The Wall Street Journal reports today that, “More than two months after the Obama administration lifted its ban on drilling in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico, oil companies are still waiting for approval to drill the first new oil well there. Experts now expect the wait to continue until the second half of 2011, and perhaps into 2012.” Not only is the Obama permitorium destroying jobs throughout the Gulf region (the Obama administration’s own estimates put moratorium job losses at 12,000) but the Energy Information Administration is now putting numbers on the damage the offshore ban is doing to domestic energy supply:

The slowdown also has long-term implications for U.S. oil production. The Energy Information Administration, the research arm of the Department of Energy, last month predicted that domestic offshore oil production will fall 13% this year from 2010 due to the moratorium and the slow return to drilling; a year ago, the agency predicted offshore production would rise 6% in 2011. The difference: a loss of about 220,000 barrels of oil a day.

Experts are now predicting that rising gas prices will hit $4 a gallon by this summer and $5 a gallon by 2012. Remember, higher energy prices are a deliberate policy goal of the Obama administration. This is the purpose of the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations, the offshore drilling ban, and the Bureau of Land Management’s new rules restricting natural resource development.

There is a better way. Americans should demand an energy policy that is rooted in the free market, builds on private property rights, and relies on the initiative and entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector. This will not only promote economic growth, but also help Americans to achieve their environmental objectives.