Gas prices in the United States continue to rise, with the national average for regular now nearing $4 a gallon.
Americans are understandably frustrated by this. They're also frustrated with President Obama's "handling" of the situation.
A new Reuters poll finds that more than two-thirds of Americans--68%--"disapprove" of the way Obama is dealing with these high prices. Interestingly, a far lower number of Americans actually blame Obama for the high prices. Instead, they blame the oil companies and a combination of factors.
But it's not clear what Americans want Obama to do about high gas prices.
Releasing some oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve might have a limited, temporary effect, but it would also be raiding a store of oil that many Americans think should be reserved for a much more important purpose: Providing a source of emergency fuel if America's international oil supply lines ever get cut off. If Presidents make it a habit of raiding the SPR every time gas prices rise, the SPR won't be "strategic" for anything other than getting Presidents re-elected.
Because oil and gas prices are likely trending upward for an excellent fundamental reason, meanwhile--increasing demand from emerging economies like India and China--the only way to bring them down permanently is to diversify the country's sources of energy and reduce the country's consumption of it.
And President Obama is actually doing that.
U.S. oil production has increased over the last four years, from about 5 million barrels a day to close to 6 million barrels. Natural gas has become so plentiful that prices have crashed. And, in part as a result of high gas prices, Americans are driving less and using less fuel.
So the U.S. is actually making progress toward curing its foreign oil addiction. There's a long way to go, of course, and there's no quick and lasting fix to today's high prices, but we're making progress. And Americans frustrated with that progress should probably lay at least some blame at the feet of the Presidents and Congresses that have ignored the finite oil problem for the past 40 years.
Whether this progress will satisfy angry voters come November is an open question. Americans do tend to vote with their wallets, and gas prices are a highly visible and painful reminder that money doesn't buy much these days. So, as depressing as it is to those who view the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a true emergency hoard, it's no surprise that the Administration is talking about possibly releasing oil from it.
SEE ALSO: Here Are The Companies That Are Cashing In On America's Energy Revolution.
- President Obama
- Strategic Petroleum Reserve