Matthew Hurt: Obama able to cut gas costs
I am sure it comes as no surprise when I say gas prices are increasing at an alarming rate. After all, many experts predict the price for a gallon of gas to cost more than $5 per gallon by summer.
In fact, prices at some gas stations in Florida have already reached that amount, approaching the $6 mark. While people are feeling the pain at the pump, these high gas prices have a ripple effect on other aspects of the economy.
For example, virtually every product you buy, whether it be food, medicine or shampoo, is transported to local stores by trucks that run on (you guessed it) gasoline. The transportation industry is also highly susceptible to expensive prices at the pump.
Other sectors of the economy also start to suffer when gas prices jolt upward. Americans, with less money in their wallets, will cease eating at restaurants as often, hurting the food service industry. Leisure activities will also become more of a rarity, hurting industries such as tourism.
I would like to see President Barack Obama take leadership on this issue. He needs to work on lowering the price of gas as much as he can. This may seem unrealistic, as many think the president cannot lower prices, but that notion is untrue. While there are external factors affecting the petroleum industry out of the president’s hands, there are several things he could do domestically to bring gas prices down, even if by a few cents.
Obama could reconsider his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline — this seems to be one of the most obvious remedies to the situation.
There was no reason for the president to reject the pipeline. Experts argue the pipeline would have given American taxpayers thousands of barrels of oil each day, imported from a politically stable and friendly country. It would not only alleviate the increasing cost of foreign oil, but also create domestic jobs.
Even labor unions and some Democratic Congress members wanted the pipeline. Instead Obama demonstrated a lack of leadership by pandering a small amount of environmentalists in Nebraska.
There are already thousands of miles of pipelines across the country, and quite frankly, I do not think major oil spills in Nebraska or Kansas are big concerns. On the other hand, not being able to afford a tank of gas is an issue for most Americans.
Additionally, the president could rally members of his own party in Congress on the issue, as the Republicans already have. Although in a bipartisan manner, of the nearly 30 job-creation bills that have passed in the House, the Pioneers Act has not been voted on in the Senate.
Congressman Morgan Griffith of Virginia’s 9th District, whose jurisdiction includes Blacksburg, said, “This bill would cut through the bureaucratic red tape to ramp up energy exploration and production in the United States, creating new jobs in the process.”
The bill would lift drilling moratoriums that cover nearly the entire East and West coasts. It would also open up a measly three percent of Alaska’s ANWR to oil exploration and drilling, which is small enough so as to not concern you polar bear fans.
Even without the act, the president could lift the drilling moratoriums on the coasts himself, but he refuses.
Oil producers in the Middle East and Africa do not want to see the United States pass the legislations. This would result in cheaper oil prices on the international market and lower prices at the pump. It would also instill fear in the minds of the OPEC leaders toward the U.S. reduction of imported oil consumption.
Obama can take action that would help lower gas prices. He needs to step up and be a leader on this issue, which will also facilitate a speedier economic recovery.
Dennis Jacobe, chief economist at Gallup in Washington, D.C., put it this way: “If the price goes past four dollars a gallon, that will slow the economy.”
Unless Obama can uphold our traditional American economic direction and increase his party’s concern for this issue, prepare for a slow down.