In a Nod to Gas Prices, Obama Talks About Energy

By: Mark Landler

Published: February 23, 2012, New York Times

MIAMI — President Obama, confronted by the political perils of surging gas prices in an election year, on Thursday defended his efforts to wean the United States off imported oil, even as he conceded there was little he could do in the short run to ease the pain at the pump.

Speaking to students at the University of Miami, in a swing state where gas averages $3.69 a gallon, Mr. Obama said: “Just like last year, gas prices are climbing across the country; this time, it’s happening even earlier. And when gas prices go up, it hurts everybody.”

The president offered what he called an “all-of-the-above” response, based on more domestic oil production, development of alternative energy sources and stricter fuel-efficiency standards.

Drawing a sharp contrast with Republicans and anticipating potential attacks on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama ridiculed his opponents for recycling a “three-point plan for $2 gas.”

“Step one is to drill, and step two is to drill, and then step three is to keep drilling,” he said.

This was the president’s first major effort to tackle an issue that has surfaced in the last few weeks as oil prices have been driven up by tensions in the Middle East, where Iran has threatened to retaliate against the West because of sanctions over its nuclear program.

Mr. Obama seemed keenly aware of the risk posed by oil prices. A previous cycle of price increases played briefly to the benefit of Senator John McCain during the 2008 campaign, when his running mate, Sarah Palin, revved up crowds with the chant, “drill, baby, drill.”

The president said that the United States is producing more oil now than at any time during the last eight years, with a record number of rigs pumping. The White House, he said, was prepared to open new areas in the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico to exploration.

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One response to “In a Nod to Gas Prices, Obama Talks About Energy

  1. President Obama has during his tenure in office consistently relented to the fossil fuel industries and their many powerful allies. His mantra is that the US should keep drilling for all fossil fuels, that is, take advantage of “all of the above” domestic energy resources. He sounds very like the Republicans who shout for “drill,baby,drill.” Obama says we have to increase tapping our oil, gas, and coal to keep up with China and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, particularly oil from the Middle East and other unstable countries.

    There are minor differences between Obama’s energy policies and those of the Republicans, but the differences are mostly insignificant or speculative. For example, Obama refers to the promise of energy from algae, which is hardly on the near horizon in practical terms. Obama doesn’t refer to the prospects of wind or solar explicitly in the article.

    There are other problems with the president’s views on energy. He has not agreed to definitively stop the Keystone XL pipeline that is designed to pump processed oil from tar sands from Alberta, Canada, to the Mexican Gulf. If he eventually signs the pipeline deal, it is expected to emit enormous quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, possibly contaminate water sources, and have other ill effects on us all.

    It’s astonishing that Obama is pressing for offshore oil drilling in the Gulf, in the Arctic Ocean, in parts of National Forests, wherever there are hydrocarbons.

    As climate scientists like Jim Hansen have said again and again, emissions from fossil fuels will generate an increasing number of climate catastrophes unless we reduce these emissions through carbon taxes, the reduced use of fossil fuels, especially coal and oil. Not too far in the future, there will be no mitigation remedies that will turn the tide of global climate change.

    At this point, there are few Democrats at the national level and probably no Republicans who are staunch advocates of a major revamping of our energy system.

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