ByÂ Kara Rowland-The Washington Times
With gasoline prices at the pump topping $4 a gallon in some parts of the country, President Obama on Friday said he will tap into a governmentâ€™s emergency oil stockpile if he has to, but said the U.S. is already producing more oil now and the current crisis is one of demand, not supply.
Mr. Obama told a news conference that domestic production has climbed under his watch, reaching its highest level since 2003 last year even as the one-year anniversary of the Gulf Coast oil spill approaches.
â€œAny notion that my administration has shut down oil production might make for a good political sound bite, but it doesnâ€™t match up with reality,â€ Mr. Obama told reporters.
Still, Gulf state lawmakers, congressional Republicans and even a federal judge have excoriated Mr. Obamaâ€™sÂ Interior Department for slow-walking new deepwater drilling permits, and said the higher
production Mr. Obama cites is the result of decisions theÂ George W. Bush administration made.
The Obama administration this month issued its first new deepwater drilling permit, despite lifting the moratorium Mr. Obama imposed after the 2010Â BP oil disaster more than four months ago.
In addition to weighing whether to tap into the nationâ€™s Strategic PetroleumÂ Reserve, the president said he has also instructed Attorney GeneralÂ Eric H. Holder Jr. to keep on the lookout for any price-gouging at the pump. Recent polls say that rising gas prices are a major concern for voters, raising new fears about the strength of the national economy.
On the crisis in Libya, Mr. Obama said the international community has an obligation to do all it can to prevent mass killings like those in the Balkans and in Rwanda during the 1990s. He said he supports NATOâ€™s around-the-clock monitoring of events in the violence-wracked North African nation, but stressed that any military action must be carefully considered.
â€œItâ€™s going to require some judgment calls,â€ Mr. Obama said, reiterating that he has taken no options off the table when it comes to addressing longtime Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafiâ€™s bloody
crackdown on the rebels. â€œThese are difficult calls.â€
Asked about bipartisan calls for him to assert greater leadership in the budget and spending debates as Congress considers a new bill to prevent a government shutdown, Mr. Obama said heâ€™s been in constant touch with members of both parties on the matter, telling them privately what is and is not acceptable as far as cuts go. Mr. Obama took specific aim at a House GOP effort to trim certain education programs, calling the proposal to cut back federal Pell Grants to help students meet tuition bills â€œirresponsible.â€
To read more, visit:Â http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/mar/11/obama-leery-tapping-oil-reserve/
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