An announcement by President Obama that he intends to "crack down' on energy price manipulation amounts to little more than smoke and mirrors according to Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA). Instead of harnessing America's energy potential to create jobs and bring down prices, Kingston says the move is just another attempt by the President is to deflect blame.
"It seems like whenever energy prices go up, the same Administration that blocks American energy production starts looking around to assign blame elsewhere," said Kingston. "We don't need scapegoats. We need an energy policy that works for the American people."
"If the President were serious about bringing down gas prices, he would embrace and all of the above approach and increase American energy production," he continued. "Does President Obama really think that Saudi Arabia and Venezuela can produce energy more efficiently and environmentally-sound than America?"
While skeptical of the President's motivations, Kingston is encouraged by his call for technology upgrades at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission which is charged with regulating the markets on which oil and other energy commodities are traded in the United States. As Chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee which directs federal funding for the agency, Kingston has been pressing for technology upgrades for quite some time.
"Where has the President been?" Kingston questioned. "For two years, we have been working with the CFTC on critical technology purchases, setting aside funding only to see it squandered on routine purchases or diverted elsewhere."
In FY 2011, Kingston's subcommittee directed $37.2 million for the Commission's "highest priority technology activities." A total of $55 million was directed for information technology investments in FY 2012.
"Last month, I asked Chairman Gary Gensler about speculation and even he agreed that there are divided schools of thought on the impact of speculators on the market," said Kingston. "Where there is not a division of opinion is on this Administration's efforts against American energy production. Gas prices have doubled on his watch. Oil production is down 14% on federal lands over last year. He has blocked the Keystone Pipeline and instituted a de facto moratorium on offshore energy production."
Asked by one reporter to point to specific oil market manipulation, senior Obama Administration officials were unable. A taskforce lead by the Department of Justice to root out manipulation last year has only met a four of five times since its creation and has failed to report to the public on its efforts.
"Where we find evidence of speculators manipulating energy prices, I want to be the first to work with the President to combat them," said Kingston. "I just don't think this Administration has a leg to stand on when it comes to assigning blame for high energy prices."