With gas prices soaring toward $4-per-gallon and beyond, expect President Obama and his media cheerleaders to repeat the following claims endlessly and uncritically between now and the November election: "There are no quick fixes to this problem ... there are no short-term silver bullets when it comes to gas prices ... we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices ... America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years ... we need a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy." Obama used each of those snippets in his speech last week in Miami, then repeated them in his weekly Saturday address, and incorporated them in his basic stump speech on the campaign trail.
All of the snippets will be addressed in this space in coming days, but for now, the president is just flat wrong about those silver bullets. His predecessor pulled the trigger on one on July 15, 2008, by lifting an executive branch moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in the Outer Continental Shelf regions off America's coasts. Literally within minutes, the price-per-barrel of oil on the world market plunged from just below its historic high of $149 to $136, a 6.3 percent decrease. Bush also challenged the then-Democratic Congress to lift a parallel legislative moratorium on the same areas.
Examiner contributor and economist Larry Kudlow described what happened next in a column the following day: "Traders took a look at a feisty and aggressive George Bush and started selling the market well before a single new drop of oil has been lifted. What does this tell us? Well, if Congress moves to seal the deal, oil prices will probably keep on falling. That's the way traders work. They discount the future. Psychology and expectations can turn on a dime."
So there are things Obama can do as president that will have an immediate effect on the price of gas at the pump. Chief among these silver bullets Obama claims don't exist is to tell his political appointees and the career bureaucrats at the Departments of Interior and Energy to stop slow-walking drilling permit applications. According to government data, a mere 3.7 deep-water permits in the Gulf of Mexico have been approved per month since last August, compared with seven per month during the previous three years. More than 80 percent of the oil produced in the Gulf comes from deep-water rigs. Similarly, the average approval time for mandatory environmental impact studies that must be made for drilling in the gulf has doubled under Obama, going from an average of 61 days to 118.
In other words, Obama has doubled the bureaucratic delays on drilling permits, which ultimately adds to the price of gas at the pump. As Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, noted last week, the increased production Obama cites is happening mainly on nonfederal lands and under permits issued before he became president. As with so much that Obama says, his claims sound good, but he is playing fast and loose with the facts in order to steal credit he doesn't deserve and avoid blame that ought to be his.
And Furthermore ...
Steve Maley offers a list of 10 more silver bullets that Obama could use to have an immediate impact on gas prices at the pump.