published Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Late reversal on gas prices

It took well over three years, but President Barack Obama's energy secretary at last has reversed his infamous remark about wanting U.S. gas prices to rise to match the sky-high prices in Europe.

Speaking back in 2008, just months before he became energy secretary, Steven Chu said that "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."

He essentially reiterated that position just a few weeks ago. Asked if his goal was to reduce the price Americans are paying for gasoline, the energy secretary said, "No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy."

But that out-of-touch view on expensive gasoline -- which is making it difficult for many American families to make ends meet -- has touched a nerve with the public. And now the energy secretary is changing his tune.

A few days ago, Mr. Chu was testifying at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, asked him, "So are you saying you no longer share the view that we need to figure out how to boost gasoline prices in America?"

Mr. Chu's response: "I no longer share that view."

That is an overdue about-face. But Mr. Chu is scarcely the only Obama administration official who has expressed the bizarre view that high energy prices are somehow good for America.

Then-Sen. Obama himself said in a videotaped interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008: "Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Coal-powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers."

And in another 2008 interview, Mr. Obama was asked about high gas prices.

"Could these high prices help us?" asked CNBC's John Harwood.

Mr. Obama said, "I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment" so the rise in prices wouldn't hit families so hard.

That is a far cry from saying flat out that he believed high gas prices were harmful. Rather, he just wanted rising prices to come about a little more slowly.

Only recently -- when those high prices have begun harming his job approval rating -- has the president issued a clearer acknowledgment that costly gasoline hurts ordinary Americans.

So, does that represent a true change of heart, or just a political calculation that his administration's previously stated support for higher gas prices is damaging his re-election prospects?

Only Mr. Obama can answer that with certainty, but the timing of his reversal is, at a minimum, extremely suspect.

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nucanuck said...

There is a difference in whether higher energy prices are good for America and whether they are needed.

The easy to access oil has been found and drilled decades ago. We became accustomed to cheap and plentiful energy. The exponential demand of an exponentially growing world population has guaranteed that all sources of energy are going to rise faster than our incomes. There will be temporary exceptions along the way, but cheap energy is all but gone.

Cheap energy fueled the growth from the industrial revolution until modern times. The now upward path of energy costs will force us all to modify our consumption patterns whether we want to or not. The editorialists can wail and point the finger of blame, but that won't change our reality of unstoppable rises in what we must pay for energy.

The countries and individuals who prepare and adjust for the new energy reality will be the success stories of the 21st century. Secretary Chu knows what lies ahead and has tried, without success, to prepare us for the inevitable.

April 2, 2012 at 12:46 a.m.
EaTn said...

Cheap gas prices fuel the big honking gas hog vehicles you see driving down the highway, whose owners are the very ones shaking in their boots when the price at the pump rises a few cents. Because of these idiots the only way we will ever have a reasonable energy control is to control demand with pump prices.

April 2, 2012 at 6:41 a.m.
joneses said...

EaTN

You have just proved my point. You are all about total government control as stated in your post. You want government to control supply of health care, guns, supply and price of gas, price of food and everything in our lives for the sole purpose of dictating social behavior. Thanks for confirming the truth about you and the liberal agenda. You said it partner "control". Has it ever occurred to you that keeping the price of gas high to penalize the so called gas guzzlers will raise the cost of all the products these so called gas guzzlers deliver? How about the painter, plumber, carpenter, electrician, landscaper that has to have a truck to conduct his business? How about the trucks that deliver goods to the stores? In your mind you think it okay to penalize the individuals who have made a choice to purchase a low gas milage vehicles and in the process force inflation on the rest of us. Penalizing a few and making the rest of us suffer is a stupid way to approach anything. But then that is what the liberal agenda is all about, stupidity.

April 2, 2012 at 7:58 a.m.
EaTn said...

joneses....my point is the selfishness of a few driving gas hogs will consume a vast portion of our fuel resources unless "we the people" (which is the government)" take action. Unless I've missed something, goverment control by the people is a good thing for the people, which a few selfish people don't like.

April 2, 2012 at 8:09 a.m.
joneses said...

Eatn,

What a chicken%$#@ you have proven to be. You are ashamed of your own liberal, socialist agenda. You stated "the only way we will ever have a reasonable energy control is to control demand with pump prices." You said it and I find it pretty pathetic of you to back track form your statement. You are all about the federal government controlling every aspect of our lives. If you were serious about the government being for the people then you would be campaigning to shrink the federal government and limit it's powers and transfer the power it has taken from the states and give it back to the states where the United States Constitution intended it to be. Thank you for exposing the liberal agenda for what it is about, total federal government control of every aspect of our lives.

April 2, 2012 at 9:03 a.m.
conservative said...

It's criminal the way Obamination treats his weak minded sheep. He refuses to increase domestice oil production which would create jobs and the supply of oil which in turn would lower the price of oil. Obamination's sheep have been led to believe that increased supply will not bring oil prices down. Obamination's Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar recently said one of the options to lower gas prices would be to release oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

So the Obamination administration has sold their sheep the belief that increasing the supply of oil by drilling will not bring down the price of oil but increasing the supply from the reserve will!

April 2, 2012 at 9:44 a.m.
joneses said...

What is amazing about eatn's comment is he used "government control" twice in the same sentence. The liberals are so ashamed of the name liberal they are trying to persuade people to refer to them as"Progressives". A more fitting name is socialist, communist, or something that refers to their belief in total federal government control of every aspect of our lives. Look at what these liberals support. They want to control health care, gas prices, supply of gas, guns, ammunition, hunting, fishing, sports, and who knows what else? Pay attention to their agenda. If you are worthless and to lazy to work then the liberal agenda will be good for you as they will give you just enough to survive and live in poverty and then convince you your troubles are not of your own making but someone else's which is another liberal lie.

April 2, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.
nucanuck said...

joneses, the world price of energy is in a strong uptrend dictated by strong world demand coupled with ever more expensive retrieval costs. Governments' job should be to help us find ways to transition with as little disruption as possible to our daily lives. China and Northern Europe are preparing for the coming shift in energy availability. The transition takes decades. If we do not begin to face the inevitable truth about oil addiction, we will soon enter an energy crisis mode without a plan.

Arguing over oil shale and tar sands misses the point. Fossil fuel depletion and exponential demand growth are crossing going different directions and there are no "made in the USA" solutions. We will have to conserve and develope other alternatives that will cost more in the short term.

Political debate has to move beyond the simplistic wishes and move toward energy reality.

April 2, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.

Ah, the deluded amoung us are flying blind and relying upon the propoganda from the marxist in chief and his lackeys to provide for them. Let me enlighten you a little. Saudi Arabia is consistently pulling record amounts of oil out of the ground right now and shipping it out as fast as they can. No amount of drilling is going to reduce the price of oil at this point. There isn't a problem with oil supply. We have plenty of it. The problem is we also have plenty of dollars. Some of the more intelligent or informed among us would say we have too many dollars. That is because the fed "a private company" is printing them non-stop and now we have too many dollars. All that printing makes the dollar worth less. It is the same principal that pumping more oil out of the ground should make it less expensive. The problem is, the dollars don't get burned up in your car and stick around causing inflation. We are getting screwed by the Federal Reserve and the administration is doing everything it can to make it look like an energy problem. Why?

April 2, 2012 at 11:24 a.m.
EaTn said...

joneses..your parents may have been part of the elite during WW2 but my parents weren't and they told me how Americans built the massive war machines while having govt controls on gas and food staples. They didn't whine like you conservatives do. And I can remember my dad hauling two cows to market on a simple Chevy pickup with us kids riding on the cattle racks. Nowdays, you'll see a big 4x4 truck with a handful of tools in the bed or a tank suv with a mom and couple kids. You conservatives have become such soft pansies that you would starve if real hard times ever struck.

April 2, 2012 at 11:25 a.m.

EaTn, How do you feel about "preppers"? Remember, most of them are "conservative nuts".

April 2, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
EaTn said...

FlyingPurple....preppers, survivalists--I know of a few. Most of them don't give a big rat for any politician, Bush or Obama. Being raised like a survivalist, I have their wits but not their stockpile. If things get as bad as they plan, at my age I don't care to go that extreme to survive anyway. I raise vegetables and have enough wild squirrels, deer and turkey around to survive a while.

April 2, 2012 at 1:08 p.m.

I was talking about their ideology not their political picks. I personally don't care for politicians either. I believe most politicians are like actors. They are playing a part to get their reward. That is why we now have so many who are trying to be everything to everybody, or at least everything to the majority.

April 2, 2012 at 1:22 p.m.
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