Setting the Record Straight on Gas Prices (In Charts)

Last week, Speaker Boehner claimed that “the price of gasoline is driven by two factors. It’s driven by supply and it’s driven by demand.” Right now we’re seeing high gas prices across the country, but it’s not because of supply and demand–in fact, supply is up and demand is down.

On the supply side, the number of oil rigs operating in the United States has quadrupled under President Obama:

Oil Rigs Under Obama Chart

And there are more oil and natural gas rigs operating in the U.S. than in the rest of the world–combined. Domestic oil production is at an 8-year high and natural gas production grew for the largest annual increase in history (and production is projected to increase even more):

US domestic oil production under Obama chart

On the demand side, U.S. demand for oil is at the lowest level in nearly 15 years:

U.S. oil demand will fall to a 15-year low of 18.77 million barrels a day this year, led by a drop in gasoline demand to an 11-year low, government forecasters said Tuesday. [Fox Business, 3/6/12]

And our dependence on foreign oil has dropped–oil imports are down to the lowest level in 17 yeas, dropping every single year since President Obama took office, from 57% to 45% of total consumption:

Foreign Oil Dependence under Bush and Obama chart

With supply up and demand down, as Leader Pelosi said, our high gas prices are coming from speculators:

Independent reports confirm that speculators are driving up the cost of oil, hurting consumers and potentially damaging the economic recovery. Wall Street profiteering, not oil shortages, is the cause of the price spike.

Wall Street speculators currently control two-thirds of the oil futures market–double the historical average. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Bart Chilton estimates that speculation raises price at the pump by 22 percent, or about 56 cents per gallon:

What Oil Speculators are costing you

Instead of working to curb speculation, House Republicans are actually trying to cripple the policing of those manipulating oil prices. They’ve moved H.R. 1573–legislation to delay key Wall Street reforms to stop excessive speculation in oil markets–and twice voted to cut the budget of the CFTC by as much as 33% making it more difficult for the agency to crack down on speculation. Of course, House Republicans have also voted several times to protect the $4 billion in tax breaks the oil industry receives each year–even as the five largest oil companies took in a record $137 billion in profits last year:

Oil Company profits

With rising gas prices hurting consumers and potentially damaging our economic recovery, it would be helpful if House Republicans stopped putting the profits of their special interest friends before the pocketbooks of the American people and joined House Democrats in their efforts to crack down on Wall Street speculators.