American Elephants

Obama’s Energy Policy, Or the Lack of One. by The Elephant's Child

This last weekend, Energy Secretary Steven Chu appeared on Fox News Sunday.  Host Chris Wallace asked him about his expressed desire in 2008 that Americans be forced to pay more at the pump in order to wean them off gasoline. In the past Chu  has attempted to sidestep his previous comments, but this time he did not.  He embraced the strategy saying that his focus is to ease the pain of his energy policies by forcing automakers to make more fuel-efficient automobiles:

[W]hat I’m doing since I became Secretary of Energy has been quite clear.  What I have been doing is developing methods to take the pain out of high gas prices. We have been very focused in the Department of Energy on that.  And, in fact, the entire administration has been very focused on that.

So, the increasing of the mileage standards is one way of doing this.  A very concerted effort in electric vehicles, where we think within reach, within maybe four or five years, we could be testing batteries that can allow us to go 200, 300 miles on a single charge in a mass-marketed car.

The recent spike in gasoline prices following that huge spike in 2007,2008 is a reminder to Americans that the price of gasoline over the long haul should be expected to go up just because of supply and demand issues.  And so we should see the buying habits of Americans as they make choices for the next car they buy.

Secretary Chu suggests the energy policy of the US should be focused on more expensive vehicles that get better mileage. This is not an energy policy.  Sell your car and buy an expensive new one, while your government cuts off domestic supply to make gas more expensive.  This is a policy—long discredited everywhere it has been tried—called “Central Planning.” Master Resource has questions:

  1. For all the claimed deep energy expertise in the department and in our national laboratories, how come there are so little results from the approximately $150 billion poured into “energy R&D” since 2009?
  2. Are the assumptions that more spending will overcome technology hurdles and economies of scale will make the cost competitive in the commercial market really justified?
  3. Has an energy technology promoted by DOE ever made it into unsubsidized commercial application?
  4. How many technologies have been picked as “winners” by DOE or Congress, only to be proved higher in cost, lower in value, technically impractical, or environmentally unacceptable?

The correct answers are Um, No, No, and Quite a few.

Meanwhile the administration is encouraging Brazil to drill offshore in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. [But we? I thought? ] The White House is making a deal with Brazil for the oil it  not allowing companies to produce here.  As the head of the American Petroleum Industry says: “The administration’s energy policy will add jobs for Brazil.” This makes sense because they don’t have an unemployment problem?

While we leave U.S. oil and jobs in the ground, our traveling president tells a South American neighbor that we will help them develop their offshore resources so that we can someday import their oil.   Go figure.


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