Democrats are using rising gasoline prices to attack President Donald Trump and Republicans ahead of the midterm elections in November.
While both parties have used energy prices as political leverage, it might be a hard sell for Democrats given their backing of policies to curb fossil fuel consumption through taxation and regulations. Indeed, the Democrats’ 2016 party platform called for taxing carbon dioxide emissions, which would have certainly raised gas prices.
Democrats were nearly successful in passing cap-and-trade legislation in 2010 that would have put a price on carbon dioxide emissions. Cap-and-trade passed the House but failed in the Senate when Democrats couldn’t muster the votes.
“These people are not serious about energy, since the only things they support make energy more expensive, from more taxes and carbon taxes to stopping drilling and pipelines,” Daniel Kish of the free-market Institute for Energy Research told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“They’re like the child who kills his parents and then begs for the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan,” Kish said.
Former President Barack Obama also proposed in 2016 a 30-percent tax on every barrel of oil extracted in the U.S. to pay for infrastructure. Had Congress went along with it, the price of oil in 2018 would be more than $103 a barrel.
Obama even told Floridians in 2012 “we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.”
However, crude prices collapsed in the summer of 2014 because of a glut of oil that had built up over the years. U.S. hydraulically fractured oil contributed to the price downturn, which was exacerbated by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision not to cut production in 2017.
Republicans have also used high gas prices as a political tool. Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney went after Obama for high gas prices during the 2012 election, claiming Obama had not “pursued policies that convince the world that America is going to become energy secure, energy independent.”
But now that Trump’s in charge, Democrats are trying to curry favor with voters ahead of the November election. (RELATED: Trump Is Lifting Obama-Era Regs Off Alaska Hunters)
Senate Democrats tweeted out a video montage of news segments on rising gas prices Monday, including those that put partial blame on Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. Trump announced withdrawal from the Iran deal in early May, which put more upward pressure on oil prices.
That same day Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts released a report on “Trump’s oil risk tax,” blaming the president’s “incoherent foreign policy” and a Republican-led effort that successfully lifted the ban on U.S. oil exports in 2015.
It’s an odd attack given Markey spent years opposing virtually all forms of fossil fuel extraction, from offshore drilling to hydraulic fracturing. For example, Markey opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, and he opposed plans to open up more offshore areas for oil and gas drilling.
Markey warned that fracking could “turn stretches of forest into lifeless dunes” in a 2012 letter to the Energy Department. He co-sponsored cap-and-trade legislation two years earlier that would have made energy — including gasoline — more expensive.
Markey’s report calls on Trump to reinstate the crude export ban, ensure the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is sufficiently stocked and keep Obama administration fuel efficiency standards in place.
House Democrats also held a forum in D.C. on Tuesday on the dangers of opening the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas drilling. It invited anti-drilling activists and tribal leaders to testify against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to energy exploration.
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