The Orange County Register today published a local commentary from Phil Yarbrough, current President of the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board of Trustees. Yarbrough claims that the recent spike in gas prices is due to the policies of the Obama administration. As a former economics professor, Yarbrough should know better; but why let a few facts get in the way of partisan political rhetoric.
The president’s energy policies have directly translated to increasing gasoline prices. His appointees have reduced drilling permits on federal land by one-third of what they were when he took office. President Obama stopped drilling on 300,000 acres of federal land, which contain potentially 1 trillion barrels of oil. This much oil would give us oil independence for 200 years if we accessed it. A simple executive order could open up millions of acres of this oil-rich land.
Obama personally stopped the Keystone oil pipeline by lobbying Congress to block it. There are fewer oil refineries in the United States than before he took office, and he stopped all oil exploration for one and one-half years after the Deep Water Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. All of this has contributed to gas prices increasing 61 cents per gallon this year alone.
Yarbrough is wrong. Experts deny that drilling brings down gas prices, despite how often Republicans claim to have the “silver bullet.” In March the Associated Press reported that an analysis of 36 years of Energy Information Administration data shows “no statistical correlation” between domestic oil production and gas prices. AP writes:
U.S. oil production is back to the same level it was in March 2003, when gas cost $2.10 per gallon when adjusted for inflation. But that’s not what prices are now.
That’s because oil is a global commodity and U.S. production has only a tiny influence on supply. Factors far beyond the control of a nation or a president dictate the price of gasoline.
When you put the inflation-adjusted price of gas on the same chart as U.S. oil production since 1976, the numbers sometimes go in the same direction, sometimes in opposite directions. If drilling for more oil meant lower prices, the lines on the chart would consistently go in opposite directions. A basic statistical measure of correlation found no link between the two, and outside statistical experts confirmed those calculations.
As the president has said, “Facts are stubborn things,” and the facts are that, under his presidency, gasoline prices have increased nationally, from an average in January 2009 of $1.84 a gallon to $3.81 as of this week, more than double.
I believe anyone elected to public office should abide by a version of the Hippocratic Oath for physicians and strive to “first, do no harm.” President Obama’s failed energy policies have harmed all Americans, especially the poorest. His policies have cost Americans an additional $1 trillion in higher gas prices during his years of economic recession or weak recovery.
I think there is another version of the Hippocratic Oath that elected officials, like Yarbrough, should abide; “Tell no Lies.”
His statistics are beyond deceptive. They actually mimics Governor Mitt Romney’s claims about gas prices verbatim. As Glenn Kessler wrote in the Washington Post’s Election 2012 Blog on October 3, 2012; “Gasoline was an average of $1.83 a gallon the day before Obama took the oath of office, but that was because of the economic crisis. Exactly four years ago, the average price was $3.67 — not much different than today’s price of $3.72. Gas prices had plunged after the collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked the crisis, reaching $1.59 a gallon by the end of December. So the dip was largely a temporary aberration.”
So Phil, cut the crap. You’re a former economics professor and leader of an educational institution. You should know better than to jump into a partisan debate with lies ans misrepresentations as the only support for your argument. Facts are a stubborn thing, the least you can do is state them accurately.