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."
-- "Gulf of Mexico energy production is down 16 percent since 2009 and is projected to decrease even further in 2012."
-- "Obama denied the (oil-producing) Keystone XL pipeline permit, which would have created thousands of jobs and provided all Americans with a steady supply of oil from a friendly ally."
-- Obama "also has banned new offshore areas from oil and gas exploration, and recently his administration took one million acres of onshore land rich with oil shale off the table."
The president was right about one remark in his speech: The American people are not stupid.
They see that his green energy policies are hostile to oil and gas drilling. They remember what happened to the $500 million government loan to the Solyndra solar panel company that Obama backed to the hilt, despite warnings from advisers that this was a very shaky enterprise. It fell into bankruptcy, and taxpayers footed the half-billion-dollar loan guarantee bill.
That scandal has come and gone, but there are at least half a dozen other green energy investments being bankrolled by the administration that have run into financial trouble or have failed to live up to Obama's exaggerated promises.
This week the U.S. Energy Information Administration's gasoline price survey put the average price paid by drivers for a gallon of regular at $3.72. It's up to more than $4 in nearly a dozen states.
Gas prices have risen 13 cents in the past week alone, and the average price per gallon is nearly 20 cents higher than two weeks ago, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
TransCanada, the Canadian firm that sought to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, announced Monday that it will go ahead with plans to built part of the pipeline from Cushing, Okla. (a major terminal where there's a glut of oil), to Port Arthur, Texas. The administration says it is studying the plan. If built, it would transport 700,000 barrels of oil a day.
A national Quinnipiac University poll reported last week that nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) supported the XL pipeline that Obama blocked. Only 23 percent opposed it.
What is it about this pipeline that Obama doesn't get?
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