Remember when you were a kid and your mother told you to eat your Brussels sprouts because “they’re good for you?” That’s exactly the attitude today from President Barack Obama, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar concerning high gas prices.
And today, as millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet while gas prices reach and exceed $4 per gallon, Obama shrugs his shoulders and claims there’s no “magic bullet” to restore reasonable energy costs, while telling a father with a family of 10 that he should buy a “hybrid minivan,” which doesn’t exist.
But magic isn’t required to make energy costs come down. The last time gas prices hit $4 per gallon was when President George W. Bush was in office. Oil prices were at record highs of nearly $150 per barrel. But the day Bush signed an executive order allowing increased U.S. offshore oil and natural-gas drilling, the price of oil plummeted and gas prices soon followed. Obama could do the same thing today with the stroke of a pen, or by picking up a phone and calling Salazar and Chu.
But Americans need to understand why Obama, Salazar and Chu won’t act to bring energy prices down. These men believe Americans must endure the pain of high gas prices in order to force us to stop using oil and instead use clean energy. To that end, Obama has sent billions of tax dollars to subsidize wind, solar, biomass and other energy, but his own Energy Information Agency projects that it will be two to three decades before such resources will be available in sufficient quantities to replace significant portions of energy generated using conventional fuels.
When Salazar was a Senate Democrat from Colorado, for example, he made clear during a floor debate with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that he would oppose increased drilling of U.S. oil and natural-gas resources even in the face of spiraling gas prices. McConell, who started quizzing Salazar about whether $4.50 per gallon would be acceptable, finally stopped asking when Salazar remained steadfast even if gas reached $10 per gallon. That milestone is important because it’s where European gas prices were at the time of the McConnell-Salazar exchange. And it was Chu who famously said in 2008 that “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”
To avoid admitting they think high gas prices are good for us, these people go to great lengths to avoid saying how long the pain must go on.
Chu recently told “Fox News Sunday’s” Chris Wallace, for example, that he’s confident that “within maybe four or five years, we could be testing batteries that can allow us to go 200, 300 miles on a single charge in a mass-marketed car.” Unfortunately, we’ve heard that promise for decades from “experts” such as Chu, but the reality is that battery technology is still far from reaching such a range of capability. It’s time for energy gurus to end their magical thinking and level with the American people.