When the Obama Administration issued a single permit for deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico last week, it was essentially taunting a starving oil industry that has been waiting for government action for months. And now that Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Department of Interior, is appealing a court order that would force him to act on more permits, some are questioning whether Obama’s energy policies are pushing the country toward another 1970’s-like energy crisis.
“It’s déjà vu all over again!” said Dan Kish of the Institute for Energy Research. According to Kish, thought there are some differences between President Obama’s and President Jimmy Carter’s energy agendas, they both lead to the same place: an energy crunch.
When it came to energy in the 1970s, the federal government’s policies were plagued with oil embargoes, price controls, Mid-East unrest, and perceived petroleum shortages. What resulted was a dramatic spike in prices at the pump and long lines of idling cars as they waited to fill their tanks, while President Carter appeared on television urging Americans to “use less”.
Now, some observers say that the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, combined with President Obama’s energy policies will result in a similar experience.
“I think the [Obama] agenda is pushing us toward an energy crunch, but not in the same way as Carter,” Ken Green of the American Enterprise Institute told The Daily Caller. “The Obama agenda is moving us toward a crunch on electricity, especially, and possibly very high oil prices.”
Green went on to paint a picture of a scenario where the administration would continue to restrict the flow of money to fossil fuel producers (like oil companies), and infuse that money into renewable energy projects that are “scarce and intermittent”. At that point, said Green, when the economy turns around and the supply of oil and natural gas doesn’t meet demand, the country will face an “energy crunch.”
Steve Forbes, businessman and former presidential candidate, told TheDC in an interview that “the Carter Administration pursued all the wrong policies. “They went very big for something called synthetic fuels.”
“It was an absolute disaster,” said Forbes, adding that not only is the administration “hostile to coal and nuclear power,” but it also “wants us to go back to windmills.”
But according to Kish, one of the major differences between the Carter and Obama Administrations when it comes to energy, is that Carter was at least willing to look at some fossil fuels.
“Obama really only wants renewable,” said Kish.
Indeed, in Obama’s 2011 State of the Union, he put a heavy emphasis on investment in research and development for clean energy technology. He even went so far as to say that 80 percent of the country’s electricity should come from clean energy sources by 2035.
But while the fossil fuel industry is being strangled with policies like those from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would regulate greenhouse gases and oil companies are being prevented from drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the price of oil continues to climb.
According to financial reports Monday, the price of a gallon of gas increased an average of 39 cents since the Libya turmoil began in mid-February. Moreover, the national price for a gallon of gas is now $3.509 – the highest it’s been since the summer of 2008.
But the battle against domestic oil production along with the increased attention given to renewable energy, said Forbes, is what will cause even higher prices later on down the road.
“So you combine cheap money with very real barriers to producing more energy and guess what? Energy becomes very expensive,” Forbes told TheDC. “And contrary to what the president thinks, most people don’t want to go back to ashes and sack clothes.”
“I think we’ve seen this movie before,” he added.