President Obama finally held a press conference on the subject of rising gas prices last week that required anyone who has been watching his administration’s war on domestic energy to suspend disbelief. Instead of announcing a reversal of his anti-domestic energy policies, he explained that on his watch, oil production is actually up and imports are down. What the President failed to explain was that his energy policies have nothing to do with this, and that the U.S. would actually be producing more oil today if his administration had not been doing everything in its power to stop domestic energy production since they walked into office in January of 2009 when gasoline was $1.80 a gallon.
Imports of oil into the United States are down because the unemployment rate hovers near 10% and the economy is stagnating because of anti-growth policies pushed by the EPA, the Department of the Interior, and the alphabet soup of command-and-control agencies of the administration who have been sicced on the productive sectors of our economy. In fact, in the President’s first year in office—2009—the U.S. used less oil than it did in 1978. That means fewer imports, along with the fewer jobs Americans know all too much about.
The President also said that production of oil offshore and onshore from government lands was up last year, and he’s right. What he failed to tell Americans is that his policies slowed the rate of increase in supplies by a projected 136 million barrels in 2010. (See Table 2.) Much of the increased production in the Gulf of Mexico was due to projects started under the Clinton and Bush administrations, back when there was a reasonable expectation that the government would let people drill for oil. The President can’t—on the one hand—argue that opening new areas for oil and gas development won’t help American energy security because “it takes 10 years to produce oil” and on the other hand claim credit for an increase in supplies in his second year in office. Luckily, the other increases come from the private and state Bakken Shale oil development program in North Dakota and from other areas in the U.S. on private or state lands.
Anyone who is familiar with U.S. energy policy under Obama understands that it is the clear policy of the President and his underlings to make energy prices skyrocket. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, as a senator, stopped an amendment to allow more offshore drilling, even if the price of gasoline reached $10 a gallon. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in 2008 that gasoline prices in the United States needed to get close to the prices in Europe—which at the time were from $8 to $10 a gallon. While the President and his aides don’t like to admit that gasoline prices are rising and his popularity is dropping, it is no secret—in fact they have proudly stated—that their entire energy policy involves increasing the cost of energy to American consumers so they will use less and buy products that the government has chosen as “winners,” even when consumers think they are losers.
It’s important for Americans and policy makers in Washington to understand that sometimes when politicians tell us they’re going to do something—no matter how absurd it seems—they really mean it, because those policies reflect their view of where the U.S. should be headed. So the President should want higher gasoline prices, because if they get high enough, it makes the “new energy sources” he talks about and prefers, “the profitable kind of energy.”
The government has clearly set out to make it tougher to produce oil and gas from government lands, reducing supplies, and in turn, driving up prices. It has locked up Alaska, seeking to starve the trans-Alaska pipeline of new sources of oil that might extend its useful life. It has revoked onshore oil and gas leases in Utah, sending a message to American energy entrepreneurs that the government cannot be trusted. It has stopped commercial oil shale leasing that could be a game-changer and provide the U.S with as much domestic oil as the entire world has used since the first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859. It has stopped offshore leasing and imposed impossible-to-understand regulation purgatory on people seeking to invest their own money in the U.S. to create new energy and jobs. The EPA has attacked every form of energy possible, while risking the jobs of millions of Americans who work to build a better and stronger country.
All of this is not a conspiracy. It is this government’s stated goal. So when the President says his administration is creating more energy and is concerned about gasoline prices, what he’s really saying is that he’s concerned about the political consequences of his actions. Look for more deception and doublespeak about energy in the future, as gasoline prices rise.