President Barack Obama’s energy policies are catapulting the country into a 1970s-style energy crisis of high prices and short supply, Rep. Fred Upton tells Newsmax.TV. The president has done nothing as gas prices have spiked and caused more hardship for lower- and middle-income families, says the Michigan Republican, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Gas prices could reach $4 a gallon before the end of the month — and some are predicting prices as high as $5 a gallon in the not-to-distant future. “This is really a devastating hit on our economy. There is no question about that,” he said during the exclusive Newsmax interview.
The cause of the price spikes are not limited to the turmoil in the Mideast but the fact that under the Obama administration the United States has turned away from domestic production.
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Asked whether the country is headed for a ’70s-era energy crisis, he replied, “We are. We are. Who knows where this is going to stop. How long is this turmoil going to last? In the Gulf of Mexico, a third of our oil comes from that region. Because of the BP disaster from nearly a year ago, we’ve said no to everything that was there. And In fact the production now in the Gulf is 250,000 barrels less per day than was projected just five or six months ago. If you look at Alaska, again our production has been declining for last 10 or 15 years by as much as 10 percent in some of those years.”
The rise in pump prices is particularly troublesome now as the country finally seems to be inching toward economic recovery, Upton said, noting that no one “wants to be where we are now.”
“I’m from the Midwest. I’m from Michigan. We have had double-digit unemployment now for a number of years, and this type of hit on our economy, sending all that money overseas, which really hits lower and middle income families harder than anybody else is not a way that we’re going to begin to see our economy begin to recover particularly when you see these spending deficits at the federal level of $1.6 trillion,” he said.
High energy prices four years ago plunged the country into a recession, but prices at the pump retreated and hovered around $2 a gallon as Obama took office. “Now, two years later, under President Obama, we are twice the gas price we were when he was first elected. That is not acceptable and it will make the road to recovery much, much harder,” Upton said.
The Obama administration is considering tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ease prices. The reserve, set up in response to the 1973-74 Arab oil embargoes, has been tapped during emergency situations, such as during the first Gulf War in 1991 and in response to supply problems resulting from hurricane Katrina in 2005 and hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008.
That is not the solution, Upton said.
“Today we have 770 million barrels stocked piled away, but that 770 is there in case there is another shut-off . . . where is the effort on the 50 billion barrels that are off our shore here for domestic production and everything else,” he said. “We’ve turned our back on that, that’s where the answer is.”
Upton was not prepared to accuse the president of deliberately trying to raise gas prices to push the green agenda, as Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., recently alleged, saying he didn’t know if it was “deliberate or not.”
“There are some who thought the way to wean ourselves off foreign oil was to raise the price,” he said. “Well, that is happening and as a consequence there are a lot of people who cannot afford these new gas prices, 50, 60 and even 70 dollars sometimes to fill up the tank in one of our automobiles. That’s not right. That’s not the way this country ought to be run in terms of increasing the cost to diminish use.”
Upton also opposes any administration efforts to pursue cap-and-trade legislation and has introduced a bill to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas. “We now do not want to see this administration regulate what they were unable to legislate,” he said.
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