The price of gasoline, having gone up more than 50 cents in the past 10 days, must be warming the hearts of some of President Obama’s liberal constituents — those who believe the best energy policy is one where the average price of gasoline is $8 a gallon or so.
Those constituents include — or included — Energy Secretary Steven Chu, whom the San Francisco Chronicle quoted as saying four years ago that “U.S. gasoline prices should rise to the levels in Europe.” Chu, a Nobel Laureate physicist, allegedly said this when he was director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
He is quoted by the Chronicle as telling a Senate committee Tuesday he has changed his mind, that “We don’t want the price of gasoline to go up. We want it to go down.”
But what else could he say?
If he said he likes high gas prices and hopes they go higher, his boss, President Obama, would have him run out of Washington, D.C.
But Chu’s feelings four years ago — and maybe even now, despite what he told Congress — is not out of line with American energy activists who believe that high gas prices could have effects they would like to see.
Among these effects are:
- Smaller, more efficient cars being the automobiles of choice; bigger cars, recreational pickups and SUVs would be things of the past.
- Presumably cleaner air, because of the smaller, more efficient cars.
- More people using public transit, which is the liberal holy grail of transportation. More people using public transit would mean that public transit might not lose as much money as it does now.
This has been the liberal mantra since the 1970s, when scientists were telling us oil would be gone by the end of the century. Not this century, the last one. You can see how that turned out.
None of those presumed effects are bad ideas, by the way. But hoping for high gasoline prices seems like an extortionist’s way of achieving them.