The Washington Times - January 6, 2010, 04:16PM

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar must desperately want to drive up oil prices and further sink the American economy. What other outcome could he possibly expect from instituting stricter regulations for drilling on federal land?

On Wednesday Salazar announced policy changes that will make oil and gas permitting on public property even tougher for energy companies. “In the prior administration the oil and gas industry was the king of the world,” Salazar is quoted as saying in an AP article. “Whatever they wanted happened.”

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Under Obama, it’s whatever the environmentalists want that seems to happen. Salazar’s announcement comes conspicuously soon after complaints from the Government Accountability Office and green groups that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management was abusing a 2005 law. The legislation allowed federal land managers to skip long and involved environmental reviews before allowing gas and oil drilling.

With oil on Wednesday topping $83 dollars a barrel, its highest price in 14 months, Salazar’s laming of the U.S. energy industry could hardly come at a worse time. Not to mention that the recent high per-barrel cost is in part due to another savvy Obama White House move: extending, under cover of Christmas Eve, unlimited financial support to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Within minutes of that news leaking, crude jumped about a quarter pushing the price above $83.

One of Obama’s campaign promises was to wean the United States from foreign oil by 2019. This most recent play puts the country even further from realizing that fantasy.