Washington (CNN) – With price of gasoline rising for the eighth consecutive day, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour accused the Obama administration of hiking energy costs in an effort to promote alternative fuels.
"In 2008, four dollar gasoline brought my state to its knees, before Wall Street melted down, and we have blown through three dollars a gallon on our way to four," Barbour, a Republican who is seriously considering a White House bid, said Wednesday in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "We don't need that where I am."
"But 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," he said.
As evidence, Barbour referenced a 2008 comment by Obama's Energy Secretary, Steven Chu. At the time, Chu was still director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. He told the Wall Street Journal that "somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe" in order to force consumers to be more fuel-efficient.
Chu later admitted in 2009 testimony before a House Committee that was a mistake and said it would be "completely unwise" to increase the price of gasoline in a difficult economy.
Barbour is not convinced.
"Their policy is to drive up energy prices," he told reporters after his speech to the Chamber.
The governor said energy costs can be reduced by tapping into domestic oil, gas and coal reserves, but he claimed that burdensome federal regulations have stymied such access.
"In the United States, it's harder to get a permit to mine coal than it is to get a heart transplant," Barbour said.
As for domestic oil drilling, Barbour said "we are going to produce about 13 percent less petroleum in the U.S. this year than last year."
"Now how is that good policy at any time when energy security is supposed to be a priority, but particularly a time of turmoil in the Middle East in the oil producing states?" he asked. "I hope the Obama administration is going to announce a reversal of course, but I'm not optimistic."
Barbour, who said he plans to decide at the end of April whether or not he will seek the GOP presidential nomination, also told reporters that he has lost some weight in recent months.
"I have lost a little weight because I needed to," Barbour said. "Hopefully I can lose some more."