White House: Hiking Taxes on Oil Companies Won’t Cut Gas Prices--But Will Increase ‘Fairness’

March 12, 2012 - 2:52 PM

Gas Prices Economy

In this Feb. 28, 2012 photo, a BP station, selling regular gas at $3.79 a gallon, gets a delivery in Pittsburgh. The price of gas has jumped 45 cents since Jan. 1 and is the highest on record for this time of year, an average of $3.73 a gallon. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama’s desire to take away tax "loopholes" from oil companies--in other words, increase the taxes paid on oil--will do nothing to cut the cost of gas, but is entirely a “fairness” issue, a White House official told reporters Monday.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, addressed reporters during the daily press briefing, as a recent poll finds almost two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling gas prices.

The president has generally talked about an “all of the above strategy,” but last week the White House confirmed he personally called Democrats to stop them from voting for the Keystone XL pipeline, while promoting subsidies for alternative energy despite several failed companies.

One reporter asked if taking the subsidies away would do anything to lower the price of gas, or if it was about fairness.

“From our perspective, it’s a fairness issue,” Zichal said. “At a time when we’re making difficult decisions about the budget and where to make investments and where to cut, the fact that oil and gas companies are making record profits and at the same time getting $4 billion in subsidies annually, those subsidies should be repealed. The president has called for that, and I believe the Senate will be acting to vote on this as well.”

The national average price for gas is $3.80, according to AAA.

Zichal and Salazar talked about the one-year progress report for the White House’s “Blue Print for a Secure Energy Future,” with a stated goal of reaching energy independence.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday found 65 percent disapprove of how Obama is handling the price of gas, which has gone up about 50 cents per gallon this year. Just 26 percent approve.

In January, the Obama administration rejected the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline to transport about 830,000 barrels of oil from Alberta, Canada to Oklahoma and to Gulf Coast refineries.

Pressure from the president on Senate Democrats might have made a difference with regard to a bipartisan amendment that failed to get the needed 60 votes last week, passing by just 56-42, that would have allowed the Keystone XL pipeline to be extended. Had the proposal passed, Obama would have faced the choice of whether to cast an unpopular veto.

Salazar said the State Department never had the opportunity to reach a judgment about the pipeline “on the merits.” He said it is possible that it will be approved in the future.

He said anyone who suggests the Obama administration opposes domestic oil production is wrong.

“The fact of the matter is that we are producing more from public lands -- oil and gas -- both off shore and on shore than at any time in recent memory,” Salazar said.