Obama Drills Rivals on Energy Policy; Says US Cannot be ‘Held Hostage’

Posted March 15th, 2012 at 12:10 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is slamming his political rivals, accusing them of pursuing a backward energy policy that will leave the country at the mercy of the rest of the world.

Mr. Obama spoke to community college students near Washington Thursday, at a time when many Americans have seen fast rising gasoline prices.

Several Republican presidential candidates have been criticizing President Obama for not doing enough to develop domestic oil and gas reserves, but Mr. Obama warned “even if we drilled every inch of America, that wouldn't solve the problem.”

He said that even if the U.S. maximized production of all its potential oil reserves, it would still be dependent on foreign oil, and that “we can't allow ourselves to be held hostage to events on the other side of the globe… America controls its own destiny.”

The president warned that development and demand for automobiles in countries like China and India, and unrest in the Middle East, will only serve to send oil prices higher.

He said the U.S. needs to focus on developing alternative sources of energy – like wind and solar power – and end big subsidies for oil companies.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found rising gas prices have led to a growing discontent among voters with President Obama's energy policy. Almost two-thirds said they disapprove of the way the president is handling the situation at the pump. Most Americans also said higher gas prices are hurting their families' finances.

The same poll indicates Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would narrowly defeat President Obama in a hypothetical election match-up if the election were held now.

But Chief Oil Analyst Tom Kloza with the Oil Price Information Service says there is little Mr. Obama can do that will have much immediate impact on oil and gas costs.

He says “there are some things that the president can do that probably will influence prices through the decade but nothing that is really going to influence prices, other than talk and threats, for the remainder of his first term.”

Kloza said rising demand in developing nations and concerns about the situation with Iran have been the biggest reasons oil prices have been rising. He says another big part of the problem is investors, who see oil as a quick way to make money.