At what point do environmentalist liberals become accountable for the results of their policies instead of their allegedly good intentions? Why isn't President Obama held accountable for his ideologically based interference with lower oil prices?
Obama has repeatedly shown his willingness to use his executive authority discriminatorily to implement his preferred environmental policies. On the presidential campaign trail, he bragged that he would ensure that any company that built a coal-fired plant would go bankrupt. By charging coal-powered plants "a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted," he would "generate billions of dollars that we (could) invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches."
He also made no secret of his intention to pressure Americans into driving hybrids or into taking alternative means of travel entirely. His transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, arrogantly boasted that the administration would "coerce people out of their cars." In justifying the administration's push for public mass transit options, LaHood said, "We have to create opportunities for people who want to ride a bike or walk or take a streetcar." Obama's ill-conceived and cost-prohibitive high-speed rail proposal is similarly fueled by this obsession.
Have we detected any concern by the administration about the economic impact of all of this? Then again, how often do environmentalist zealots concern themselves with economic realities?
Research has shown, for example, that if the United States were to adopt the Draconian cap-and-trade policies urged by the administration, it could cause a loss in gross domestic product of $9.4 trillion by 2035 and increase each family of four's share of the national debt by $115,000. Never mind that the policies would have a trivial impact on future concentrations of greenhouse gases and have no meaningful impact on global temperatures, even by 2100.
Not that we need more proof, but we might recall Obama's lawless defiance of a federal court order blocking his moratorium on offshore drilling -- a moratorium that would further exacerbate our lack of domestic oil production, our dependence on foreign oil and the high price of oil to the American consumer.
The unmistakable lesson is that such is the myopic zealotry of environmentalists like Obama that they would implement policies virtually guaranteed to harm our economy significantly, even when they offer no promise of appreciable environmental benefits.
It is doubtlessly this factual backdrop that led Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to accuse the Obama administration of favoring a run-up in gas prices to prod consumers to buy more fuel-efficient cars. Barbour cited Energy Secretary Steven Chu's comment that a gradual increase in gasoline taxes could coax consumers into dumping their gas guzzlers and finding homes closer to where they work. Higher gas prices, according to Chu, could force investments in alternative fuels and spur us to embrace "cleaner energy sources."
I think Barbour has a point, especially in view of Obama's attitude and energy policies. But we needn't get bogged down in this ongoing debate over whether Obama sets out intentionally to harm the economy or even to raise gas prices. We must, however, hold him accountable for his damaging policies, irrespective of his intentions.
On that note, The Heritage Foundation argues that Obama's policies are indeed making gas prices higher. This week, the price of a barrel of crude oil surpassed $100 for the first time since September 2008. Heritage acknowledges that Middle East turmoil has had an impact, but long before this chaos, experts were predicting $4-a-gallon prices by the summer and $5-a-gallon gas by 2012 because of "increased oil demand worldwide."
So what's the obvious solution? Well, increasing domestic oil production comes to mind. But the administration has done just the opposite -- to the direct detriment of the American people.
Both Chu and White House press secretary Jay Carney have insisted that the remedy is to develop alternative energy sources to decrease our dependency on foreign oil. That's just peachy in theory and something to continue to explore for the long run. But in the short run, it is a reckless, quixotic fantasy -- a tilting at windmills.
Windmills, incidentally, are not the answer. Heritage experts argue that wind and solar energy sources are miniscule and "entirely irrelevant to gasoline supply in the transportation sector." The administration's other alternative sources of energy, such as corn and electric cars, "won't help a bit." Corn-based ethanol produces less energy than gasoline, "contributes to food price increases, costs taxpayers $4 billion to produce 2 percent of the total gasoline supply, and has dubious environmental effects." Electric cars are "prohibitively costly and environmentally suspect."
Wake up, folks. Regardless of Obama's intentions, his energy policies are, at best, grossly negligent and irrefutably damaging to Americans and our economy.