-By Farron Cousins
June 14, 2011- The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is taking their misinformation machine on the road in an attempt to convince American consumers that President Obama is causing the spike in gasoline prices. AFP is claiming that the president is intentionally keeping gas prices high because he refuses to allow oil companies to drill for oil in protected areas of the United States.
The tour is necessary for the AFP, as Americans do not believe that President Obama should be blamed for high gasoline prices. A staggering 61% of Americans say that the blame lies on the shoulders of the energy companies, and 59% say that some of the blame lies with the oil speculators. These numbers are not sitting well with the oil industry, and the AFP tour is just one of many oil industry tactics to try to shift public opinion using misinformation.
AFP’s “Running on Empty” campaign has scheduled stops in Virginia, Michigan, and Ohio in the upcoming days, to “teach” Americans about the numerous ways in which President Obama is making them pay higher prices at the pump.
AFP conveniently ignores the fact that gas prices were north of $4 a gallon during the Bush administration, when they peaked at $4.12, as pointed out by protesters who showed up at one of AFP's early gas tour events in Nebraska. But in the alternate reality that AFP is creating to enable Koch's further oil profits, it's somehow all Obama's fault.
Here are the specific actions the president has taken, according to AFP, that have raised gas prices:
Illegal Moratoriums: After the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf, President Obama issued a moratorium on all new offshore drilling. The message is clear: Obama is against domestic energy production.
Canceling existing oil and gas leases: Amazingly, not only has Obama blocked any new permits but he’s also reaching back and canceling drilling leases that were already in place when he took office.
Locking up lands in the West: The federal government is working overtime to make sure Americans cannot access their own domestic resources.
EPA’s job-crushing regulations (you can read the truth about these “job-crushing” regulations here.)
As we’ve covered in the past, increased domestic oil drilling will have absolutely no impact on gas prices. Oil prices are set on an international market, and since the amount of oil (and the amount of time it would take to get to market) in the U.S. is relatively small, the most significant impact it could have would be to lower gas prices by about 2 cents per gallon. But still, Republicans continue to push the myth that increasing domestic drilling will benefit all of us immediately.
And their critique of President Obama seems way off base as well. President Obama has actually been a supporter of domestic drilling, and is currently working to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico – an area that is still awash with the remnants of oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year – as well as rethinking the ban on oil drilling in ANWR. These are not the actions of an oil industry foe.