During a town hall event in Virginia today, President Barack Obama called out the Republicans for bemoaning higher gas prices, but offering no plan of their own to lower them. Obama called the Republican plan to cut clean energy investments by 70% a mistake, “I think that cutting clean energy investments by 70 percent — 70 percent, which has been proposed by some in Congress -– would be such a mistake.”
President Obama discussed the Republican desire to gut funding for clean energy, “Some folks in Washington also want to close the deficit by gutting our investments in things like clean energy or medical research or basic science. That’s not a viable choice. America has always been the world’s engine of innovation and discovery. That’s who we are. That’s how we’ve prospered. I don’t want other countries to lead in the industries of tomorrow. I want new technologies invented here in the United States. I want new solar panels and wind turbines and fuel-efficient cars and advanced batteries all to be made right here in the United States of America. I want us to invent them right here.”
Obama specifically took on the Republicans on the issue of gas prices, “I mean, let’s just take energy as an example. Folks are out there dealing with gas at four bucks a gallon. It’s just another hardship, another burden, at a time when we’re just coming out of a recession and things are already pretty tight for folks. Now, whenever this happens, just like clockwork, you see politicians going in front of the cameras and they’ll say they’ve got a three-point plan for two-buck-a-gallon gas. The truth is the only real solution to helping families at the pump in the medium and the long term is clean energy.”
He continued, “That’s how we’ll save families money. That’s how we’ll reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We’ve got to develop new technologies to lessen our reliance on a fuel that is finite and that we’ve got to import from other countries, including some very unstable parts of the world. And that’s why I think that cutting clean energy investments by 70 percent — 70 percent, which has been proposed by some in Congress -– would be such a mistake.”
For a look at the GOP plan to lower gas prices, we turn to Fox News:
The Fox News/GOP solution is to drill more.
Here is the transcript from Media Matters,
KILMEADE: We have no control of our oil consumption — production because we choose not to. We could be self-sufficient if we wanted to. Therefore, speculators will always have a say in how much we’re paying for gas.
DOOCY: Yeah, but we could drill more oil rigs, put more oil rigs out in the gulf. We could punch some holes in the ground at ANWR–
KILMEADE: No, I know. We don’t.
DOOCY: But we don’t. Exactly right.
The Republican answer, as promoted on Fox News, is a fairy tale.
There are two problems with the GOP plan. According to 2007 study done by the Bush administration, increased drilling would impact the price of oil until 2030, “The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017. Total domestic production of crude oil from 2012 through 2030 in the OCS access case is projected to be 1.6 percent higher than in the reference case, and 3 percent higher in 2030 alone, at 5.6 million barrels per day. For the lower 48 OCS, annual crude oil production in 2030 is projected to be 7 percent higher—2.4 million barrels per day in the OCS access case compared with 2.2 million barrels per day in the reference case (Figure 20). Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant. “
Secondly the oil that would be extracted in the US belongs to the oil companies, not the United States. As Newsweek put it, “In a market economy such as ours, opening an area for drilling does not mean that the U.S. government controls its destination. Shell and Chevron will be perfectly happy to sell their oil to China if Chinese drivers are willing to pay more than Americans.”
The Republican alternative to Obama’s plan to invest in alternative energy is to buy into a myth that America can drill its way out of this problem. Even if the US did drill more domestically, and they were able to keep the oil in the United States, it would not impact oil prices for 19 years.
As long as oil speculators keep artificially driving the price up and Americans continue their high consumption levels, gas prices will periodically shoot up for no logical reason.
Obama was right to call out the Republicans for their attempt to gut the only real solution that is on the table. Unless you believe that some magic oil fairy is going to come and save us, then the only solution is for America to use less oil and transition to alternative energy sources.
Republicans and the oil companies who love them are selling a lie to the American people.
Americans have a choice we can drill baby drill and hope that minimal savings arrive in 19 years, or we can use that time to strengthen American security and our economy by charting a new course away from the oil speculators who rob us every day.
Obama has a plan. Republicans have a myth, and myths won’t reduce your pain at the pump.