With rising gas prices squeezing consumers at the pump and the Republican presidential field blaming the White House, President Obama will head out on a two-day tour of various energy ventures this
week to highlight his efforts to increase production and lower prices.
The president will visit a solar production facility that powers 17,000 homes in Nevada, oil and gas drilling sites on federal land in New Mexico and a stretch of the Keystone Pipeline in Oklahoma, Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday.
Obama will also stop in Ohio to tour what the White House described as some of the most advanced energy-related research in the country. The trip will showcase the president’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, Carney said.
The trip comes as Obama faces intense criticism for his energy policies, which his Republican opponents say have done too little to promote domestic energy production and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
“Americans, I think, by and large, even though they’re frustrated, understand that politicians who tell them that if only they were in power, they could fix it with a simple proposal -- most Americans understand that that’s baloney,” Carney said during his daily briefing at the White House. “It’s not plausible. It’s laughable as policy. Drill, drill, drill will not get you anywhere because if it could, then the fact that we’ve increased oil and gas production in this country would have resulted in a decrease in prices at the pump, not an increase.”
Obama’s foes, notably Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, have blamed the president for rising gas prices. Gingrich has made his pledge to bring the price of gas below $2.50 a gallon a centerpiece of his campaign; Romney jumped on the issue over the weekend by saying there is “ no question” the president is to blame for rising gas prices and calling on him to fire the “gas hike trio” of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
“When [Obama] ran for office, he said he wanted to see gasoline prices go up,” Romney said in an interview on Fox News Sunday. “He said that energy prices would skyrocket under his views, and he selected three people to help him implement that program. The secretary of energy, the secretary of interior and EPA administrator. And this gas hike trio has been doing the job over the last three-and-a-half years, and gas prices are up. The right course is they ought to be fired because the president has apparently suffered election-year conversion. He’s now decided that gasoline prices should come down.”
Carney dismissed questions about whether the president’s upcoming trip was political and intended to deflect the criticism. However, his counterpart on the Obama campaign in Chicago, Ben LaBolt, said in a press call shortly after the White House briefing, used identical language to denounce Republican promises to lower energy prices simply by increasing drilling.
“Governor Romney thinks we can just drill our way to a successful energy strategy,” LaBolt said in a call focused on Romney’s economic speech in Chicago earlier Monday. “If that were the cas,e then gas prices would be lower today because this administration has issued hundreds of permits. Domestic oil and gas production has increased each year under this administration, and we’ve opened up millions of acres on which to drill. But we need more than that. We need an all-of-the-above energy strategy.”