The American people are angry about rising gas prices. Again.
So President Obama had his work cut out for him when he appeared before a packed house at Georgetown University to talk about U.S. energy security and policy on Wednesday.
In an attempt to show the public that he understands the expensive burden of living in a country that’s totally dependent on oil, Obama revealed his ambitious goal of reducing U.S. oil imports by one-third by 2025, and vowed to break through the political gridlock that has stymied similar initiatives for decades (TBD.com).
“Presidents and politicians of every stripe have promised energy independence but that promise has so far gone unmet,” Obama said during the speech.
“That has to change. We cannot keep going from shock to trance on the issue of energy security, rushing to propose action when gas prices rise, then hitting the snooze button when they fall again,” he said.
Opponents of Obama’s domestic energy policy were quick to point out the fact that these statements are contradicted by his actions.
“It’s nice that he’s discovered the importance of domestic energy development, but his rhetoric overlooks his own policies over the past two years,” writes right-wing columnist Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post.
“Yesterday on the Senate floor Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted the president for comments he made in Brazil ‘when the President told the Brazilian president that the United States hopes to be a major customer in the market for oil that Brazilian businesses plan to extract from new oil finds off the Brazilian coast.’”
This support of offshore drilling in other countries, and approval of more drilling permits for the Gulf of Mexico since last year’s BP oil spill, makes it hard to feel energized by the President’s harsh comments for the “drill, baby, drill” crowd here at home:
“But here’s the thing — we’ve been down this road before. Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 a gallon. Working folks haven’t forgotten that,” Obama said in his speech. “It hit a lot of people pretty hard. But it was also the height of political season, so you had a lot of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians waving three-point-plans for two-dollar gas — when none of it would really do anything to solve the problem.”
To his critics, the President proudly brandished the fact that his administration has approved 39 shallow water drilling permits since new standards were put in place last year, and seven new deep-water drilling permits in recent weeks (TBD.com).
In addition to increasing domestic fuel production, the President’s energy initiatives include an increase the use of biofuels and natural gas, and increasing efficiency standards for vehicles–all things we’ve heard before, but seen little action on.
In light of the current nuclear crisis in Japan, it was also disheartening to hear the President re-assert his commitment to nuclear power as part of America’s energy future.
Obama said he is determined to ensure that nuclear plants in the U.S. are safe, and has ordered a safety review of all facilities that will incorporate lessons learned from the crisis in Japan (TBD.com).
Image: President Obama lays out his energy policy during a speech at Georgetown University in Washington. (EPA / March 30, 2011)