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WASHINGTON (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential presidential contender, accused the Obama administration Wednesday of favoring a run-up in gas prices to prod consumers to buy more fuel-efficient cars.
Barbour cited 2008 comments from Steven Chu, now President Barack Obama's energy secretary, that a gradual increase in gasoline taxes could coax consumers into dumping their gas-guzzlers and finding homes closer to where they work. Chu, then a Nobel Prize-winning professor, argued that higher costs per gallon could force investments in alternative fuels and spur cleaner energy sources.
"This administration's policies have been designed to drive up the cost of energy in the name of reducing pollution, in the name of making very expensive alternative fuels more economically competitive," Barbour said during a U.S. Chamber of Commerce breakfast across the street from the White House.
In 2008, while the head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, Chu told The Wall Street Journal that energy prices were the lynchpin to an energy overhaul.
"Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," Chu said in September 2008.
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