In 2006, when gasoline was selling for about $3/gallon, an outraged Senator Obama assessed our dependence on foreign oil and proclaimed, “The time for excuses is over.” Today, as gasoline approaches $4/gallon, now-president Obama tells us to use less. After three years of profligate spending on alternative energy, total solar and wind power generates a whopping 0.45% of our electricity and we are as dependent as ever on foreign oil. Without a single green success story to tout, Mr. Obama tritely blames oil companies, OPEC, the Middle East, speculators, Republicans, and George Bush, his go-to villain. Evidently, there is still time for excuses.
While the president gripes, we wait. We wait for the clean energy marvels discharged from his subsidized pipeline of foreordained technologies -- none that we want or can afford. The demand for electric vehicles is near zero, even with a $7500 tax credit. Oblivious to market signals, the president increased the bribe to $10,000. Another splash from the pipeline is the $50 light bulb, winner of a $10 million Energy Department prize for being, what Secretary Steven Chu said, “affordable for American families.” Algae is Mr. Obama's latest panacea. The wait time for algae-based fuels ranges from very long to infinite. But the impatient among us can buy his conventional biofuels (sold to the Navy last December) for $26.75/gallon.
Mr. Obama proudly announced that Detroit is on track to build cars averaging nearly 55 mpg by 2025. If we wait 13 years, and gasoline prices do not rise, we'll be able to drive almost twice as far - in sluggish, wafting 2025 Obamamobiles. If we wait 50 years, perhaps technological advances in solar panels and windmills will produce similar pay-offs for our utility bills.
In bold defiance of the laws of supply and demand, president Obama insists that off-shore drilling and projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline will have little, if any, affect on fuel prices. Calls to increase supply are cynically mocked. Unable to explain the economics of his assertions, he artfully shifts to political derision, "'Drill-Drill-Drill' is not a plan, it's "a bumper sticker. It’s not a strategy to solve our energy challenge. That’s a strategy to get politicians through an election."
To be fair, every president since Richard Nixon has promised to end our dependence on foreign oil. They did little to achieve the goal, but had the good sense to say even less about their failure. Mr. Obama, however, aggressively tries to convince us that his energy policy - three years of bad bets on green energy and abject neglect of everything else - is working. He boasts that “under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.”
It was none of his doing. The production increase that Mr. Obama speaks of is the result of leases issued during the Bush administration and, more significantly, exploration on state and private land. Here, thanks to entrepreneurs and the technologies developed at their expense, oil and natural gas production has increased dramatically. In the lands and waters the president controls, oil and gas production has decreased by roughly 30 - 45%. It reveals his deep contempt of capitalism and fossil fuels and the wealth they create.
Nowhere is this more evident than in North Dakota, where private developers on private land have tripled oil production over the last five years. The state has had seven consecutive tax cuts and, with an unemployment rate of 3.5%, burger flippers make $18/hr and thousands of $60 - $80,000/year oil industry jobs wait to be filled. But instead of seeing wealth creation there, and extensible nationally, Mr. Obama saw eight dead birds near the oil fields and seeks to stifle the growing prosperity with a lawsuit filed by the US attorney for North Dakota.
Meanwhile, windmills from California to New York swat as many as 250,000 birds to their deaths each year. An estimated 70 golden eagles, as well as almost 10,000 other birds, are killed annually by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, near Oakland, Ca. But no legal action has been taken. This is a political statement of profound mockery. President Obama is telling oil companies that he will sacrifice our very eagles (70 a year by the Altamont Pass bird-o-matic alone) to choke the supply of their products.
As he mocks, he squanders. President Obama considers our 20 billion bbl reserve of recoverable oil as a fixed asset to be stingily guarded for political purposes. Seeing drilling rigs and gas stations as festering pock marks on our national landscape, he tells us that to reduce fuel prices we must use less. But the 20 billion bbls is politically recoverable oil. We possess over 1.45 trillion bbls that are technically recoverable with existing technology. We have enough oil and gas to last hundreds of years. According to a 2011 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report "the United States’ combined recoverable natural gas, oil and coal endowment is the largest on Earth. ... larger than Saudi Arabia, China and Canada, combined."
Use less? We should use more. What civilization ever advanced, what economy ever prospered, by using less energy? With our reserves and newly developed technologies such as steam flooding, hydrofracking, and horizontal drilling, America could become the world's predominant supplier. Mr. Obama's mantra "we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices" is ignorant folly, no matter how many times repeated. That America's energy supply is too paltry to affect price is supreme fiction; that Mr. Obama promotes such a myth is supreme impudence.
Of the reasons energy prices are high, US consumption is not one. With vast domestic reserves, prices would plummet with increased US production. In fact, since price is a function of expected future supply and demand, we need only state our intention to increase supply. For example, crude oil hit $147/bbl and gasoline sold for $4.11/gallon in July, 2008 when president Bush announced he would lift the ban on offshore drilling. In less than a month, oil prices were below $120/barrel. Within six months, oil was $37/barrel and gasoline was $1.61/gallon.
President Obama knows this well -- and its converse. His restrictive energy policy reversed the 2008 trend and resulted in the doubling of prices during his term. And since speculators believe he will continue to squander fossil fuel assets, prices will continue to increase. What the president doesn't seem to know very well is the enormous national wealth lost to his feckless policies: greater employment, personal income, tax revenue (federal, state, and local), debt reduction, retirement fund value, global competitiveness, immunity to Middle East turmoil and national security annoyances from the likes of Russia, Iran and Venezuela, to name a few.
Incredibly, president Obama chooses to squander, inanely attempting to restructure our economy and way of life in preparation for a distant green fantasy world in which the pock marks are crowded out by tidy, quasi-public charging stations and biofuel dispensers supported by a vast system of government subsidized solar, wind, and algae farms. And he doesn't think we'll mind paying $40,000 to $100,000 and more for Obamamobiles, $50 for light bulbs, $26/gallon for algaehol, and "skyrocketing" prices for our utilities to get there.
The president believes it is a "strategy to get [him] through an election." He believes that "Drill-Drill-Drill" is a bumper sticker, but that Wait-Mock-Squander is sound policy based on his projections of industry and technology decades ahead. A future of clean energy and green jobs sounds even better than ObamaCare. But ObamaCare now costs $1.7 trillion, only two years after Mr. Obama projected a cost of $927 billion. Still, with his failure at prognosticating exceeded only by his failure at crony-capitalism, he bets our economy on a future driven by starkly unproven technologies. It is a vague green future that he can describe only through deceitful, juvenile mockery of the past. He expects that voters will accept, on the face of his trite nostrums, that our immense reserves, the largest in the world, are of little future value. One has to admire the audacity: to risk being the president who sent us trudging patiently down the road to national weakness and economic decline - a shiny, extortionate toll road with a multi-trillion dollar "fuel of the past" bonanza just beneath its pavement.
Mr. Obama might pull it off, as he did the election of 2008. If so, the pock marks will begin to be replaced by sprawling rashes of witlessly grotesque energy arrays. Idled oil fields will become hidden relics of our environmentally despicable past -- of interest only to historians and tourists, who will find them by following the eagles seeking refuge from his pernicious wind farms.