And when President Barack Obama saw Americans struggling with higher gasoline and home energy prices, did he encourage more domestic oil exploration, off-shore drilling, or coal production, while lowering taxes on energy? Of course not. After all, with political observers expecting a close presidential race this year, Obama needs the financial and institutional support far-left environmental groups. The result has been the President anointing certain energy sources - such as wind and natural gas - as energies of the future, while implementing regulatory hurdles for more dependable fuels like oil and coal.
Over the last decade, natural gas has exploded as an important energy source in the United States, accounting for almost one quarter of all energy consumed. Natural gas has boosted economic activity in states like Ohio, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania, and until recently has done so largely without the benefit of preferential treatment from the federal government.
But to expedite this natural gas boom, President Obama just recently decided to form an interagency natural gas council run by Cecilia Munoz, a former community organizer with La Raza and White House bureaucrat with deep-ties to George Soros, the billionaire investor who made his fortune in currency trading throughout the world while bankrolling liberal political efforts. Munoz formerly lead the Open Society Institute and the Center for Community Change, two organizations which are directly connected to Soros, MoveOn.org, ACORN, and other fringe groups with a long record of opposing the development of America's oil and coal resources.
If having a new council run by the far left was not enough, President Obama continues to support major Democratic donors such as Soros by picking winners and losers in the energy through risky subsidies, through a bill known as the NAT GAS Act. This legislation attempts to artificially encourage a transition to more natural gas usage, by offering tax credits for natural gas vehicles, fueling stations, and storage facilities. As we all saw with the collapse of inefficient companies like Solyndra, when private investors are not willing to fund a new project, politically connected firms try to force taxpayers to fund their schemes.
But if natural gas is an already cheap and abundant source of energy, why would we subsidize it? The answer may be found with the Soros Management Fund, which is Soros' investment vehicle, owns more than $90 million of shares in a Vancouver, British Columbia company which produces the same natural gas-powered engines which the act would encourage the use of. Soros has personally donated $5,000 to the act's co-sponsor Rep. Nita Lowey of New York and his family donated $121,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, while the lead sponsor of the act, Senator Robert Mendez of New Jersey, was chairman. This is in addition to the countless (and often untraceable) millions of dollars Soros pours into Democratic campaigns through the activities of his non-profit organizations and political committees.
Natural gas is a valuable and commonly used fuel. But it is not a silver bullet to our nation's massive energy conundrum. And just like wind, solar, and nuclear, it should be left to succeed or fail based on private market forces. Government should not have the legal authority to hand your hard-earned dollars over to a private industry, just because a handful of politicians think they have the right to make decisions about what energy consumers use.
We have seen the costly errors of government manipulating energy markets, and Obama must not allow wealthy activists to profit at the expense of taxpayers. Conservatives should oppose the NAT GAS Act and other measures that give one specific fuel a distinct marketplace advantage over others.