The pres­i­dent is run­ning on empty

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Sky­rock­et­ing gaso­line prices have sent Pres­i­dent Obama’s pub­lic-ap­proval rat­ings plum­met­ing. The White House is search­ing for some­one to blame, but the prob­lem rests not with the pumps but with the pres­i­dent.

Mr. Obama main­tains that lack of sup­ply is not driv­ing up prices. How­ever, do­mes­tic de­mand is not the is­sue ei­ther, since U.S. en­ergy use per capita has been on the de­cline. So the White House has formed an in­ter­a­gency work­ing group to root out the “traders and spec­u­la­tors” whom he says are re­spon­si­ble for Amer­ica’s gaso­line woes. This type of pop­ulist blame-game is typ­i­cal of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­proach to pol­icy chal­lenges, and di­verts at­ten­tion from the true prox­i­mate causes of the oil spike, such as the crises in the Mid­dle East.

If prices are be­ing ma­nip­u­lated, per­haps Mr. Obama should take it up with the OPEC po­ten­tates who are the most di­rect ben­e­fi­cia­ries. Mr. Obama also said he wants to end what he says is a $4 bil­lion an­nual tax­payer sub­sidy to oil and gas com­pa­nies, though how re­mov­ing a sub­sidy will lower gaso­line prices has yet to be ex­plained.

Mr. Obama’s scape­goat sa­fari not­with­stand­ing, the cur­rent en­ergy cri­sis un­der­scores the gen­eral fail­ure of ad­min­is­tra­tion en­ergy poli­cies. The promised brave new world of green tech­nolo­gies is slow in com­ing, and the gov­ern­ment is quickly putting re­li­able do­mes­tic fos­sil fu­els fur­ther out of reach. Even as vast new en­ergy re­serves are be­ing dis­cov­ered, such as the Saudi-top­ping Bakken for­ma­tion in North Dakota, do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion is de­clin­ing. Mr. Obama has banned new do­mes­tic off­shore drilling while sub­si­diz­ing it in Brazil. Last week, Shell Oil Com­pany an­nounced that it is aban­don­ing Arc­tic Ocean drilling plans be­cause the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency is block­ing key per­mits, sac­ri­fic­ing 27 bil­lion bar­rels of oil. In March, the U.S. En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion (EIA) pro­jected a re­duc­tion in to­tal U.S. crude oil pro­duc­tion of 110,000 bar­rels per day in 2011 and a fur­ther 130,000 bar­rels per day in 2012. Given the cur­rent prof­itabil­ity of oil pro­duc­tion, the blame can only rest with the White House.

Mr. Obama talked a good game re­gard­ing re­duc­ing de­pen­dency on for­eign oil be­fore he was pres­i­dent. In 2006, then-Sen. Barack Obama said the United States should cut oil im­ports by 7.5 mil­lion bar­rels a day by 2025, which at the time would have amounted to a 50 per­cent cut.

He was highly crit­i­cal of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s en­ergy poli­cies, but ac­cord­ing to the EIA, oil im­ports de­clined from a daily av­er­age of 13.7 mil­lion bar­rels in 2005 to 11.7 mil­lion by 2009. At that rate, a 50 per­cent re­duc­tion would have been reached by 2016.

Since Mr. Obama took of­fice, for­eign oil im­ports have in­creased. In 2010, oil im­ports rose by 62,000 bar­rels per day, and in Jan­uary 2011, the lat­est month for which gov­ern­ment data are avail­able, the av­er­age was up an ad­di­tional 200,000 bar­rels daily. Mr. Obama has now re­duced his 2025 tar­get to a onethird cut. Ig­nor­ing for a mo­ment the disin­gen­u­ous­ness of pres­i­dents who prom­ise mirac­u­lous re­sults ar­riv­ing years af­ter they leave of­fice, so far Mr. Obama’s poli­cies have only dug a deeper hole.

In 2006, Sen. Obama de­clared, “When it comes to find­ing a way to end our de­pen­dence on fos­sil fu­els, the great­est vac­uum in lead­er­ship, the big­gest fail­ure in imag­i­na­tion and the most stub­born re­fusal to ad­mit the need for change is com­ing from the very peo­ple who are run­ning the coun­try.” In 2011, we could not agree more.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.