Obama on Energy Stump

Says administration looking to help consumers; calls on Congress to end oil "subsidies"

NASHUA, N.H. -- President Obama continued to focus on energy policy yesterday in a speech at Nashua Community College, Nashua, N.H., again criticizing Republican for allegedly "licking their chops" over rising retail gasoline prices during an election year. He also went after oil companies for receiving "subsidies," calling on Congress to end them.

He derided what he called the GOP candidates' "magic three-point plans to make sure that you're only paying $2-a-gallon gas. Just like we heard about it in the last election, just like we've heard about it for the last 30 years. And you know what the essence of their plan is going to be, which is: Step one, drill. Step two, drill. Step three, keep drilling. And by the way, we'll drill in your backyard. Wherever it is, we're just going to put up more rigs."

He called on the people of New Hampshire to use their "keen...political bull detector[s]."

"You know that we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices. There are no quick fixes or silver bullets. If somebody tells you there are, they're not telling you the truth.

"If we're going to take control of our energy future--which we have to do--if we're going to avoid high gas prices every single year, with a lot of politicians talking every single year but nothing happening--if we're going to avoid that, then we've got to have an all-of-the-above strategy that develops every single source of American energy. Not just oil and gas, but also wind and solar and biofuels.

"We've got to keep developing the technology that allows us to use less oil in our cars and trucks, less oil in our buildings and our factories. And that's the strategy we've been pursuing for the last three years, and it's the only real solution to this challenge."

He went on to tout progress on decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil (click here for details).

The President also touted his administrations fuel economy standards. "After three decades of doing nothing, we put in place fuel economy standards that will make sure our cars average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade. That's nearly double what we have today. And that, by the way, applies not just to cars--it applies to light trucks and now it's going to apply to heavy trucks as well.

"So that means that every time you fill up, you can think to yourself, you know what, I won't have to fill up again for two weeks instead of one week. That's worth applauding. Because what that means is that will save the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump."

He added, "While there are no short-term silver bullets when it comes to gas prices, I've directed my administration to look for every single area where we can make an impact and help consumers--from helping to relieve bottlenecks in the places like the one we've got in Oklahoma, to making sure speculators aren't taking advantage of what's going on in the oil markets. And we're just going to keep on announcing steps in the coming weeks; every time we find something that can provide a little bit of relief right now, we're going to do it."

On the subject of oil company subsidies, the President said, "Over the long term, an all-of-the-above strategy requires the right incentives. And here's one of the best examples. Right now, $4 billion of your tax dollars … subsidizes the oil industry every year.

"Every time you go to the gas tank or fill up your gas tank, they're making money. … Now, does anyone really think that Congress should give them another $4 billion this year?

"Of course not. It's outrageous. It's inexcusable. And I am asking Congress--eliminate this oil industry giveaway right away. I want them to vote on this in the next few weeks. Let's put every single member of Congress on record: You can stand with the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people. You can keep subsidizing a fossil fuel that's been getting taxpayer dollars for a century, or you can place your bets on a clean-energy future."

Click here for a full transcript of the President's remarks.

In a statement, American Petroleum Institute (API) president and CEO Jack Gerard responded to the President's call for a vote to raise taxes on the oil and natural gas industry: "It is factually wrong for the president to say that the industry receives 'subsidies.' A subsidy is a direct payment of money to a person or business by American taxpayers. The President has it backwards--our industry pays the government nearly 90 million dollars a day, the biggest contributor of government revenue than any other industry in the United States."

In a white paper, API said, "Contrary to what some in politics and the media have said, the oil and natural gas industry currently enjoys no unique tax credits or deductions. Since its inception, the U.S. tax code has allowed corporate tax payers the ability to recover costs and to be taxed only on net income. These cost recovery mechanisms, also known in policy circles as 'tax expenditures,' should in no way be confused with 'subsidies,' i.e., direct government spending."

Click here to view the complete report.