June 16, 2024

Obama on Oil

Barack Obama’s grasp on what’s needed in a national energy policy is rather tenuous, as his recent statements demonstrate. First the good:

"Breaking our oil addiction is one of the greatest challenges our generation will ever face. It will take nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy," he said. "This transformation will be costly, and given the fiscal disaster we will inherit from the last administration, it will likely require us to defer some other priorities."

All true.  But the question isn’t whether we need to move away from petroleum-based energy sources but which replacements to nurture and what risks we’re willing to take in order to make that move.  Now the bad. 

Rather than discuss that aspect of the problem, Obama instead elected to play the populist by spinning himself around and promoting a terrible idea that might lower gas prices in the short-term. 

In a reversal, Barack Obama proposed Monday that the government sell 70 million barrels of oil from its strategic petroleum stockpile to help reduce gasoline prices.

Past releases from the reserve have "lowered gas prices within two weeks," Obama said.

Note to Mr. Obama:  The reason it’s called a reserve is that we want to, well, keep it in reserve for an emergency.  $4.00 gas prices do not constitute a national crisis, regardless of the politics of the moment or how unpleasant it is to pull up to the pump in my V8 F-150.

In fact, gas prices in Texas have dropped $0.30 in the last couple of weeks without Obama’s flip-flop on the issue.  Why did he change his tune?

In the past, Obama has not advocated tapping the oil reserve, but campaign spokeswoman Heather Zichal said he has reconsidered. "He recognizes that Americans are suffering," she said.

As unfortunate as that is, draining the national reserve supply in an attempt to manipulate gasoline prices is nothing more than a temporary band-aid solution.  Worse, it is being proposed for political reasons without regard for the problems such an act would cause.  Foremost among them, perhaps, would be the reinforcement of the misguided notion the federal government is somehow responsible for managing gas prices at the consumer level.  It’s not.

Obama says that he recognizes the need for an overhaul of our energy production system in this country.  If that’s true, why isn’t he advocating expansion of our nuclear power capabilities?  Why isn’t he proposing major initiatives to develop clean-burning coal production?  Why isn’t he directly opposing Pelosi and Reid on the offshore drilling issue?

Because these actions, while the most direct ways to address the problem he claims to understand, would be inconsistent with the politics of his base and affiliation.


Mr. Obama continued to talk about America’s energy-sourcing problem today:

Without a doubt, this addiction is one of the most dangerous and urgent threats this nation has ever faced – from the gas prices that are wiping out your paychecks and straining businesses to the jobs that are disappearing from this state; from the instability and terror bred in the Middle East to the rising oceans and record drought and spreading famine that could engulf our planet.

Once again, all correct.  Now, what exactly does that have with taking oil from the nation’s reserves at a time when the diametrically opposed actions are called for; i.e., increasing national reserve storage capability and accelerating efforts to develop our existing sources of energy?


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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