So Which Is It: High Energy Prices Or Low?

Ex-President Obama may have understood next-to-nothing about climate and energy policy, but at least he understood (I think) that the main idea that he was advocating was to reduce usage of fossil-fuel energy through the method of intentionally forcing up the price of same.  Obama's principal "plan" for climate and energy policy was what was euphemistically called a "cap and trade" system -- in other words, a system of putting artificial government-imposed limits on how much fossil fuel could be produced or used (the "cap"), and then letting markets exchange the remaining artificially-scarce supplies (the "trade").  With demand the same and supplies reduced, the price would necessarily have to go up, and probably by a lot, thus forcing rationing and impoverishment on the people.  Here is a link to the famous 2008 video of Obama, in the early part of his first campaign, admitting the obvious with the famous line, "Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."  He doesn't mention gasoline prices in that particular video, but obviously the consequence would be the same.

And upon his election, Obama wasted no time in trying to put the "cap and trade" (i.e., intentionally higher prices for energy) idea into effect.  Before there was even Obamacare, there was the so-called Waxman-Markey "American Clean Energy and Security Act," otherwise known as the "cap and trade" bill.  Do you remember it?  It was introduced in the Congress on May 15, 2009.  In the grand tradition of progressive efforts to use legislation to remake the world unto perfection (see also, Obamacare and Dodd-Frank), this one was a good 1400 pages long.  It provided for forced "emissions cuts" starting in 2012, rising to 17% (against a 2005 base) in 2020 and 42% by 2030 (and on up from there), and for an unbelievably complicated system of permits and trading for everybody from manufacturers to utilities.  The bill passed the House by a close vote of 219 - 212 (all Republicans opposing and a few Democrats defecting).  But then it got to the Senate, where it died.  Under Majority Leader Harry Reid, it was never put to a vote.  I guess Reid knew that he didn't have the votes, although the Democrats had 59 seats at the time.

The failure of Waxman-Markey did not prevent Obama from then resorting to his famous "pen and phone" in the effort to see what he could do unilaterally to restrict the supply of fossil fuels, and thereby drive up their prices.  Examples included:  blocking construction of pipelines; blocking drilling offshore and on federal lands; refusing to open the vast spaces of Alaska, including ANWR, to drilling; having EPA make a "finding" that CO2 poses a "danger" to human health and welfare; imposing a regulation on the electric utility industry (the "Clean Power Plan") that attempted to force the closure of all 300+ coal-fired power plants in the country; and on and on.

Remarkably, despite all these efforts, Obama was unable to stop the "fracking" revolution, which took place on his watch.  The reason is that, in the United States, most regulation of exploration and drilling for fossil fuels on private lands is state and local regulation.  Some delusional states (like New York) banned fracking outright; and others, like California, put on enough restrictions that they participated only marginally in the revolution.  But that left the field open for states like Texas and North Dakota.  Despite Obama's best efforts, U.S. crude oil production nearly doubled during his two terms, and natural gas production went up by about a third.   With greatly expanding supplies, in about 2014, oil prices experienced a major decline, from which they have only partially recovered since (although in recent months there has been some upward creep).  Basically, the signature Obama energy initiative -- attempting to force higher prices by government fiat -- completely failed.

Which brings us to that bizarre news conference held a couple of weeks ago by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and a few of his colleagues (Cantwell, Menendez, Markey).  From the Washington Post, May 24:

Standing in front of an Exxon station blocks from Capitol Hill, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) made the case that Trump’s decision to end U.S. participation in the Iran nuclear deal brokered by his predecessor, President Barack Obama, is constraining global oil supply and forcing motorists to tighten their belts before the Memorial Day weekend.  “President Trump’s reckless decision to pull out of the Iran deal has led to higher oil prices,” Schumer told reporters. “These higher oil prices are translating directly to soaring gas prices, something we know hurts middle- and lower-income people.”

It's hard even to know where to start with this.  I mean, wasn't Schumer the number one Democrat to come out publicly against Obama's Iran deal?  OK, forget about that for now.  Isn't it official Democratic Party policy that higher oil and gasoline prices are absolutely necessary to force reduction in use and thereby save the planet?  

You could be forgiven for getting the impression that this Schumer guy stands for absolutely nothing and is only about getting whatever fleeting political advantage he can from whatever straw he can grasp at the moment.

In any event, I welcome the "lower energy prices" Democrats into the political fray.  Perhaps they can have a conversation with our Governor Cuomo, who besides having banned "fracking" in our state, is deep into the project of blocking pipelines, closing economical power plants that work, and building the most expensive and useless forms of energy supplies, like off-shore wind.