No Gas Pains for Obama Energy Chief: Lower Prices Still Not a Priority

By: Kenric Ward | Posted: March 2, 2012 3:55 AM
Allen West, Steven Chu and Barack Obama

Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and President Barack Obama | Credit: Gage Skidmore - INL - Bill Ingalls - Flickr

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee jumped on Rep. Allen West for not supporting a year-old gasoline "price-gouging" bill. Energy Secretary Steven Chu apparently doesn't care.

"In the face of rising gas prices, Representative Allen West and his Grand Oil Party just voted against considering the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act, which would empower the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to penalize fuel price gouging," a snarky DCCC press release stated..

HR 964, by Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., has languished in the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manfacturing and Trade since it was introduced on March 9, 2011.

But while congressional Democrats try to blame unsubstantiated corporate conspiracies for soaring gas prices, the Obama administration remains unfazed by the historic run-up at the pump.

At a House hearing this week, Energy Secretary Chu was asked if "the overall goal [of President Obama] is to get our price lower?" Chu replied, "No."

The secretary's curt response reiterated a statement he made back in December 2008 -- when gas prices were half what they are today.

Upon being named energy secretary, the former college professor said the administration's strategy would be to raise prices high enough to make expensive alternatives more competitive.

"Somehow," Chu told the Wall Street Journal, "we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."

Press reports noted Thursday that the administration is moving inexorably toward its goal.

"While this Democrat president can't make many claims to genuine achievement in the first 1,136 days of his presidency, he has made impressive progress in raising the price of gasoline for American drivers more than halfway to Europe's $8-to-$9 a gallon level," Investors Business Daily stated.

Gas was $1.84 a gallon when Obama took office.

At the White House, Obama spokesman Jay Carney was backing and filling.

Asked this week if the president agreed with Chu about the low priority of lowering gas prices, Carney said:

"The president is not focused on a policy and is not making promises to the American people that, if I do this, you will be paying a certain price at the pump, because he is not insulting the American people's intelligence."

But in an effort to deflect criticism, Obama boasted last month that domestic oil production was at its highest level since 2003. He also trumpeted a new offshore drilling agreement with Mexico.

Skeptics, including West, call it too little, too late.

Noting the administration's ongoing blockade of the Keystone pipeline, the congressman said, "Oil rigs in Louisiana continue to sit stagnant, leaving thousands of people without a job, and bringing even more uncertainty to fuel prices. Brazil gets $2 billion of American taxpayer money for energy exploration."

Chu, like Obama a Nobel Prize winner (his was in physics), has long been an advocate of renewable energy and nuclear power, and he lists lower battery costs as a more pressing priority at his department.

In January, Chu told the Detroit Economic Club that the administration is sticking to its goal of getting up to 1 million electric and plug-in hybrids on U.S. roads by the middle of next decade.

Obama's Energy Department has spent more than $2 billion to underwrite domestic battery production, and billions more to finance electric car development, according to press reports.

While passing out "green" subsidies with one hand, Obama is now campaigning on a demand that Congress "immediately end" oil-industry tax breaks.

Meanwhile, Democratic political operatives are giving the gas to Republicans for thwarting an effort to bring HR 964 to a floor vote Wednesday. The GOP locked up the dormant bill on a 241-178 party-line vote.

Singling out West, R-Plantation, the DCCC charged that the congressman "has raked in $87,972 in campaign contributions from Big Oil and gas interests he is protecting."

Back in June 2011, the DCCC added, "West voted against a measure that would have increased funds for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission by $11.8 million for enforcement against oil and gas speculators."

West countered that Obama's energy policy "is running on fumes."

"If bringing prices down at the pump was any kind of a priority for President Obama, he would stop blocking access to the energy resources we have right here in the United States.

"Instead of addressing these issues or having a plan to move forward, the president continues to blaze the campaign trail. The president is blatantly ignoring the vital problems of the United States, so he can focus on being in office another four years.  

"Because of this, all Americans are suffering.”

Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.


Comments (2)

2:14PM MAR 2ND 2012
"The president is blatantly ignoring the vital problems of the United States, so he can focus on being in office another four years."

He would be stupid to ignore gas prices if he wants another 4 years in office. But oil is a finite resource so I don't think he's stupid for continuing to invest in R&D for alternatives. We do have tomorrow to think about.

I also have to wonder if he knows what he's doing on KeystoneXL. From what I've read, that oil can go (and is already going) to Midwestern refineries. It seems the only benefit of bringing it to the refineries on the Gulf is for the Canadians- so they can have an easier time to sell it on the world market. (Also seems it would be better for us to not make it any easier for them to export it.)

As for the comment below mine about shutting down the old outdated coal plants in Pennsylvania he should thank the State of New Jersey for that. They're the ones who petitioned the EPA to make them comply with the Clean Air Act as it was their largest source of air pollution. Really, why should the people of New Jersey subsidize cheaper electricity for people in Pennsylvania with not only their money but their health and the IQ's of their children? (Contributing no less to a false market.)

Besides, it's high time coal lives up to it's "clean coal" advertising campaign before they get sued for false advertising.
Pat Galbraith
11:52AM MAR 2ND 2012
In other columns I've read that Nancy Pelosi wants to open up the strategic petroleum reserve, hoping to lower prices by increasing supply. What? Doesn't she know that this will not work. Never has. Note: remove tongue from cheek. If this will lower prices, what would happen if the Keystone XL extension went through, we opened up ANWR, increased fracking and increased coal production?

And also in other places, five coal fired power plants in Pennsylvania are being scheduled to shut down due to EPA regs. Whhhooopppeee!!!

And, closing, how many have heard about Scarabeo 9?

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