President Obama just had a change of heart on offshore energy development.
Last year, the president put forward a blueprint to expand oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic Coast. This month, he shelved the plan.
Environmentalists are celebrating. But it's a loss for the country. Obama has passed on an important opportunity to secure America's energy future and create thousands of jobs.
Upon taking office, the president wasted little time in pursuing this goal. After his attempt to get a cap-and-trade bill through Congress failed, he said that was "just one way of skinning the cat" and tasked the Environmental Protection Agency with carrying out his agenda through executive fiat.
The EPA responded with the Clean Power Plan, a sweeping carbon dioxide reduction scheme based on an imaginative interpretation of the Clean Air Act. Among other things, the plan promised to slash power plants' carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030.
By restricting the use of low-cost fossil fuels and forcing the construction of expensive new generation, the EPA's plan effectively mandates that Americans pay more for energy. Fortunately, in February, the Supreme Court halted the enforcement of this scheme until legal challenges are resolved.
When the president isn't championing the cause of high energy prices, he can be found ignoring the real economic benefits of fossil-fuel development. As recently as 2012, he argued, "We can't just drill our way to lower gas prices." Of course, he was wrong.
Thanks to the shale-energy boom of recent years, America has emerged as the world's leading producer of oil and natural gas. Crude oil production alone has increased 72 percent over the past seven years.
As domestic production has soared, gasoline prices have fallen. According to the latest analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gas is expected to remain at about $2 a gallon on average for the rest of the year.
In other words, Obama was wrong about the relationship between oil development and energy prices. Nevertheless, he continues to block drilling projects at every turn.