANWR is not the only place we could acquire oil in Alaska.  The Obama administration is holding up a permit for the first oil to be produced from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska—an Indiana-sized area set aside to produce oil.  If Americans can’t produce oil from a petroleum reserve, where can we produce it?

But the real sin against America’s economic strength and American consumers is what the administration is doing offshore of Alaska, in some of the best oil and gas property in the world.  To the west and north of Alaska lie waters believed to hold the key to sustaining the flow through TAPS.  A recent study showed that, if allowed, the private sector could produce 57,000 jobs annually in the United States for decades.  But the Obama administration is dragging its feet through its various agencies and not only delaying the development of oil and gas supplies that could help American consumers, but also sending a strong signal to those who might want to invest in the United States that they are not wanted.  In the case of offshore Alaska leases, billions of dollars of private money set aside to look for and produce oil and gas have been held up by the federal government.  The government has already taken the money, but it won’t give companies the permits, and there’s always an excuse, another reason not to do it, another lawsuit, or another agency putting the kibosh on getting Americans to work producing American energy.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is the administration’s point man on these efforts to shut down domestic production of oil and gas, but he’s had plenty of help.  Former energy and climate czar Carol Browner was coordinating the administration’s anti-energy agenda until she left abruptly this year, before she was called to testify before the new Congress.  The former head of Al Gore’s climate organization, Cathy Zoi, was busy at the Department of Energy distributing tens of billions of stimulus dollars to energy companies who can’t make it in the free market.  Zoi just left the administration to head a hedge fund that invests in green companies that are getting the government dollars of hardworking taxpayers she doled out.  The hedge fund owner is George Soros.  And, of course, we can’t forget Van Jones—the President’s green jobs czar who left the administration to go back to George Soros’ Center for American Progress.  There are other fissures spread far and wide through the administration, each one doing his or her part to make America’s energy future more expensive, less reliable, and less competitive.

But the real star of the show remains Ken Salazar.  He is the one who used the tragic oil spill last spring to justify stopping all leasing in the Gulf of Mexico.  He is also the one who has stopped oil shale from being developed, even though America’s oil shale reserves are large enough to supply the United States for more than a century without any imports.  His actions in defiance of the law have earned him a contempt citation by a federal judge and should earn him the contempt of all Americans who rely on affordable energy for their jobs or their family’s comfort and well-being.

So next time you think about Libya, or the Middle East, or the high price of gas when you fill up, remember, Ken Salazar is doing his job—working hard to fulfill President Obama’s promise to make the price of energy “skyrocket.”