Conservative attacks on Obama keep defying logic. First, former Big Oil lobbyist Haley Barbour said oil prices rose because Obama’s policies cut U.S. oil productions — except production has sharply increased under Obama. Then Sen. Inhofe (R-OIL) claimed Mideast unrest isn’t causing the price surge, a clean energy bill the Senate never voted on is.
Then Fred Upton claimed his pending bill to overturn science and block EPA curbs of greenhouse gases will “stop rising gas prices,” which Politifact debunked as “False” here. Media Matter put together an impressive list of independent experts who say it’s simply “not credible” to claim that Obama’s drilling policies caused — or even contributed to — the recent price jump.
The lastest group to torture waterboard logic in an effort to blame Obama is the pro-pollution, Koch-fueled Heritage Foundation.
CAPAF’s Daniel J. Weiss rescues logic below.
The Heritage Foundation has joined conservative efforts to pin high gasoline prices on President Obama, even though it’s really due to unrest in the Persian Gulf. They laughably compare gasoline prices during the first two years of the George W. Bush and Obama administration, and then illogically conclude that Bush’s energy policies were better.
Drawing conclusions based on the first years of their presidency is like bragging about winning the basketball game after leading in the first quarter. There is still a long way to go before the game ends. Politico concluded that “the GOP attacks may have no basis in fact when it comes to changing short-term prices at the pump.”
However, if comparisons are the game of the day, let’s compare apples to apples by comparing the entire eight year record of Bush compared to the entire eight year record of President Bill Clinton. (See graph) Within two years, gasoline prices under Bush began to rise, never to fall to Clinton levels again until his last month when the gasoline price collapse followed the economic collapse that occurred in September 2008. (All figures in 2011$)
And even Heritage noted that “the price of gasoline reached historic levels, rising above $4/gallon during Bush’s second term.” In addition to launching the Great Recession, Bush had the highest record gasoline prices of $4.11 per gallon in July 2008.
Three of the four largest weekly price increases occurred under Bush. Gas prices went up 45 cents in just one week, wreaking havoc on budgets for American families and for American businesses. In the meantime, oil companies amassed record profits; in the decade between 2001 and 2011, the top five oil companies made almost a trillion dollars in profits.
Domestic oil production under President Obama is the highest since 2003. In December 2010, the U.S. produced 5.6 million barrels per day of oil, the most since 5.7 mbd were produced in 2003. Using Heritage’s flawed reasoning, Bush policies favored high prices and low production, while Obama has increased production.
The Heritage excuses Bush for his record high gasoline price by noting that
other mitigating factors were at work between those two [administration] time periods. U.S. demand is one such factor, as is global supply disruptions, cartel pricing and the cost to refine and distribute.
The same could be said about the high gasoline prices that we are experiencing today. Fluctuations in the price of oil depend in part on the balance between global supply and demand. Analysts agree that unchecked speculation, unrest in the Middle East, and increased demand from India and China are responsible for the recent spike in the price of oil.
Interestingly, conservatives often resist efforts to reduce foreign oil imports by opposing improved fuel economy standards, advanced bio fuels, investments in advanced battery research, public transportation, and other policies to provide alternatives to oil. The Obama administration is implementing these steps right now.
Conservatives lack any short term solution to high oil prices that would help relieve the current economic discomfort of middle and low income families. “Drill, Baby, Drill” is not a policy, it’s a slogan. The reality is that EIA determined that
Thus, conversion of the newly available OCS resources to production will require considerable time, in addition to financial investment. Further, because the expected average field size in the Pacific and Atlantic OCS is smaller than the average field size in the Gulf of Mexico, a portion of the additional OCS resources may not be as economically attractive as available resources in the Gulf.
The OCS areas that were until recently under moratoria in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Eastern/Central Gulf of Mexico are estimated to hold roughly 20 percent (18 billion barrels) of the total OCS technically recoverable oil””10 billion barrels in the Pacific and nearly 4 billion barrels each in the Eastern/Central Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic OCS.
This is the long way for EIA to say that it will take a long time to produce the limited amount of oil available in these newly opened areas.
Increasing the domestic production of oil cannot bridge the gap between our use and supply. America has only 1.6 percent of the world’s proven reserves but consumes 25 percent of global supply. In other words, this country will always rely on foreign nations for oil regardless of how much we are able to ramp up domestic production. And oil will always be priced to the international market, putting American consumers at the mercy of every natural, political, or financial disaster that comes along. The only certain path is to reduce oil use via investments in clean energy alternatives. Heritage’s phony Bush-Obama comparison is distraction from that critical task.
– Daniel J. Weiss, CAPAF senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy. Thanks to Junayd Mahmood, CAPAF energy intern.