Secretary Salazar: “Not even Harry Potter” has the ability to lower gas prices

posted at 2:41 pm on April 25, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

While President Obama himself has already switched gears from his deliberately misleading energy-messaging kick, moving on to the momentarily greener pastures of student loan financing, his many administrative minions are of course still busily doing his bidding in their specialized areas. Behold the brazen words of my environmental nemesis, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, during a speech on Tuesday:

Salazar, in one of his most fiery speeches in months, accused Republicans of creating a false divide over energy policy that doesn’t reflect public sentiment and stretches the facts to suit their political agenda.

“It’s in this imagined energy world where we see this growing and continued divide in the energy debate in America. But the divide is not among ordinary Americans, it is between some people here in Washington, D.C.,” Salazar said. “It’s a divide between the real energy world that we work on every day and the imagined, fairy tale world.”

Salazar said the Republican energy agenda is “an invention of a campaign year and political rhetoric.” …

“Nobody has the ability, not even Harry Potter, to wave a magic wand and say that we’re going to have gas prices at $2.50, even $3” per gallon, he said.

Gee, Salazar, thanks for the (cough cough, campaign-fueled) attempt at making Republicans look ridiculous, but if you really want to talk about a “fairy tale” energy policy, okay, let’s talk.

I actually generally agree with Salazar about gasoline prices – Newt Gingrich’s promise to push down gas prices to $2.50/gallon or lower through his presidential actions was patently ridiculous. No president can control the global forces of supply and demand, and there are quite a few factors that determine what we pay at the pump. But the point isn’t that we can-or-cannot control prices at the pump or that we need be necessarily energy-independent; the point is that we are persistently taking ourselves out of the energy-market game via the Obama administration’s scant permitting, wanton regulation and oversight, etcetera. We’re missing out on market shares that would bring us wealth, jobs, and economic growth, which could potentially mitigate global oil prices by increasing world supply.

But, back to Republicans’ ostensible fairy tale world:

“It is a place where up is seen as down, where left is seen as right, where oil shale seems to be mistaken every day in the House of Representatives for shale oil, where record profits justify billions of dollars in subsidies and where rising oil production and our falling dependence on foreign oil somehow add up to bad news,” he said.

No. Republicans understand that there is more oil shale than shale oil, although with continuous free-market innovations and new discoveries, proven reserves are rising all the time. Oil companies have for years paid well more in taxes than they’ve made in after-tax profits, and there are hefty federal and state taxes on consumers, too. Rising oil production is due to the private sector and policies of the Bush administration, as permitting on federal lands has declined under Obama. Our dependence on foreign oil is falling, because we’re sittin’ pretty in an economic recession and hence we’re not running at our normal productivity level. In a nutshell, Mr. Salazar, yes – that is bad news.

So, shall we try to locate the real fairy tales in Salazar’s messaging? Besides pressing Congress to pass legislation to codify Interior reforms that would “make drilling safer” and implement an agreement with Mexico to oversee drilling in the Gulf (which sure sounds like still more impediments to the oil and gas industry to me), Salazar requested Congress make tax credits for renewable energy permanent and require that America’s electricity be generated from low-carbon sources, which would supposedly ‘bring billions of dollars in capital off the sidelines and into the clean energy frontier.’ Wow.

The reason the federal government feels that it has to invest our taxpayer dollars into green-energy projects, is because nobody else will. Private capital is not going to flow into wind and solar en masse, because wind and solar are not practical solutions to today’s energy problems. Maybe with further innovations and efficiency, someday they’ll have their day in the sun, but right now they are environmentalist pipe dreams. If they stood a chance in the real world, real people would invest in them. The federal government trying to force us to use them with their “all-of-the-above” approach isn’t going to work, just like requiring electricity to come from low-carbon sources isn’t going to accomplish anything except “necessarily skyrocketing” energy prices.

And Salazar has the impudence, nay, the audacity, to claim that Republicans are living in a fairy tale world?

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