Politics & Policy

Obama’s Out-of-Touch Energy Priorities

President Obama speaks at a solar-power facility. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Most Americans do not share the White House’s obsession with green energy.

President Obama and the Democrats hardly need another strike against them when they’re already dealing with public anger over health care, their questionable foreign-policy leadership, growing concerns about accountability in the IRS and Benghazi scandals, and a stagnant or shrinking economy.  

However, with summer heat approaching, another major issue looms on the horizon: Democrats’ unpopular energy policies could be coming home to roost. Whether stalling on the Keystone pipeline, waging war on coal, or striving in myriad ways to constrain fossil-fuel use, this administration has never supported domestic energy production. And there is yet another energy issue now forcing Democrats to feel the heat: electric-utility generation.

Electric-utility generation (which is just another way of describing the energy that powers your home) has dropped 7 percent nationwide since Obama took office, if we go by the latest available figures from 2012. While some of the drop is due to a decrease in industrial demand — hardly a good thing for manufacturing in America — it doesn’t account for the entire dramatic drop.

Earlier this week, authorities found a bomb that had been placed next to huge diesel tank at a power station in Arizona. The bomb did not explode, and no one was injured, but police have not yet apprehended the saboteurs. This incident, like previous efforts to attack power stations, reminds us that utility companies have an additional worry in trying to protect their vulnerable stations from potential attacks that could knock their customers off the grid for an unknown amount of time.

When you combine reduced supply with a surge in demand due to record-high summer temperatures, you have a recipe for skyrocketing prices leading to brownouts or, even worse, blackouts across the country. At a time when most Americans are concerned about the economy and their ability to make ends meet, a sudden spike in electric bills could set off an immediate backlash. Brownouts and blackouts will be hard to swallow as summer temperatures soar.

We recently conducted a national survey about energy issues and found more than two in five Americans (43 percent) think that rising energy prices were the most important energy issue facing our country; another quarter say that our domestic production is too low. Far fewer worried about pollution or the renewable-energy agenda driving this administration’s approach. Clearly, on energy policy, the White House is not in synch with the American public.

These numbers are problematic for Democrats, and if weather forecasts for record heat this summer prove correct, the public’s anger about rising energy prices will only increase. When Democratic policies on health care started having an impact on the average American wallet, with huge increases in co-pays and premiums, President Obama and Democrats dropped precipitously in the polls. Now it seems another Democratic policy is about to hit Americans where it hurts most. It’s going to be a long hot summer, and the heat is likely to extend into the fall for this anti-energy President and his willing accomplices in Congress. November isn’t that far away, and voters will remember their summertime blues when it’s time to hit the polls.

Bryon Allen (@AllenWPA) is the partner and COO of @WPAResearch, a public-opinion research company whose clients include Senators Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Mike Lee (R., Utah).

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