by Susan Stamper Brown
Poor Peggy Joseph. Overwhelmed by the promise of hope after hearing an Obama campaign speech, Joseph said, “I never thought this day would ever happen. I won’t have worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know, if I help [Obama], he’s gonna [sic] help me.” Peggy kept her part of the bargain, but looking at food and gas prices lately, the day Peggy never thought would happen – likely never will.
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Gas prices have soared above $4.00 per gallon in some parts of the country and, on average, have risen .38 cents per gallon over the past three weeks. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts motor fuel expenses for 2011 to rise 28 percent from last year. But that’s okay; everything’s going according to the playbook. After all, back in 2008, Obama said, “Under my plan, energy prices would necessarily skyrocket.” Prices have skyrocketed, and now Obama is running for cover while at the same time trying to take credit for last year’s peak in oil production. Considering the lag time between exploration permits and production, it begs the question: How much of the rise in production is due to Bush-era policies?
As presidents typically do, Obama surrounded himself with like-minded people. Energy Secretary Steven Chu once said, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels of Europe” and had previously suggested that a gradual increase in gasoline taxes would “encourage” consumers to become more energy-conscious.” Good job, Mr. Chu, we are “encouraged,” – encouraged that 2012 is just around the corner.
Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, seems more preoccupied with implementing offshore windmill farms than offshore oil drilling. During his March 11, 2011, press conference, President Obama parroted an outrageous claim made by Secretary Salazar when testifying before Congress. Both implied that oil production in the Gulf of Mexico “remained at an all-time high.” Salazar cited that “In 2009 there were 116 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, in 2010 in February, 120, in February 2011, 126.”
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There may be 126 rigs, but Kyle Isakower, vice president of regulatory and economic policy at the American Petroleum Institute, set the record straight in an article entitled, “Facts Don’t Support Claims on Gulf of Mexico Oil Production” – revealing a distortion in “the true number of working rigs.” The word “working” is significant. Four days before the Gulf oil spill, just 55 rigs were working, and last week – only 25. More than one hundred idle rigs may be a record in someone’s book, but not one I would brag about. Isakower likens it to “claiming the job market is great because a lot of people are unemployed and available to work.”
Average Americans have no idea the great lengths this administration has taken to stop oil production by thumbing its nose at the federal judge who ordered an end to the drilling ban. Well-versed in constitutional law, the administration found a way to defy the judge’s ruling by creating a de facto moratorium that refused the granting of drilling permits.
On February 2, 2011, U.S. District Judge, Martin Feldman, ruled that the Obama administration intentionally acted in “determined disregard” and “defiance,” and was found in contempt of court. Hence, the March 11 press conference – bearing “good news” of forthcoming drilling.
It’s a shame that so many Americans believe the words coming from those who are determined to rule above the law rather than according to the rule of law. A review of facts reveals that since 2008, Obama’s pendulum on oil drilling has swung back and forth so many times, had a drill been attached, they would have struck oil long ago. The drilling moratorium hurt our economy, and hurt real people who lost real jobs. With gas prices on the rise and an economy sputtering to a standstill, Peggy Joseph still may no longer be worried about putting gas in her car – because she can no longer afford to own one.