Over the course of the Republican primary we have heard ridiculous rhetoric and promises of a return to $2.00 a gallon gasoline. Republican presidential candidates have been especially critical of President Obama’s energy policies, as though he has a magic button that brings down gas prices. But how much power does a president really have over the price at the pump?
2012 is an American Presidential election year, an election that is happening in the middle of healthcare reform being reviewed by the Supreme Court, an American housing market in shambles, and gas nearing a nation average of $4.00 a gallon.
Many American voters blame the President for the high gas prices; however oil experts and economists say not so fast.
“This notion that a politician can wave a magic wand and impact the 90-million-barrel-a-day global oil market is preposterous, Paul Bledsoe a strategic adviser to the Bipartisan Policy Center , told the Washington Post.
The fact is today’s oil prices are a product of decades of action (or inaction). Ranging from years of turmoil in the Middle East, to consumers, and to car designs — there is no one thing or one person to blame for the pain at the pump experienced today.
Alas, people also have a very short term memory, and an age of 24 hour new cycles has not helped. President Jimmy Carter and the nation struggled with high gas prices in the late 1970, there was even gas rationing in effect; something that we have not yet seen in the 2000s. As early as 2008, the last American Presidential election, President Obama said during a campaign stop, “here in Ohio, you’re paying nearly $3.70 a gallon for gas — 21 / 2 times what it cost when President Bush took office.”
Alright, but a Presidential Administrations energy policies matter, right? Those policies that are passed today can fix things tomorrow… right?
“There is a substantial time lag between the adoption of energy policies [on the demand and supply sides] and their impact on the market, George W. Bush deserves some credit for signing the 2007 legislation that has helped the current situation from getting worse, but [he] will never get any credit,”Jay Hakes, a former administrator of the Energy Information Administration, told the WaPo.
Experts agree that energy policies do make a difference, though usually that difference is years away and often times the effects, for good or for worse, of an Administration’s energy policies are felt during a completely different Presidential Administration.
The good news is that experts like Hakes see a beacon of hope on the horizon, “Obama is on a good path to ease future markets.” Hakes cites the president’s decisions to open new areas for exploration and development, most notably Alaska’s Arctic coasts, and to deal with oil demand by raising efficiency standards for automobiles on America’s roads. Domestic production of oil in the U.S. is up 20% since 2009, and America now exports more gasoline now than at any time in the past. In other words, good things come to those who wait.
Unfortunately many American’s cannot wait – we like our food fast and our entertainment new and in our faces immediately, heck we will pay $6 to cash a check today rather than wait to open a bank account. It is all about short term instant gratification.
Because of Americans need for things right now, GOP hopefuls like Newt Gingrich have said that they have a plan to reduce gas prices to $2.50 a gallon and offset the loss of output that might result from an attack on Iran, a nation that exports about 2.5 million barrels of crude oil per day. Experts say Newt’s plan is unrealistic, but that hasn’t stopped him from wanting to build a moonbase, or turn underprivileged students into school janitors.
This year alone, global oil demand is expected to hit 89.9 million barrels a day, thus shrinking the spare production capacity to a level lower than Iran’s exports. That means not much crude oil left in reserves, and that has oil traders and oil refiners worried. Because oil products are so essential to companies and motorists, think anything you have that has plastic in it, any incremental changes in the supply-and-demand balance have a large and major effect on prices. And with developing nations like China and Brazil growing ever hungrier for fossil fuels, it is inevitable that demand will soon far outstrip supply.
In the end, if you want to reduce your own personal pain at the pump do not sit around and blame the President or your government — take actions into your own hands. Vote for political candidates that are for alternative fuels. Buy fuel effect or alternative fueled vehicles. Change your driving habits. If you have access to public transportation, use it. Look into options that can make your home energy efficient. There is no short term solution here; anybody who tells you otherwise is lying.
Source: Washington Post
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison