Obama: 'I don't want to leave this for the next president'

By Luke Geiver | March 15, 2011

He may not have to fill up his own car, but U.S. President Barack Obama still has his concerns over rising oil prices. Following a statement on the natural disaster that overtook Japan, the president recently addressed the reality that the U.S. controls only 2 percent of the world’s oil, but consumes more than a quarter of global oil consumption. “Three years ago, before the recession hit,” he explained, “a combination of factors, including rising demand from emerging economies like China, drove gas prices to more than $4 a gallon. The worldwide recession and the decrease in demand pushed prices back down. But over the past year, as the economy has picked up steam and global demand for oil has increased, prices have increased again.” Combine that added demand with turmoil in the Middle East, and gas prices are as high or higher in some places then they were three years ago.

But, the president stated that although gas prices are rising, the U.S. government will do everything it can to lower the price of oil, including tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and calling for the Attorney General to monitor any price gouging possibilities. “Economists and investors like Warren Buffett,” he noted, “believe we should still expect solid growth and strong private sector job creation this year.”

The problem he said, however, is that the U.S. is reliant on foreign-based fossil fuel and that has to change. “We’ve got to get moving on a comprehensive energy strategy that pursues both more energy production and more energy conservation.” The President cited several examples of work already being done in that area. In addition to the highest oil production in the U.S. since 2007, the government is also pushing for research to either locate or open future drilling sites. For example, he said, the industry (oil) holds leases on tens of millions of acres—both on shore and on land—“where they aren’t producing a thing.”

The president also pointed the unfortunate phenomena U.S. citizens undergo depending on the price of oil. “Every few years, gas prices go up; politicians pull out the old political playbook, and then nothing changes. And when prices go back down, we slip back into a trance. And then, when prices go up, suddenly we’re shocked.” Everyone, including democrats and republicans, he said, need to finally secure America’s energy future. “I don’t want to leave this for the next president, and none of us should want to leave it for our kids.”

During the 2011 State of the Union Address, the president outlined a goal calling for 80 percent of our electricity to come from renewables like biofuels, wind or solar. In January he also initiated the Startup America program aimed at creating more job growth. One of the early goals of the program is to target the clean technology sector as a way to create economic growth for the country. 

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