It must have looked so simple from Barack Obama’s rarely visited Senate office, or Steven Chu’s comfortable digs at Berkeley: if only we stopped taking advantage of all those nasty fossil fuels, everything would be better. Three years ago, when then-Senator Obama was dismissing high energy prices as just another good reason for more government handouts, and Chu was insisting that Americans ought to pay European prices for gasoline, all they heard in return was applause from their core constituencies — academics and the media.

Unfortunately for now-President Obama, the reality of $4-$5-a-gallon gasoline is a much tougher sell to the general public. He’s put himself to work spinning the line that “speculators” are at fault for high prices, but the actual explanation is far more prosaic. Limited supply plus growing demand equals higher prices. That’s a formula so simple, even a community organizer should be able to understand it.

Asian demand for energy continues to rise as nations in the far east region — oddly lacking in “stimulus” spending — continue to boom. Supply, meanwhile, has fallen off, not only as a consequence of the turmoil in Libya and other oil-producing countries, but also thanks to the Obama-ordered moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico — and the recently ordered moratorium on future drilling anywhereelse off the American coastline.

Obama had been president-elect for all of five days when he announced his intention to rescind Bush’s executive order lifting the ban on offshore oil drilling. Oil prices started going up again in January of 2009 and steadily increasing ever since. Obama Energy Secretary Ken Salazar announced a highly restrictive offshore leasing policy last December, and the Bush executive order was officially reversed on February 8, 2011.

The price of crude that day was $85.85. By April 19, it had risen to $107.18, with no end in sight.

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