Four Years Later, Gas Prices Reach Record High

Over the weekend, President Obama and his campaign surrogates struggled to answer Ronald Reagan’s famous question: are you better off today than you were four years ago.  By most metrics, the answer is a resounding no.

Complicating matters even further for the President’s reelection effort – and Americans’ bottom line – is that gas prices continue to rise.  Politico reports:

Prices at the pump reached a national average of $3.83 Monday, according to AAA, setting a record high for a Labor Day. The previous Labor Day record of $3.69 was set in 2008, at the height of the last presidential election fight.

Gas prices have increased by 23 cents in the past month during the height of the summer driving season. But AAA predicts that Obama, who has faced sustained attacks from Republicans over gas prices, will get a respite in the coming weeks once refineries that shut down as a result of Hurricane Isaac reopen.

But high prices will probably linger. “While prices should drop in September barring any major developments, we expect gasoline to remain at or near record highs through the end of 2012,” AAA spokesman Avery Ash said in a statement.

Unless you’re an Olympic athlete, breaking records set in 2008 is something best avoided.  The Obama administration dismisses the criticism, instead pointing toward their recently revised fuel economy standards that they claim will save drivers the equivalent of $1 per gallon in 2025.  As we explained last week, even if you believe the administration’s math, the regulations will still cost you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your new vehicle.

If the administration and their allies in Congress were committed lowering gas prices, they’d be encouraging investment in and development of America’s oil resources.  But as the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky and Nick Loris point out, the Obama administration is doing the exact opposite:

Oil companies are not only eager to drill off America’s coasts—they are enthusiastic about creating jobs and bringing more oil to the world (and the American) market, which, in turn, will help lower gas prices. 

Indeed, for evidence of oil companies’ appetite for economic growth, one need look no further than the Department of the Interior’s recent $1.7 billion lease sale in the central Gulf of Mexico. 

But while this sale was a positive development for American energy production, the Obama Administration is doing everything in its power to prevent companies that obtain offshore leases from actually drilling and producing oil—a fact evidenced by a new lawsuit recently filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims by an independent U.S. oil and gas company.

As President Obama would say, we cannot wait – especially until 2025.  He should encourage the Senate to action on House-passed initiatives that would open access and reduce the onerous regulatory risk that characterizes U.S. offshore drilling policy.

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