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Obama defends energy policy

  |   Feb. 24, 2012 at 1:20 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama defended his energy policies this week, saying "there are no short-term silver bullets" to the issue of gasoline prices.

Speaking Thursday at the University of Miami in Florida, Obama took aim at increasing attacks by Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates on his administration over increasing gasoline prices.

"It's the easiest thing in the world to make phony election-year promises about lower gas prices. What's harder is to make a serious, sustained commitment to tackle a problem that may not be solved in one year or one term or even one decade," Obama said.

He characterized Republicans' energy strategy as, "Step one is drill, step two is drill and step three is keep drilling."

"Well the American people aren't stupid. You know that's not a plan -- especially since we're already drilling. It's a bumper sticker. It's not a strategy to solve our energy challenge. It's a strategy to get politicians through an election," Obama said.

The president cited instability in the Middle East as the biggest factor causing the price of oil to rise.

"When uncertainty increases, speculative trading on Wall Street can drive up prices even more. So there are short-term factors at work here," he said.

Saying that "we absolutely need safe, responsible oil production here in America," Obama maintained that "under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years."

But in a statement following the president's speech, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, criticized the Obama administration's track record on energy.

"Facing an election, the president would like everyone to forget that gas prices have doubled over the past three years while he consistently blocked and slowed the production of American-made energy," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said.

"From his drilling moratorium to his denial of the Keystone pipeline, the president has time and again sided with his liberal base over American families."

In his speech, Obama didn't directly mention the Keystone XL project -- a pipeline that would transit oil from tar sands projects in Canada to refineries along the southern U.S. coast -- but he said that his administration "has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada."

Obama said he has instructed his administration "to look for every single area where we can make an impact and help consumers in the months ahead, from permitting to delivery bottlenecks to what's going on in the oil markets."

"And we will keep taking as many steps as we can in the coming weeks," he added.

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