Rising Gas Prices Send Obama on Energy Tour
With gas prices soaring in recent weeks, President Obama has come under near-constant fire for what Republican presidential hopefuls and Members of Congress alike call his failed energy policy. Today, he will kick off a four-state tour to highlight his energy plan and assure Americans he is doing everything he can to lower gas prices.
The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that there is little the President can do about gas prices except continue to pursue his “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that includes expanded drilling for oil and natural gas, increased energy efficiency standards, and investments in renewables like solar and wind. Meanwhile, a Washington Post poll released on Monday found that only 26% of Americans approve of the President’s handling of rising gas prices, sending a message that this explanation does not appear to be enough.
Why is gas so expensive? Most economists agree that there is no one answer, as gasoline prices are especially vulnerable to economic, political, and cultural events occurring around the world – much like the stock market. The price increase is likely related to the recent turmoil in the oil-rich Middle East and North Africa. With the bloody oppression in Syria, unstable post-revolution governments in Egypt and Libya, and escalating tensions with Iran, some traders have started building up prices in fear of potential supply cuts from abroad.
At home, President’s Obama’s decision to deny a permit to the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline has most likely not impacted gas prices. The pipeline would export most of its oil abroad, meaning it would have little effect on the U.S. supply. And the U.S.’ vulnerability to rising prices is linked to how much oil we consume, less so from where we import it. Increased drilling and reliance on oil is not the answer to this dilemma; it prolongs it.
Nonetheless, political pressure to approve the Keystone XL permit has persisted, with Republican lawmakers tacking on legislation intended to “green-light” the project to the unemployment insurance extension in December, and most recently, a failed attempt to attach a similar amendment to the Senate transportation reauthorization bill. As President Obama kicks off his four-state energy tour this morning, he is expected to announce his support for the southern portion of Keystone XL, which would begin in Cushing, OK, and end in Port Arthur, TX.
The energy tour that kicks off today will take President Obama and the media to the drilling and energy projects he describes occurring across the U.S.: Boulder City, NV, to highlight wind and solar projects; Carlsbad, NM, to visit domestic oil drilling fields; Cushing, OK, to address the importance of energy infrastructure; and to Ohio State University in Columbus, where he will promote research in energy-efficient technologies and alternative fuels.
Will Obama succumb to his critics and poll numbers and start chanting “Drill, baby, drill”? Most likely not, but he will need to demonstrate that his plan will contribute in the short and long term to energy independence and price stabilization.
Image courtesy of Politico.