Congress should rein in Obama’s war on fossil fuel

The price of gasoline in parts of the country has dropped below $2 a gallon after hovering near $4 for so long.

In fact, in the most basic terms, the price of gasoline is the lowest it has ever been. According to the American Enterprise Institute, the average American only has to work for 24 minutes to afford enough fuel to drive 100 miles. Back in 1980 it took nearly an hour, but wages are higher, mileage is better and prices are lower.

The fundamental reason for lower prices is increased supply as technology — horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — has allowed domestic production of crude oil to soar.

In one of his weekend radio speeches less than a year ago President Obama told us with a straight face, “Under my administration, we’re producing more oil here at home than at any time in the last eight years, that’s a fact.”

According to a Congressional Research Service report that came out shortly after Obama’s comments, that is indeed a fact. The research service reported that U.S. crude oil production increased 38 percent from 2009 to 2013. Breaking that down further, the report said this was due to production on private land increasing by 61 percent, while production on federal public land actually fell — yes, fell — by 6 percent.

Under Obama’s administration the backlog of drilling permits at the Bureau of Land Management alone has topped 3,500 and the time it takes to obtain a permit has doubled. BLM recently has cut the acreage available in some oil and gas lease auctions by half to reduce the impact on sage grouse habitat.

The BLM’s own stats show in fiscal year 2014 the number of new drilling permits issued was one third of the number in 2006, both nationally and in Nevada. Also the number of acres of new oil and gas leases in 2014 was a quarter of the acreage leased in 2006, also both nationally and in Nevada.

In that same radio address Obama called for attacking high gasoline prices by demanding Congress vote to repeal what he called $4 billion in subsidies — really the same tax breaks every other industry gets — for big oil companies.

“In the next few weeks, I expect Congress to vote on ending these subsidies,” Obama said. “And when they do, we’re going to put every single member of Congress on record: They can either stand up for oil companies, or they can stand up for the American people. They can either place their bets on a fossil fuel from the last century, or they can place their bets on America’s future. So make your voice heard. Send your representative an email. Give them a call. Tell them to stand with you.”

Congress ignored him, but that $4 billion would have been added on at the pump and come out of our wallets, not the pockets of fat cat oil barons.

Just this past week Obama continued his war on fossil fuels by announcing by fiat new standards for the release of methane during oil and gas production, demanding that methane emissions be cut by 45 percent in the coming decade.

The cost of doing that is unknown. It is not known whether the technology to do so even exists. And some scientists argue that methane’s impact on climate change — of which there has been none for 18 years — is negligible, if any.

Landfills and agriculture emit more methane than the oil and gas industry, according to the EPA, but Obama has not targeted those at all.

In the war on high fuel prices, Obama is not a conscientious objector, he is the enemy.

Enjoy the price at the pump while you can, your president is doing everything he can to make it short-lived. Congress should stop him. — TM

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