Obama energy policies to create a winter of discontent

Deneen Borelli Director of Outreach, FreedomWorks
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As the thermometer dips lower and snow begins to pile up, the need for cheap and efficient power for heat and light is essential. But the Obama administration’s war on fossil fuels is making it increasingly unlikely that the nation’s poorest citizens will be comfortable this winter.

Millions of Americans are unemployed, and countless others are suffering from the ailing national economy. Obama administration policies limiting the availability and raising the price of energy derived from fossil fuels are stretching family budgets and the resources of charities past their limits.

From the moratorium on offshore oil exploration to restrictions on coal mining to a blind faith in alternative energy sources such as wind and solar, the Obama administration’s energy policies put a luxury price tag on a basic necessity.

The Congressional Research Service predicts this winter will cost the average American household $986 for heat alone. Already, there are stories of people scrambling to find ways to keep warm:

• In Cobb County, Georgia, hundreds of people waited outside in freezing temperatures in November to apply for county heating assistance. Applicant Deandre Marshall told WSB Radio that people in line were crying over the thought that there would not be enough money for everyone, saying, “It’s almost like being in a soup line during the Great Depression.”

• By late November, over 8,000 households in St. Lawrence County, New York were approved for heating assistance. But salvation may be fleeting. County social services coordinator Linda Clark told North County Now that “everyone here is a little edgy” about the consistency of aid funding.

• John J. Drew, the president and CEO of Action for Boston Community Development, said: “Washington’s inaction on fuel aid, rising energy prices, a ruthless economy and the predicted severe winter” create a “perfect storm of conditions that will leave seniors and low-income working families in grave danger.”

Yet, despite this clear and present danger, the White House continues on a path to impose a “cap-and-trade” policy that Obama himself once admitted would cause some energy costs to “necessarily skyrocket.”

In a late November speech to the Aspen Institute, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson demonized the private sector and strongly defended the Obama administration’s decision to regulate “greenhouse gas” emissions without having specific congressional authority to do so.

Twisting the results of an October Gallup poll in which five percent of those surveyed said the government should have no role in environmental protection, Jackson claimed: “When it came to protecting the environment…95 percent of Americans said government should have a role in protecting the environment. Fifty percent of Americans said government should be the only protector of the environment, indicating a lack of trust, if you will, in the private sector, not because the private sector is bad…but because the private sector is motivated by profit, and oftentimes without regulatory restrictions.”

No rational person wants a poisoned environment, but they don’t want to freeze either. Neither does anyone want to be beholden to government assistance. Yet this is exactly what the Obama energy plan is likely to do.

In fact, in stark contrast to EPA administrator Jackson’s assertion, more comprehensive polling shows one core segment of Obama’s constituency is none-too-pleased with rising energy costs.

A 2009 poll of 800 black Americans conducted by Wilson Research Strategies for the National Center for Public Policy Research undercuts Jackson’s claim of broad public support for the administration’s energy policies. Among the key findings of the National Center poll:

• Fifty-six percent of blacks believe those in Washington setting climate policy fail to properly consider economic and quality-of-life concerns in the black community.

• Fifty-two percent of respondents don’t want to pay more for gasoline or electricity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Seventy-three percent are unwilling to pay more than 50 cents more for a gallon of gas, and 76 percent are unwilling to pay more than $50 more per year for electricity.

After the tremendous outpouring of support the black community gave to Obama when he ran for president, it’s a shame that he is now seemingly turning his back on them and all Americans of limited means to support the energy agenda of the environmental elite.

Deneen Borelli is a fellow with the Project 21 black leadership network, a program of the National Center for Public Policy Research.