By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., made national headlines this week by getting the U.S. energy chief to admit lowering gas prices isn’t a top priority.
Instead, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu told the freshman congressman that the Obama administration’s “overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy.”
The exchange came at a hearing Tuesday in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water.
Nunnelee began grilling Chu about high gas prices when the secretary told him lowering them wasn’t a primary objective, but rather to “decrease our dependency on oil” in favor of alternative fuel sources.
“I can’t look at motivations, I have to look at results,” Nunnelee told the secretary. “And under this administration, the price of gasoline has doubled. While bumping $4 a gallon in north Mississippi today, the price of gasoline in Europe is about $8 a gallon.”
The Europe remark referenced a 2008 statement by Chu that he wanted U.S. gas prices as high as in Europe to spur alternative fuel exploration.
“I have to tell you that $8 a gallon gasoline makes (north Mississippians) afraid,” Nunnelee said. “It’s a cruel tax … as they try to go back and forth to work. It’s a cloud hanging over economic development and job creation.”
The exchange appeared on Fox News, Politico, Heritage and racked up thousands of hits on YouTube.com.