Mitt Romney has been leading the charge lately that the Obama administration is single-handedly responsible for the increasing prices at the gas pump. In an Op-Ed column that he wrote for The Columbus Dispatch, Romney actually wrote that “expensive energy was Obama’s plan all along.” He then proceeds to accuse the Obama administration’s energy officials of some nefarious plot to strangle the oil and coal industry through their green ambitions. Romney, of course, once he’s elected president, will miraculously solve our high energy prices by “enacting regulatory reform to accelerate the exploration and development of oil and gas.” Romney also promises to allow more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf and the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. While Romney’s proposals don’t match the ridiculousness of Newt Gingrich’s promise of $2.50 per gallon gasoline prices, they come pretty darn close.
Contrary to Republican assertions, under Obama’s watch, domestic oil production has actually increased over 15% during the past two years. Despite this inconvenient truth, prices have continued to climb over the same period and will probably follow the same trajectory for the foreseeable future. The price of oil is determined by global demand. China’s incessant growth will remain a constant pressure on prices regardless of how much domestic production increases. Some think tanks even expect demand for oil to reach U.S. levels by 2040; 200 million cars are expected to be on the road in China by 2020.
Republicans seriously need to start thinking about taking a page out of Obama’s playbook. Cutting our dependency on foreign oil shouldn’t translate into the unregulated exploration of oil and gas in pristine federal reserves. Certainly, the expanded drilling will generate enormous profits for the energy companies, but the negligible impact on prices do not justify the environmental damage that will be the end result. If Romney and company are truly interested in averting the coming energy crisis, introducing and enforcing new fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and supporting “green” companies who have already found ways to cut our dependency on oil, both Obama administration initiatives, should be the order of the day.