Charts that prove Obama doesn't set gas prices
America produces 200 times as much oil as Germany, but our gas prices rise and fall in tandem (we pay far lower gas taxes). (Source: Energy Information Administration and the New York Times)
March 19th, 2012
01:10 PM ET

Charts that prove Obama doesn't set gas prices

Editor's Note: The following post comes from ThinkProgress, a division of the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress Action Fund, based in Washington, DC.  Joe Romm is a Fellow at American Progress and is the editor of Climate Progress. This post is reprinted with permission. 

By Joe Romm, ThinkProgress

The public understands Obama isn’t to blame for high gasoline prices, as recent polls make clear. Even the Wall Street Journal and Cato Institute agree: “It’s not Obama’s fault that crude oil prices have increased.”

But as the New York Times pointed out Sunday [jn an op-ed], facts don’t stop the GOP:

The issue of gas prices has not only been misunderstood but thoroughly distorted by relentless ideological spin from industry and its political allies, mainly Republican. Hardly a day goes by that some industry cheerleader somewhere — be it Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana or Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma — does not flay President Obama for driving up oil prices by denying the industry access to oil and gas deposits and imposing ruinous environmental rules. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, said last week that Mr. Obama should be held “fully responsible for what the American public is paying for gasoline.”

The Times put together some great charts using EIA data. They make clear 1) oil prices are set on a global market and 2) the strategy of “Drill, Baby, Drill” adopted by the GOP and President Obama has succeeded at increasing production and decreasing dependency on foreign oil — but it has unsurprisingly failed at affecting global markets.

In 2005, oil imports accounted for nearly 60 percent of America’s daily consumption. In 2010, for the first time in recent memory, imports were less than half of consumption, and last year, imports were only 45% — 8.6 million barrels a day of the 19 million consumed. Source: EIA

This is no surprise to anyone who follows oil market analysis. In fact, back in 2009, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s issued a report that examined the difference between full offshore drilling and continued restrictions. In 2020, there is no impact on gasoline prices. In 2030, US gasoline prices would be three cents a gallon lower.  Woohoo!

The bottom line is clear, as the NY Times points out:

With developing countries like China and India demanding more petroleum, prices are likely to stay high. That’s reality — no matter what the Republican spinners say. Only a rounded policy mix of greater fuel efficiency, steady production and the aggressive development of alternative fuels can protect American consumers against what could be even greater price shocks in the years ahead.

Sen. Bingaman (D-NM) made this same point in a major presentation last year: “We become less vulnerable by using less oil.” Grist has a great new chart from Bingaman:

Bingaman: gas prices and U.S. oil production

We’re not going to substantially change U.S. gasoline prices through more drilling and more domestic production. We can protect ourselves and our economy from rising prices and oil shocks — and, of course, catastrophic climate change — only by reducing oil consumption.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Joe Romm.

Post by:
Topics: 2012 Election • Climate • Energy • Environment • Oil • President Obama • United States

soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. Seamus Dog

    Oh you know how this will play out, Obama wants us to look like Europe, sure did a good job w gas prices

    March 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      It doesn't hurt to learn from Europe! Reduce fuel consumption and save the oil reserves for the coming generations. If one is patriotic and loves his country, one should think about the sustainability.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Reply
      • J.P. Morgan

        Europe has public transportation.

        March 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Jesus

      Did you not read what you JUST read?

      March 20, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply
      • Jay W

        Simply stated...whats good for the goose, is good for the gander. The left was high on his horse when gas prices popped in 2003-2007, blaming bush at every turn. Now its their turn....and Obama is going to get the credit/blame.

        March 24, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • freedomdem


      March 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
      • hifitips

        Consumer Energy Report shows that Iran isn't even in the top 10 countries that America imports oil from. If any president, Democrat or Republican could control oil prices, we would never see $4/gallon gas at the pump, especially before an election. Oil prices are determined by supply and demand. Countries like China and India are demanding more oil than ever before and at an exponential rate. The higher demand in foreign developing countries means less supply for the rest of the world. Therefore we unfortunately have to pay more to keep the oil coming in. It's a situation that puts a lot of people in a tough spot and it's supply and demand. Not political policy.

        March 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
      • M

        Not sure if you've been paying attention to the news for the last 50 years, but the middle east has never been the poster child for stability.

        March 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • J.P. Morgan

      If the Republicans win the White House, do you honestly believe gas prices would go down?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Reply
      • soul68

        When the economy tanks again because of their anti-middle class policies, then yes, it will go down again.

        March 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
      • elvis

        What are they gonna do? make miracles?

        March 27, 2012 at 8:34 am |
      • paulc

        No. But you can't convince the Repug supporters.

        March 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • paulc

      If you think things can't get worse just elect Romney, Santorum or Gingrich.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  2. Deep Blue

    Wow, I have been looking for global crude prices for a few weeks because I figured there would be a significant correlation. I'm glad someone else compiled it for me.

    March 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  3. naughty

    we are in america were not in europe what you talking about

    March 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Reply
    • Deep Blue

      What the article is saying is that the gasoline prices in the US and in Europe correlate. They are directly related. Obviously, the gasoline prices appear completely unrelated to domestic oil production. Thus, a policy to increase oil production in the US would do absolutely nothing to the global price of oil.

      March 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Reply
      • Mark

        The problem with compairing Europes prices to the US is simple. In Europe the money pays for health care. In the US it goes to line the pockets of the rich ! I believe it was President Nixon who used an Executive Order to freeze gas prices. Is that still an option for Obama ?

        March 21, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  4. David

    Yeah, where was this CNN article when prices temporarily went up during Bush term? When Pelosi was bashing Bush everyday for gas prices? Eh, CNN?

    March 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Reply
    • Pablo

      Maybe I don't have a great memory, but I don't remember the GOP or even the Democrats really attacking Bush for gas prices? So in that case, there would be no point to an article like this during that time, seeing as this is a response article for Obama critics who are ignorant about the President's role in gas prices (which is very small as shown here).

      March 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Reply
  5. matt

    I don't really know if the president is in the "Drill, Baby Drill," camp. Let's see if he approves Keystone and Arctic drilling programs– to say nothing of increased natural gas fracking, despite some controversy.

    March 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Reply
    • Fred

      Well the point of the article would remain the same. being in the 'drill baby drill' camp doesn't solve the pricing problem.

      March 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  6. Rz

    I have a dream that one day our cars will at least be infused with a small hydrogen tank, which we can charge up with whatever small amounts we can produce from home electrolysis kits powered by solar panel electricity. Better yet, have a little kit built right into the car with that special pigmented paint on the body. Add water and sunshine, and away you go. No, you won't get a 400 mile trip out of it, but you might be able to drive back and forth to work, or around town a bit without using a drop of gasoline, or causing any pollution. Sounds to good to be true ?? Technologically, no. Politically, yes. Why ? Because the oil companies won't like it one bit, and like moonshine, the government won't be able to tax it effectively. Otherwise, we would have been doing this a long time ago.

    The majority of money and power amassed by but a few comes from the masses whose money and power is but few. And the government's position is clear and simple; if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

    March 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Reply
    • JB

      Well Said...

      March 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
    • Yaniv

      Where is the facebook tie-in for CNN. I wonder how many "Likes" you would have gotten for being so bluntly correct in your position.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  7. Jay

    The sad thing is that most Americans can't engage in a "Grown Up!" conversation, we would rather believe rhetoric and lies even if the truth is in front of us. The governments policies have never effected gas prices, but the sad thing is that if you believe in capitalism that's what you get. People you can't have it both ways. The market will decide, but we are so addicted to oil that we need someone to blame, otherwise we would have to go get that electric car, but no one is gona take my right to have a muscle car, it a birthright.

    We live in a country that is 18th in education, 36th in healthcare, and number one at nothing. and we still think we know best. It's time to look around and learn from someone else.

    March 19, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Reply
    • Rz

      True. Usually it's much easier to choose only what you WANT, rather than choosing only to be RIGHT.

      ✠ RZ ✠

      March 19, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Reply
    • Bovin

      We are going to have to make some hard decision soon. No matter who is in office the government is broken and it's silly for us to play the blame game. everything is going up and the government still gives oil companies subsidies. What I don't understand is why. Congresses approval rating is like 12% right?

      March 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Reply
      • Rz

        It can be argued that oil prices are controlled by "market forces". And it's true. The big oil companies look at the "market" and then they "force" the prices. Kidding aside, Governments have direct control over taxes and interest rates, certainly more so then oil prices. Currently, many of the world economies are quite fragile, with interests rates remaining at all time lows, debt being outlandishly high, and taxes taking too big of a bite. The big fear now is inflation and rising fuel prices. Imagine what would happen in the US if interest rates suddenly rose to let's say 10%, or everyone's taxes went up by 10% or more, or the cost of living rose by 20%, or if the price of gas went to $8 a gallon. Pick any one or a combination, and it could spell disaster. So as long as the economy stays relatively stagnant, all those factors must be forced to hold their breath. But then again, you can only hold your breath for so long before you suffocate to death.

        March 20, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  8. Albert Lin

    I can't believe this point even has to be argued.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:48 am | Reply
  9. jean alexander steffen careaga


    March 20, 2012 at 8:08 am | Reply
  10. David

    If we in the US are producing more oil are we also benefiting from the higher price it sells for in this market? Sure the price at the pump may be rising but are American oil producers also doing better? Does the GOP oppose that side or is it convenient for them to be silent on it? Newt's $2.50 a gallon would seem to require a catastrophic collapse of demand for oil, not just here but everywhere. Not the solution we really need!

    March 20, 2012 at 11:48 am | Reply
  11. PortlandJoe

    I never thought President Obama had anything to do with the high oil prices, it's wall street speculators and oil corporations making billions in profit. They also export more oil than they sell in our own country, why? Because it's more profitable. Again, President Obama has nothing to do with the high prices, but he has everything to do when it comes to lowering them through cheaper imports and taxing the companies who refuse to sell to the country they are tapping into. We can slowly develop green tech in cars because right now it's too expensive and just not that great. While we do that, continue oiling gas and hammer these corporations getting fat off our misery.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:48 am | Reply
  12. Wayne

    Oh, REALLY ?! Gues what the price of gas is in Saudi Arabia?
    About 50 Cents !!, How about Egypt ? About a dollar !!
    So your global argument is BS !

    March 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply
    • Bovin

      You obviously don't understand the governments you mentioned. I would take higher gas prices any day before I deal with the Saudi Arabian dictatorship and Egypt is not there anymore they are in bad shape. We all think we should live in utopia but you have to take the good with the bad.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Reply
    • bella11

      Hue, your way of thinking is on the level of the kindergarten. Before you put your post on line, try to educate yourself first!

      March 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  13. freedomdem


    March 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Reply
    • bella11

      Threat of war with Iran is global, not exclusively American, so your argument is invalid.

      March 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Reply
  14. Travis

    Show all the graphs you want.TheHe bottom line is that the Obama administration had an alternative fuel strategy that induced hybrids, electric cars etc. to spend the money on these expensive alternatives based on $8/gal gas.

    That position was stated by Obama during his campaign. It is also the long term position of the Secretary of Energy – prior to taking that position and others in administrationtion.

    They wanted to see gas prices higher that where they are now except no right before the re-elecampaignmpaigh.

    I know that the Sec of Energy stated recently that he no longer believes in the need for $8/gallon gas but that was his position for many years and I find it hard to believe that he changed his position on this while he is Secretary of Energy.

    What a crock! As soon as he is no longer Secretary of Energy he will return to his wish for $8/gallon gas.

    I refuse to believe that this administration took a proactive approach to addressing the gas prices. I also refusethatbelieve taht they have a problem with gas prices.....the problem is with prices is when they rose.....before the election!

    March 20, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • real deshaies

      i drive a sprint car with 3 cylinder and get 55 mpg i pay 5$ per gallon in canada and still drive when i want dump your big us v8 and get by in 3 like i do cry me aRIVER

      March 22, 2012 at 12:33 am | Reply
  15. Ron

    You know it is all Obama's fault. Leftist energy policy; anti oil, pro algae green. Not smart. No surprise.

    March 20, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  16. samuel oga

    The GOP and its presidential candidates should stop blaming obama for high oil prices.We need solutions,not blames.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:53 am | Reply
  17. Brendan, CNN.

    REALLY? You mean what Obama does doesn't JUST affect the U.S.? Wow, what a shocking revelation.

    Hint: Inflation, you ignorant morons. The more he spends, the higher gas prices go. This is simple stuff.

    March 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Reply
    • paulc

      Simple solution for a simple mind. No thinking involved.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Reply
  18. Hue

    Maybe if the GOP can ramp up their threats of war with Syria and Iran, gas prices will drop.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  19. NEWK36

    Hey. Many are still blaming GWB for everything although he has been out of office since 1/09. It feels good to blame BO for stuff. Correct or not, IT FEELS GOOD! Keep it up!

    March 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  20. Daniel

    Obama may not have caused the problem, be he sure hasn't done anything to make it any better.
    (I find myself saying that about alot of issues)

    March 25, 2012 at 2:05 am | Reply
    • Matt

      This president got elected to come up with solutions to some of these problems, but all we get are continual excuses as to why nothing is his fault.

      March 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  21. M

    Stop bombarding me with truth and logic!!! It's causing me to think rationally and originally!!!!....AHHHH, IT HURTS!!

    March 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  22. Zirc

    Obama can do a lot of things that will reduce gasoline prices and he's failed on all fronts. Let's start with exploration. The only exploration being done is on leases from Bush's watch. Restart drilling in the Gulf? What a joke – he's run the big drill rigs off to Brazil and the North Sea because he hasn't opened up drilling. Drill in ANWR? He lets the enviro-whackos lead him around the the nose on that issue as well as Keystone. Sure US and Euro oil prices don't correlate. W Texas crude is quite a bit cheaper than Brent crude. Who's ripping us off? Oh, maybe it's our Arab "friends"?? And so, if we produce more US oil at lower prices doesn't dilute the costs of imported oil as well as free us just a little bit from oppressive countries that do not have our interest at heart? M. King Hubbert's peak oil is turning into an expensive fairy tale. With modern exploration and drilling practices and the advent of tar sands N. America has more reserves now than Saudi Arabia. We just need someone with the ballz and leadership skills to go after it. The guy that's in office currently won't do it, and we all can rectify that in November.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  23. Ollie

    Obama sure is a very good talker or speaker, but not a doer, hasn't done anything since been in the office. So, expect $5/gal at the pump this summer.

    March 29, 2012 at 8:47 am | Reply
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