Updated: December 31, 2012 5:43PM
Gasoline prices in Lake County have been on a recent rollercoaster ride. The price of gas was close to $4 a gallon a few weeks ago, then it dropped to $3.45 a gallon and now is trending a bit upward. Of all the misleading factoids tossed around by candidates this presidential election season is the one that presidents can control the price of gasoline. Essentially, no president can do much about gas prices in the short run.
Gas nationwide was, indeed, about $1.86 when President Obama took office Jan. 20, 2009, but only because gas prices had plummeted with the global economic crash. A mere eight weeks earlier, gas prices had topped $4 a gallon — higher than today. Gas prices climbed steadily through all eight years of the Bush administration.
Oil is traded on a world market, whether it’s drawn from a well in Saudi Arabia or off the coast of Alaska, making it difficult for any White House to control prices. A new well in America can take a decade or longer to get up and running and, even then, the oil can be sold worldwide. America’s dream of “energy independence” is sure to remain just that, a dream, without further development of renewable home-produced energy such as solar and wind.
Truth is, presidents deserve little credit or blame, given that oil field yields reflect corporate and government decisions made years earlier.
Yet, too many Americans, misled by folks running for office, continue to believe that the incumbent in the White House, whoever he may be, is directly responsible for the current price of gas at the pump.