‘There is no magic formula to driving gas prices down,” President Barack Obama told a Pennsylvania crowd earlier this month. Although he was correct that there is no magical combination of words involved, there is a formula. It involves either persuading Obama to reverse his opposition to significant expansion of domestic energy production, or replacing him in November 2012 with a president who will promote such expansion.
Our same president who once advised Americans to inflate their tires to beat high gas prices, and who recently told a father of 10 that he should cram his family into a hybrid minivan that doesn’t exist has held the brakes on Gulf of Mexico oil production for nearly a year now. Obama’s intervention began when White House officials falsely represented to the public and to a court that scientists had approved their blanket drilling moratorium after the BP oil spill. The administration then defied a federal court by replacing its original moratorium, which had been struck down, with a substantively identical second moratorium.
One result of this action is that the Obama administration was found in contempt of court. But a further and more consequential result, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is that American offshore oil production as a whole is down 13 percent. The Wall Street Journal reported that, thanks to Obama’s ban on deep-water drilling and his administration’s subsequent slow-walking of permit applications, we are losing out on 375,000 barrels of oil per day. That’s just more than 2 percent of American consumption that simply vanished — an amount that is more than enough to affect prices at the pump — and about one-third of the daily production losses due to Libya’s ongoing civil war.
At today’s prices, the Obama-induced loss of production represents $40 million a day in lost oil revenue.
Spread over a full year, that comes to $14.6 billion that could be supporting thousands of sustainable, good-paying American jobs at no cost to the taxpayer. That is a much better deal than Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package, which appears to have added far more to the national debt than it ever will to national employment.
It seems clear that ideological and not economic considerations are at work in this administration’s energy policy. The same politician who once said energy prices would “necessarily skyrocket” under his plan seems less intent on job creation or energy security than he is on putting oil producers in a regulatory straitjacket and getting Americans used to accepting the lower standard of living that inevitably results from energy scarcity.