- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

President Obama says there are no “silver bullets” that can shoot down gasoline prices that have skyrocketed from $4 a gallon to $5. Nevertheless, he’s seized upon algae - his fuel of the future - as a solution. It may be inventive to turn turtle food into gas, but until turtle shells sport racing stripes, America’s drivers are likely to prefer petroleum products to power their rides.

“We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance, algae - you’ve got a bunch of algae out here,” Mr. Obama told an audience at the University of Miami on Thursday. “If we could figure out how to make fuel out of that, we’ll be doing all right.” He boasted that 17 percent of U.S. oil imports could be replaced with biofuel manufactured from slime that grows on turtle ponds.

With access to boatloads of taxpayer cash, the Obama administration addresses every energy problem with a “green” solution. The Pentagon ordered the Navy to purchase 450,000 gallons of algae fuel for jet-fighter training exercises this summer. Rather than pay $4 a gallon for conventional jet fuel, though, the service must shell out $16 a gallon for green gas.

In the meantime, one Navy supplier, Solazyme, has begun to steer away from biofuels and toward beauty products and nutritional supplements in order to survive. Uncle Sam sunk $22 million in stimulus cash into the San Francisco-based company to construct a biofuel factory in Louisiana. With gas prices hovering in the $3 range until the recent spike, the firm wasn’t able to turn a profit, posting a $15.6 million loss in the last quarter of 2011.

Mr. Obama has poured taxpayer funds into other trendy technologies, but failures have outweighed successes so far. Colorado-based Range Fuels, which received $162 million in federal and state loans for production of cellulosic ethanol, proved a spectacular disappointment. The company built a new factory in Georgia to produce up to 100 million gallons of ethanol from wood chips. The firm didn’t produce a drop of marketable fuel before going bankrupt in January 2011.

Mr. Obama shovels our money into chemistry experiments like algae and wood chips while giving short shrift to reliable, affordable energy sources. The Keystone XL pipeline, blocked by the president, is a 1,700-mile silver bullet that would shoot a million barrels of crude per day from Canada to Texas refineries. On Monday, the White House hailed plans to complete a short section from Oklahoma to Texas, unwilling to admit that if one section of the pipeline would be welcome, the entire length would be a godsend.

Mr. Obama’s frequent claim that “we can’t drill our way out of the problem” is an unacceptable excuse for holding back a flood of petroleum that could ease the burden of energy costs on American consumers. As gas prices continue to rise, the White House should relent and trade green gas for black gold.

The Washington Times