By David A. Patten
With gas prices spiraling ever higher, former GOP presidential candidate and Forbes Magazine Publisher Steve Forbes slammed the Obama administration’s reluctance to drill for oil on Wednesday, accusing the administration of having “anti-energy policies.”
Forbes said Congress should rake administration officials “over the coals” on the oil-exploration issue.
Republicans have been increasingly critical in recent weeks that the need to drill safely in pristine Gulf of Mexico waters must be balanced with America’s economic and energy needs — an issue that grows more salient with each hike in gasoline prices at the pump.
“The Interior secretary is blocking these things, not allowing the permits to go forward,” Forbes said Wednesday morning on Fox News. “So even though the [drilling] moratorium since that terrible spill last summer has been removed, the fact of the matter is permits have been frozen.
“So in effect the moratorium is continuing. That’s an administration decision. And when [Interior] Secretary [Ken] Salazar goes before Congress in testimony, I hope the Congress rakes him over the coals on it, and asks him, ‘What in the world do you think you’re doing?’”
Also today, Forbes said in an Op-Ed piece for Politico that, “By freezing U.S. energy assets in the Gulf and keeping 97 percent of our offshore oil and gas off limits, our government, willing or not, is fueling an energy crisis that could bring this nation to its knees. Continued inaction in the Gulf threatens to force us to import an extra 88 million barrels of oil per year by 2016, at a cost of $8 billion.”
Cato Institute economist and tax policy expert Chris Edwards supports Forbes’ push for more domestic oil exploration. He tells Newsmax that a more vigorous oil-exploration effort would benefit the U.S. economy, although it wouldn’t necessarily decrease the price of gasoline at the pump.
“Drilling would be good for the U.S. economy, because it would be an efficient use of resources. There is a lot of oil and gas here. The companies want to drill here, if it weren’t for all the regulations.
|Oil prices have hit $100 a barrel|
“It would be good for our GDP and production,” Edwards tells Newsmax. “But it wouldn’t affect the price of gasoline. The mistake the Republicans and Democrats make is the price of gasoline is set on world markets, so even if our consumption was fully supplied 100 percent by domestic consumption, the price would still be set on world markets.”
Drilling proponents also say more permits would help get unemployed energy workers back on the job, which is especially important in economically depressed areas of Texas and Louisiana.
On Monday, the Obama administration announced that it had granted its first permit for deepwater drilling since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Salazar testified Wednesday morning before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee, but he apparently decided the best defense was a good offense.
Salazar criticized a string of decisions from a Louisiana federal judge critical of the Energy Department’s burdensome regulatory restrictions, saying those rulings represent an inappropriate infringement on Interior Department prerogatives.
On Feb. 17, Judge Martin Feldman gave Salazar 30 days to rule on five pending requests for drilling permits.
“The judge in this particular case, in my view, is wrong and we will argue the case, because I don’t believe that the court has the jurisdiction to basically tell the Department of Interior what my administrative responsibilities are, so that will be argued in the court at the right time,” Salazar told the Senate committee.
Forbes told Fox News Wednesday: “We need to get this administration to back off on its anti-energy policies.”
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