With gas prices rising over the Labor Day weekend, Republicans have resumed political attacks and proposed policies that do not help consumers with costs.
As expected, Republicans have renewed calls to fulfill the oil industry’s wishlist by increasing drilling on public lands, building the Keystone XL pipeline, and maintain billions of dollars in tax breaks for mature, highly-profitable companies.
National gas prices reached $3.83 on Monday, the highest ever on Labor Day. Reasons for the short-term 9.4 percent jump in prices this August include refinery closures from Hurricane Isaac and a major fire at a Chevron California refinery earlier in the month. Of course, Republicans are now pointing fingers at Obama for rising gas prices — and the National Republican Congressional Committee jumped on the bandwagon this weekend with a press release touting the Keystone XL pipeline and blaming the president for the jump.
This came after Romney unveiled an energy plan focused exclusively on oil, with a false promise to end gas price shocks.
Despite GOP wishes, oil prices cannot be pinned on the president. Instead, Republicans use gas price pain to push canned “solutions” that benefit big oil and not consumers. Consider these proposals:
— The Keystone XL pipeline could cause gas prices to rise: The Keystone XL pipeline would move dirty Canadian tar sands oil across America for export. It will not improve U.S. oil production. Since it will ship oil past Midwestern refineries toward the Gulf, Bloomberg estimates that it would cause gas prices to increase for some Americans.
— Boosting domestic oil production doesn’t prevent gas price shocks: According to a Congressional Budget Office analysis this spring, increased oil production wouldn’t insulate consumers from jumps in prices. Domestic production is already at an eight-year high, and CBO reports that even if prices did drop, it would make consumers “more vulnerable to increases in oil prices. Even if the United States increased production and became a net exporter of oil, U.S. consumers would still be exposed to gasoline prices that rose and fell in response to disruptions around the world.” The only way to protect consumers, argues CBO, is to use less oil.
— Fuel efficiency standards help both the auto industry and consumers: Higher gas prices usually mean fewer auto sales, but auto sales have been strong this summer largely because of production of fuel efficient cars. The Obama administration recently finalized higher fuel standards that raise the efficiency of the nation’s auto fleet to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Mitt Romney opposes these standards, and wants to undo existing ones. The 54.5 mpg target will cut U.S. oil dependency by 3 million barrels a day, save consumers $1.7 trillion over the next decade, and reduce the impact of rising prices.
ThinkProgress has documented how critics didn’t thank Obama when gas prices unexpectedly dropped this summer. Now, taking advantage of the higher prices, Republicans are again blaming the President — all while advocating policies that do little to actually solve the problem.