Bloomberg News

Obama Says Alternative Sources Answer for Rising Energy Costs

March 15, 2012

President Obama at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Florida. Photographer: Brian Blanco/Zuma Press

President Obama at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Florida. Photographer: Brian Blanco/Zuma Press

President Barack Obama promoted his energy policies in suburban Washington as he sought to fend off Republican critics who argue the administration’s actions are driving up energy costs.

Obama said “professional politicians” who dismiss attempts to develop alternative sources of energy and keep focusing on fossil fuels “want to keep us stuck in the past.”

“If we’re tired of watching gas prices spike every year -- if we want to bring them down for good -- we need to look beyond the energy of the past and put ourselves on a path to a real, sustainable energy future,” the president said in the text of remarks at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland, outside Washington.

Rising gasoline prices have opened a line of attack by Republican presidential candidates, as higher energy costs overshadow gains elsewhere in the economy, including the addition of 227,000 new jobs in February.

Obama said critics don’t have a solution for energy costs beyond more drilling for oil and gas in the U.S. He said the U.S. is already producing more oil domestically than at any time in the last eight years and more public land has been opened for exploration.

Exploration will continue “in a way that protects the health and safety” of the public, he said.

Gasoline costs $4 per gallon or more in five states and Washington, D.C. according to a daily survey by the American Automobile Association (3AGSREG). Alaska, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New York and the nation’s capital reached or exceeded $4, with Connecticut, Washington and Oregon within two cents of that mark.

Pump Prices

The national average retail price of unleaded regular gasoline climbed to $3.821 a gallon yesterday, AAA said. That’s 7.5 percent higher than a year ago, according to AAA’s survey.

Crude oil for April delivery dropped 9 cents to $105.34 a barrel at 10:03 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Even so, the world’s largest economy will strengthen through 2012 as employment gains more than offset rising fuel costs, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron discussed a release of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve during talks yesterday at the White House but didn’t reach a conclusion, according to a U.K. official with knowledge of the talks. A White House official said the two leaders discussed energy markets and oil prices, a White House confirmed, while refusing to say if the discussions included the oil reserve.

While Obama didn’t name his critics, Mitt Romney and other Republican presidential candidates say the president’s policies have stifled domestic energy production, including his failure to approve TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The U.S. is on track to achieve an Obama goal of reducing oil imports by a third in a little over a decade because of increased U.S. oil and gas production, more efficient cars and trucks, and improve refining operations, the administration said in March 12 report. The U.S. imported 45 percent of its oil needs last year, down from 57 percent in 2008, according to the report.

To contact the reporters on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net; Hans Nichols in Washington at hnichols2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net


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