I see the Deli is selling gasoline for $3.79.9 today, up about 50 cents since a couple of weeks ago. One party blames Obama, like some members of the other party used to blame Bush. Robert Rapier presented five myths about gas prices a year ago in the Washington Post. Here’s one of the five:
4. The Obama administration is driving up gas prices.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says EPA regulations are a “back-door national energy tax” that pushes prices up. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin says the White House drilling moratorium shows President Obama’s “culpability in the high gas prices hurting Americans.”
Blaming the president for rising gas prices is nothing new, and it’s a bipartisan tactic. In 2004, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) blamed President George W. Bush for higher gas prices and for continuing to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as oil prices climbed.
Just one problem: Even if domestic supplies were developed, American presidents couldn’t really control oil prices. The U.S. government has estimated that there are 18 billion barrels of oil in the outer continental shelf of the lower 48 states that are off limits to development. That may sound like a lot, but it is only about 21 / 2 years of supply for the United States, and it would take several years to allocate leases and drill exploratory wells. Even if the estimated 10 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were available for development, today’s policy decisions would have no impact on gasoline supplies for as much as a decade. Obama can’t dictate what you’ll pay for premium tomorrow.