Will we have action on gas prices or more talk?

Gas prices have no doubt been on the minds of Americans as they travel to and from work and pick up their kids from school. They’re looking for relief, but they’re not getting any answers from the Obama Administration.

As we’ve mentioned before, the White House pays lip-service to the issue, but there has been no real action. In fact, the only real action that we’ve seen is the rejection of Keystone XL, which Obama personally lobbied to kill. Obama and his apologists claim that oil production from inside the United States has increased during his administration. However, that argument is dubious.

Their goal has been to drive the price of oil by dragging their feet on drilling inside the United States. Energy Secretary Steven Chu made it clear in 2008, before he assumed office, that the goal was to drive gas “to the levels in Europe,” where the price per gallon can exceed $6. Of course, Chu now renounces that view, at least while the economy is moving as such a sluggish pace.

There is no cure-all to bring gas prices down, despite what Newt Gingrich may tell you. And gas prices alone are not an issue with which Republicans can retake the White House, though they certainly are a part of the issues with this president and Democrats in Congress.

Washington seems to be looking at everyone else instead of looking at themselves to find ways to increase production by opening up exploration in the United States. You need look no further than Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who recently demanded that Saudia Arabia increase its oil production as Iran causes problems in world markets. Schumer contends that “[a] public commitment [from Saudia Arabia] will cause the price of oil to drop right away.”

But Erik Milito at the American Petroleum Institute notes that Schumer, as well-intentioned as he may be, just doesn’t get it:

Senator Schumer is correct, oil markets are forward looking and a public commitment to development matters.  But rather than Saudi Arabia, let’s look at what the U.S. is signaling.

  1. Continued reduced production on Federal areas in the Gulf of Mexico.
  2. 87% of our offshore acreage being placed off-limits.
  3. Federal permits lagging in offshore areas.
  4. Federal permits lagging in onshore areas.
  5. A million barrels a day from ANWR languishing for decades.
  6. The U.S. blocking upwards of 800,000 barrels a day from Canada.
  7. A plan for increasing taxes on U.S. exploration and development, and when you tax something, what do you get?  Less of it.
  8. And three years worth of delays and obstructions of oil and natural gas development in the U.S.

It is great that Senator Schumer wants Saudi Arabia to send a signal to the market, as the chart here shows, signals do matter, but perhaps a better signal to the market would be that the U.S. is going to do everything we can to help ourselves.  We are not powerless, unless we choose to be.

There are reasonable steps that should be pursued by Obama that could give Americans some relief at the pump. Pretty much everything listed above by Milito are things that could be done to help. But will Obama actually listen, or will he continue to appease environmentalists and castigate oil companies? Something tells me that we shouldn’t hold our breath.

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