-By Alex Seitz-Wald
February 22, 2012- As the improving economy has robbed conservatives of their chief talking point against President Obama, they’ve turned to rising gas prices as the next problem to pin on the president.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) “instructed fellow Republicans to embrace the gas-pump anger,” while Rick Santorum conspiratorially claimed Obama is intentionally pushing up prices to cut carbon emissions. Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich released a 30-minute video today about how “the Obama administration is so anti‑oil” that they’ve forced the price of gas to go up.
But there’s little truth to claims that Obama has curbed U.S. oil production and driven up gas prices in the process. As NPR noted this morning, the number of drilling rigs in U.S. oil fields has quadrupled under Obama and domestic oil production hit an 8-year high in 2011. For the first time in 60 years, the U.S. is now a net fuel exporter.
Oil demand was actually down 4.6 percent last week over last year, while the supply of gasoline has actually increased slightly since a year ago. So why are gas prices so high? As McClatchy’s Kevin Hall explains today, there is a systemic problem: speculation.