Is Trump Really To Blame For Rising Gas Prices?

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

Democratic operatives are preparing to attack President Donald Trump over rising gas prices, but their moves may appear manufactured given the intricacies of the international oil market.

As part of their 2018 midterm strategy, national Democrats are gearing up to hammer Trump over increased pain at the pump. Gas prices are up nearly 60 cents from this time in 2017, with a lot of Americans wondering if the costs will eat into the money saved from GOP-enacted tax cuts.

A Senate Democratic aide told The Daily Beast that his party will be tying gas hikes to Trump in the run up to Memorial Day weekend. Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee will also try to tie GOP tax cuts to financial gains made by the oil and gas industry with a soon-to-be released report.

Political attacks involving gas prices have served as a perennial tradition among candidates for office, where both former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were deemed responsible for high prices at the gas station. Trump himself used his favorite social media platform to ding Obama over the issue in 2012.

However, virtually all oil experts agree there is more at play than simply policy emanating from the White House.

“Typically we see gas prices start to increase this time of year with the switchover to summer blend, which is more expensive to produce,” said Jeanette Casselano in a Tuesday statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. Casselano serves as the public relations director for AAA, a nonprofit association of motor clubs. “But that is just one of many factors driving pump prices. In addition, global events, decreased global supply and increased global demand, expensive crude oil prices and record U.S. production are contributing to the more expensive prices.” (RELATED: Four Reasons You’ll Pay More At The Pump This Summer)

Beyond geopolitical events, such as the U.S withdrawal from the Iran Deal and expected sanctions on Venezuela, there are numerous factors at play far outside of American shores. Following a slump in prices, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) coordinated a reduction in oil production to reverse the trend. Their goal proved widely successful.

In actuality, the Trump administration has hit the ground running with an “America First” energy agenda, cutting back environmental regulations in order to boost production. Additionally, the U.S. in recent years has experienced a shale oil boom, with production and exporting rates proliferating. This phenomenon has been in large part due to the implementation of hydraulic fracturing and the efficiency of natural gas.

“Last year, 96 million barrels consumed a day. This year, pushing towards 98 million barrels a day, with much of that due to increased economic activity outside of North America,” said Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, in a Wednesday statement to TheDCNF. “We saw an attempt over the past year and a half for OPEC’s 12 members — and another 13 members of non-OPEC nations, like Russia – to try to curtail the amount of output and that had the predictable effect of raising prices. At the same time, U.S. shale producers have responded by increasing their production by a million barrels, but the reality is that global demand for oil continues to rise.”

It would be in any government’s interest to pursue at least some degree of energy independence to protect itself from the complications that come with OPEC manipulation and other international factors, McTeague added.

“I think it’s the priority of any government that wants to ensure that its citizens are not subjected to what we’ve seen in the past – which is the vagaries of decisions by a cartel,” he said.

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