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Leaders trade blame for gasoline prices

Leaders trade blame for gasoline prices
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to autoworkers at the Daimler Trucks North America Freightliner plant in Mount Holly, North Carolina on March 7, 2012. UPI/Nell Redmond . | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Critics of the White House said more domestic oil and gas production would lower U.S. gasoline prices but others called for fewer breaks for big oil companies.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power had hearings over gasoline prices. With oil prices near 9-month highs, analysts said retail gasoline prices could move closer to $4 per gallon.

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American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said more domestic oil production and increased supplies through the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada would help lower gasoline prices. He said this would shield the U.S. energy market from volatility brought on by tensions in the Middle East.

"These market forces are challenging but America doesn't have to be held captive by them," he said. "With sound policy and bold leadership, we can put this country's vast resources to work to change the current energy equation."

But Daniel Weiss, director of climate policy at the Center for American Progress, said Republican leaders were withholding investments for alternatives to oil.

"While withholding investments for alternatives to oil, we continue tax breaks for Big Oil companies even though the price of oil is nearly double compared to when President (George W.) Bush said that such support was unnecessary," he said in his written testimony.

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U.S. President Barack Obama said during a visit to an automobile plant in North Carolina he wanted lawmakers to commit more money to research into alternative-fuel vehicles.

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