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Barrasso: Where is the President’s Plan for Rising Gas Prices?

“Monitoring the Situation” Won’t Cut It


March 3, 2011


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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) sent a letter to President Obama to request more information about the Administration’s plan to address skyrocketing gas prices.  Barrasso also expressed opposition to the Administration’s job crushing energy policies that have put a virtual freeze on American offshore oil and natural gas exploration.  Instead of pushing for an “all of the above” energy strategy, the President has devoted most of his time in office to pursuing cap and trade and green jobs while penalizing red, white and blue energy sources. 

Full text of the letter follows:

March 3, 2011

“Dear Mr. President:

Yesterday, when asked about the Administration’s plan to stop rising gas prices, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeatedly said ‘we are monitoring the situation closely.’  Oil prices have been increasing for months.  In addition to monitoring the situation, I hope your Administration has a plan in place to address the problem.  It is an issue that hits every family’s pocketbook and threatens to undercut the economic recovery.

On Christmas Day 2010, the average nationwide price for regular gasoline set a record for that day.  Instability in Northern Africa and the Middle East are making the situation worse.  At the same time, your Administration has put a virtual freeze on offshore oil and natural gas exploration.   Not surprisingly, the Energy Information Administration estimates that American offshore production will decrease 15 percent this year because of the shutdown.  Depending on OPEC for additional production hurts our economic security, and national security.

When it comes to energy policy, this Administration is picking winners and losers.  In addition to cutting offshore exploration, this Administration has restricted access to onshore oil and natural gas on public lands.  It has slowed progress on oil shale, even though the Western United States has the largest known oil shale deposits in the world.  It is also pursuing regulations that – according to the Administration’s own analysis – will cause the loss of 2,100 to 29,000 coal mining jobs. 

We need a comprehensive, all-of-the-above strategy for American energy – that includes oil and natural gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable sources like wind and solar.  Rather than blocking selected energy sources, Washington should promote responsible development of all forms of American energy.  The American people deserve a commonsense plan for addressing rising gas prices.  ‘Monitoring the situation’ is not a viable option.”

Background:

On March 2, 2011, the following exchange took place during the White House Press Briefing regarding rising gas prices:

REPORTER: The oil prices and how they've been skyrocketing up – what is the administration's response to Bernanke's comments yesterday about concern that if they -- if they stay up there, it could significantly damage the economy?  What is the administration doing about it, and who is the point person in the White House or the administration on this issue?

CARNEY:  We, as you know, are closely monitoring the situation.  We are -- the president is extremely aware of the impact that a spike in oil prices can have on gasoline prices and therefore on the wallets and pocketbooks of average Americans.  And we are monitoring that closely.
We -- I have talked about the fact that the -- we remain confident that the global system has the capacity to deal with major disruptions in oil supply.  And we are obviously discussing having conversations with international organizations, the IEA, as well as oil-producing states about options related to that capacity.
In terms of who's in charge of this issue, clearly, the -- our NEC director, Gene Sperling, focuses on this very closely; so does the Treasury secretary and others.  It's something that, again, we are monitoring very closely.

REPORTER: Can you just explain what some of those options might be?  In the past, we've seen presidents raise the issue of possibly opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserves as a way of trying to exert some leverage over OPEC countries to bring their prices down.  And we haven't heard anything like that from this administration.  What exactly are you doing, other than monitoring and discussing options? What options?

CARNEY:  Well, there are a variety of possibilities and options that are available to -- I think not just at the national level, the level of the United States, but globally, to deal with disruptions in oil supplies.  I'm not going to get into an analysis of the individual options that are being looked at, except to say that, you know, we are monitoring the situation closely and evaluating the options that we have.

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March 2011 News Releases