- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Drivers are getting dizzy at the pump. That sick feeling is deja vu from 2008, when prices spiraled higher with every fill-up. In recent months, costs have climbed steadily through $3 and are headed toward four bucks per gallon. Americans have President Obama and his anti-energy apparatchiks to thank for this gouging.

The cost of crude oil neared $100 a barrel last week for the first time since the global recession knocked it down from a stratospheric $147 a barrel in 2008 to $40 in 2009. Gas now is selling for an average of $3.09 a gallon nationwide, 12 percent higher than a year ago and up 4 percent in the last month. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported last week that forecast uncertainties could mean that Americans end up paying $3.50 a gallon during the summer, and $4 is possible.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has said if prices shatter the triple-digit mark and continue to climb, the oil cartel would convene a session to consider increasing supply. Once again, Americans are at the mercy of Third World oil barons who despise us but love our money.

Instead of defending American interests, Mr. Obama’s team has taken every opportunity to disrupt the nation’s own oil-production capabilities. Upon taking office, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar immediately canceled 77 existing oil- and gas-drilling leases in Utah, and a year later killed an additional 61 leases. He moved quickly to obstruct offshore drilling by extending by six months the public comment period on the resumption of drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April, Mr. Obama imposed a six-month moratorium on all deep-water oil- and gas-drilling in the Gulf, slowed the approval of shallow-water drilling to a trickle and reversed his decision made just two months earlier to allow drilling along the Atlantic and Alaskan coasts to resume. The president enthusiastically joined the “cap-and-trade” bandwagon that passed the House in June. The measure contained an onerous carbon-dioxide tax that a Harvard study said would have pushed the price of petrol to $7 a gallon by 2020. During his 2008 campaign, Mr. Obama said he wasn’t opposed to high gas prices as long as they rose gradually. Fortunately, cap-and-trade died in the Senate.

No one should be surprised by the administration’s anti-energy actions. Obama energy policy is rooted in a marriage of convenience between anti-industrial environmentalists and anti-American extremists who want to derail the engine of progress, irrespective of the well-being of the American people. Expect the vertigo to persist until Democratic fingers are pried from the levers of power, hopefully in 2012.