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Gas prices are on the rise again.  Today’s national average price for regular gasoline is $3.92/gallon.

For American drivers, this is nothing but the same old story: gas prices rise and fall all the time, right?  Sometimes, it spurs increased sales of plug in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel efficient cars, but now it’s creating unwarranted outrage at our current administration.

Republicans are painting a portrait of the president as some sort of diabolical mastermind hell-bent on drastically altering the American way of life by way of gas prices.  This misconception that the president wants to drive prices up is ludicrous on two accounts: 1) why, during a critical election year, would the president want to dig deeper into the pockets of Americans who are already trying to weather this recession?  2) It’s just plain incorrect.  The president of the United States doesn’t control gasoline prices.  Oil prices are set in a world market with America having little input, if any at all.

Before reading Paul Krugman’s recent op-ed in The New York Times, I was admittedly optimistic (dare I say giddy) over the prospect of rising gas prices.  This is not because I want to see people suffering financially (I have to pay for gas too), but because I believe the only real motivation for implementing alternative fuel sources into the American day-to-day is through people’s pockets.  Unfortunately even the most ardent idealist is driven by financial motives.  Although higher gas prices might be a hard pill to swallow at first, in a perfect world, it would lead to energy independence and eventually a clean, renewable infrastructure.

Feeding Time

But, alas, I was awoken from my illusory fantasy of a Jetsons-like world, free from the dependence on oil, by the mindless chanting of “Drill, baby, drill.”  Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney believes that we can alleviate the pain at the pump by removing environmental restrictions on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  As Krugman points out in his op-ed Natural Born Drillers, “we’re already having a hydrocarbon boom, with U.S. oil and gas production rising and U.S. fuel imports dropping.  If there were any truth to drill-here-drill-now, this boom should have yielded substantially lower gasoline prices and lots of new jobs.  Predictably, however, it has done neither.”

In addition to once again propelling that interminable chant of “Drill, baby, drill,” rising gas prices have also led to a 9 percent drop (50 to 41 percent) in President Obama’s approval rating.  In order to preserve the sanity of government and avoid a President Romney or, dare I say it, President S…Sa…Santorum, clean energy advocates are forced to bite their tongues and accept the push for lower gas prices in the meantime, forgoing any immediate improvement in order to facilitate a future free from the reliance on oil.