Last winter's record high temperatures obscured the ever-rising prices of fuel.
At the pumps, gasoline prices are hitting record highs. As one letter writer noted this week, filling up our car tanks can be $70 or $80 and even more. For those of us who drive for a living, the money adds up.
We've forgotten what the blistering cold can cost. It's not unusual to spend $800 or $900 every three of four weeks to heat our houses when the temperatures are frigid. Out nation's dependence on Middle East oil is worse than ever, despite the smattering of hybrid cars on the roadways.
Putting politics aside for the moment, President Obama's decision to squash the Keystone Pipeline was a tragic error. It would have, with time, helped lower energy costs by increasing the flow of domestic oil to the 48 states. Moreover, it would have provided tens of thousands of jobs.
We understand this administration's ecological concerns – and note that the pipeline project didn't have a thorough environmental review. That said, it's been 25 years since the Alaskan Pipeline opened, and technology has gotten to a point where very little can go wrong.
The Obama administration has been fast tracking alternative energy projects, most noticeably wind energy, but the country has virtually nothing to show for it. Obama pushed through a $535 million federal grant to Solyndra, which also received a $25 million tax break from the state of California. Within two years Solyndra went bankrupt, and the money disappeared. There were other clean energy companies that received federal funds – but they were little more than start-up companies, with no mechanism in place to actually produce energy. In all, this administration has provided over $16 billion in loans to clean energy companies, and the country has nothing to show for it.
Apologists like the New York Times quickly defended the president when the Justice Department began to investigate where all the money went. The company line was the country needs to take chances on clean energy and not all investments pan out. In another time, perhaps. But with this country still in the throes of an economic meltdown there can be no justification for spending billions of taxpayer dollars on a wing and a prayer. (The fact that Solyndra executives were huge contributors to Obama's campaign -- and that they were frequent visitors to the White House -- has been conveniently overlooked by the mainstream press.)
Perhaps the future will bring more clean energy, and America will be less dependent on foreign oil. That does little to quench the fear that for many of us, the specter of freezing pipes and empty gas tanks looms ominously ahead.