There were no fewer than 12 events relating to energy costs on Capitol Hill yesterday: six news conferences and six hearings. Today another nine hearings and news events are scheduled. Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Prize” and chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, assured one Senate panel that speculators were not to blame for the recent rise in oil prices: “When an issue is this hot, it would be so much easier if there was a single reason to blame.” Instead, Yergin said, the market is relentlessly bidding up oil prices in response to deep-seated fears that the growth in demand will keep outpacing the growth in oil supplies in coming years.

Despite all the concerns that current and future energy supplies are and will be short, the left continues to restrict our ability to access new energy supplies both domestically and internationally. The left’s fanatical opposition to developing America’s own resources in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the Outer Continental Shelf are well known. But less known are the policies the left supports now, and wants to enact in the future, that cut America off from international sources of lower-cost energy.

As the senator from Illinois, a major producer of corn ethanol, Barack Obama supports continuing a ban on sugar-based ethanol from Brazil. Allowing importation of cheaper Brazilian ethanol would help mitigate the cost of the congressional ethanol mandate and lower the cost of gas for U.S. consumers. Obama also has promised he will enact policies making it impossible for the U.S. to import oil from Canada’s Alberta oil sands. In response, one Canadian oil executive said: “If the U. S. doesn’t take it, then we will develop other markets.”

But oil is not the only energy source where the left refuses to allow an increase in supply. Although Obama occasionally signals he is in favor of allowing new nuclear plants to be built, he also fails to address the serious policy hurdles that must be overcome for that construction to happen. The same is true of Obama’s embrace of coal. Like NASA’s James Hansen, Obama would allow coal power plants to be built only if they have carbon-sequestration technology. Problem is, no such technology exists to successfully deploy carbon sequestration.

By as early as next year, the demand for electricity will exceed reliable supply in New England, Texas and the West and, by 2011, in New York and the mid-Atlantic region. Technologies such as solar power are promising, but they are still only one-tenth as efficient as the cheapest fossil fuels. Ninety percent of our electric power comes from coal, natural gas or nuclear power. Wind power is growing but still only accounts for 1 percent of power, while hydroelectric power accounts for 7 percent but is shrinking as environmentalists succeed in tearing them down.

To keep up with a growing economy, we are going to need new power from somewhere. How dark is our nation going to have to be before the left identifies where our energy can come from?

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