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  • Morning Bell: 10 Ways to Lower Gas Prices

    The average price of a gallon of regular gas is now $3.66, and has been decreasing for eight straight weeks. This is causing some of the President Obama’s advisors to declare energy prices an irrelevant issue. Political advisor David Axelrod recently tweeted: “Gas prices have been going down for the past six weeks. You think the GOP will blame the President?”

    In those six weeks, the only significant energy policy change at the White House was to make new coal production nearly impossible and thus vastly increase the cost of electricity. So, it is hard to assign this slight dip to the president after a record 75 straight weeks of prices exceeding $3.00. However, it is true that the president is not entirely responsible for gas prices.

    Market and economic conditions play a large role. With unemployment creeping back up, new global turmoil and summer travel on the wane due to a sagging economy, demand is surely dropping. But that does not mean, and has never meant, that the president’s policies or Congressional action does not play any role in gas prices.

    After three years of adding regulatory hurdles and blocking exploratory access and development, President Obama’s policies are helping keep prices higher than necessary. Having only three percent of federal land available for oil exploration is not a “market condition.”

    But we are in luck. There are several steps Congress can immediately take, and President Obama can immediately support, that will help alleviate the pain felt at the pump by American families and would create economic growth, and importantly, jobs.

    In a new paper, Heritage’s Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow, Nick Loris lists ten actions Congress could immediately take that would help improve gas prices in the short term and the long term:

    1. Lift offshore and onshore exploration and drilling bans: We remain the only nation in the world that has placed the majority of its territorial waters off limits to exploration. Congress should lift the ban on exploration in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and conduct more lease sales off Alaska’s coasts.

    2. Approve Keystone XL: The Keystone pipeline has bipartisan support and continues to be consistently popular, polling at 60 percent in November 2011 and 57 percent in late March. 69 Democrats joined House Republicans on a vote of support in April with Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) saying: “I think the president has made a very serious mistake here.”

    Yet, President Obama continues to block it and the jobs that come with it. Had Obama not delayed approval, up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day would have come from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries by as early as 2013. That’s more than we bring in from Venezuela, our fourth largest importer.

    3. Require timely environmental review: Environmental review requirements for oil and gas projects to commence on federal lands under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) take too long. Congress should place a reasonable 270-day time limit on NEPA reviews.

    4. Permitting process: The processing time for an Application for Permit to Drill (APD) extends well past the 30-day time limit. Loris recommends: “Congress should require the Department of the Interior to honor the law’s deadline unless the Interior finds fault with the application…[and] should ultimately transition the permitting process to state regulators, who are best able to balance economic growth and environmental well-being.”

    5. Issue leases on time: Rather than implementing an efficient leasing process, the Department of the Interior keeps adding administrative regulations to make the process more burdensome and bureaucratic. Congress should remove unnecessary red tape and if Interior fails to issue a lease within 60 days, it should be considered issued by default.

    6. Allow development of oil shale: Oil shale production in the U.S. could be a global game changer since we hold the largest known reserves in the world. However, 70 percent of those reserves lie beneath federal lands. The Obama Administration has introduced new regulations, time frames, and significantly reduced the land available for leases. Congress should make permanent the 2008 guidelines for oil shale development in order to provide regulatory certainty.

    7. Stop the land grab: Through Secretarial Order No. 3310, the Department of Interior is unilaterally and arbitrarily classifying federal land areas as “Wilderness” or “Wild Lands” restricting access to new drilling areas, preventing production on existing leases and halting economic growth. Congress should permanently block Secretarial Order No. 3310 and any similar designation should require congressional approval.

    8. Implement 50/50 revenue sharing: States receive 50 percent of the revenues generated by onshore oil and natural gas production on federal lands and Congress should apply this allocation offshore as well. This would encourage more state involvement in drilling decisions and help state economies, whether by closing a deficit or aiding coastal restoration and conservation.

    9. Prohibit greenhouse gas and Tier 3 gas regulations: In 2010, Interior suspended 61 leases in Montana alone because environmental groups charged that the energy production would contribute to climate change, demonstrating the need to permanently prohibit any federal agency from unilaterally regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the proposed Tier 3 gas regulations to lower the amount of sulfur in gasoline are costly with no measurable benefits. Congress should prohibit the implementation of these regulations. Unelected bureaucrats should not hold such power over the economy.

    10. Repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Soon, refiners will be fined when the amount of ethanol mandated exceeds the amount that can be refined for use but the mandate requires production of cellulosic ethanol, which no companies have been able to viably produce commercially. As a result, refiners paid more than $6 million in waiver credits or surcharges in 2011. It is an economic and environmental disaster and must be repealed.

    President Obama is keen to accept credit for the windfall of oil production in North Dakota and in other private areas outside federal control, where jobs are plentiful and unemployment has plummeted. Meanwhile, production on federal land is decreasing and regulatory conditions are worsening. It would be to the president’s benefit to embrace some or all of these reforms that could immediately help American families filling up the minivan. Another 75 weeks with gas prices over $3.00, and household goods and food costing more as a result, will not help an already anemic recovery.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    59 Responses to Morning Bell: 10 Ways to Lower Gas Prices

    1. glynnda says:

      Sure Heritage, I know he'll jump right on it….and even if Congress tries to force the issue, the Senate will block it…….The smart thing to do would be to encourage Mr. Romney to pick up on these 10 items and have him MAKE them an issue that can be demonstrated to the public both for energy issues and for the ridiculous regulatory burdens that government puts on business.

    2. none says:

      How about increasing the value of our currency? (Being as its devaluation has been the largest contributor to the increasing price of nearly everything of tangible value.)

    3. toledofan says:

      Great article but I think you missed the most important reason and that's as long as Obama and the Democrats control the Whitehouse and the Senate nothing will change. So, to reduce the cost, Obama needs to be voted out, the Senate Democrats need to be sent packing and Americans need to let the country heal by tuning the Democrats out in general.

    4. Chan Brown says:

      and speculation influence?…..how about making the futures boys take possession of the product?…

    5. Bill_n_Baltimre says:

      How about drilling in ANWR ?

    6. Victor Barney says:

      The "SIGNS" of the TIMES WILL DICTATE! WATCH! BYE!

    7. Oh yeah rape and loot the wildlife. Burn the forest to the ground. Destroy the Ogala Aquifer. Oh and of course to make big bucks for the oil company, gas company and the day traders.

      • Tip says:

        Idiot

      • dodger says:

        Nobody's going to "rape and loot" the wildlife or "burn the forest to the ground" and you know it. Also, the Ogallala (note correct spelling, Thomas) Aquifer already has literally hundreds of pipelines for different products running through it. As to oil/gas companies and day traders, without them we'd have NO gas! Here's a link to a map showing the existing & proposed pipelines:
        http://heartland.org/sites/default/files/ogallala

      • Fargoguy says:

        Those are incredibly well-thought out comments . . . . do you have any other pearls of wisdom like,"We should go back to horse-drawn carriages to protect the environment!"

    8. Earl Jones says:

      Unfortunately these 10 things will not occur within this administration, they are against the policy of making this a socialist state. I'm not even sure Romney is the guy to pull it off, perhaps if he gets elected he will sign mass "executive orders" putting all or most of these items in play.

    9. jaxon345 says:

      you forgot the # 1 way-Get Obama out of office.

      • Juan Martinez says:

        and you forgot the #2 way: start a war against an oil-rich country (justified of course, as self-defense), invade and conquer it, spend our soldiers' lives to occupy it for 8 years, and try to convert it into a vassal state that offers us lots of cheap oil. That worked well for the last guy in the White House.

        • Canger says:

          Keep in mind, although I see and understand what you are saying, we wouldn't have to search/war/depend on those occupied countries nearly as much if we could just get access to our own natural resources.

    10. Gordon says:

      There are actually only two ways to reduce the price of Gas. One is to reduce demand and the other is to increase the supply. You have given 10 ways to increase the supply.

      • Taylor says:

        You're 75% correct. Increasing supply has little effect on prices for products with steep demand curves, those are products with high demand and few suitable alternatives. I would argue strongly that gasoline has a very steep demand curve. Therefore the best way to reduce prices would be to address the high demand. Congratulations on being 50% more right than the author of this blog.

    11. Tom Elliott says:

      I'm surprised Heritage missed the most critical component of all: inflation. If you look at a chart showing gas priced in gold, the price is falling: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-about-th

      The weakening dollar more than accounts for the overall rise in energy prices over the last three years.

      • Pragmatic says:

        This is false. Gold does not have a fixed value it floats just like other commodity prices (including oil). For your argument to work, all other currencies would have to be being devalued as well. There are obvious supply side issues and uncertainty – hence the increase in oil prices.

        Further, treasury bonds are being sold at 1.5% interest. If investors were really worried about inflation they wouldn't be parking their money in treasuries at that low of an interest rate.

    12. docboyer says:

      Obama's agenda has not changed. First bankrupt America then bankrupt its citizens. The declare America
      is a socialist country because capitalism didn't work. It is a short jump from socialism to dictatorship.

    13. Jim says:

      Obama is not entirely responsible for high energy prices. As he works to destroy our economy, that is putting downward pressure on energy demand and energy prices! ;-)

    14. Century22 says:

      I'll forward this article to my clueless Senator Brown in Ohio.
      I have already reprimanded him for his STUPID ideas of more taxation and regulation.
      Most of the ideas listed I have already told him about.

      • EFWOSU says:

        Libtard Brown's days are numbered as well. Most of his actions go against what is best for Ohio. There's not much he wants more than Cap and Trade.

    15. Jeanne Stotler says:

      He gave lots of money to Brazil for their refineries and drilling "We will be your best customer" that money should have gone to refurbishing our refineries and opening drilling up on federal lands. If we had done that you would have seen oil by OPEC drop quickly. We have the resources, we just need regulations relaxed so we can use them.

    16. Ed Johnson says:

      Require a single gasoline blending formula for all 50 states instead of allowing each state to have their own formula. This would significantly improve refining efficiency and the ability to minimize inventory shortages across state lines.

      • sss says:

        A Petition should be on this ASAP.

      • Pat says:

        While I understand where you're coming from, this isn't as good of a solution as it sounds. I don't want the same fuel in January here in Northern Wisconsin as you'd buy in Arizona. If you brewed it for up here, you'd complain of lack of power and poor mileage down there. Conversely, if you gave me the fuel from down there on a day that hit -20, my truck would barely run. In short, not all different fuel blends are the product of the epa, some are done to improve vehicle operation.

    17. sue says:

      The prices are not going down here in Utah. Where are they going down? Ours have been relatively low and are now increasing weekly. Sue

    18. While there may be ways to lower gas prices, there are also plenty of ways to CONSERVE gas and thus pay less for it:

      1: Ease up on the gas pedal and the brake. It is more fuel-efficient to drive in a gentler manner, rather than stomping on the accelerator as soon as the light turns green, and slamming on the brakes as soon as you come to a red light or a stop sign.

      2: Drive a little slower. Everyone should know by now that you can get much better MPG at 55-60 mph than you will if you go screaming down the interstate at 85 mph.

      (CONTINUED)

    19. (CONTINUED)

      3: Buy a more practical vehicle. Sure, a luxury SUV is going to be comfortable, and no one is going to fault someone for buying a vehicle big enough to accomodate a large family. But if you're just driving yourself to work, use a smaller car. On the other hand, if comfort and convenience are all that are important, don't complain about the price of gas.

      4: Invest in a bicycle, or just start walking a little more often. There's no point in jumping into your SUV and driving a mile to the 7-11 whenever you're in the mood for a Slurpee. Start flapping your own two legs a little more often. It's good for your health, the environment, and it's easier on your wallet.

    20. I agree we also must decrease the demand for gasoline by requiring the car makers to build more energy efficient cars and trucks. They need to speed up the increases in the cafe standards or mpgs for these vehicles.

    21. Eagle's Perch says:

      If you were OPEC who would you want to have in the White House next January? Easy. Obama because he wants high gas prices. How would you help get him there? Create a horrible problem to make people feel badly about him and then miraculously solve it to make them feel good about him. Why not inexorably raise the price of crude oil so Obama's policies re no drilling, and no Keystone project, etc. raise gasoline prices and become a big issue for Republicans to blame Obama about and then just out of nowhere allow oil prices to come down big time just into election season. That would take the issue off the table and away from Republicans and make them look stupid and make people feel good about their president and want him to stay in office, would it not?

    22. nick says:

      You missed one.

      11. Stop printing extra dollars at the Fed.

    23. ken says:

      Why not allow cars like Ford makes to sell in South American, which get in the neighborhood of twice the amount of mileage as those made for our use, to be sold here. The EPA Standards would still be met if they were computed on a per mileage basis.

    24. Ed Johnson says:

      Overide the numerous and different gasoline blending requirements individual states have required. This alone would save money in the refining process and also improve supply evenness across all states. This saving should result in lower gasoline prices.

    25. Bobbie says:

      Lift the regulatory bans that obama put in place! TODAY! Obama doesn't take responsibility for what he is responsible for! Hold him accountable! How much profit does the government make off the oil industries compared to the industries themselves INCLUDING EXXON as they've lowered themselves to be conflicts of their customers interest.

      • Pragmatic says:

        "How much profit does the government make off the oil industries compared to the industries themselves…"

        They don't. In fact, our government subsidizes the oil companies and then taxes us on gas consumption. The oil companies also have really low effective tax rates.

        • Bobbie says:

          how much subsidies does oil get compared to green energy and what amount of those oil subsidies goes into research compared to green energy that pockets their subsidies to stay afloat of their wasteful inefficiencies who's interference is driving astronomical costs to efficient energy? The President has the power to fix this. NOW!

    26. GoodOleBoy says:

      So the states get 50% of proceeds, then why do land owners get 1/8 ? Anyway if Romney wins and the Senate stays Democrat Romney can do what obama has done. Executive orders and use the EPA to backpedal and strip away roadblocks.

    27. DanJ1 says:

      The single biggest contributer has to be Obama and his Fed's monetary policy but there are many more. The most thorough analysis can be found here: http://blog.reasonablethinkers.com/2012/03/12/whe

    28. Mike88 says:

      I have a much better idea concerning the Federal Permitting Process for drilling , totally eliminate the Federal Permitting Process and have the individual States issue permits to oil or natural Gas companies for Drilling or fracking. We need to get less Federal Control not keep the status quo. The Federal Department of energy was created in the 1970's to help the united states become less dependent on Foreign Oil, that apparently hasn't worked out so well for the united states has it. Today we are even more dependent on Foreign oil then we were back then, that means the status quo hasn't worked out very well. The individual States could oversee the drilling process much better then the Federal Departments because they know what their state needs.

    29. malcolm says:

      Bush's fault the gas prices are going down!

    30. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      DRILL, BABY, DRILL!

    31. Walter Bowen says:

      Numbers 7 and 9 are straight out of the United Nation's Agenda 21 Handbook!

    32. Barbara says:

      I'd like to know where to get gas at under $4.00 a gallon. We pay $4.20 here in our town in Oregon. That's $.10 a gallon more than last week. Not going down yet here.

    33. Public_Citizen says:

      ""10. Repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Soon, refiners will be fined when the amount of ethanol mandated exceeds the amount that can be refined for use but the mandate requires production of cellulosic ethanol, which no companies have been able to viably produce commercially. As a result, refiners paid more than $6 million in waiver credits or surcharges in 2011. It is an economic and environmental disaster and must be repealed.""
      lets see….. My business is already producing the maximum amount of product that my plant is capable of using currently available technology but the law requires me to produce even more than that AND to use a mandated process that science has been unable to develop to something larger than laboratory research scale.
      As a business owner responsible to a board of directors and stockholders I have to do everything I reasonably can to control costs. The government intends to FINE me [increase my operating costs] for not doing meeting an arbitrary bureaucratic target based on wishful thinking [no matter how well intentioned it is still based on fairy-tale logic]. It seems that my only prudent course of action is to eliminate this too costly business and find some more profitable and less subject to whimsical government predation place to invest the shareholders money.
      This will lead to a further decrease in the production of ethanol and guarantee that the publicly stated goal becomes even more costly to the consumer.

    34. PacRim Jim says:

      You forgot one:
      Never vote for a Democrat.

    35. Rod says:

      Here in California the cheapest gas I have found so far is $4.03 a ga. I would be over joyed if I could get gas for $3.50

    36. ray says:

      do not use gas and gasoline interchangably.

    37. djw663 says:

      There is absolutely no reason why gas should be over $2.00 per gallon. I have worked in this industry for the past 25 years and the regulations, especially in CA, are killing the small business' not to mention that the federal gov't, the state and the credit card companies all make more money off the fuel that the gas stations sell than they do! Why should entities that have no financial risk (except the CC companies) make more money off the fuels stations than the station owner? If the roads where in great repair I don't think anyone would care, but to have more damage done to vehicles each year thatcosts more money to fix the cars because of the roads being in such poor shape than it would cost to fix the roads is just another failed gov't project.

    38. kevin says:

      Gee, don't we need to ween ourselves off of fossil fuels. This was talked about in the 70's already. Oil is traded globally. As long as global demand increases they have us. Oil will continue to be more expensive to get and harder to get. Will we leave a better world for our children? Little things help. Walk, ride a bike if you can. Next time buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. To blame any president is crazy, we have ourselves to blame.

    39. Ric109 says:

      So your solution to petral prices being too high …is to remove regulations so we can find more petral. Mhm yeah! That's smart. Instead of investing our time in more clean and environmentally friendly fuel sources let's just keep digging up the same crap that we were before. Maybe while we're at it we could have ourselves another jolly old oil spill and kill a few more species of macro-organism. Don't forget about that beautiful global warming. Gotta speed that up even more. Looks like someone didn't watch captain planet as a child.

      The problem isn't with the president. It's with minds like yours …hell bent on sucking the very life from our ecosystem so that you can keep your car running.

      Americans. The oil hungry disease plaguing this planet.

    40. Taylor says:

      You seem to have an extensive knowledge of the supply side of gasoline. However you completely ignore simple economic theory in your approach to reduce gas prices. Gasoline for vehicles has an incredibly steep demand curve due to the fact that there is a high dependency and limited suitable alternatives. Regardless of the supply, as long as there is demand companies can charge whatever they want and still turn profits. No serious individual would have an entire list of ways to reduce gas prices and not even mention pursuing alternative fuels or electric cars…

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