Obama's energy policy will be the subject of the president's
three-stop tour starting Wednesday. He wants to deflect criticism
that he's not doing enough to fight rising gas prices.
President Obama will put on a hard hat and make a two day road
trip to illustrate his energy strategy. On his tour to highlight
"American made energy:" a big solar farm in Nevada, oil and gas
drilling rigs in New Mexico and a huge storage facility in Oklahoma
where a new pipeline will help get the oil to Gulf Coast refineries.
But, will the tour be sufficient to counter Republican sniping
over his energy policies and endear him to voters who will soon have
to pay $4 a gallon or considerably more at the pump?
From a political standpoint, the Obama tour might be a good idea,
say political strategists. Everyday Americans are fuming as they
watch the price of gasoline rise at their local gas stations. But
they are unsure who to blame: Obama, the oil companies, or the
situation in the Middle East.
"The rising price of gas becomes a problem to the degree Obama is
blamed," says Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for
Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. "This is not an issue he can
Even while Obama was flying west, the price of gasoline at the
pump continued to rise. On Wednesday, according to AAA, the national
average jumped 2 cents a gallon compared with Tuesday and up 30
cents a gallon from a month ago.
More increases are on the way. Within the next two weeks,
refiners will start to shift over to the summer blend of gasoline,
which is more expensive to produce. "On a wholesale basis that
boutique blend of gasoline sells for 17 cents to 22 cents more than
the gasoline we use now," says Tom Kloza, the publisher of Oil Price
Information Service (OPIS) in Brick, N.J. "When the wholesale goes
up like that, the retail price goes with it."
But Pew Research Center president Andrew Kohut, speaking at
Monitor Breakfast on March 14, said gasoline prices are a big
question mark for both the Republicans and Democrats. In Pew
surveys, he says any optimism about the economy, especially as more
jobs are created, is offset by bad news about gasoline prices.
"We continue to get only about 10 percent of the American public
saying that the economy is either excellent or good," said Mr.
However, Republican political strategist Leslie Sorrell of the
Magnolia Group in Dallas calls the trip "window dressing."
Despite Obama's claims that the oil industry is producing more
oil domestically than any time in the last eight years, Ms. Sorrell
maintains the Obama administration has "tied the oil industries
"People say they cannot get a permit," says Sorrell. "We are
passionate about it here in Texas."
According to the White House, the goal of the trip is to
illustrate the president's policy of diversification of energy
supplies, particularly renewable energy sources. However, the trip
also illustrates some of the challenges facing US companies and
Obama's energy policy.
First stop: solar energy
For example, Obama's first stop is in Boulder City, Nev., to
visit the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility, which the White House
calls "the largest photovoltaic plant operating in the country."
With nearly one million solar panels, the plant supplies enough
energy to power 17,000 homes.
However, the US solar industry is struggling. US-made panels only
represent about one-third of the panels sold. Chinese-made solar
panels now represent more than half of the market.
On Tuesday, the Obama administration said it would impose tariffs
of 2. …