The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing today to examine the factors driving up prices at the pump, including areas that policymakers can control and those that they cannot. Members used the hearing to discuss ways to help bring American families relief at the pump. Increased global demand and political turmoil have constrained the world’s oil supplies, driving up crude prices and leaving American consumers and our economy vulnerable to damaging price spikes. Industry analysts and economists agree that one of the best ways to curb rising prices and reduce market volatility is to increase our country’s access to stable oil supplies. Experts called for an increase in domestic drilling, swift approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a reduction of excessive regulation.
Watch coverage of today’s hearing on Fox News’ Special Report here.
Congress Debates Rise in Gas Prices _ Again
By Matthew Daly
March 7, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans and Democrats are again battling over rising gas prices. At a hearing Wednesday, Republicans and oil industry leaders called for more U.S. production, while Democrats focused on conservation and the role of Wall Street speculators.
Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, told a House energy panel the nation has vast energy resources that aren’t being fully tapped. New leasing on federal lands is down by 44 percent, and the number of new wells drilled is down 39 percent, Gerard said.
And while President Barack Obama calls for “all-of-the-above” energy approach, he has threatened the oil and gas industry with billions of dollars in tax increases, Gerard said.
“Mr. Chairman, this is sending the wrong message to the global markets. This needs to change,” Gerard said, referring to Obama’s call to end tax breaks and government subsidies for the oil and gas industry that average about $4 billion a year.
Democrats said oil production has increased since Obama took office. They blamed the recent spike in gas prices on tensions in the Middle East and speculation by Wall Street investors.
Oil prices rose above $105 a barrel Wednesday, up from $75 in October, because of diplomatic tensions with Iran, a major oil producer, and as U.S. economic indicators including employment have slowly improved over the last few months
Gas prices have jumped 48 cents since Jan. 1 to an average $3.76 per gallon.
Rising gas prices have become a concern at the White House, where Obama aides worry they could hurt an economic recovery that has been improving and also harm the president’s re-election prospects.
Rep. Fred Upton, R- Mich., chairman of the House energy panel, said Obama has recently “begun to say some of the right things about high gas prices, but he continues to do all of the wrong things.”
While Obama boasts that domestic drilling is up, he neglects to mention that most of the increase is on private and state-owned lands, Upton said, noting that the Obama administration has canceled oil leases on federal landsâ€¦
Read the full article online here.
House Republicans Say Obama Restrictions Spur Rising Gas Prices
By Jim Snyder
March 7, 2012
U.S. House Republicans sought to link rising gasoline prices with President Barack Obama’s restrictions on offshore drilling and denial of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, an argument rejected by Democrats.
The Obama administration lacks the power to stem the increase, Democratic lawmakers said, and an energy analyst said U.S. consumers should get accustomed to price swings at the pump driven by consumers outside the U.S.
Prices will “gyrate wildly” as demand increases in Asia and other emerging economies, Robert McNally, president of the Rapidan Group LLC, a Bethesda, Maryland-based energy research firm, said.
“There is no silver bullet for a short-term solution,” he said, echoing words used by Obama in a Feb. 23 speech.
A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel hearing became a forum for debate between Republicans and Democrats over gas costs, which climbed for 27 straight days before a decline on March 5. Gas prices averaged $3.761 a gallon yesterday, according to AAA (3AGSREG), about 20 cents higher than a year earlierâ€¦
Republicans said the higher output reflected additional leases sold on private and state-owned lands, and that production was falling on federal lands because of U.S. restrictions.
Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican and chairman of the full committee, said approving TransCanada Corp.’s (TRN) Keystone pipeline to carry crude from Canada’s oil sands in Alberta to refineries in Texas would do more to alleviate gas prices than releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a step urged by some Democrats.
“None of America’s pain at the pump should be self- inflicted, which is why we must do more to increase domestic and North American oil supplies,” Upton said.
Read the full article online here.