Back when George W. Bush was president, the Democrats wasted no time in blaming him for increases in the price of gasoline. Citing everything from his domestic energy policy to the war in Iraq, they tried, with some success, to make the American people believe that $4.00 a gallon gasoline--and the economic disruption it caused--was his fault and his fault alone.
Never mind that they successfully blocked the implementation of Bush’s national energy strategy for years. Or that they refused to go along with his push to allow energy exploration in the frozen wastelands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Or that they continued to push for environmental policies that made it nearly impossible to move gasoline around in U.S. markets to deal with shortages. Whatever happened to the price of gasoline was, in their world, Bush’s fault.
Fast forward two years. The price of gasoline is once again headed in a steadily northward direction, once again closing in on $4.00 a gallon. In fact, since Barack Obama became president, the price is up nearly 90 percent, largely because of things his administration has done and, in some cases, because of things it hasn’t done. Yet when it comes to assigning blame for the problem all you hear from the people who used to criticize Bush is crickets.
Earlier this week the Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee issued a blistering indictment of Obama’s energy policy, showing just how his actions and inactions on critical issues have led directly to an increase in the price at the pump.
According to the committee, among the roadblocks the Obama sdministration has put in place in America’s energy sector are:
- The February 2009 decision to unilaterally cancel 77 leases offered for new energy production on tracts of land in Utah (it later backtracked slightly and allowed 17 of the 77 leases to go forward).
- The August 2009 withdrawal of another 23,757 acres of land leased for energy production, and in March 2010, the withdrawal of 61 leases in Montana and 4,400 acres in West Virginia, putting more energy under lock-and-key.
- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar move to scrap “leases for oil-shale development on federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.” The Heritage Foundation says “[t]he amount of oil available through oil shale is staggering,” and that “800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.”
- The use of the Environmental Protection Agency to impose its job-crushing national energy tax--the same one President Obama once admitted would cause electricity rates to “necessarily skyrocket.” The Heritage Foundation says “[a]nnual job losses exceed 800,000 for several years” under the EPA’s proposed regulations.
- Secretary Salazar’s action to impose new red tape and regulatory hurdles to make leasing land and developing new oil and natural gas more difficult. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Salazar acknowledged that the new rules could add delays to the leasing and drilling process…”
- The administration’s unilateral action to shut down environmentally friendly offshore energy production “in the eastern Gulf of Mexico” and “off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts,” according to the Washington Post. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said the decision will result “in major lost job opportunities, surrendered economic growth, and increased dependence on foreign sources of energy…”
By themselves, each of these actions are damaging to the U.S. economy. Taken together, they are disastrous.
It is surprising that these issues have not been given more attention, which is probably the reason that Obama has thus far escaped the blame for rising gasoline prices. The tide, however, is starting to turn. A new Rasmussen national survey found that 76 percent of Americans believe the country does not do enough to develop its job-creating domestic oil and gas resources and that a clear majority of Americans support increasing American energy production to help lower costs and create jobs.
The president is defying the will of the people--and its only a matter of time before the consequences of his repeated refusals to allow for increased U.S. energy production catch up with him.
- See who in Congress gets the most from the oil industry.
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