It is truly astonishing how the Obama administration has not only failed to address the problem of rising gasoline prices, but actually spent the last two years making the problem worse.
In 2008, with a federal offshore drilling ban in place and a Congress that cared little for allowing more domestic energy production, gasoline prices began to spike toward $4 per gallon. With billions of barrels available for development offshore, our government’s decision to keep those resources under lock and key received the justified scorn of Americans who suddenly had to work longer just so they could afford to drive to and from work.
With the entire country holding their feet to the fire — even then-candidate Obama reversed his position on offshore drilling — Congress finally lifted the offshore moratorium in September 2008.
So what did candidate Obama do when he became president? He and his administration spent two years recreating the same web of regulations and bans that led to record-high gasoline prices in the first place.
Upon taking office, President Obama’s Department of Interior, led by Ken Salazar, began taking deliberate steps to reduce domestic drilling. From canceling oil and gas leases throughout the American West to banning offshore production to refusing to issue deep water drilling permits, the Obama administration has imposed virtually the same regulatory agenda that Americas soundly rejected in 2008.
The result of these policies is also the same as last time. Oil prices above $100 per barrel for the first time since 2008. Two years ago the Energy Information Administration predicted a 9% increase in domestic production for 2011, but because of the Obama administration’s bans and delays on offshore drilling, EIA now projects a decline of 220,000 barrels per day in 2011. Several drilling rigs have left the Gulf, and at least one major drilling company, Seahawk Drilling, was forced to file for bankruptcy after “an unprecedented decline in the issuance of offshore drilling permits,” according to Seahawk’s CEO.
Meanwhile, gasoline is heading back to $4 per gallon. Prices at the pump set a nationwide record for February, and some experts are predicting $5 per gallon gas by year’s end. Recent unrest in the Middle East has intensified the situation and caused prices to spike even further.
What is the White House doing in response to these rising costs?
President Obama thinks Americans should just “ride out” the situation and hope that prices will stabilize. The deputy secretary of energy says OPEC has “ample supplies” of oil, and the administration’s position is to hope that foreign dictators “will continue to support our economic recovery.” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says consumers just shouldn’t worry about higher prices, while White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee miraculously claims that high gasoline prices won’t hurt the economy.
In fact, the president’s latest budget actually includes billions of dollars in new taxes on American oil production, which will further increase gas and diesel prices, kill more American jobs, and increase our dependence on overseas energy.
New taxes won’t create more American energy, and Americans deserve a better response than being lectured with “don’t worry, be happy.”
We have more than 80 billion barrels of oil offshore in the Outer Continental Shelf, more than 10 billion barrels in one small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and an astounding 800 billion barrels – three times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia — in shale oil deposits in parts of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah.
All of these resources represent opportunities to lower prices at the pump and boost the American economy. A recent study, for example, found that offshore drilling in Alaska could create 50,000 new American jobs every year and generate $160 billion in new federal revenues. Additional offshore and onshore drilling could create hundreds of thousands of additional jobs and generate even greater revenues, which could be used to reduce the massive federal deficit.
But all of these resources are also off limits due to Obama administration policies.
For the past two years America has been transformed back into a grand laboratory for the anti-drilling ideology that defined our energy policy for three decades. It didn’t work then, it’s not working now, and it won’t work in the future.
It’s time to end the senseless bans on oil and gas drilling so we can permanently lower gasoline prices, create more American jobs, and lessen our dependence on foreign dictators for our energy supplies.
It’s time to move forward with responsible American energy production.
It’s time to drill here and drill now.