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More fun with gas prices: Chu repents

How badly is the Obama Administration terrified of rising gas prices?  This badly:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday retracted his now-infamous quote from 2008: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

“I no longer share that view,” Chu said in response to questioning from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on another topic related to DOE’s loan-guarantee program.

That’s from Amy Harder at National Journal, who goes on to describe a bizarre performance by Obama’s energy point man:

Chu seemed to equivocate, pause, and stumble over his words when responding to Lee’s question about high gas prices. Other comments Chu made at another hearing late last month put him in hot water on gas prices. Politico reported on Feb. 28 that Chu told a House committee that he was not working to lower gasoline prices but to wean the United States off oil. That story has since been corrected to clarify that DOE is working to both lower gas prices and wean the country off oil. But that was only after the story was picked up by Republicans and used against the Administration.

During his testimony before the Senate panel on Tuesday, after stopping and starting with a few thoughts on the economy and the department’s commitment to alternatively fueled vehicles, Chu told Lee: “Of course we don’t want the price of gasoline to go up. We want it to go down.”

To understand the depth of Chu’s panicked reversal, and just how sincerely he used to believe that higher gas prices were just the right medicine for our fossil-fuel-addicted, carbon-spewing, globe-cooking economy, Harder throws in a handy link to a 2008 Wall Street Journal look at some impending rifts between the new Administration’s top advisors:

In a sign of one major internal difference, Mr. Chu has called for gradually ramping up gasoline taxes over 15 years to coax consumers into buying more-efficient cars and living in neighborhoods closer to work.

Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” Mr. Chu, who directs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in September.

But Mr. Obama has dismissed the idea of boosting the federal gasoline tax, a move energy experts say could be the single most effective step to promote alternative energies and temper demand. Mr. Obama said Sunday that a heightened gas tax would be a “mistake” because it would put “additional burdens on American families right now.”

(Emphasis mine.) The European price levels Chu worshipped would get us to at least $9 per gallon for gas.  Obama always loved the idea of higher gas prices himself, but had previously remarked that getting there too quickly, with instant gas tax increases, would be a mistake.  American motorists are a frog that must be boiled slowly.

Obama and Chu, along with the rest of the whack job radicals controlling our energy policy, were always in perfect agreement about the need for using high gas prices to “transform” Americans against their will.  At the time of the 2008 Wall Street Journal article, gas was less than two dollars a gallon, and that kind of plentiful, cheap energy simply would not do:

No U.S. president has made significant headway altering America’s energy habits during a period of falling oil prices. After hitting an all-time peak this summer, U.S. gasoline prices have sunk to their lowest level in years. Experts predict prices will remain weak until the world economy begins to revive.

Falling prices and scarce credit already are putting the lid on hundreds of alternative-energy projects across the country, from wind farms to biofuel refineries. Reviving those projects, even with significant government incentives, won’t be easy.

“There’s no way we can create a better future without the price of [fossil-fuel-based] energy going up,” said Jay Hakes, who headed the Energy Information Administration under President Bill Clinton. “But it’s tough for a politician to get up and say ‘Your prices are going to have to go up.’ “

That’s the conventional wisdom Steven Chu has supposedly turned his back upon.  But what, exactly, has changed… other than political danger from the mounting anger of Americans who don’t feel like serving as lab rats in academic social experiments? 

Give Steven Chu credit for this much: he’s honest about having changed his mind.  He doesn’t indulge in the kind of arrogant evasion his boss is famous for, declaring that any “misunderstandings” are entirely the fault of listeners who can’t keep pace with his brilliant intellect. 

Now let’s get everyone involved with this disastrous Administration far, far away from Washington, so we can give Chu the lower gas prices he suddenly favors.

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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