As Americans across our nation struggle with joblessness and soaring gas prices, President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have chosen to mislead rather than lead. They openly admitted that their energy policies would cause a major increase in costs, but now that the American people are feeling the pain of those policies, they are attempting to blame everyone but themselves. Unemployment is still around 9 percent and food prices are rapidly rising, yet the president and those on the left have offered nothing but gimmicks and excuses.
Their most recent scapegoat is an investigation into supposed speculators who may be driving up gas prices. Interestingly enough, the president himself admitted there is no evidence for this misconduct whatsoever. What he omits is that his administration is the ultimate speculator; its outrageous monetary policy, which has currently depreciated the U.S. dollar to a three-year low point, directly drives up the price of commodities. It has been estimated that the weak dollar is responsible for one-third of the cost of gasoline in America.
Even more disturbing is the president’s direct opposition to fossil fuels and his efforts toward higher gas prices. Obama is a strong proponent of cap-and-trade legislation, a de facto carbon tax, which he famously stated would cause energy prices to “necessarily skyrocket.” Incredibly, his secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, believes “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the prices of gasoline to the levels in Europe” — that is, around $8 per gallon. This process is well on its way, as the national average has spiked from $1.84 per gallon in 2008 to an outrageous $3.98 today.
Since the president couldn’t get his anti-gasoline measures through Congress, his administration has used obstruction and regulation to do the job. The Obama Environmental Protection Agency is exploiting the Clean Air Act to increase oil refining costs and hinder other domestic sources of energy production, such as coal. It is also pushing to raise the amount of ethanol in gasoline, further increasing gas prices and, ironically enough, pollution! As another example, the Department of the Interior claims it lacks resources to issue drilling permits, yet it somehow had enough extra time and money to send its staff to Papua New Guinea for a three-day workshop.
Ultimately, these actions by the Obama administration are crippling any chance of lower energy costs or energy independence in the near future. Instead of facilitating development of our extensive domestic oil resources — an estimated 163 billion barrels of oil currently recoverable and the potential for hundreds of billions more in oil shale — they have actually lowered our production with a wide range of new restrictions. United States oil output is projected to decrease by 110,000 barrels this year.
Now that gas prices are at historic highs and still rising, the president and my Democrat colleagues in Congress have sadly resorted to a blame game in attempts to hide their irresponsibility. Clearly, they find it more convenient to make targets out of energy companies rather than admit to their own misconduct. American energy producers invest their own capital and resources to increase our country’s energy supply and the security of our nation. Yet they should be punished?
Much has been made lately of the $4 billion in tax deductions received by oil companies — disingenuously called “oil subsidies” even though they widely apply to many businesses. Let’s go ahead and repeal them, as long as we also repeal the roughly $100 billion in subsidies given to the “green energy” initiatives. That would go much further toward helping our burgeoning debt.
Nothing better exemplifies this than the attack on Koch Industries. Koch employs more than 10,000 people in my home state of Georgia, contributing more than $700 million to our state’s economy, along with tens of millions of dollars in community and environmental philanthropic efforts. Yet, because Koch openly advocates for the free market and fiscally responsible solutions to our nation’s problems, it has come under vicious attack by several liberal organizations, many Democrats in Congress and this administration. Rather than disagree on policy, the political left has demonized companies like Koch Industries, even though the company has won awards from the Environmental Protection Agency.
It’s a sad state of affairs when the president is willing to sacrifice the economic well-being of countless Americans and pin the blame on those actually helping to solve the problem. We cannot move toward an energy policy that lowers costs for Americans and creates a long-term strategy in such an environment. Today, I call on the president and my Democrat colleagues in Congress to stop misleading the American public and work with House Republicans to expand production, lower costs, and create both energy and job security for our nation.
Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is on the Natural Resources Committee.