But Obama played down or opposed new oil exploration in the United States and the addition of more gasoline refineries to make the country more energy independent.
Now, as he officially begins his presidential campaign, he's speaking out about energy independence again, though it sounds like the same old, same old.
"Presidents and politicians of every stripe have promised energy independence, but that promise has so far gone unmet. That has to change," Obama said in a speech last week, as oil and gas prices soared and polls showed it was becoming a threatening issue for his presidency.
The AP said the speech contained some new ideas, but also had "many he's previously announced." It had the hallmarks of a hastily put together message to show he was on top of this issue. He isn't. Energy independence means developing our own vast resources of oil in the Artic region and in deep water, offshore fields in the Gulf and elsewhere. But drilling permits have slowed to a snail's pace in the last two years. And drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, along with other reserves, is off-limits.
The administration, in an attempt to blunt Republican criticism that the president remains hostile to fossil fuels, particularly oil, now says it's begun approving deep-water permits -- at least seven in recent weeks and others in shallow- water drilling. Wow. Do you think this is in response to our energy needs, or damage control on the rising price of gas?
The fact is that Obama's moratorium on deep-water exploration has made us more dependent on foreign oil, not less. And it is going to take a long time before these permits result in oil production.
Obama knows that America still runs on oil, but his heart isn't in it. In his speech last week, he talked wistfully of developing four new biofuel plants over the next several years. Years! But these biofuels -- made from switch grass, wood chips and other plant matter -- are far from becoming economically viable energy sources, and in the end, they may never be.
The administration said that Obama's futuristic energy plans will require a lot of money for research and development but gave no estimates of what it will cost.
Meantime, the president ordered every government agency to buy a fleet of costly alternative-fuel vehicles by 2015, including hybrid and electric. The taxpayers, who are paying through the nose to gas up their own cars, will have to foot the bill.
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