2012-10-20 / Editorials & Letters

The Case for a New President: Increasing the cost of our energy

Energy costs (gasoline & diesel, electricity, natural gas) are critical for most businesses and all households, particularly so for rural residents who often must commute 50 -75 miles daily for work. Families with two 50+ mile daily commutes can pay more than gasoline than groceries. For some of us, pay-at-thepump credit cards limits set at $75 or $100 are triggered before our tanks are full.

Gasoline prices were less than $2 per gallon when President Obama took office in January 2009. Locally, prices finally fell below $3.50 per gallon this week after toying with $4 per gallon for weeks. It’s not fair to tag Obama with all of the 100 percent plus increase on his watch. The January 2009 price reflected major concerns about the economy.

But his policies since taking office have helped push gasoline prices to near record levels despite nearly four years of no or very slow growth. For example, the nation’s gross domestic product increased just 1.3 percent in the second quarter compared to the average (since 1948) of 3.2 percent a year. Gas prices are clearly not being pushed up by a growing economy.

Obama is a big city liberal Democrat that believes most of us should be living in urban apartments or small homes and using public transportation to get around. Our pickups and SUV’s are considered wasteful gas-guzzlers that threaten our security by forcing us to rely on Middle Eastern countries for oil. We haven’t heard much about energy security since 2009, particularly since we might now achieve it with our own shale oil and gas. But back in 2009, it was one of the justifications for Obama’s effort to enact cap & tax and levy new taxes on gas and oil production. Thankfully, we dodged the bullet on cap & tax. It would have wrecked havoc on an economy that is still struggling.

His efforts to increase the cost of fossil fuel energy starting early in his term (Feb. 2009) give lie to his claims that he has worked hard to overcome what he regularly calls the near collapse of our economy. Increasing energy costs for struggling businesses and families during a major recession is crazy. Families are losing jobs, overtime, raises etc. so President Hope & Change prescribes higher energy costs that increase the cost of gasoline, diesel fuel and electricity for us all. These increases were supposed to spur the change to a new green economy where we live in small energy-efficient homes or apartments and use public transportation exclusively. That’s his European vision.

Higher energy costs make U.S. products less competitive in the global marketplace and increase the suffering of families already struggling. Though he lost the battle on cap & tax, his efforts to increase fossil fuel energy costs continued throughout his term. For example, leases for oil and gas on federal land have fallen 11 percent since 2008 while acres of federal land under lease have dropped 19 percent. Federal drilling permits issued have fallen more than a third. Not surprisingly, oil and gas production on federal lands has declined. In August, his administration put half of Alaska’s petroleum reserve off-limits to drilling after promising in 2011 to increase drilling in Alaska.

His war on coal has been particularly successful. Remember, most of our electricity comes from coal plants. New regulations on infinitesimal levels of mercury and requirements to install maximum available control technology have forced more than 100 coal-fired generating plants to close and nearly 200 more are expected to close by 2016. The closures are costing tens of thousands of jobs, seriously weakening power generation reliability and will increase the cost of electricity.

Obama’s war on fossil fuel is really a war on businesses and families. Lower paying jobs – if you can find one at all – coupled with high gasoline prices are a recipe for economic disaster and continued suffering. His vision for a green economy has already cost us billions in blown tax dollars lost to the ever-growing lists of Solyndras. But the biggest cost has been the still stalled economy and its devastating impact on jobs and incomes. Just as he did with healthcare, Obama has placed party ideology ahead of jobs and our futures. He hasn’t pulled the car out of the ditch as he promised. Obama has pushed it further down by increasing our national debt by more than $5 trillion with a failed stimulus, record spending and no-growth policies. We can’t afford four more years.

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