Remember when gas was...
By Craig Masters
Washington Post today reports that gasoline prices have now exceeded $4.00 per gallon in at least four states. Prices at the pump are expected to continue to rise. But while President Obama is publicly blaming mid-east tensions, big-oil price gouging, and economic factors he inherited from George Bush, his Energy Secretary Steven Chu, is on record saying, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” In a report published by the Wall Street Journal in 2008, Chu explained that in order to wean Americans off gasoline, the administration should make them punitively pay at the pump.
Two weeks ago, Chu testified before the Energy Committee that Obama’s Department of Energy “isn’t working to lower gasoline prices directly” but “is working to promote alternatives such as biofuels and electric vehicles.”
Western Energy Alliance, a Denver-based energy industry organization, issued a detailed report indicating that private sector oil and natural gas production has increased while production on federally controlled lands has declined. The report states:
Yesterday’s one year progress report released by the White House marks the latest effort by President Obama to claim credit for increasing American oil and natural gas production. Yet the President’s assessment misses the mark.
Thankfully, the private sector has been able to increase production, despite obstacles from the federal government. Increased American production is the result of:
1) Private-sector investment in new resources such as the Bakken in Montana and North Dakota, and the Niobrara in Wyoming and Colorado
2) Private-sector investment in new and advanced technologies
3) Development on non-federal
Chuck Norris weighs in on the issue writing on the Creators.com web site, “President Obama would do well to take his own advice; in regard to the possibility of $3-a-gallon gas in 2006, the then senator said, “The time for excuses is over.”
Norris continues, “Increasing gas prices in order to wean us off gasoline and onto biofuel alternatives is a ruse — a deceptive strategy laid on the backs of American citizens.”
Norris, former world martial arts champion, pulls no punches as he writes, “This is what Obama meant two weeks ago when he repackaged and re-pitched his “new energy policy” from a gas station in Indianapolis. The words on his podium were “Investing in Energy Independence.” Notice he didn’t say who is doing the investing or with whose money he is investing. It might seem as if spending — I mean investing — your money is Obama’s forte, but to me, it smells like more capitalism-crushing B.O. ”
But Norris wasn’t done. He points to another example of this administration saying one thing and doing another in reviewing Energy Secretary Chu’s testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Not only does Chu not own or drive an electric car, he is chauffeured in U.S. government Cadillac Esplanades, which, of course, runs on fossil fuels – like his wife’s BMW.
Are these or even higher gas prices the new normal?
According to a recent Washington Post-ABC poll, 63 percent of Americans say that gas prices are causing financial hardship (and 36 percent say they’re causing “serious hardship”). Those are actually the lowest hardship numbers since May of 2008 — which suggests that Americans are slowly adapting to our era of pricey oil. But 63 percent is still quite high.
And Gallop confirms that Americans seem to be ready to adjust. Results of a March poll revealed, “the price of gas would have to hit around $5.30 per gallon for most Americans to “cut back on spending in other areas or make significant changes in the way they live their lives.”
A Bloomberg Businessweek report from November which stated, “unlocking vast reserves of shale gas could solve the energy crisis, the jobs crisis, and the deficit,” seems to be supported by a report released by the Institute for Energy Research (IER).
That data indicates total federal oil production was down in 2011, as was federal natural gas production in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The Institute shows FY 2011 federal oil production down 11% and natural gas production down 6%. Meanwhile, there was a 14% increase in oil and a 12% increase in natural gas production on private and state.
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