DOE more interested in “diversifying our energy supply” than keeping prices low

So says Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu in one of the better “No Shit, Sherlock” moments of the last few months, delivered in testimony before the House Appropriations energy and water subcommittee:

“We agree there is great suffering when the price of gasoline increases in the United States, and so we are very concerned about this,” said Chu, speaking to the House Appropriations energy and water subcommittee. “As I have repeatedly said, in the Department of Energy, what we’re trying to do is diversify our energy supply for transportation so that we have cost-effective means.”

This diversification includes compressed natural gas, biofuels, and electric vehicles.

“But is the overall goal to get our price” of gasoline down, asked Rep. Alan Nunnelee.

“No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” Chu replied. “We think that if you consider all these energy policies, including energy efficiency, we think that we can go a long way to becoming less dependent on oil and [diversifying] our supply and we’ll help the American economy and the American consumers.”

According to Secretary Chu’s testimony, rapidly rising gasoline prices have created a sense of urgency at the DOE.  Unfortunately, none of that urgency is being directed toward the exploration, extraction, transportation, or refining of domestic oil supplies.  Instead, the DOE is redoubled its efforts to develop of alternative energy sources.

In case you’ve forgotten, the DOE was created by the Carter Administration for the primary purpose of decreasing America’s dependence on foreign oil – or in bureaucratspeak, ensuring the energy security of the United States.  Secretary Chu is at lease remaining faithful to the DOE’s original mission.  But for the last 35 years, the DOE has done little to advance the domestic oil industry in the US.  Instead, we have spent trillions of dollars collecting data on energy usage, regulating energy production and distribution, and funding R&D programs for alternatives to fossil fuels.

The result?  America imported around 45% of its oil in 1977; today that number is closer to 60%.  In other words, 35 years and trillions of dollars later, we still have no viable alternative to fossil fuels, and in particular, crude oil.

If you are an ideologue who is committed to seeing America embrace “alternative energy” regardless of the economic and technological concessions that such a shift will force upon us, then nothing, not even the possibility of a “double-dip” recession, will stand in your way.  The Obama Administration, starting with the President himself, is full of such people.  If the rest of us complain about $6 a gallon gas and the overpriced plastic boxes we will be forced to drive in order to meet the EPA’s new CAFE standards, then we’ve simply “grown soft.”  After all, who are we  – the plebeian class bitterly clinging to our gas-guzzling SUV’s – to decide what’s really best for us?

Another 35 years of waiting for the alternative energy unicorns to arrive isn’t really too much for our government to ask, is it?  It’s for our own good, you know.

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