People who are disappointed in what President Obama has accomplished in the last two years are judging him by the wrong standards. If you look at what he has done to help push gas prices through the roof or stand in the way of U.S. companies trying to diminish our reliance on foreign oil, his administration has been a smashing success.
Policy decisions like the Gulf drilling moratorium or his new taxes aimed at U.S. oil and natural gas producers are surefire ways to reduce our supplies of fossil fuels and guarantee that the majority of our energy demand is going to be met with fuels produced in foreign countries. Their workers will get the jobs, their governments will get the revenues and we will be left standing by the pump, wondering why the price keeps going up.
And it is going to go up. Global demand for oil and other petroleum products will keep on rising, driven by the expanding economies of developing nations. In 2005, the World Bank estimated that 2.3 billion cars would be added by 2050, with more than 80% of them in developing countries. That number might be low. Vehicle sales in Brazil topped 3 million in 2010, and for the first time ever GM sold more cars in China than it did in the United States. Chinese drivers are expected to purchase 21 million vehicles this year, twice as many as Americans will buy.
But we appear content to ignore impending energy shortages, putting bountiful domestic energy reserves off limits and using sky-high taxes to punish companies working to produce the fuel we need. We would rather depend on yet to be developed alternative fuels as our plan for the future.
It is fine to hope for a day when alternative fuels significantly reduce our need for oil and natural gas. But we cannot blindly stand by, waiting for some miracle "green" fuel to come along and solve all our problems. Families and industries need energy now, and we have to be realistic about providing them with sufficient supplies of fuels they can afford.
The green energies (wind, solar, geothermal) promoted by the Obama administration will not replace one barrel of oil that runs our transportation system - they only produce electricity.
It is an extremely simple equation. The less petroleum we produce, the less we have. Other nations, who appear to be guided by people a little more tuned into reality than our leaders, understand this and are doing everything possible to maximize the amount of energy resources they have at their disposal. We seem to be going the other direction, pursuing policies that hinder energy production and make it more difficult for consumers and businesses to get the affordable fuel they need.
Unfortunately, the president is not alone when it comes to bad policy decisions about energy. Here in Pennsylvania, environmental activists are lobbying hard against development of energy reserves found in the Marcellus shale formation, a resource that contains an estimated 500 trillion cubic feet of clean burning natural gas.
The Delaware River Basin Commission is currently making decisions that will determine if Pennsylvanians in the east will ever see the fuel contained in the Marcellus, along with the billions of dollars in economic output or the thousands of jobs its development would generate. When our river basin commissions were created they were not to make law or regulations to govern us - they were to be advocacy groups.
Those of us who live in rural areas of Pennsylvania are heavily impacted by energy policy. We have to drive long distances for work, school and shopping. That's why rural America in particular needs ample supplies of energy to run our businesses and families. If the Obama policies on energy are not deterred they will eliminate the rural middle class with high-priced unaffordable energy.
President Obama's energy policies affect us every day of our lives and, unless he changes his thinking, those policies are going to mean money out of our pockets and a lot of uncertainty about our future energy security.
John Peterson is a former congressman who represented Warren County and spent the last decade of his political life working on energy policy and calling for a comprehensive energy strategy. He currently serves on the Board of American Energy Alliance in Washington, whose goals include affordable energy for America.