- - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

President Obama has spent 3 1/2 years waging war on fossil fuels - and American consumers and families are caught in the crossfire.

They are getting hit with higher energy prices, watching billions go to unfriendly overseas countries for oil we could produce in the United States, and seeing billions of tax dollars wasted on energy schemes designed to make “green” energy more competitive by making gasoline, diesel and other fossil fuels that really power our economy more expensive.

Even worse, Mr. Obama’s policies are killing jobs and preventing job creation in the oil patch, coal country and hundreds of industries whose survival depends on reliable, affordable energy. Family salaries and budgets, health and welfare, and hopes and dreams are being pummeled.

In reality, the only thing “green” about Mr. Obama’s ideologically driven energy policies is the money leaving our wallets. His energy policy isn’t about serving American consumers. It’s about appeasing environmentalists and crony capitalists the president is counting on for his re-election campaign.

In an incredible “coincidence,,” some of the “green” energy companies that received portions of the $15 billion in taxpayer-financed Energy Department loans and grants are run or backed by some of Mr. Obama’s biggest campaign donors. Solyndra, the solar company that went bankrupt, fired its employees and cannot repay its $535 million loan, is just one example.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama said energy prices would “necessarily skyrocket” under his policies. Before becoming energy secretary, Steven Chu said, “Somehow we have to figure out a way to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe” (more than $8 per gallon) to reduce consumption. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson is issuing carbon-dioxide regulations that will drive coal-based electricity out of existence and make cars even more expensive.

Belatedly realizing that pursuing $8 gasoline is not politically astute, Mr. Obama and many Democrats are trying to recast themselves as friends of consumers, at least until November, by backing a few select oil and gas projects while strangling other projects and entire industries in miles of regulatory red tape.

When a member of the House Appropriations Committee asked Mr. Chu if his goal now was to lower gasoline prices, he responded: “No, the overall goal is to reduce our dependency on oil and build and strengthen our economy,” using algae and other alternative energy projects, and mandates for improved fuel efficiency, including tougher automobile mileage standards that will make cars more expensive and less safe.

When that comment sparked new torrents of criticism, Mr. Chu did another flip-flop, saying days later, “Both I and the president and everybody in the administration want to do what we can to lower the price of gasoline.” Their anti-leasing, anti-drilling, anti-pipeline policies are a strange way to do that.

Even former Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee has called on Mr. Obama to support more production from federal lands and waters and approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada, Montana and North Dakota to Gulf Coast refineries - and create 180,000 direct and indirect jobs in the process.

These are two long-overdue steps, but there is no indication the president will take them. Worse, his administration is doing just the opposite.

Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar says drilling proponents live in “a world of fairy tales” and sends helicopters out to find 28 ducks that died when they landed in oil field waste pits. Then he proposes regulations that would allow wind-turbine operators to kill hundreds of bald and golden eagles annually, without penalty, and fast-track wind and solar projects that would severely impact wildlife habitats and scenic areas.

Mr. Obama’s EPA issued 588 pages of new rules to overregulate hydraulic fracturing, which has been the only reason American oil and gas production has increased under Mr. Obama’s watch. Meanwhile, EPA, Interior and other federal agencies are issuing extreme, often conflicting, environmental regulations that do little or nothing for human health or the environment, delay oil and gas production, saddle consumers with billions of dollars in extra expenses, drive up pump prices, impair job creation and deprive America of billions in bonus, royalty and tax revenues.

In an attempt to distract voters from these real issues, Mr. Obama incessantly calls for investigation into alleged “oil speculators” and for an end to what he falsely labels “oil company subsidies.” In reality, he wants to block certain oil companies from getting the same tax deductions that other American companies are allowed to claim, which would hit oil companies with $4 billion in tax increases that would drive gasoline prices even higher. It’s like saying new regulations and taxes on coffee won’t make it cost more.

The only way any of this makes sense is when you realize that higher gasoline and electricity prices are the very purpose of Obama administration policies. The president just wants to achieve his goals without leaving any fingerprints - and getting people to blame oil companies instead.

Mr. Obama and his allies need to stop masquerading as friends of American motorists, workers and families and change their energy policies so they become friends in reality. Don’t bet on that happening.

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT.org) and author of “Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death” (Merril Press, 2010).

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