The prices at the pump are a reminder as to why “we need to develop new sources of American-made energy,” said President Barack Obama on Thursday. High gas prices are like a tax that comes directly out of Americans’ paychecks, hurting business and commuters, many of whom have no choice but to drive long distances every day, said the president during his visit to the Industrial Assessment Center in Miami, Fla.
Motorists across the nation have begun to see gas prices well over $4 per gallon. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.61, a record-high for this time of the year. Gas prices reached an all-time high in July 2008, when the national average reached $4.11.
The largest factor contributing to the hike in gas prices is friction in the Middle East, specifically in Iran, said Obama. He did not foresee a decrease in prices, saying they will probably continue to rise, especially with increased demand in China, India, and Brazil.
“We have to keep investing in the development of every available source of American-made energy,” asserted Obama. He highlighted the need for more technology to develop more renewable energies, such as wind and solar, adding that although his administration has increased the production of oil in the nation, it is not enough.
The president also stated that Republicans may try to use high gas prices as a political opportunity in this election cycle.
Noting that there are no silver bullets, Obama promised that his administration would look at every aspect of the gas price issue, adding that if anyone says that they can reduce the price of gas over night, “They are lying.”
Some members within his party may disagree. This week, three Democratic law makers have sent a letter to the president, urging him to release some of the nation’s oil reserves. The letter was sent from Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).
When President George H. W. Bush deployed oil from the reserves in 1991, oil prices immediately dropped by more than 33 percent, they noted in the letter. When President Bill Clinton exchanged oil from the reserves in 2000, oil prices were driven down by 19 percent, and when President George W. Bush released oil from the reserves in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina, prices fell by 9 percent.
“It is essential that the United States has an aggressive strategy for releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to combat the speculators capitalizing on the fear in oil markets and to send a message to Iran that we are ready, willing, and able to deploy our oil reserves,” wrote the House Democrats. “Signaling that the United States will continue to employ an aggressive SPR policy in the near term would send a strong signal to oil markets responding to the unrest in the Middle East.”
United States accounts for 20 percent of the total world consumption of oil, yet has only 2 percent of the total oil reserves.