Gas prices rising, just as Obama planned

Last week, Nevada gasoline prices averaged $3.75 at the pump — a leap of 59 cents since the beginning of the year.

The average price of a gallon of gas has increased 96 percent under our current president. According to the Energy Information Agency, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in the United States was $1.838 on Jan. 19, 2009 — the day before Barack Obama took office.

AAA officials attribute the dramatic spike to regional refinery issues, a move toward summer-blend gasoline, and “more expensive crude oil.”

But recently discovered domestic shale oil and gas reserves are enough to last a century.

Why aren’t oil prices tumbling?

Nor do American consumers pay higher gasoline prices just when they fill up at the pump. Higher fuel prices drive up transportation costs that have to be added to everything we buy — especially food.

Add the increase in electric bills from utilities now required to buy a certain percentage of their power from vastly more expensive “alternative” (and economically unsustainable) sources like solar farms and windmills — subsidized with our tax dollars as political favors to big campaign contributors (think Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser of Solyndra, or Sen. Harry Reid’s cozy relationship with Chinese-owned ENN Mojave Energy), and soaring energy costs have a lot to do with the fact that even Americans who still have jobs are experiencing a decline in their standard of living.

But at least folks in Washington are doing everything they can to help, right?

Sorry, bad joke.

In the same January, 2008 videotaped interview with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle in which candidate Barack Obama promised to bankrupt anyone foolish enough to build a coal-burning power plant, he also told the editors his policies would make energy prices “skyrocket.”

“Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” then-candidate Obama said. “You can already see what the arguments will be during the general election. People will say, ‘Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they’re going to destroy the economy, this is going to cost us eight trillion dollars,’ or whatever their number is.”

Yes. And?

In one of the presidential debates last October, Mr. Obama bragged he was expanding U.S. oil production. But in fact oil production has grown only on private lands which Mr. Obama does not control. This is the same president who in 2009 proposed a number of new taxes on domestic oil production and an “economy wide” cap and trade system designed specifically to increase the cost of using fossil fuels so that alternative energy sources would appear more competitive. “That had an immediate impact on energy prices,” notes Dave Juday in the Weekly Standard.

Mr. Obama is still calling for an end to the oil depletion allowance which lets U.S. oil producers recover the cost of capital expenditures for new exploration — in effect a new $85 billion tax. He’s still cut back on leasing of federal lands, as Mitt Romney pointed out in their October debate. In fact, President Obama’s own Department of Energy issued a special report a year ago that shows fossil fuel production on federal and Indian lands is the lowest it’s been in nine years — 6 percent less than in 2010.

Mr. Obama has blocked the Keystone XL Pipeline, and implemented a new offshore oil lease plan that vastly reduces both the number of lease sales and the area where drilling can take place. It blocks drilling off of both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as most of Alaska.

And coal producers hoping to export their commodity to Asia have faced so many hurdles as they seek to upgrade West Coast port facilities that they’re now actually laying off coal miners in Wyoming.

Imagine you’re a detective, looking for a murder suspect. You encounter someone who said of the victim, on the record, on videotape: “Under my plan, this guy will necessarily end up killed.” So you begin to ask: Every time he faced a decision that would have some impact on whether this crime was committed, did he take the step that would make it less likely, or did he take the step that would make it inevitable?

If he wanted lower gasoline prices — and the economic boom that could have fueled — Mr. Obama could have asked Congress to drop the hefty federal tax on gasoline. He did not. He could have told his Department of the Interior to get busy approving more oil drilling leases, more new refineries, more refinery expansions and upgrades. He could have ordered them to speed up approval of pipelines, and more “shale fracture” drilling.

Instead, he has actively worked to block every one of these things from happening, And we even know why, because he told us: Mr. Obama and his minions want to make fossil fuels more expensive — even as they subsidize such goofy alternatives as windmills and massive solar farms — in hopes that by artificially bringing those prices closer together, he can manipulate the American public into abandoning fossil fuels and shifting to the alternatives.

By this time, I think our detective would have a case worthy of taking to the D.A.

Mr. Obama does all this — at a time when the spendaholics of Washington City near bankruptcy and collapse — despite the miserable track record of government subsidies (read Burton Folsom on the failure of 19th century subsidized rail and steamship lines, which nearly always went bankrupt when they finally had to compete against more efficient, unsubsidized, free-market competition.)

In order to pursue these policies they also have to ignore the fact that windmills are worthless without backup natural-gas-fired generators that end up running the majority of the time, and that they meantime devastate the ecosystem by killing millions of birds and bats, while building the equipment for any of these new technologies creates vast new unpublicized pollution problems.

“Energy remains expensive because we’re still pursuing the same policies,” concludes Mr. Juday.

Gasoline prices don’t have to be this high. Washington is doing it on purpose.

One Comment to “Gas prices rising, just as Obama planned”

  1. Peter Kellett Says:

    Vin, I read everything you write and greatly admire your style and content. However, on the subject of ongoing plentiful cheap oil, you are wrong. The era of copious abundance of cheap oil is over. All the easy-to-reach oil is gone. The total production of all oil, world wide, has not increased for almost ten years because it can not. Meanwhile, India and China – to name but a few- are increasing their demand for oil at an exponential rate. We have already consumed half of all the oil there ever was on the planet and the second half will be increasingly more difficult and expensive to produce. With massively growing demand and flat-to-declining rate of production, we are looking at much higher fuel prices from now until it eventually runs out altogether.