By Andrew Restuccia - 02/28/12 07:42 PM EST
White House press secretary Jay Carney took aim Tuesday at House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) plan to tackle high gas prices, calling it an “empty promise.”
Boehner blamed President Obama earlier Tuesday for rising prices at the pump with his administration's energy prices, and reiterated long-time GOP calls for a dramatic expansion of domestic oil-and-gas drilling, coupled with the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
“The Speaker of the House apparently spoke with reporters this morning in which he suggested that the president wasn't in support of expanding domestic oil and gas production, which is demonstrably, categorically false, and suggested that somehow, simply by drilling or approving the Keystone XL pipeline, that that would lower gas prices, that would lower prices at the pump,” Carney said during his daily press briefing.
"That's the kind of empty promise that politicians make when we face hikes in the global price of oil."
Carney’s comments underscore the growing political stakes for the president surrounding soaring gas prices. Republicans have pounced on pump prices to attack the president’s energy policies, arguing the administration is not doing enough to increase domestic production.
The White House is working to undercut the Republican criticisms by arguing that the GOP is using consumers’ pain at the pump to gain political momentum going into the election.
“I just wanted to note that, as the president predicted last week when he gave a speech at the University of Miami, upon its return to Washington, Congress — or at least some members in Congress — are politicizing the issue of gas prices,” Carney said Tuesday, calling Boehner’s comments “dishonest.”
The White House has stressed that there are “no silver bullets” for addressing pump prices.
“There are no quick fixes,” Carney said. “We need an all-of-the-above approach to increase our energy independence and make America stronger economically in the 21st century.”
Federal policymakers, though, 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 leasing would have little short-term effect on gas prices, they say.
Carney argued Tuesday that high gas prices are a consequence of economic growth, a reference to recent good economic news that has boosted Obama’s reelection campaign.
“It is a negative side effect, if you will, of increased global economic growth that because of higher consumption of petroleum products, the price of oil goes up often,” he said.
The administration is promoting an energy plan that includes weaning the country off foreign oil, expanding domestic oil-and-gas production, improving vehicle fuel efficiency and investing in renewable energy, among other things.
But Republicans, who likewise call for an “all-of-the-above” energy plan, say Obama is not going far enough, slamming the president for rejecting the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline earlier this year and calling for wider domestic drilling.
“The president says he’s for an all-of-the-above energy plan. Has anyone seen it? I’ve not seen it,” Boehner told reporters Tuesday.
Boehner also reiterated his criticism of Obama for backing a stretch of the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry oil from Cushing, Okla., to Texas.
“We need to have the entire Keystone pipeline be approved by this White House,” he added. “The fact that they are trying to move forward on the section from Oklahoma to Texas is a positive first step.”
Obama had previously rejected a key permit that would allow the pipeline to carry Canadian oil sands crude from Alberta to the United States. He said the decision was not based on the merits of the pipeline, arguing that he had to reject the permit under a 60-day, GOP-backed timeline included in a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.
Gas prices are averaging about $3.71 per gallon, according to AAA. That’s up 14 cents from this time a week ago and about 35 cents from this time last year.