The rising price of gasoline has Minnesotans, faced with having to choose between filling their gas tanks and scrimping on other necessities, demanding answers from Washington and the White House.
Gas prices have risen over 110 percent since President Obama’s inauguration and are up 30 cents a gallon just this month. A recent Reuters poll verifies what we already knew, 68 percent of Americans are unhappy with the way President Obama is dealing with high gas prices.
High gas prices affect everything – from the price of goods and services to business investments and leisure travel. Every time the price of gas goes up 10 cents, it costs the American economy $14 billion.
But more importantly, when gas goes up 10 cents, it costs the average Minnesota household close to $100 a year. At the current price that means Minnesota families are shouldering an extra $2,000 a year in gasoline costs compared to when President Obama was inaugurated.
That’s $2,000 after taxes that Minnesotans don’t have to update their home, buy clothing and other essentials, or put food on the table for their families.
Here in Minnesota high gas prices may have an even worse effect on our economy since tourism is an $11 billion industry in our state, accounting for 11 percent of all private sector jobs.
Our economy depends on families driving or flying here to enjoy all we have to offer, like the shopping with no sales tax on clothing or the more than 90,000 miles of shoreline.
As we approach this election season, President Obama claims that Republicans will begin their normal refrain of “more drilling” as an answer to high prices.
But instead of offering solutions that could have a short-term effect on prices, the President claims “there’s no silver bullet” and has instead resorted to a public relations campaign to convince voters it’s not his fault. The reality is that President Obama is wrong; increasing oil production in the United States can lower the price of oil and, importantly, create thousands of jobs at home.
The United States is the third largest oil producer in the world. Our problem is not that we lack energy—the problem is that we don’t have access to that energy.
Federal lands and waters alone have enough oil to fuel 65 million cars for 60 years and enough natural gas to heat 60 million homes for 160 years. We have the energy, but this administration’s policies have kept most of it off limits.
Federal regulations currently only permit production on six percent of federal lands onshore production and 2.2 percent of offshore production. We can expand production on federal lands significantly without compromising the environment.
If the President were really serious about addressing the challenge of high gasoline prices, he should have his administration cease its assault on domestic energy production.
He could start by reversing his decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline that would have supplied up to 800,000 barrels of oil per day that would be refined in the U.S. Expanded domestic production would create thousands of American jobs and bring billions of dollars of new revenue to the federal treasury.
Energy is the lifeblood of our economy, and Minnesotans and all Americans deserve tangible solutions that will strengthen our energy future, and provide relief for currently high gas prices—not the empty promises of subsidized, renewable energy.
Washington must also realize that expanding domestic production of oil is central to that strategy because Minnesotan’s pain at the pump is real.