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Obama administration not interested in lowering gas prices

By thelibrary - Posted on 01 March 2012

Chu: DOE working to wean U.S. off oil, not lower prices





The Energy Department isn’t working to lower gasoline prices directly, Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday after a Republican lawmaker scolded him for his now-infamous 2008 comment that gas prices in the U.S. should be as high as in Europe.

Instead, DOE is working to promote alternatives such as biofuels and electric vehicles, Chu told House appropriators during a hearing on DOE’s budget.

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Obama administration CAN'T lower gas prices....Just like the previous administration COULDN'T lower gas prices when they spiked under their watch (though I think going to war with Iraq had a great deal to do with their rise in the first place). In 2008, bush said he "had no magic wand" to reduce gas prices and the GOP and administration were singing the same tune back then.

Marketplace speculation is a big reason prices are is political uncertainty in oil producing areas of the world, like Iran and Syria....Republican rhetoric about going to war with Iran isn't helpful (have they forgotten Iraq - have they even looked at a map of Iran and/or compared its much greater size, much larger population and superior economic position to that of Iraq)?

Contrary to their drill baby drill meme....Increasing oil production at home would not reduce the price of oil and gas to any significant degree. Any new projects for domestic oil production would not see price benefits for years/decades....if at all. Contrary to what FOX and GOP politicians are leading people to believe....oil production in the US is UP under Obama (higher than under bush)....and in fact Oil and gas was the United State's largest export:

<<Measured in dollars, the nation is on pace this year to ship more gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel than any other single export, according to U.S. Census data going back to 1990. It will also be the first year in more than 60 that America has been a net exporter of these fuels.>>

More info on gas pricing:

In the short term, presidents can try to tame a runaway bull market for oil by selling crude from the nation's emergency stash, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which currently holds 696 million barrels. Obama is under pressure from his own party to do so now.

Little, if any, effect

But past sales from the reserve have had only a brief - and debatable - effect on gasoline prices. That includes last year's sale in response to the Libyan uprising, which cut oil exports from the North African country. Many energy experts caution against using the reserves for any reason other than a genuine shortage or emergency.

"That is exactly what you use a strategic stock for - you put it in store for a rainy day, and when one of the world's largest producers goes offline, that's a rainy day," said John Kingston, director of news for the Platts energy information service. "We don't have a rainy day right now. We have uncomfortably high prices."

Gasoline prices are, indeed, uncomfortable. They have been driven higher recently by the tension over Iran's nuclear program, which has unnerved oil markets worldwide.

The national average for regular gas hit $3.73 on Wednesday, up 30 cents in the last month, according to the AAA auto club. In California, the average reached $4.32, up 57 cents from a month ago. The statewide average's record, set in June 2008, is $4.61.

Range of options

Long-term options to try to influence prices include increasing domestic oil production, cutting gasoline demand, using more biofuels and encouraging drivers to buy electric cars. The United States is doing all of those things.

Domestic oil production has grown each year since 2008 - the first multiyear increase since the 1980s. As companies use hydraulic fracturing - known as fracking - to coax oil from underground shale formations, U.S. production has swelled from 4.95 million barrels per day in 2008 to an estimated 5.59 million barrels per day last year, according to the federal government's Energy Information Administration.

Consumption is down

Gasoline consumption, meanwhile, has fallen, as people switch to more fuel-efficient cars. It's almost 7 percent lower now than a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration.

And yet prices are rising anyway, for a simple reason. More than at any other time in history, oil and gasoline prices are set by a global market, based on global supply and demand.

The price of oil pumped from American soil is based largely on what the world is willing to pay. Consumption may be down in the United States, but it's growing in Asia, which has overtaken the United States as the world's thirstiest consumer of crude. And while American drivers are using less gas, U.S. refineries are shipping the excess fuel to willing customers in Mexico and South America.

In other words, it's no longer just about us.

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You beat me to the punch, CC, and you did a much better job of explaining than I would have.

However, the library seems to only be interested in repeating talking points rather than looking deeper for facts. 

Thanks. It is an issue I'm following considering Canada's status as an oil producing nation, your largest trading partner and the whole Keystone pipeline issue currently in the news :o)

Our main oil source is probably one of the most misunderstood issues among our citizens, IMO.  So many assume the bulk comes from the Middle East - people are usually surprised to find out it's our friendly neighbors to the north. 

I have a confession....I'm a Democrat. I come here to breath fresh air... Yep it's true. After listening to or reading constantly  Republicans demonizing President Obama it's so good to come here and read intelligent, insightful, humanly decent posts about the issues and President Obama by the same party that wishes him destroyed  . You're positive....even about America's future, you seem to be very much informed...unlike so many repubs on the "outside". I don't know how to impress how I feel...I would like to shake every single one of your hands and tell you thank you friend.

I am reading a book maybe some of you might be interested David Corn entitles "Showdown"  .   Really interesting about the inside working of negotiations and events on capital hill.

All shades of opinion are welcomed here, as long as the debate is respectful with no name calling and no profanity.

We have Republicans (real Republicans, unlike many of those left in the base of the party; Democrats; and independents) who post here.

Correct, there is little that the president can do to lower prices. Interesting however that you guys on the left were screaming about how Bush was to blame when prices spiked while he was president. 

"...on the left..."

Hey, just because someone is left of you (I will admit that probably ALL of us would fit in that category--since you appear to be so far to the right I doubt if you can even glimpse the left side of your own body) does not make any of us leftists.

On second thought, I believe I am going to have to cease responding to your asinine comments.

It is true....People were screaming and oil prices were set in the same way (it wasn't that long ago after all).

The difference is that the reason that was generally given was that he started a war in Iraq. Obama hasn't started any wars so the reason he can somehow lower gas prices is because.....He's Obama?

What is upsetting with Obama and you guys however is that you actually want the prices high, believing that will motivate more people to call for alternatives to oil.

The problem is, in the meantime the costs for nearly all products will increase as oil prices surge having a negative impact on all of us.

$5 a gallon gas would almost insure a GOP victory in November.

I disagree that gas prices would cost Obama the election-especially since Bush proved he was no savior on gas prices-but I can tell you that Obama is not cheering for higher gas prices because it certainly won't help him. The Republicans appear to be the ones happy with bad news these days, thinking it will help them defeat Obama (probably why they refused to pass a jobs bill sadly.) So they are making me laugh in their reaction to all the recent positive economic news, dipping unemployment, a strong stock market. They aren't sure of a message. Is it?

-Obama is fixing the numbers

-it really isn't good news to go from 10% to 8% unemployment

-we could do better. He should have worked bigger miracles in 3 years!

Love to see them scramble. Hopefully, we can get gas prices under control but it's out of any politicians hands-that's for sure.


$5 gallon gas would really hurt the president since that would be the highest of all time and is thelibrary pointed out would hurt the overall economy.  

In fact that the psychological barrier of $5 gas woud by itself likely push us into a deep recession.  It would be very hard for the president to get reelected under those circumstances.

Fortunately, unless tensions in the Middle East get worse, I don't think gas will get that high.

I  wish you wouldn't presume to speak for other people....Personally, I don't want gas prices to be high.

I also don't understand the disgust and fear a certain segment of the population has for alternative fuel sources, progress and the potential for new industries and the new jobs that may come from that.  I don't think oil will ever be replaced for a lot of the things it is being used for today (not just powering cars)....The industry will survive.

There won't be a one size fits all solution for all our energy needs.....but there are many promising alternatives and new technologies being explored...including much more energy efficient vehicles (you can't be against THAT....can you?)

I really don't understand this politicization of progress and innovation....I thought that America was built on that....I thought America became a superpower because of its can do attitude and creative ingenuity which drove the economic engine of the world for the last century.

I find it confusing that a huge segment of the population is against this sort of thing. I wonder if these would have been the people protesting against those smelly automobiles and lamenting the loss of horse shoeing jobs back in the day. I wonder if Henry Ford, Alexander Bell, Thomas Edison and Orville and Wilbur Wright were pillioried  for the silly useless invention/fads and accused of being (gasp) Democrats. I wonder if people screeched and whined and obstructed when they were coming up with the internet (paid for by the US government).

Will it cost money to develop/invent new technologies? Yes, of course. I doubt very much that the inventions of the past sprang, fully formed and perfect out of the heads of American inventors of the past without any need for investment, and much trial and error. I'm glad those folks weren't such cowards/ploticial ideologues (as I type on my computer, communicating on the internet with my Ford sitting in the driveway). The computer replaced a lot of old products/technologies in many, many disciplines (though created new products and opportunities in its wake)....Do I lament the days of the typewriter and white-out? No. Like the source of much of the oil and gas being used today....those that are trying t protect it at the expense of the future are repidly becoming dinosaurs.

Unlike the previous century, there are now more technologically advanced countries with educated populations driving these new technologies as America wastes its time fighting each other to NOT lead the way any more. Whether the far right in the United States likes it or not, there is a developing market and a demand for these new products....There is money to be made and lots of it. I thought finding opportunities to make money was one of the things that America does best....I thought it was one if it's highest ideals/goals. 

I find this whole attitude to


Where in the world did you get such a ridiculous idea??  No one want high gas prices.  I sure don't.  But the FACT is, there is very little any president can do about it.  Inform yourself, please.

I don't think it's a ridiculous idea at all. In 2008 I came across many liberals that truly were glad to see oil prices go way up because they felt that would force a big reduction in consumption and at the same time motivate more people to pressure lawmakers to call for more alternative energy sources. Right now for instance, the Chevy Volt and other electric and hybrid vehicles would likely not have been built had pump prices remained relatively cheap.

And just for the record, I am not against alternative  energy sources for vehicles. However, personally I love the sound of a powerful V8 engine and am willing to pay higher prices in order to continue my hobby. Thats not to say I wouldn't love to seepump prices drop dramatically.


<<.....because they felt that would force a big reduction in consumption and at the same time motivate more people to pressure lawmakers to call for more alternative energy sources. Right now for instance, the Chevy Volt and other electric and hybrid vehicles would likely not have been built had pump prices remained relatively cheap....>>

That is true....Neccesity may be the mother of invention after all. ;o)
But you know.....nobody REALLY wants to pay big prices for oil (and skyrocketing costs caused by that)....but when life (intermntional oil prices) gives you lemons....Hey! Why not make lemonaide? I'm old enough to know that this isn't the first oil crisis and it sure won't be the how about being prepared?

<<However, personally I love the sound of a powerful V8 engine and am willing to pay higher prices in order to continue my hobby.>>

You and me both. But what about having your energy efficient car for booting around the city, doing your errands and commuting (or take energy efficient transit)....and your big exciting car for fun? You might be able to afford it if you save on daily fuel costs with more efficient vehicles.

For the record.....

I feel funny posting here because I'm certainly not a Republican and you'd have every right to say I'm not a "real" Republican....'cause I'm not. Politically, I'm a centrist....More fiscally conservative, but a bit more liberal on social issues. I've voted for both conservative and liberal politicians here, and if I lived there, I'd likely do the same (but must admit, there have not been a lot of inspiring - to me - GOP politicians lately).

My impression of Obama is that he's been pretty centrist over these 3 years (and that's why a lot of far left folks are "disappointed"). People on the right I've noticed talk about Obama more in terms of what they THINK he might do....or what they imagine he is thinking about doing than what he actually HAS done. I find that disconnect curious (oh sure, people will press their poltical advantage and exagarrate on both sides....but this is over the top IMO. Questioning his citizenship? Wanting to kill off your grandma through a death panel? Seriously?????

Unfortunately, what you seem not to get is that fossil fuels are FINITE (that means their supply WILL BE EXHAUSTED). When that happens, and we have no other sources of alternative energy, we will be in deep doo-doo. It makes sense that:

1/ We can't drill our way to energy independence, because the remaining supplies are generally in places very hard to get to (that's why we had the BP accident in the gulf).

2/ Other sources of energy are inexhaustable (solar in particular); wind energy is exhaustable, but it's also clean and enviromentally friendly.

3/ There are other synthetic sources which, right now, are expensive but, when fossil fuel runs out, will be a logical alternative.

If you are with the "drill baby drill" crowd, you're just flat out wrong!

You misunderstand....You said "What is upsetting with Obama and you guys however is that you actually want the prices high".  We've said nothing to indicate we want high prices, nor has the President.  To say we do is ridiculous.  BTW, we're not liberals....the party has just gone so far to the right we seem that way.

 Going to agree w/ TheLibrary's  main pt. here. Gas prices and many other economic factors over which the President has little control factor into a) consumer confidence and b) media [left, right, center] narratives about electoral politics -- both of which do factor into presidential election results.

  I posted some weeks ago that  Obama would have been politically wise to approve the Keystone Pipeline, and I wish he had done it.  Both Romney and Santorum are getting some of their better attacks on him off of the combination of that decision, gas prices, and jobs.

I agree that regardless of Obama's ability to control oil prices it will be a big factor in the election (as economic issues such as this usually are).....I guess like a lot of issues, it's an image over substance thing.

Regarding the Keystone Pipeline project though (not that facts will make any difference in the grand scheme of things ;o)

Contrary to what's being circulated in the media (particuarly among the right wing)....Obama did not refuse the project, nix the project or cancel the project....He simply delayed the project in hopes of finding an alternate route to bypass some environmentally sensitive terrain. I suspect/predict that it WILL actually go through and he is delaying to prevent alienating some of his supporters on the left before the election.

Even if the project did go through, it is my understanding that this oil is not even destined for American markets and it will have no impact whatsoever on gas prices for a very very long time (if ever). The pipeline is to transport Canadian crude obtained from the controversial oil sands to American refineries so that it can then be shipped overseas.

It's a red herring.

While I, personally, did not scream "about how Bush was to blame when prices spiked while he was president," unlike Obama, Cheney argued (on Meet The Press w/ Tim Russert -- I saw the original interview) that savings from gas and oil once we controlled Iraq's oil fields would be sufficient to pay for the Iraq war. He offered that little gem as part of his justification for the invasion ond "occupation."

If Bush/Cheney got screamed at for higher gas and oil prices THEY boasted that they could lower prices through their military action.   They lacked even your level of intelligence, wisdom, and foresight.



As we suffer at the gaspump, oil companies are making even greater profits off the higher prices. And yet these oil companies-hardly needing any help and doing just fine-enjoy oil subsidies year after year. This makes no sense. President Obama will once again try to bring a bill to Congress that will end oil subsidies but even some Democrats will stand in the way so I don't have much hope. Republicans are obsessed with cutting welfare benefits for the poor but somehow this Corporate Welfare never gets a complaint? It blows my mind and angers me more when I see the gas prices spike. Couldn't these oil companies-knowing they will still get the oil subsidies and knowing they will still make a healthy profit and knowing how greedy they have been over the years-just lower the prices on their own? Sure, maybe they'd feel a little pinch but for the good of the country, is this too much to ask? I know I'm dreaming and maybe they truly don't have the power (especially in international terms) to do that but I think a CEO can shake things up if he wants to. But they won't because the bottom line is always profit. Once again the middle class gets slammed. There is nothing immediate the President can do but at least he is working to wean us off of oil so we don't keep repeating this scenario and can be empowered as a nation.

You truly do sound like a Democrat.

Do you have any idea what a REAL Republican is?  How old are you?

Probably older than you.

I seriously doubt that. lol  The reason I asked is I was wondering if you were old enough to remember what a REAL Republican is, and what we traditionally stand for.

Sounds like you are more of an Eisenhower Republican ?

I'm very much an Eisenhower-style Republican....he's one of my political heroes.  I'm also an admirer of Daddy Bush, and Ronald Reagan..the real Ronald Reagan, not the myth of today's party.

Here, maybe this article by Chris Crosby could help our problem in oil energy crisis.

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