The Wall Street Journal reports today, “Prices at U.S. gasoline pumps have climbed for 32 consecutive days to a four-month high, as refinery closures cut output and higher crude prices raise costs. The national retail gasoline price has risen 43 cents, or 13%, to $3.73 a gallon since Jan. 17, according to the Automobile Association of America. Refinery shutdowns have ‘led to tighter supply, which also has driven up prices,’ said AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter. Refineries normally schedule maintenance, which can run anywhere from a few days to several weeks, in January and February, as those two months among the lowest gasoline demand as inclement weather makes drivers more reluctant to take to the roads. The problems were exacerbated by operational problems at oil terminals and refineries caused by superstorm Sandy, which slashed inventories.”
Of course, there’s something President Obama could do right away that would increase the oil supply in the United States and potentially bring down both crude prices and gas prices: approving construction of the full Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil to the U.S. from Canada. The pipeline was ready to be approved this time last year, but for political reasons, the president blocked it from going forward, citing in part issues in Nebraska over the route. Those were never a major obstacle and have now been resolved anyway.
With the campaign over and concerns in Nebraska resolved, the president has no reason not to approve the full pipeline right away. But, of course, Obama has put off the decision yet again, this time until June, as gas prices increase every day. Reuters wrote in January, “The Obama administration’s decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline will not be made until at least June, a U.S. official said, which would delay the project for months and frustrate backers of Canada’s oil sands. ‘We’re talking the beginning of summer at the earliest,’ said the source, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the TransCanada Corp project, which has been pending for more than four and a half years. ‘It’s not weeks until the final decision. It’s months.’”
As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said last month, “The President rejected Keystone last year because he didn’t want to offend his environmentalist base in a political year, but the election is over. With this hurdle now cleared, the President should give the green light to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would create thousands of good jobs as well as help make our nation more energy independent. The President says he’s for an all of the above approach to energy and now it’s time for him to live up to it. Nebraska has taken care of the issues the President raised when he denied the permit so there’s no more room for excuses or delays and it should be expeditiously approved.”