The Obama Administration is clearly the most anti-energy administration ever. Will Collier has a noteworthy item up today over at PajamasMedia on soaring gasoline prices and the Obama Administration’s hypocritical policy of paying lip service to increased oil production at home while doing everything possible to hinder any real increase in domestic oil production. (For example, Greg Pollowitz notes over at NRO’s Planet Gore that the Obama EPA has once again denied an operating permit for Shell Oil to begin drilling offshore in Alaska–where there is an estimated 27 billion barrels of crude to be had–on a lease where Shell has shelled out over $6 billion to get started.)
Collier points out that the last time world oil prices surged, to $145 a barrel in July 2008, President Bush ended the moratorium on additional offshore drilling by executive order, and oil prices began falling the next day. Coincidence? Collier thinks not, and makes a strong case.
But there’s two other aspects of our current moment that bear noting. First, remember that Obama said that under his energy policy prices “would necessarily skyrocket.” Okay, he was talking about electricity prices, but keep in mind that his Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu (who, we are always reminded is a Nobel Prize winner–almost as often as we’re reminded that John Kerry served in Vietnam) said back in his earliest days for Obama that gasoline prices in the U.S. should rise to European levels. Well, now that we’re getting closer to European price levels, what exactly is the problem?
Just this: high prices for energy are only fun, for a liberal, if they’re the result of a tax. If they are the result of market forces (along with stupid government policy), then it’s “speculation,” or “price-gouging” by the oil companies, or even some dark conspiracy that is never borne out upon investigation. In other words, if the government slapped a $2 tax on gasoline, it would be “enlightened,” but if supply and demand drives the price up, it’s “gouging.”
But that’s only the beginning of liberal illiteracy on energy. Liberals have been wrong on energy for as long as I can remember. I recall in The Age of Reagan how liberals reacted to Reagan’s decontrol of oil prices, executed on his first day in office:
The conventional wisdom was that oil prices would surely head higher as a result of Reagan’s move. Democrats and liberal interest groups seemed to compete with each other for the most fulsome expression of economic illiteracy. In the annals of public policy prognostication it is difficult to find such a wide assembly of wrongheadedness. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio said took to the Senate floor the next day to predict that “we will see $1.50 gas this spring, and maybe before. And it is just a matter of time until the oil companies and their associates, the OPEC nations, will be driving gasoline pump prices up to $2 a gallon.” Sen. Don Riegle of Michigan said that “It will hurt our people within a matter of days.” Sen. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas had previously predicted that “without rationing, gasoline will soon go to $3 a gallon,” and now added that “Decontrol is designed to see how much we can squeeze out of the American people before they take to the streets.” Maine’s Sen. George Mitchell said “Every citizen and every family will find their living standards reduced by this decision.” Democratic Congressman Ed Markey said “I believe that decontrol as a cure will prove to be worse than the disease of oil addiction.” A Naderite advocacy group predicted that oil prices might go as high as $870 a barrel “under assumptions which many experts believe are realistic.” Instead oil prices started falling almost immediately; from an average high of $1.41 in February 1981, pump prices fell steadily to a national average of 89 cents a gallon in the spring of 1986. Oil imports from OPEC fell by 2 million barrels a day by the end of 1982.
Keep this in mind the next time a liberal says more oil production in the U.S. won’t do any good.