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Transition 2012

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Energy Update: Campaign Trail Quiet on Falling Gas Prices

by Newsteam Staff
July 3, 2012

A motorist pumps fuel into his vehicle in Phoenix, Arizona August 10, 2011 (Joshua Lott/Courtesy Reuters). A motorist pumps fuel into his vehicle in Phoenix, Arizona August 10, 2011 (Joshua Lott/Courtesy Reuters).

After figures climbed earlier in the year causing campaign trail panic, gas prices are dropping and could fall farther by Election Day.

The U.S. national average price for gas is down to $3.35 at the end of June (Palm Beach Post), the lowest it has been since January, though a rise in oil prices on the news that eurozone leaders have a plan to rescue banks in Italy, Spain, and elsewhere could also nudge gasoline prices back up in the short-term (CSM).

“The market suggests gas will go below $3 a gallon probably around Halloween or Election Day,” Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service said late last month, noting the price reduction is part of the natural market cycle (CBS).

But individual politicians have little impact on the price of gas or oil — a global commodity — notes columnist Frank Cerabino (PalmBeachPost), even when prices become an election-year issue. And for all the previous talk of high prices, both President Barack Obama, Republican challenger Mitt Romney and their parties are saying little on the price drop (BostonGlobe).

“Republicans, who sharply criticized President Obama as gas prices headed toward $4 a gallon earlier this year, don’t want to associate any positive trend with the current administration,” writes Katie Johnston. “And President Obama and other Democrats are reluctant to crow about declines in energy costs that are largely the result of a slowing economy and the increasing risk of a global recession, led by Europe’s debt and banking woes.”

The Economist notes gas prices are a lose-lose issue for President Barack Obama, who was blamed for soaring spring prices and may not get plaudits as they drop, instead begin seen as responsible for a weakening oil market. “With the euro zone in recession and growth flagging in America and China, the world’s three largest consumers of oil are buying less of it than expected in early 2012,” the magazine says. “That will limit the boost cheaper petrol might give to both the economy and Mr Obama’s fortunes.”

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

Suggested Other Reading:

Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil’s CEO, spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations on the global oil and energy markets’ trajectory during the past five years, the promise of North America, and its potential to finally bring about “energy security” in the United States.

In June, CFR’s Blake Clayton discusses oil speculation and the U.S. energy market.

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