During a speech in Washington Wednesday on the need to secure the country’s energy security, President Obama told Americans not to worry: “We’ve been down this road before.”
“Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 a gallon,” said Obama. “Working folks haven’t forgotten that. It hit a lot of people pretty hard … So here’s the bottom line – there are no quick fixes.”
The president’s speech comes after weeks of rising oil prices and outrage over the administration’s de facto moratorium on offshore drilling. But while Obama talked about the need to produce more oil domestically to help ease the pain at the pump, his chief energy adviser has a history of advocating for high gas prices, once saying, “coal is my worst nightmare.”
As director of the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, Steven Chu, Obama’s secretary at the Department of Energy, said in an interview that gas taxes should slowly be increased over the next 15 years in order to force people to turn to alternative energy sources.
“Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to levels in Europe,” said Chu.
In Europe, the price for a gallon of gas consistently hovers around $10 a gallon.
Moreover, as Obama called for increased domestic production, he simultaneously chided the oil industry for sitting on “tens of millions of acres of leases” that are going undeveloped. “We are pushing the oil industry to take advantage of the opportunities they already have,” said Obama.
The president’s rebuke of the industry is based on a report produced Tuesday by the Department of Interior (DOI) that slams oil companies for ignoring current leases and labeled two-thirds of the Gulf of Mexico “inactive.” Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill, however, the report, produced at the president’s request, is misleading in more ways than one as it tries to defend the administration’s energy policies.
“To be blunt, this report flat-out invents the inactive definition used to label two-thirds of Gulf leases as inactive,” said Republican Rep. Doc Hastings, chair of the Natural Resources Committee during a hearing with Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Michael Bromwich. This definition of inactive doesn’t exist in law or regulation.”
Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee reacted to the DOI report by saying, “It is not correct for this administration to blame energy producers for our lack of energy production. Abandoned rigs sit idle in the Gulf of Mexico … yet this administration continues to slow-walk or stall entirely the permits needed to jump-start safe domestic promotions.”
Now, critics point to the fact the administration tapped Chu to be energy secretary after advocating high gas prices, and yesterday’s DOI report as proof the administration has no standing when it comes to solving an oil crisis.
“President Obama has no credibility when it comes to energy policy and development of our domestic natural resources,” Tom Borelli of the Free Enterprise Project told The Daily Caller. “Obama’s record shows his administration is openly hostile toward our use of coal, oil and natural gas. Both President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu are delivering on their promises to increase the price of energy.”