Gas prices in Castaic, CA, May 2011.
Dum dum dum. It’s happening again, a nationwide surge in gasoline prices. Over the weekend, average pump prices for regular gas jumped up to more than $4 per gallon statewide. Transportation experts say $5 per gallon is potentially looming over the horizon.
The increase points to a larger threat to the United States economy, and a political whirlpool for presidential candidates debating over energy as the election comes to a head. Republican presidential primary contender Rick Santorum on Monday cited what he called President Obama’s “radical environmentalist policies” as the reason for gas prices heading to near record highs. Santorum and Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich support lowering prices by exploring domestic oil production and relaxing regulations on drilling. Both have criticized Obama’s disapproval of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline in the U.S. Gingrich has boasted the prospect of gas as low as $2 per gallon if he’s elected.
Can we domestically drill our way to lower prices at the gas pump? Given the U.S. president has limited power to affect global oil prices because of widespread forces of supply and demand, are Santorum and Gingrich valid in their push for drilling here in the U.S.?
Kenneth Green, environmental scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
Athan Manuel, lobbyist for the Sierra Club who works on oil, gas and public land issues