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High gasoline prices are good except in an election year, Obama saysby Wiley Foxx
March 6, 2012, Washington, DC — President Obama today said he wishes gasoline prices were lower during an election year but said he does not regret taking actions that have caused prices to rise.
"Something had to be done to wean Americans off their addiction to oil," he said. "Our citizens have been spoiled for too long by cheap oil, cheap gas, cheap natural gas and cheap coal.
"That's what got us into the fix we're in now. We kept driving gas cars and buying houses with central heating and cooling, and nobody was investing in alternative energy.
"I've said all along that I want coal mines out of business and energy prices to skyrocket. If folks had to pay $10 a gallon, people would be more likely to buy electric cars, take trains or ride bicycles, or, better yet, to stay home and not waste any energy at all."
Obama said he has little control over global oil prices, which are controlled by supply and demand, but noted that he has done as much as he could to reduce the supply of oil in the United States.
"I have the courage to do what is right," he said. "That's why I remind myself of some of our greatest presidents, such as Lincoln, Reagan, Washington and Jefferson as well our bravest world leaders, such as Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
"It took bravery and boldness to slow down oil production in the Arctic, in the Gulf and on public land in the West. I don't think any other president would have stopped the Keystone pipeline from Canada. I'm proud of my administration's tough new regulations that could make oil production practically impossible in America. Nobody can accuse me of not being solidly behind cap-and-trade carbon taxes, and now that it appears Congress won't pass cap-and-trade on its own, I have directed the EPA to enact regulations and penalties that accomplish the same thing."
Assistant Energy Secretary Minnie Van Gogh said the president has a long term goal of fundamentally changing transportation.
"He wants the internal combustion engine, the forced-air furnace and coal-fired electric plants consigned to the trash heap," Van Gogh said. "He realizes that won't happen until fossil fuels are unaffordable, and then mass transportation will be more acceptable to taxpayers."
"If gasoline goes to $10 a gallon," she said, "people would be willing to pay more to ride trains and would be happier about paying subsidies to keep mass transit running."
EPA Oil Regulatory Committee Chairman Rick Shaws said proposed regulations could create thousands of jobs as oil companies attempt to comply with new reporting requirements.
"If oil companies have to hire more people," he said, "gas prices will go nowhere but up, and then we can realize the president's dream of making America more like Europe and Asia, where most people ride bicycles, walk or use rickshaws (human-powered taxis)."
The federal government is ready to help Americans progress to human-powered transportation, said Chairwoman Yuna Sykel of President Obama's newest department, Transportation Involving Rigorous Exertion Department (TIRED).
Sykel, who was born in Singapore, where her mother rode a one-wheeled cycle 12 miles to work every day, said TIRED is crafting regulations designed to reduce global warming gases emitted by bicycles, unicycles, roller skates, skateboards and rickshaws.
"People don't stop to think that human-powered transportation devices rely on carbon-fueled engines — human bodies," she said. "And you must fuel these engines with various forms of carbohydrates, which inevitably result in increased emissions of methane, which is 20 times worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. To reduce these emissions, we will require citizens who power such devices to wear gas entrapment mufflers, which are similar to common weather balloons, which can simultaneously muffle the sound of flatulence and keep dangerous global-warming greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere."
Sykel has a team of engineers and mathematicians working hard to answer the question of whether walking, jogging and running conserve more energy than they consume.
"So far our calculations indicate that there may be no energy savings in having commuters walk or jog to work," she said. "We are calculating how much fossil fuel energy is required to grow, transport and prepare the additional food that joggers and walkers consume in order to travel to work, and it doesn't look good so far."
TIRED Environmental Engineering Supervisor Dr. Reese I. Call said that runners can burn surplus body fat when they begin commuting on foot, but then must consume thousands of calories a day to commute. He said a typical running commuter travels about eight miles each way per day.
"Contrary to popular wisdom running burns more calories than walking," he said. "Men require more calories than women, and the bigger you are the more calories you burn. On the average it appears that a man would burn about 2,000 extra calories a day by running to work.
"Depending on what you eat, about one gallon of gasoline is needed to produced the additional food that you must eat per day to commute by foot. Remember, it takes a lot of energy to make that granola bar or Big Mac, starting with fertilizer to grow the grains that are needed in the bar or the bun, fuel to plant the seeds, and then there are fuel requirements for harvesting, grinding, mixing, transporting and so forth.
"To get a half-pound of beef you have to raise a steer for at least a few months, and the animal eats tremendous amounts of grass that otherwise would have been taking greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Then you have to fatten the cow with grain to make the animal taste good and give it enough calories to fuel your running commutes. And then think of all the methane produced by the cow, not to think of the methane produced by all the people who are needed to bring that beef to market — the cowboy, the ranch owner, the cattle transporter, the undocumented migrant who works at the slaughterhouse, the trucker who carries the meat to MacDonald's, the cook, the cashier, the guy who cleans the bathroom floor, and so forth. What it comes down to is that you use more energy by running than you would by driving an economy car to work but less than you would by driving a Humvee.
"We might find it necessary to limit the number of miles that commuters will be permitted to travel weekly, and we probably will rule against running and for walking. But even walking will not be allowed unless the commuter is a vegetarian and is wearing a big MAC [large Methane Aggregating Contraption]."