Expert: Gasoline a global commodity

March 5, 2012 at 8:59 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 5 (UPI) -- There's little any U.S. presidential administration can do to lower the price of gasoline dramatically in the domestic market, an expert said.

U.S. retail gasoline prices have followed oil prices upward amid tensions with Iran. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican candidate for president, has said he could get gasoline down to about $2 per gallon through a variety of domestic initiatives. U.S. President Barack Obama is facing pressure to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to settle market tensions.

James Sweeney, director of an energy efficiency center at Stanford University, told the San Francisco Chronicle there's little the U.S. government can do about gasoline prices.

"If you ask what the president can do now, there's very few options," he said.

Obama's critics say his domestic energy policies are in part to blame for higher energy prices. The administration counters that domestic reserves make up only 2 percent of the global oil market so any independent action would have few sustained benefits.

Sweeney stressed U.S. policies need to be weighed against the broader global market.

"The price we pay (for gasoline) is shaped by the world price," he told the newspaper.

Crude oil prices account for about 70 percent of the price of gasoline.

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