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Drill, Baby, Drill ... Maybe

Gas up. That used to be the command when you pulled into a filling station. Now it’s a command from the Obama administration which believes energy is something that should cost more. Lots more.


But didn’t Obama just say we can drill offshore? Of course he did – just a little. Enough only to try to satisfy the president’s own voters who backed a compromise and enough to buy him some political cover while he really tries to give you gas with a new push for cap-and-trade.


A gallon of unleaded gasoline costs $2.84 today, closing in on the $3 mark. Last year, it never topped $2.69 and was just under $2 this time last year. 2010 is much worse. CNBC’s Rick Santelli warned of drastically more expensive gas and possibly $150 a barrel oil this summer in a recent “Closing Bell” appearance, saying “we’re going to have $4 gas this summer probably anyway.”


If the Obama administration and its friends on both sides of the aisle have their way, that’s almost a given. When President Obama threw a bone to conservatives with his little mini-oil drilling plan, he warned that wouldn’t be enough. “And what that means is that drilling alone can’t come close to meeting our long-term energy needs. And for the sake of our planet and our energy independence, we need to begin the transition to cleaner fuels now.”


“Energy independence.” We’ve heard that lame claim before. It’s great to cut down on how much oil we buy from barely friendly nations in the Mideast and unfriendlies like Venezuela. But this little bit of drilling isn’t going to change that equation much at all. The new regulations keep drilling 125 miles away from Florida’s Gulf Coast, while Cuba can partner with China to drill much closer. At the same time, oil in some of the other newly approved locations on the East Coast lacks infrastructure. So it will take years to get at it. Other locations were left out completely.


And that’s the real strategy. If Obama wanted to drill, he could have authorized drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. He could have opened up a lot more potential coastal drilling sites. He didn’t because he doesn’t really want any drilling. Instead, he wants to push through a cap-and-trade bill.


That’s the plan – good old-fashioned bribery. Obama is trying to buy cap-and-trade votes by pretending to allow a little more home-grown energy – oil, natural gas and nuclear. He’s targeting mushy moderates, the kind who can be coerced to vote for Obama’s Big Government. Senators like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R/D-Quisling, who made it clear Obama had to horse trade to get his support. “There’s not 60 votes doing energy only for offshore drilling. Only when you marry up climate change, cleaning up the air with energy independence do you get the transformational aspects of energy independence I'm hoping for.”


Naturally, the media love the Obama drilling plan – given the delays, you could almost call it a non-drilling plan. Yet CBS’s Maggie Rodriguez was amazed the GOP wasn’t fully behind the president’s bogus proposal. “You would think that Republicans, the ‘drill, baby drill’ crowd, would be ecstatic,” she said, claiming “it’s still a step in their direction, a step to the right.”


CBS News political analyst John Dickerson argued that this fictional drilling plan meant “he looks like a bipartisan president again.” Then Dickerson got to the heart of the debate, that this tiny concession “might get a deal on this climate legislation.”


NBC’s ordinarily rational Chuck Todd pretended the move was a major affront to greenies. The March 31 “Nightly News” broadcast depicted Obama as defying environmentalists. “Well, in the world of domestic democratic politics, it's akin to a ‘Nixon goes to China’ moment, a Democratic president bucking a powerful interest group in the Democratic Party, environmentalists, on the issue of oil drilling,” preached Todd.

Politicians like New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg are making enough stink to pretend they are actually upset. “Giving Big Oil more access to our nation’s waters is really a Kill, Baby, Kill policy: it threatens to kill jobs, kill marine life and kill coastal economies that generate billions of dollars,” he told the New York Daily News.

Lautenberg could get an Oscar for that act. Sure, he doesn’t want drilling any more than Obama. But they both know that a cap-and-trade bill will make gas and oil so expensive that most of the newly planned wells will never happen. $4, $5 or more a gallon is what the left is angling to accomplish, not drilling.


So get used to European-style gas prices because it will be the taxpayers who really get drilled here. Nothing else.


Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.


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