$10-per-barrel plan is latest swipe at oil-gas industry

[USA] President Barack Obama has spent seven years in the White House doing everything he can to hammer the U.S. oil and gas industry. No use stopping now, right?

The budget Obama will send to Congress on Tuesday includes a $10-per-barrel “fee” on domestic oil, in order to fill the hole in the federal highway fund, but also pay for some of his green dreams like high-speed rail and charging stations for electric vehicles.

This tax — let’s call it what it is, even if the president won’t — would be phased in over five years and be paid by oil companies. Although ultimately, of course, it would be paid by motorists because the energy companies will pass it along to consumers.

This proposal is just another disingenuous move by a president who has turned that trait into an art form.

Four years ago, Obama came to Oklahoma to pledge his support for expedited approval of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. That leg, from Cushing to the Gulf Coast, was indeed completed. Yet Obama scuttled the northern portion, from Canada to Cushing. Among the reasons he cited was that the pipeline wouldn’t help ease the price consumers pay at the pump. Yet his new plan would surely increase gas prices.

Perhaps the president figures now’s the time to strike, because gas prices have fallen so far in the past year. “Hey, what’s another 25 cents a gallon? We need those autonomous vehicles!”

Obama talks frequently about how he wants an “all of the above” energy policy. Yet his administration’s Environmental Protection Agency has worked overtime producing rules and regulations clearly targeted to cripple coal, oil and natural gas.

And, he has used taxpayer funds for failed schemes such as Solyndra and, as we wrote about recently, efforts such as the Pentagon trying to prove its ships, trucks and planes can run on something other than fossil fuels. The result: fuel derived from sea algae, at $424 per gallon.

Taxpayers would wind up paying for Obama’s latest boondoggle, too, except that the $10-per-barrel proposal has zero chance of being approved. House Speaker Paul Ryan labeled it “dead on arrival in Congress” and called it what it is: an election-year distraction.

At Forbes.com, senior editor Christopher Hellman said it’s unfortunate “that in the country with the world’s deepest capital markets, our political leaders think we need regressive taxes to fund the buildout of driverless cars and charging stations. Can’t Obama’s buddies at Tesla and Google afford that without picking our pockets?” It’s a good question.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, who helped write the transportation bill approved recently by Congress and signed by Obama, is as vocal as anyone in Washington about the need to improve America’s transportation infrastructure. But this proposal by Obama is unserious, Inhofe said. “Frankly, I’m unsure why the president bothers to continue to send a budget to Congress.”

It’s Obama’s last one, thank goodness. But it is important to note that unless Americans reject the two Democratic nominees wishing to replace Obama, the country will be stuck with ever more tax-and-spend budgets with environmental absolutism at their core. Our country can’t afford that.


Photo: In this appearance near Cushing in 2012, President Obama called for the completion of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. He subsequently squashed approval of the pipeline’s northern leg. [the Oklahoman archives photo]

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