Sabotaging America: The Obama Energy Agenda

Steps the president could take to ease gas price worries.

The Obama administration's lack of any coherent, realistic energy policy is providing Republican candidates with a good deal of ammunition, as gas prices and oil prices continue to rise. The issue has put the president on the defensive as the specter of five dollar per gallon gas this summer gives Team Obama heartburn.

"It's the easiest thing in the world (to) make phony election-year promises about lower gas prices,'' Obama said, speaking at the University of Miami yesterday. “What's harder is to make a serious, sustained commitment to tackle a problem that may not be solved in one year or one term or even one decade.''

Indeed. Clearly, making a serious, sustained commitment to a sound energy policy is well beyond this administration’s capabilities. Rather than investing in proven, affordable and plentiful sources of domestic energy, Obama has thrown billions of tax dollars away in misguided efforts to find pixie dust solutions to America’s energy needs.

From wind, to solar, to bio-fuels, the president has abandoned the free market to cast his lot in with the most extreme of environmental utopians and we’re all paying the price for his folly. This president, who asserts that America’s future depends on science and technology, has yet to even come to grips with the basic laws of thermodynamics. That level of scientific ignorance doesn’t bode well for consumers, or for Obama’s re-election prospects.

The president has tried to blame rising gas prices on factors that are beyond his control, such as increased demand from China and India, increasing tension with Iran and speculation in oil futures. While it’s accurate to say that America can do little to influence those factors, it’s entirely disingenuous to ignore the fact that we could have – and should have – taken action to mitigate those market effects.

We have seen crude demand in China and India rise steadily for over a decade now. That it continues to do so as those economies continue to grow shouldn’t surprise anyone, least of all the president of the United States. The same holds true for the effect of the Iranian nuclear crisis. And, given all of the uncertainty and demand-side pressure, it’s clear that the free market is going to respond by hedging its bets in the form of rising oil future prices. The president sees the latter in terms of greedy speculation, but Obama has long-since abandoned any pretense of understanding – or caring – about the way that a healthy free market actually works.

Rather than whining about all of the predictable market pressures that are out of his control, the president should have spent his time planning ways to counterbalance them so that consumers would not get slammed. This he could have done, in both the short term and the long term. Short term efforts like pushing drilling in the Gulf and encouraging more development of more wet shale gas production would have helped stabilize prices immediately. Longer term projects, like Keystone XL and opening up federal lands like ANWR for drilling, would have taken the winds out of the sails of speculators, along with generating billions in tax revenue and tens of thousands of jobs.

Instead, the president continues to funnel tax dollars into ridiculous, pie-in-the-sky, money pit energy projects. For example, during his University of Miami speech, the president announced that his administration was committing $14 million to help develop algae-based fuels. He expects that will sound terribly cutting edge, but here’s the punch line: we know how to make algae-based fuels already. There’s no magic about doing so. There are no secrets to be uncovered. We’ve known how to turn algae into fuel for decades, but there’s a reason that we haven’t done so: it’s not even close to being cost competitive compared to traditional fuels.

At least it’s not cost-competitive to undertake such projects unless one is determined to game the system such that using less-expensive energy alternatives is no longer allowed. In that case, tossing money at ridiculous, expensive and unreliable forms of power generation under the guise of developing “clean energy” makes all the sense in the world. That is, if your ultimate objective is to make sure that your friends cash in on the scheme, no matter what happens to the average consumer.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.