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$1.83 versus $4- The Price of Gas- Bad Economy or Bad Policy?

We are working on an article for our local newspaper, The Tioga Freedomist, on the energy policy exchange between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney at the Hofstra Debate- from a Tioga County perspective, we see two key points in this debate exchange, the degree to which both candidates will create a friendly environment for traditional domestic energy and the way the two candidates approach handling the gas price issue.

Here is the transcript of the energy policy debate from the Hofstra Encounter between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama this past Tuesday, October 16th, 2012- the video of the exchange is at the end

Obama and Romney Debate Energy Policy at Hofstra University, October 16th, 2012

 

Q: Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it’s not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The most important thing we can do is to make sure we control our own energy.

So here’s what I’ve done since I’ve been president. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years. Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment.

But what I’ve also said is we can’t just produce traditional sources of energy; we’ve also got to look to the future. That’s why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you’re going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas. That’s why we’ve doubled clean energy production like wind and solar and biofuels. And all these things have contributed to us lowering our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years.

Now, I want to build on that. And that means, yes, we still continue to open up new areas for drilling. We continue to make a — it a priority for us to go after natural gas. We’ve got potentially 600,000 jobs and a hundred years’ worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas. And we can do it in an environmentally sound way. But we’ve also got to continue to figure out how we have efficient energy, because ultimately that’s how we’re going to reduce demand, and that’s what’s going to keep gas prices lower.

Now, Governor Romney will say he’s got an all-of-the-above plan, but basically his plan is to let the oil companies write the energy policies. So he’s got the oil and gas part, but he doesn’t have the clean energy part. And if we are only thinking about tomorrow or the next day and not thinking about 10 years from now, we’re not going to control our own economic future, because China, Germany — they’re making these investments. And I’m not going to cede those jobs of the future to those countries. I expect those new energy sources to be built right here in the United States.

So that’s going to help Jeremy get a job, it’s also going to make sure that you’re not paying as much for gas.

MS. CROWLEY: Governor, on the subject of gas prices.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, let’s look at the president’s policies, all right, as opposed to the rhetoric, because we’ve had four years of policies being played out. And the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production is down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands and in federal waters. So where’d the increase come from? Well, a lot of it came from the Bakken Range in North Dakota. What was his participation there? The administration brought a criminal action against the people drilling up there for oil, this massive new resource we have. And what was the cost? Twenty or 25 birds were killed, and they brought out a migratory bird act to go after them on a criminal basis.

Look, I want to make sure we use our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. I believe very much in our renewable capabilities — ethanol, wind, solar will be an important part of our energy mix. But what we don’t need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas. This has not been Mr. Oil or Mr. Gas or Mr. Coal. Talk to the people that are working in those industries. I was in coal country. People grabbed my arms and say, please, save my job. The head of the EPA said, you can’t build a coal plant. You’ll virtually — it’s virtually impossible, given our regulations. When the president ran for office, he said, if you build a coal plant, you can go ahead, but you’ll go bankrupt. That’s not the right course for America. Let’s take advantage of the energy resources we have, as well as the energy sources for the future. And if we do that, if we do what I am planning on doing, which is getting us energy-independent, North American energy independence within eight years, you’re going to see manufacturing come back jobs because our energy is low-cost.

They’re already beginning to come back because of our abundant energy.

I’ll get America and North America energy-independent. I’ll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses. We’re going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the president said no to that pipeline, I will never know. This is about bringing good jobs back for the middle class of America, and that’s what I’m going to do.

MS. CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me just see if I can move you to the gist of this question, which is are we looking at the new normal? I can tell you that tomorrow morning, a lot of people in Hempstead will wake up and fill up, and they will find that the price of gas is over $4 a gallon. Is it within the purview of the government to bring those prices down, or are we looking at the new normal?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Candy, there’s no doubt that world demand’s gone up. But our production is going up, and we’re using oil more efficiently.

And very little of what Governor Romney just said is true. We’ve opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration. And my — the previous president was an oilman. And natural gas isn’t just appearing magically; we’re encouraging it and working with the industry.

And when I hear Governor Romney say he’s a big coal guy — and keep in mind when — Governor, when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, this plant kills, and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you’re a big champion of coal.

So what I’ve tried to do is be consistent. With respect to something like coal, we made the largest investment in clean coal technology to make sure that even as we’re producing more coal, we’re producing it cleaner and smarter. Same thing with oil; same thing with natural gas.

And the proof is our oil imports are down to the lowest levels in 20 years, oil production is up, natural gas production is up, and most importantly, we’re also starting to build cars that are more efficient.

And that’s creating jobs. That means those cars can be exported, because that’s the demand around the world. And it also means that it’ll save money in your pocketbook. That’s the strategy you need, an all-of-the-above strategy, and that’s what we’re going to do in the next four years.

MR. ROMNEY: But that’s not what you done in the last four years. That’s the problem.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Sure it is.

MR. ROMNEY: In the last four years, you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.

MR. ROMNEY: So how much did you cut them by?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It’s not true.

MR. ROMNEY: By how much did you cut them by, then?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, we have actually produced more oil on —

MR. ROMNEY: No, no, how much did you cut licenses and permits on federal land and federal waters?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor Romney, here’s what we did. There were a whole bunch of oil companies —

MR. ROMNEY: No, I had a — I had a — I had a question —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, you — no, you — you — you want —

MR. ROMNEY: — and the question was how much did you cut them by?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — you want me to answer a question, I’m —

MR. ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — I’m happy to answer the question.

MR. ROMNEY: All right, and it is?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Here’s what happened. You had a whole bunch of oil companies who had leases on public lands that they weren’t using. So what we said was, you can’t just sit on this for 10, 20, 30 years, decide when you want to drill, when you want to produce, when it’s most profitable for you. These are public lands. So if you want to drill on public lands, you use it or you lose it.

MR. ROMNEY: OK — (inaudible) —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And so what we did was take away —

MR. ROMNEY: That’s —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — those leases, and we are now reletting them so that we can actually make a profit.

MR. ROMNEY: And — and — and production on private — on government lands is down.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And the production is up. No it isn’t.

MR. ROMNEY: Production on government land of oil is down 14 percent.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor —

MR. ROMNEY: And production of gas is down 9 percent.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: What you’re saying is just not true. It’s just not true.

MR. ROMNEY: I — it’s absolutely true. Look, there’s no question but that the people recognize that we have not produced more oil —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’ll give you your time. Go ahead.

MR. ROMNEY: — and gas on federal lands and in federal waters. And coal — coal production is not up, coal jobs are not up. I was just at a coal facility where some 1,200 people lost their jobs. The right course for America is to have a true all-of-the-above policy. I don’t think anyone really believes that you’re a person who’s going to be pushing for oil and gas and coal.

You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.

(Chuckles.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Governor, if — if you’re asking me a question, I’m going to answer it.

MR. ROMNEY: My — and the answer is I don’t believe people think that’s the case, because I — I’m — that wasn’t a question.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: OK. All right.

MR. ROMNEY: That was a statement. I don’t think — (chuckles) — the American people believe that. I will fight for oil, coal and natural gas. And the proof — the proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then the strategy is working. But you’re paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about a buck eighty-six a gallon. Now it’s four bucks a gallon. Price of electricity is up.

If the president’s energy policies are working, you’re going to see the cost of energy come down. I will fight to create more energy in this country to get America energy-secure. And part of that is bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia where the people want it.

MS. CROWLEY: Let me —

MR. ROMNEY: Those things will get us the energy we need.

MS. CROWLEY: Mr. President, could you address — because we did finally get to gas prices here — could you address what the governor said, which is: If your energy policy was working, the price of gasoline would not be $4 a gallon here. Is that true?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, think about what the governor — think about what the governor just said. He said when I took office, the price of gasoline was 1.80 (dollars), 1.86 (dollars). Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse; because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney is now promoting. So it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices, because with his policies we might be back in that same mess. (Audience murmurs.)

What I want to do is to create an economy that is strong and at the same time produce energy. And with respect to this pipeline that Governor Romney keeps on talking about, we’ve — we’ve built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire Earth once. So I’m all for pipelines; I’m all for oil production.

What I’m not for is us ignoring the other half of the quotation. So for example, on wind energy, when Governor Romney says these are imaginary jobs, when you’ve got thousands of people right now in Iowa, right now in Colorado who are working, creating wind power, with good- paying manufacturing jobs, and the Republican senator in that — in Iowa is all for it, providing tax credits to help this work and Governor Romney says, I’m opposed, I’d get rid of it, that’s not an energy strategy for the future. And we need to win that future, and I intend to win it as president of the United States.

MS. CROWLEY: Mr. President, I got to — I got to move you along. And the next a question is for you —

MR. ROMNEY: No, he — he gets the first — he actually got — he actually got the first question. So I get the last question — last answer on that one.

MS. CROWLEY: If — actually, in the follow-up. It doesn’t quite work like that.

MR. ROMNEY: Actually —

MS. CROWLEY: But I’m going to give you a chance here. (Laughter.) I promise you I’m going to.

And the next question is for you, so if you want to, you know, continue on, but I don’t want to leave all these guys sitting here and — because —

MR. ROMNEY: Candy, Candy, Candy, I don’t have a policy of — of stopping wind jobs in Iowa and that — they’re not phantom jobs. They’re real jobs.

MS. CROWLEY: OK.

MR. ROMNEY: I appreciate wind jobs in Iowa and across our country. I appreciate the jobs in coal and oil and gas. I’m going to make sure —

MS. CROWLEY: So you’re — OK. Thank you, Governor.

MR. ROMNEY: — that taking advantage of our energy resources will bring back manufacturing to America. We’re going to get through a very aggressive energy policy, 3.5 million more jobs in this country. It’s critical to our future.