Obama to tout energy plan to counter Republican attacks on gas prices

Amid growing GOP attacks on the White House over gas prices, President Obama will use a Thursday speech to tout his administration’s efforts to expand domestic oil-and-gas production, while stressing that drilling is not the only solution to the country’s energy woes.

Obama is slated to give an energy speech Thursday afternoon at the University of Miami. The speech comes as Republicans — both on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail — have seized on rising gas prices, blaming the increase on what they call Obama’s failed energy policies.

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The speech indicates that the White House is very conscious of the effect that rising gas prices could have on the president's reelection bid, which has been buoyed by recent good news on the economy.

The president will use Thursday’s speech to contrast his energy plan with that of the GOP. He’ll promote what the White House calls an “all-of-the-above” energy plan that emphasizes expanded drilling, less reliance on foreign oil, fuel efficiency and investments in renewable energy, according to a White House official.

“Today at the University of Miami, the President will highlight his administration’s strong record of developing new domestic energy sources, expanding oil and gas production, and reducing our reliance on foreign oil,” the official said.

In recent months, the White House has launched an aggressive campaign to tout the president’s record on drilling, pointing to federal data that show increased oil production during Obama’s time in office.

But Republicans have continued hammering the president over drilling, arguing that the increases in domestic production are the result of the actions of previous administrations coupled with advances in technology and increased drilling on state and private lands.

Seeking to counter GOP calls for a dramatic expansion of drilling, the president will argue Thursday that increased production is only one option on the table.

“The President will make clear that while domestic oil and gas production has increased under his watch, currently higher than any time since 2003, the solution requires more than increased drilling, it requires an all of the above approach that leverages technologies and American ingenuity to protect Americans from the ups and downs of global oil prices, and that is exactly what this President has done,” the White House official said.

The official took a swipe at GOP promises to lower gas prices through expanded drilling and other measures.

"The President clearly understands the impact that high gas prices have on middle class families, but unlike some, he isn’t interested in engaging in false debates and phony promises," the official said, echoing a previous statement by White House press secretary Jay Carney that there are no "magic solutions" to high prices.

GOP White House hopeful Newt Gingrich, for example, has said he would, if elected, lower gas prices to about $2.50 per gallon through expanded drilling and approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, among other things.

Federal policymakers have very few options to lower gas prices in the short term, according to experts. Gas prices are largely tethered to oil prices, which are set on global markets. Even a dramatic expansion of domestic oil-and-gas production would have little short-term effect on gas prices.

Among other things, the president will highlight his administration’s increased fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, regulations that the White House says will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump. He’ll also again call for repealing nearly $4 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies over the next decade, according to the official.

A gallon of regular gasoline is averaging at $3.61 — up about 23 cents from a month ago and 42 cents from this time last year, according to AAA.