Thursday, March 22, 2012

Easy A

I got some oceanfront property in Arizona
From my front porch you can see the sea
I got some oceanfront property in Arizona
Yeah, if you’ll buy that, I’ll throw the Golden Gate in free.
—George Strait, Oceanfront Property

In the words of the immortal Syndrome—look him up—ooohhh this is too good!  But make sure you’re sitting down and don’t have anything in your mouth, because I don’t want you to spit your coffee all over your computer when you read this:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu gives himself an "A" on controlling gasoline prices.

You read that right.  During a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Tuesday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) asked the physics-guru-turned-federal-investment-banker whether he still considered himself to be doing “A-minus” work on gasoline prices.  Chu responded that “I would say I would give myself a little higher.”  In other words, an “A.”  Regular unleaded gasoline now averages $3.87 a gallon and is well over $4 in some parts of California, and the Energy Secretary—with a straight face—gives himself (and, by extension, the administration) an “A.”

Wow.  Just.  Wow.

Even hard-core Obamaphiles have to at least raise an eyebrow at that one.  In their continuing fantasy land of blaming Bush for everything and accepting responsibility for absolutely nothing, can these people really be this bold and/or this out of touch with reality?  This is now so patently ridiculous that it is impossible for any rational adult to take anyone in this administration seriously.  

To refresh everyone, in addition to his fetish for giving away billions in taxpayer dollars to fund unproven green energy startups run by Obama campaign mega-bundlers, Dr. Chu is a rabid global warming fanatic, and crusader against fossil fuels.  In 2008 he told the Wall Street Journal that “we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe”—at that time upwards of $9/gallon—as a means of eliminating petroleum use in the U.S.  This guy is no friend of gasoline. 

Taking a page from the John Kerry playbook, when pressed about it, Chu backed away from that statement last week, arguing that he wasn’t the Energy Secretary at the time he said it, and now that he is part of the administration he supports what the President at least claims is the goal of lower gasoline prices. 

I guess Chu was for higher gasoline prices before he was against them. 

Interestingly, he qualified his backtracking by saying that the thinking was driven by the poor economy.  Apparently, the administration’s concern isn’t to see lower gasoline prices because that’s what people want or need, but only because higher gas prices might hurt the recovery (if any); the implicit corollary being that if the economy were in better condition, he wouldn’t mind the high gasoline prices so much.  I’m sure that altruism will really comfort middle and lower-income Americans now paying in some areas over $4/gallon.  Given Chu’s history and statements like this, I suppose we have to wonder a bit what he understands “controlling gasoline prices” to mean.

So what, exactly, has the administration been doing on energy, and what has been happening to gasoline prices, such that Dr. Chu is awarding an “A”?  Let’s see:

January 2009
Obama takes office; Chu appointed Energy Secretary.

$ 1.79
July 2009
Federal government takes over GM.

$ 2.53
September 2009
DOE approves $535 million loan to solar startup Solyndra.

$ 2.55
February 2010
South Dakota PUC grants permit for Keystone XL Pipeline to run new crude supplies from Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

DOE restructures Solyndra loan.

$ 2.64
April 2010
DOE approves $529 million loan to electric luxury car maker Fisker Automotive.

$ 2.85
May 2010
Obama administration issues drilling moratorium in Gulf of Mexico.

$ 2.84
July 2010
Obama administration issues second drilling moratorium in Gulf.

$ 2.73
August 2010
DOE approves $43 million loan to green energy storage company Beacon Power.

$ 2.73
November 2010
GM rolls first production Chevy Volt off assembly line.

$ 2.86
December 2010
“Arab Spring” begins, eventually resulting in regime changes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, and tumult throughout much of the rest of the Middle East; Obama administration cheerleads as Islamists fill much of the resulting power void.

$ 2.99
May 2011
Federal judge orders Obama administration to act on stalled Gulf drilling permits.

$ 3.91
August 2011
State Department issues final report saying Keystone XL Pipeline will have “no significant impacts” on the environment, but the White House does not act.

Solyndra files for bankruptcy.

$ 3.64
September 2011
DOE approves $1.2 billion loan to solar firm SunPower Corp.

$ 3.61
October 2011
Beacon Power files for bankruptcy.

$ 3.45
November 2011
Chu takes responsibility for Solyndra decision, and defends the DOE loan program.

SunPower reorganizes, begins layoffs.

$ 3.38
December 2011
Fisker recalls all 239 units of its $100,000+ Karma.

$ 3.27
January 2012
Obama administration rejects Keystone XL Pipeline.
Green energy “stimulus” recipient Ener1 files for bankruptcy.

$ 3.38
February 2012
Fisker begins layoffs.

Obama administration claims credit for increased drilling actually resulting from permits granted under Bush.

$ 3.72
March 2012
GM suspends production of Volt due to poor sales.

Obama renews call for increased taxes on oil companies.

$ 3.87

In fairness, President Obama is right when he says there is no magic bullet.  As I’ve covered a number of times, gasoline prices are a function of the market; although the President doesn’t set that market (at least not yet), there can be no denying that administration policies can and do influence it.  The truth is, at every possible turn this administration has taken the road that raises gasoline prices rather than lowers them.  Obama has actively fomented unrest in the Middle East, driving futures speculators to bid up the price of crude.  He has suspended, then stalled drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and forbids drilling in ANWR.  He delayed, then rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline that would have brought additional crude to U.S. refineries.  Meanwhile, his administration has poured billions of taxpayer dollars into serially bankrupt entities pushing energy technologies for which there is no market because they don’t yet work. 

The objective results are undeniable:  gasoline was $1.79 the day he took office, and today it’s $3.87.  Unless your goal is to drive the price to European levels, that can hardly be classified as “controlling” it.  Presumably we’ll soon hear some vague and unverifiable garbage from Jay Carney that what Chu meant was that gas prices—like unemployment, and the deficit, and the debt, and the anti-U.S. unrest in Afghanistan, etc.—would be much worse but for everything the administration has been doing.

Chu says he’s been “doing everything [he] can to get long-term solutions,” and that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t help anyone today.   I don’t care what my truck runs on, as long as it runs.  Some day that may be some kind of algal urine, but that technology isn’t currently viable and it remains to be seen whether it will ever be.  What we do know is that my truck will in fact run on gasoline right now—if I can continue to afford to fill it up.

On the current state of the record, for Chu to claim an “A” for this administration on energy policy, and specifically as to gasoline prices, is nothing short of laughable. 

If only it were funny.

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