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Transition 2012

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Tracking the Issues: Candidates Off and Running on Gas Prices

by Newsteam Staff
March 14, 2012

A gasoline pump in Encinitasa, California February 28, 2012. (Mike Blake/Courtesy Reuters)


President Barack Obama has been taking his energy message to battleground states (Politico), granting interviews with local television stations on the heels of the release of his administration’s one-year energy progress report.

“The only way to stabilize gas prices is to reduce our dependency on foreign oil,” Obama told Cincinnati’s WKRC, noting the report shows that, over the last year, dependence on foreign oil has been reduced by a million barrels. Obama has also been promoting his plan to hand out $1 billion in tax credits and grants for alternative-energy cars and trucks, if Congress approves it.

Fresh off wins in a pair of Gulf Coast states, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum used his election-night rally to tie energy issues to the economy in Gulf states, blaming “extreme environmental policies” for economic strife in the region. “We wanted to be here in Lafayette [Louisiana] to say to folks who are struggling right now because of those energy prices, we will put this town and this region back to work so you can go back to work and have a better quality of life,” he said. Over the weekend, Santorum also released an op-ed discussing his energy policy.

After weeks of promising he could deliver cheaper gas, Newt Gingrich said Tuesday night he was proud to have turned gas prices into a campaign issue. “An American president who believes in energy, an American president who believed in science and technology would drive the price of gas below $2.50, would eliminate our dependence on the Middle East, and we would never ever again bow to a Saudi King,” he said.

Gingrich also touted the wealth of domestic resources, noting that the U.S. Geological Survey recently reported that estimated recoverable oil in North Dakota’s Bakken formation jumped to 24 billion barrels of oil, 160 times more than previously thought, thanks to new drilling technologies.

Mitt Romney has also discussed soaring gas prices (NYT), blaming a lack of domestic drilling and the failure of the Keystone pipeline deal for the price surge. “Those things affect gasoline prices, long term,” Romney said, seizing on policy as the reason for the nearly 8 percent price hike at the pump over the last month, though analysts say the main driver is market forces.

For more on the candidates’ stances, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on The Candidates and Energy Policy.

Suggested Other Reading:

The Christian Science Monitor’s Laurent Belsie says if you want to know why gas prices are high, look to India. “Already the fourth largest energy consumer in the world, India’s demand for oil looks set to rise inexorably as more of its people buy cars and take to the road,” he writes. “Ditto for China and other emerging markets. Their rising demand is pushing up prices for everyone.”

CFR’s Michael Levi argues Obama’s energy policies aren’t as bad as the GOP makes them out to be, noting that it is tough “to square claims that Obama is destroying American oil and gas with the record production numbers that the industry is posting year after year.”

 A Wall Street Journal column  by Holman Jenkins argues Gingrich has it right on gas prices, saying “it’s impossible to exaggerate how much U.S. policy is saturated with the idea that cheap gasoline, which we crave, is undesirable and unnatural.”

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the components of gasoline prices.

— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

1 Comment

  • Posted by limo chicago

    They are only using the gas issue for their political propaganda…