Obama Takes Aim at Gas Companies, Rising Prices

Posted March 1st, 2012 at 2:55 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is taking aim at oil and gas companies, saying they are profiting even as consumers pay more to drive their vehicles and heat their homes.

President Obama Thursday called on lawmakers to end $4 billion in subsidies for the oil and gas industry, saying companies are making record profits despite instability in the Middle East that has helped push gasoline prices to near record highs.

He also responded to Republican lawmakers who accused him of stifling domestic oil and gas production, telling an audience in New Hampshire that “anyone who tells you we can drill our way out of this problem doesn’t know what they’re talking about – or isn’t telling you the truth.”

Fuel prices have been rising sharply in recent weeks and are expected to go higher with the approach of the country’s summer driving season.

Mr. Obama said since he took office, the country’s dependence on foreign oil has decreased every year. He said his administration has opened millions of acres for oil and gas exploration but that the country must also pursue clean energy technologies, like wind and solar power.

Republican presidential candidates have criticized Mr. Obama for blocking construction of a long-distance oil pipeline from Canada through parts of the United States. But earlier this week, the White House welcomed a new proposal from the company, TransCanada, to build part of the pipeline through a southern portion of the United States while the firm continues to look for a way to build a much longer connection to its oil fields in Alberta.

The trip to New Hampshire is the president’s second to the state in about three months. Mr. Obama won the state when he ran for president in 2008, but voters supported more conservative candidates in the 2010 congressional elections.

Some political analysts say Democrats are also worried the state could vote for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, if he wins the Republican nomination.

Romney served as governor of the neighboring state of Massachusetts and has strong personal ties to New Hampshire, where he also owns a vacation home.