Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- There's a simple, one-word answer to President Obama's latest lecture that "we can't drill our way" to lower gas prices: Baloney.

But drilling for more oil and gas is apparently forbidden in the president's environmental bible. He'd rather invest in energy alternatives like windmills, solar panels and biofuels such as grasses, wood chips and algae.

Yes, algae, the green pond scum that he touted last week in his energy speech at the University of Miami, in which he responded to his critics about skyrocketing gas prices. Obama told his audience to be patient about rising gas prices because help was on the way under his alternative fuels program. He proudly pointed to a $14 million federal grant to turn algae into fuel.

It's not economically viable yet, mind you, but they're working on it -- though it will take years, maybe decades, and billions of tax dollars in the form of subsidies.

In the meantime, the president wants the country to know that there's nothing anyone can do right now about higher gas prices except raise taxes on the oil industry, if Congress will only let him do that. It won't.

So he has taken to ridiculing critics of his energy policy, charging them with playing politics. His spiel goes like this:

"Since it's an election year, they're dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas. Step one is drill, step two is drill and step three is keep drilling," he told the students in Miami.

"Well, the American people aren't stupid. They know that's not a plan. ... You know there are no quick fixes to this problem, and you know we can't just drill our way to lower prices.

"There's no silver bullet. There never has been ... It's the easiest thing in the world to make phony election-year promises about lower gas prices."

Obama's thinking reflects "the White House's belief that gasoline prices are subject to cyclical spikes due to forces largely outside its control," The Washington Post reported.

But the growth-stalling, job-killing gas prices we have now are not foreordained by some ethereal power. They are the result of the anti-drilling policies Obama began putting into place from the moment he took office in January 2009, when the price of regular gas was $1.85.

In a fact-filled statement following Obama's college-level lecture, Karen Harbert, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy, spelled out just what those "just say no" policies were. Among them:

-- The Obama administration "has issued 50.7 percent fewer annual (oil drilling) leases on public lands than President Clinton did."


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.