Like the Price of Gas? Just Wait!

The worthy journalists of the mainstream media have not seen fit to raise urgent questions about the soaring price of gas, and the current the current administration's role in causing it. Contrast that with the intensely critical commentary directed at George W. Bush when gas spiked during the latter part of his tenure, and you can almost taste the difference.

Of course, the MSM silence is not amazing at all.  President Obama is the darling of the media, and they want desperately to see him re-elected.  And investigating the causes of the high price of gas wouldn't help their crusade, because in truth, the outrageous price of gas is primarily Obama's fault -- nay, his design.

In truth, Obama's Green Regime has done everything it can to retard domestic fossil fuel production.  Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has locked away vast new areas of our country even from exploration, much less from exploitation, of the enormous reserves we possess.  Obama has killed (at least for now) the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried down from our ally Canada as much oil as we import from the Middle East.  And the administration has dramatically restricted drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Green Regime's scheme has been from the jump to jack up the price of fossil fuels in order to get Americans to adopt so-called "green energy" sources, such as solar, wind, and bio-fuels.  To this end, even as the administration puts every road-block in the way of domestic fossil fuel product, it lavishes millions of taxpayer bucks on corrupt, inefficient "green energy" companies.

The net effect has been to increase our reliance on Middle Eastern oil even more, precisely at a time when that region is reaching the high point of its crescendo of crisis.

But in the immortal words of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, "you ain't seen nothing yet!"  Obama's controversial EPA chief, Lisa Jackson, has pushed through the agency a passel of new regulations that will raise the cost of electricity dramatically over the next three years.

These new EPA regulations -- clearly intended to make up for the fact that the administration couldn't get its cap-and-trade legislation through Congress even when its own party controlled both houses -- and their baleful effects are the focus of a detailed new study by economist Kathleen Hartnett White (of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment).

In her study ("EPA's Approaching Regulatory Avalanche: 'A Regulatory Spree Unprecedented in U.S. History'"), Ms. White reviews ten major new rules that either have been already adopted or are under review by the agency.  She argues convincingly that the EPA is using the Clean Air Act (in a way never intended by Congress) to hobble fossil fuel energy production.

The rules she discusses are the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), the Electric Utility Maximum Available Control Technology Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants ("Utility MACT"), the Industrial Boiler MACT, the Portland Cement Kiln MACT, the Cooling Water Intake Structure Rule, the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule, the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS), the Particulate Matter NAAQS, the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Regulation of Stationary Sources, and the GHG Regulation of Mobile Source.  Behind these banal, bureaucratic labels lies the banality of evil: the plan of forcing a massive change of life and living standards without the consent of the governed (that is, the victims).

Ms. White estimates that these rules, scheduled to become operational by 2015, will cost our economy more than $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of jobs.  This would occur in the midst of the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.

Four of the rules in particular urgently need congressional scrutiny.  They clearly aim at severely curtailing coal-fired generation of electricity, with nothing yet available to replace the power.  White notes that numerous studies by various organizations, including the Federal Energy Reliability Commission and the National Electric Reliability Council, have shown that these four rules alone will force the elimination of more than 80 gigawatts of electric power, or about 8% of the entire generating capacity of the country.

The result will likely be prices spikes and brown-outs, doubtless leading to job losses here and more companies relocating abroad.

White notes that many of these regulations are based on shaky science, with both the National Academy of Science and even the EPA's own scientific advisory panels criticizing the scientific basis of the various new regulations.

Let's not fool ourselves about whether the skyrocketing gas and soon-to-be-skyrocketing electricity prices are intended by this administration.  Obama himself forewarned us when he was running for office.  As he said in January of 2008, "Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."  The new EPA rules are aimed at taking the place of the cap-and-trade law that never made it out of Congress.  The Obama administration is using a regulatory agency to do the dirty work it couldn't swindle the people into accepting.

Among other recommendations, Ms. White suggests that for "major policy decisions" made by the EPA we start to require "Congressional accountability."  But she should go well beyond that -- indeed, when it comes to any regulatory rulings by all of our numerous quasi-independent regulatory agencies that have the cumulative economic impact of, say, $10 million or more, Congress should be forced to put the matter to a vote.  That is the only way in which we as citizens can guarantee that we have some say in the regulations that affect us so profoundly.

Philosopher Gary Jason is a senior editor of Liberty and the author of the new book Dangerous Thoughts (available through Amazon).