If President Obama is suffering politically from the backlash created by higher energy prices, a new report from the House Oversight Committee says he only has himself to blame. Late yesterday, Oversight chair Rep. Darrell Issa issued a blistering broadside on the policies of the White House, accusing them of deliberately pursuing plans to make energy more expensive, accusing Obama of manipulating costs to favor his own energy choices:
Among other things, the report — “Rising Energy Costs: An Intentional Result of Government Action” — accused the administration of restricting access to domestic energy sources, hindering “fracking” technology and hampering the economic recovery by proposing new taxes on the energy industry.
The report also says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) coordinated with environmental groups to target energy producers with environmental concerns. According to the report, the Oversight Committee obtained an email between the EPA Texas regional director and an environmental advocate congratulating each other on progress in creating barriers to energy production from fossil fuels sources.
The report covers some familiar ground, such as the quote from Obama in January 2008 that his energy policies would make electricity prices “skyrocket” as coal producers got penalized. It also includes more recent actions by the administration, too:
In his FY2012 budget proposal, Obama did indeed request that the tax breaks for the oil production industry be repealed, totaling $60 billion over 10 years. The director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jack Lew, defended the repeals by tying them to the goal of producing more electric cars.
“In part, we pay for this by eliminating 12 tax breaks hat now go to oil, gas and coal companies,” said Lew.
“The most troubling things about outlandish statements made by key Obama administration officials about the need to raise energy costs is that when we examined the evidence, they appear to reflect the agenda they are pursuing,” said Issa in a statement. “These are obviously not the policies Americans want or support.”
The executive summary alone is worth the read. It outlines eight findings, one of which is that Obama’s EPA has “collaborated” with environmental activists to curtail potential American energy production. That point includes a revealing quote from an e-mail:
6. EPA has collaborated with environmental groups to target independent energy producers for environmental concerns not related to their operations.
In an email message reviewed by the Committee, environmental advocates and EPA’s Texas-based regional director exchanged celebratory accolades for efforts that create barriers to energy production. One exchange concluded: “Yee haw! Hats off to the new Sheriff and his deputies!”
Issa’s team also put alternative energy potential into some perspective, especially on ethanol:
Ethanol, for example, also requires large amounts of corn to deliver fuel. “[T]he entire U.S. corn crop would supply only 3.7 percent of our auto and truck transport needs while using 300 million acres of U.S. cropland.”
During the campaign, Obama once said that he didn’t have a problem with high gas prices, but that the 2008 spike just happened too fast. It appears that he’s been at least encouraging another price spike to bring us back to the peak in 2008.
Update: The House Energy Action Team has a new video out today making the argument for change in America’s energy policy: