A Gallup survey released on March 10 that found the average American expects the cost of a gallon of gas to surge to more than $4 this year has Washington lawmakers pointing fingers. Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate this week accused the Obama administration of blocking oil production and implementing policies that cost Americans money and jobs.
At a press conference on Friday, the president countered that last year American oil production had reached its highest level in more than a decade. In addition, he said that the administration has approved more than 35 new offshore drilling permits that meet improved safety and environmental standards put in place since the BP oil spill.
“The bottom line is this: We’ve been having this conversation for nearly four years now. Every few years, gas prices go up; politicians pull out the same old political playbook, and then nothing changes. And when prices go back down, we slip back into a trance,” Obama said. “And then when prices go up, suddenly we’re shocked. American people are tired of that. We’ve got to work together—Democrats, Republicans and everybody in between—to finally secure America’s energy future.”
The president attributed rising pump prices to turmoil in Africa and the Middle East, which has caused uncertainty and lost production. He said that he is prepared to “tap the significant stockpile of oil” in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and that he is asking Attorney General Eric Holder and his counterparts at the state level to monitor attempts to gouge prices so that drivers aren’t taken advantage of at the pump.
Obama cautioned that foreign oil dependency makes the nation vulnerable to price spikes, so it is important to develop a comprehensive energy production and conservation strategy.
“We need to increase our access to secure energy supplies in the near term, and we’ve got to make our economy more energy-efficient and energy-independent over the long run,” Obama said.
(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)