The truth is gas prices have been going up, though they remain below the high reached in mid-2008 and they were kept unnaturally low in late 2008 and 2009 due to the Bush Recession.
But Republican claims about energy independence, the purported need to “drill, baby, drill,” and the alleged refusal of the Obama Administration to allow energy development are simply false.
The fact is US oil production is at an eight year high. The U.S. exported more gasoline, diesel and other fuels than it imported in 2011 for the first time since 1949, and U.S. dependence on foreign oil has declined every year since President Obama took office.
The reality of the situation is that oil and gas prices are set by a global market that is largely beyond the reach of any U.S. President.
The biggest cause of the increase in gas prices is skyrocketing demand for gas and oil in China, India, and other rapidly developing nations which are pushing up prices globally.
Second, supply disruptions in the middle east has at least temporarily reduced global supply.
Third, concerns about a possible military conflict with Iran (which many conservatives are actively cheerleading) has created an opening for financial speculators to drive oil prices up even more.
Contrary to the Republicans’ caterwauling, there is little that President Obama, or any other political leader, can do to force gas prices to decline.
That being said, here’s what President Obama has done:
• significantly increased vehicle efficiency in order to reduce the amount of gas Americans need to purchase. In April 2010, the Administration finalized a regulation increasing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (“CAFE”) standards for cars to 35.5 miles per gallon (“mpg”) by 2016.
• been actively investing in developing alternative fuels, such as algae-based biofuels that could replace up to 17% of our nation’s oil imports.
• sought to end the more than $4 billion of taxpayer subsidies that the oil industry receives every year. When the oil companies are making record profits they don’t need the American tax payers money. The President wants to use those subsidies to help finance the transition to cleaner fuels.
The fact of the matter is the GOP “drill, baby, drill” solution won’t bring gas prices down any time soon. And it’s a short sighted solution to begin with. Fossil fuels will eventually be used up. At SOME TIME in the future we have to commit to finding newer, cleaner, more renewable sources of energy.