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.

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

soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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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