A Lot of Hot Air on Energy in the SOTU

by John Fund

The fact-checkers are still working overtime to keep up with President Obama’s State of the Union whoppers.  

For starters, let’s take energy. President Obama is politically vulnerable in that area. Gallup reports his approval rating on energy is only 44 percent. 

One reason is that a gallon of gasoline now costs $4, more than double the price when he took office. 

Obama didn’t mention that pump shock, but tried to minimize it by claiming, “We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas.”

But that is expected to happen only gradually over the next dozen years. As Fox News reported: “Under a deal the Obama administration reached with automakers in 2011, vehicles will have a corporate average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, twice the 27 miles per gallon, on average, that cars and trucks get today. Automobile manufacturers won’t start making changes to achieve the new fuel economy standards until model year 2017. Not all cars will double their gas mileage, since the standard is based on an average of a manufacturers’ fleet.” And, of course, that higher fuel mileage comes at a price because studies have consistently shown (including one by former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers) that lighter cars mean more deaths on the road.

President Obama also embraced the boom in natural-gas production by boasting, “We produce more natural gas than ever before — and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it.” But that is in spite of, not because of, Obama’s policies. Overall, energy bills are higher in part because the administration is trying to shut down use of coal. And as Brian McNicoll of the Competitive Enterprise Institute notes, “If the president is serious about across-the-board energy, why won’t he approve the Keystone pipeline? More than 1,200 pipelines traverse more or less the same route.” Obama never mentioned Keystone last night.

As for climate change, President Obama insisted, “We must do more to fight climate change.” But his proposals are nothing more than to revive the cap-and-trade regulatory bill that couldn’t even pass an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress in 2009 and 2010. Obama’s talk on climate change was nothing but a sop to his base.

All in all, the energy component of Obama’s SOTU speech can be summed up briefly: a great deal of hot air alternating with a snow job.

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