According to a new poll, 65 percent of Americans find the administration's handling of energy issues unsatisfactory. So obviously, the White House is doing their very best to do damage control by pushing everything from press conferences to interviews by the President on local news. Politico has video of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney trying to spin the issue:
The accompanying story fills in the rest of the picture:
Obama will try to counteract that by sitting down for several local TV news interviews, including visits with anchors from the electoral battlegrounds of Cincinnati, Denver, Des Moines, Las Vegas, Orlando and Pittsburgh.
And Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and White House energy adviser Heather Zichal joined press secretary Jay Carney in the briefing room Monday afternoon.
Along with their PR blitz, the administration also released a "Progress Report" for March 2012 discussing the administration's efforts to lower energy prices. Their findings may surprise some readers:
The United States: Domestic oil and natural gas production has increased every year President Obama has been in office. In 2011, U.S. crude oil production reached its highest level since 2003, increasing by an estimated 120,000 barrels per day over 2010 levels to 5.6 million barrels per day. In addition, U.S. natural gas production grew by more than 7 percent in 2011 – the largest year-over-year volumetric increase in history – and easily eclipsed the previous production record set in 1973. Currently, the United States has a record number of oil and gas rigs operating – more than the rest of the world combined.
In November 2011, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the proposed 2012-2017 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which makes more than 75 percent of estimated undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf available for exploration and development. The proposed program schedules 15 potential lease sales, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and 3 off the coast of Alaska. Over the coming months, DOI will be working to finalize the Program, building on feedback received during the public comment period, which recently concluded.
On December 14, 2011, DOI held the first oil and natural gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The sale attracted nearly $338 million in total bids – about $100 million more than the average for Western Gulf sales over the previous decade. Moving forward, DOI will hold the consolidated Central Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 216/222 in New Orleans on June 20, 2012. The sale will include all available unleased areas – nearly 38 million acres – in the Central Planning Area offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
However, the President's critics aren't convinced. Sean Hackbarth at the US Chamber of Commerce laced into the report on the Chamber's blog today:
Also as part of their media push, the White House produced an infographic explaining gas prices, but they’re too clever by half. A section is titled, "Increased Production Doesn't Lower Gas Prices” and has some graphs making their argument.
Let me get this straight: The administration prides itself for increased domestic oil and gas production, but implies that more oil doesn't have anything to do with gas prices, because the biggest factor in gas prices is the world market price. They’re both trying to take credit and deflect blame.
If the effort is as weak as Hackbarth insinuates, then it will do little to make the President's dropping poll numbers improve.