By: KENRIC WARD
As gasoline prices soar, Barack Obama is running on empty.
The president, during a visit to the University of Miami last month, talked about energy. With his poll numbers tanking, how could he not? But in keeping with his "green" fixation, Obama's focus wasn't on petroleum. It was on algae.
"We could replace up to 17 percent of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in the United States," he vowed.
Pointing to a $14 million federal grant to turn kelp into fuel, the president again banged the drum for renewable energy -- and hyped another Solyndra-style boondoggle.
The latest independent research shows that to replace 17 percent of U.S. oil imports, algae would need to be planted on an area roughly the size of South Carolina and would require 350 gallons of water for every gallon of algae fuel created.
While the president drills dry holes, he studiously avoids the facts on the ground -- which are that the United States has plenty of untapped oil reserves.
"The total recoverable oil in North America exceeds 1.7 trillion barrels, with 1.4 trillion barrels in the United States alone," writes Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research.
"That's more than the entire world has used in 150 years, and sufficient to fuel the present needs of our nation for the next 250 years."
Obama must know this. And, amid rising anger over soaring pump prices, the administration has begun to boast that it is OK'ing more drilling permits than ever.
Yet these belated, post-moratorium approvals are a drop in the bucket -- and about as credible as Energy Secretary Steven Chu's recent epiphany over the damage done by rising pump prices.
The Obama administration "has issued 50.7 percent fewer annual [oil drilling] leases on public lands than President Clinton did," says Karen Harbert, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy.
"Gulf of Mexico energy production is down 16 percent since 2009 and is projected to decrease even further in 2012," Harbert added.
Obama's feckless, or nonexistent, energy policies are keeping America's sluggish economy down because higher gas prices siphon discretionary consumer spending, raise prices and kill job growth. The White House's costly stimulus programs have merely managed to move (inflated) money around while shrinking the private sector.
In one widely circulating account that epitomizes his mal-administration, the president was stupefied to learn that the billions of dollars he has funneled into green-energy ventures yielded only 3,000 jobs to date. Bankrupt companies don't generate much employment after all.
The mainstream media, which ritually thrashed Republicans for the gas-price run-ups in 2004 and 2008, now declare there's little a poor president can do.
But surely a Nobel Prize winner hailed as the smartest guy in any room could see big problems beyond the Deepwater Horizon. And still this president can't even bring himself to approve the job-generating Keystone pipeline.
Such dithering only strengthens America's adversaries.
Say what you will about the Chinese communists, even they aren't so politically dogmatic as to commit these types of self-immolating blunders. Conspiracy theorists have attempted to explain away what appears to be gross incompetence: They assert that this president is succeeding fabulously in pursuit of his overriding goal -- remaking America into a quasi-European state.
Whatever dreams are bouncing around in Obama's head will become a real national nightmare if he's permitted to stay on his current course for another four years.
Pulling oil out of the ground is hard work, but it's not brain surgery. Promoting visions of green slime just won't get the job done.