After many weeks of silence, Republican politicians and the dirty energy industry have re-launched their attacks on President Obama and Democrats over the price of gasoline. The silence from these groups was the result of a price drop for most of the summer, but a price increase over the last few weeks has once again caused the old familiar, and debunked, talking points about Obama raising gas prices to resurface.
Leading the charge is the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which this week issued a press release claiming that “Democrats aren’t working” for America because gas prices are at an all-time high. Their solution? Immediately approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
From the NRCC press release:
As Democrats party at their convention in Charlotte, American families aren’t celebrating because gas skyrocketed to the highest Labor Day price in history.
Democrats refuse to take action to reduce the cost of gasoline for American families, rejecting proposals to improve our energy infrastructure, choosing special interests over middle class families.
All of this serves as a continuing reminder of the ever-growing costs of living in the Democrats’ economy.
Apparently the partying at the Republican convention wasn’t a problem for the NRCC, as they included plenty of discussion about Keystone into their convention.
The NRCC tells us that gas prices for all Americans would be reduced if the Keystone XL pipeline were fully operational and transporting Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries.
But the truth is exactly the opposite. According to a report by the NRDC earlier this year, refining the tar sands from Canada would reduce refining capacity for crude oil, leading to less gasoline. Less product plus more demand equals higher cost to consumers.
Additionally, the NRCC’s own “sources” in their press release show that Gulf Coast refineries currently lack the ability to properly refine the tar sands, and would be forced to undergo costly upgrades and renovations to handle the increased refining demand. This price would then be passed along to consumers, as is typical business fashion – if the cost to produce a good goes up, so does the price.
But the Keystone XL solution is just one that the industry’s defenders have been pushing. They also advocate for expanded oil drilling and increased refinery permitting in order to get more oil processed for consumers. As I’ve outlined in the past, oil production and refining is already at an all-time high in America, so if there were a correlation between increased production and price reductions we would have seen it.
Another point worth mentioning again is that oil is priced on a global market, not on what the U.S. produces or doesn’t produce. Studies have shown us that if we were to drill in every possible area of our country, it would result in a reduction of less than $3 for the price of a barrel of oil, translating to only a few cents, at best 2 or 3 cents, in price reduction at the pump.
There is a clear solution to the problem, and it is a solution that President Obama has firmly addressed and taken action on, and that is to raise fuel economy standards. That measure was recently passed, and will reduce our consumption of gasoline, which lowers demand, which in turn will lower prices. Not to mention the fact that the new standards will create jobs, save our economy billions of dollars, and reduce air pollution from refineries and automobiles.
But as long as people like the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove are pulling the strings of the Republican Party, they will continue to push these debunked talking points on the American public, hoping that we’ll eventually give in and blame President Obama for raising our gasoline prices.