MURDOCK: Bad humor over Obama gas prices

No longer able to giggle, America gags

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From the sublime to the ridiculous, the Obama administration’s energy policy has devolved into self-parody. President Obama recently announced that he would accelerate the construction of … the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline. This portion, conveniently enough, does not reach Canada, which yearns to send America petroleum from its oil sands in Alberta. Mr. Obama’s move is like building an airport runway while banning the taxiway that would connect it to the passenger terminal.

The only thing sillier than Mr. Obama’s plan would have been announcing it while wearing pants, but nothing north of his waist.

Mr. Obama, naturally, shirks responsibility for keeping Keystone a pipe dream. As he claims, “The rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact.”

Rushed?

Team Obama has had its entire tenure to study Keystone. As a State Department timeline confirms, it received TransCanada’s Keystone application on Sept. 19, 2008 - under President George W. Bush. As Mr. Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, Washington already had evaluated Keystone for four months and one day. It weighed Keystone for nearly three more years, whereupon Mr. Obama claimed that GOP monsters forced him into a snap judgment within 60 days of last Dec. 23’s payroll-tax holiday legislation. So, on Jan. 18, Mr. Obama spiked Keystone rather than decide too quickly.

“John Boehner ate my homework” is neither a policy nor an excuse.

Facing high gasoline prices, Mr. Obama says, “We can’t simply drill our way out of the problem” while bragging that “we’re drilling all over the place.”

As if to underscore this non sequitur, Mr. Obama spoke on March 21 in Maljamar, N.M., before at least a half-dozen oil wells. This was a gripping visual, except that the wells stood perfectly still. Motionless oil wells. What a perfect Obama metaphor. According to the Institute for Energy Research, oil production grew 14 percent on private property last year. However, it shrank 11 percent on federal acreage, which is controlled by Mr. Obama.

An average gallon of gasoline has climbed from $1.84 when Mr. Obama entered office to $3.94 today. Despite this 114 percent increase, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a House hearing, “I would give myself a little higher” than an A-minus on fuel prices.

Week by week, today’s mounting costs are fulfilling Mr. Chu’s Christmas wish, famously whispered to the Wall Street Journal in December 2008, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” According to the House Republican Study Committee, drivers in France now pay about $7.80 per gallon. Germans shell out $8.10 while Italian motorists surrender $9 for a gallon of gas. Perhaps this is why Mr. Chu has abandoned his former, potentially toxic words. “I no longer share that view,” he told senators last month.

Mr. Chu’s department has subsidized at least eight green-energy companies that have gone bankrupt. While electric-car manufacturer Fisker has avoided Chapter 11, it hardly is enjoying life in the fast lane.

“Consumer Reports’ $100K Fisker Karma dies on arrival,” USA Today tittered last month. Notwithstanding the $529 million loan guarantee it scored from Energy (of which it had drawn $169 million), Consumer Reports wrote that “Our Fisker Karma cost us $107,850. … We buy about 80 cars a year, and this is the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undriveable before it has finished our check-in process.” Last February, Fisker halted production at its Delaware plant and sacked 26 workers.

Amid these disasters, Mr. Chu might resurrect an idea he offered ABC News in May 2005.

“We’re beginning to sequence the microorganisms in the gut of a termite,” Mr. Chu explained. Someday, Mr. Chu envisioned, microbes inside termite intestines could be modified to convert cellulose into ethanol.

Scary? You bet!

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