By Justin Sink - 03/01/12 06:02 PM EST
Republican candidate Newt Gingrich said President Obama should fire Energy Secretary Steven Chu following his remark this week that reducing gas prices is not the “overall goal” of his agency.
Gingrich said President Obama’s continued support for Chu signals a commitment to “his radical ideology, which wants to artificially raise the cost of energy.”
“Just this week, Obama’s own Energy secretary, Steven Chu, admitted what we all know is true — that the Obama Energy Department really isn’t trying to lower gasoline prices,” Gingrich said while campaigning Thursday in Georgia.
Testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee earlier this week. Chu said he agreed that “there is great suffering when the price of gasoline increases,” and said the Department of Energy (DOE) is “very concerned” about it.
But he emphasized that the long-term goal of his agency is diversifying the country’s energy sources, rather than simply driving down the price of oil.
“No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” Chu said. “We think that if you consider all these energy policies, including energy efficiency, we think that we can go a long way to becoming less dependent on oil and our supply, and we’ll help the American economy and the American consumers.”
Gingrich has been hammering the president on rising gas prices, encouraging campaign workers to hand out materials at gas stations and use social media to demand action on energy production.
“America has more energy production potential than any country on the planet,” Gingrich said. “My plan will lower gasoline prices to $2.50 per gallon and create millions of new jobs. The president’s anti-American energy policies are raising the cost of gasoline, killing jobs and wasting taxpayer money on boondoggles like Solyndra.”
Federal policymakers have few options to lower gas prices in the short term, according to experts. Gas prices are largely tethered to oil prices, which are set on global markets. Even a dramatic expansion of domestic oil-and-gas leasing would have little short-term effect on gas prices, they said.
President Obama accused Republicans of exploiting rising gas prices for political gain in a speech last week in Florida.
“Only in politics do people root for bad news, do they greet bad news so enthusiastically,” Obama said.
“You pay more and they’re licking their chops. And you can bet since it’s an election year, they’re already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas — I’ll save you the suspense: step one is drill, step two is drill and then step three is keep drilling.”
It is not the first time Gingrich has called for Chu’s resignation. In October, Gingrich said he would have fired Chu over the federally backed loans given to the failed solar company Solyndra.
“As president, I would have fired Secretary Chu for so grossly mismanaging taxpayer dollars,” Gingrich said at a fundraiser. “Furthermore, to protect taxpayers, I would have blocked any additional loan guarantees until a full investigation had taken place into the mismanagement and potential corruption in the loan for Solyndra.
“The president says he has full confidence in Secretary Chu despite this scandal. What kind of confidence can we have in a president who refuses to hold his Cabinet officers accountable?”