Energy Secretary: On Second Thought, European Gas Prices Aren't That Great

Posted: Mar 14, 2012 10:13 AM

Energy Secretary Stephen Chu is walking back a series of comments he made about the Obama Administration not having a goal of lowering gas prices, but of getting Americans off of fossil fuels and onto "alternative" energy.

Chu in 2008:

“Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” Mr. Chu, who directs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in September.

Chu last week:

Chu yesterday:

So are you saying you no longer share the view that we need to figure out how to boost gasoline prices in America?” Senator Mike Lee asked.

“I no longer share that view,” Chu replied.

“When I became secretary of Energy, I represented the U.S. government,” Chu added. “Of course we don’t want the price of gasoline to go up, we want it to go down.”

The real question becomes, is the Obama administration really focused on lowering gas prices? Or is Chu simply walking back is comments because of the political fallout of supporting high gas prices? After all, President Obama has hit a new high in disapproval, with high gas prices being a major factor.

President Obama's approval rating has hit the lowest level ever in CBS News polling, according to the latest CBS News/New York Times survey. The drop may be partially attributable to rising gas prices.

Just 41 percent of Americans approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing as president.

(Please ignore the stupid comments about opening the strategic oil reserve to reduce prices. CBS is covering for Obama mentioning this point and it's not true. Opening up drilling and approving drilling permits, not exploration permits, lowers prices. Approving Keystone is also a way Obama could nudge the market into lower prices.)

Chu may have given us the answer inadvertently yesterday.

“Since I walked in the door as secretary of Energy I’ve been doing everything in my powers to do what we can to … reduce those prices,” Chu said when pressed on the quote by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

Chu added that the “most important tool in DOE’s tool chest is moving off oil,” and referred to DOE’s backing of biofuels and electric vehicles as a long-term strategy.

The fact is, Chu hasn't done everything he can to lower gas prices and the positive oil productution accomplishments achieved under the Obama administration really have little to do with Obama's energy policy. Chu and Obama have been too focused on giving millions of dollars to failed alternative energy companies.

The increased domestic oil production we're currently enjoying is due to the initiative of private businesses and the policies of "the previous administration" -- seems like increased oil production is one of the few things Obama isn't willing to pin on the Bush administration, even if that's where the credit is actually due.

And of course, there is this infamous comment from the President: