Obama Runs Out of Gas

President Obama defended his energy policy in a Georgetown speech today, and the big news is that there wasn’t any news.  We’re still going to get soaring gas prices, he’s not going to let the domestic oil industry up off the mat, it’s their fault for not creating jobs even with the President’s boot on their necks, and young people have a “responsibility to buy fuel-efficient cars” until the magical future of green energy dawns softly and sustainably across the land.

His “big idea” was setting the “reasonable, achievable, and necessary” goal of reducing our oil imports by one-third over the next decade.  Foreign oil is evil, unless it comes from Canada, Mexico, or Brazil.  Yes, he made a point of mentioning Brazil.  Drill, Brazil, drill.

The President dismissed the idea of developing our own oil resources as “a lot of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians waving three-point-plans for two-dollar gas.”  Then he dragged out his own favorite slogan, which died in the cradle moments after its birth, and said “I want America to Win The Future.”  This was followed by all sorts of incredibly expensive gimmicks to develop “clean energy investments” that just happen to pour gallons of taxpayer cash into the wallets of his closest friends.

Obama has been visibly losing his marbles over the last few months.  Every speech now includes at least one complete break with reality, an attempt to deny objective truth that leaves even sympathetic listeners shuffling their feet and glancing nervously at each other.  In Georgetown it was the assertion that “any claim that my Administration is responsible for gas prices because we’ve shut down oil production might make for a useful political sound bite – but it doesn’t track with reality.” 

Back here in the real world, as Fred Upton (R-MI) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee explains, the Administration has been “closing the door on new onshore and offshore energy leases. And not just new production – companies with existing leases are being hit by unprecedented permitting delays and other regulatory roadblocks.” 

The President was willing to unlawfully defy a court order to destroy the offshore drilling industry.  Even former President Bill Clinton has criticized him for delays in issuing offshore drilling permits.  In his State of the Union address, he boasted of plans to pull various subsidies and tax breaks away from the oil industry, and give them to the “green” companies he favors.  His Environmental Protection Agency is looking to add enormous new costs to oil refining, in service to the global-warming religious cult.

As with so many other things this President does, his energy policy is all about control.  It has little to do with generating energy, and he’s only concerned with rising gas prices when they hurt his poll numbers.

As Obama said repeatedly during his Georgetown address, his energy plan is filled with regulations and incentives.  He thinks that with “the right incentives in place,” we can double the amount of electricity we get from “clean energy sources.”  That’s going to take a mountain of subsidies, which become penalties for those who don’t receive them, and must therefore fund them.  Every one of those subsidies comes with strings attached.

Oil production involves lots of subsidies and incentives too.  I’d agree there are too many of them, but then I’d say the same about almost every area of our government-dominated lives.  However, oil is the “path of least resistance” with our current technology.  It provides far greater convenience, at lower cost, than any existing alternative.  It’s what people want to use.  Compelling them to embrace less convenient, more expensive alternatives, before those technologies have evolved into serious competition for internal combustion, will involve the exercise of tremendous coercive power. 

That’s why Obama is so interested in it.  He most certainly will not be scooting off to important policy speeches in a glorified golf cart that can only run for a couple of hours, after charging all day.  Instead, he will have vast new powers to punish his enemies and enrich his friends, like Jeffrey Immelt of G.E. or Steve Westly of Tesla. 

Westly has added millions to his personal fortune, by steering billions of taxpayer dollars into his “green” companies.  He even advertises his “unique position” to “take advantage of the Obama Administration’s interest in green energy,” according to an ABC News report published today.  He was a top “bundler” of contributions to the Obama campaign – a curiously effective way for politically savvy businessmen to purchase insurance against the Obama recession, as it turns out.  When ABC tried to ask Westly about this at an Obama event, “a Democrat National Committee staff member was able to jump him to the front of the line and shuttle him past a U.S. Secret Service checkpoint.”  Ah, the glories of full-service crony capitalism!  That’s positively Venezuelan.

Obama energy policy has nothing to do with promoting economic growth, or protecting the middle class from sticker shock at the pump.  It has to do with making people like Steve Westly rich, and reminding them how they got that way.