ABC News’ Arlette Saenz reports:
With the nuclear crisis in Japan, some members of Congress are asking how the situation will impact gas prices at the pump, but an energy department official said the impact could be slight.
“In terms of Japan, yesterday in terms of immediate response, we’d actually seen a decline in oil prices which I think most of us would associate to a concern there would actually be a decline in economic activity,” Richard Newell, an administrator with the Energy Information Administration, said at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing. “As of yesterday, the price of oil was down significantly. Today, it’s back up again.”
Newell told reporters during a break that “in the global scheme of things, it will probably be a small impact,” according to the Associated Press. Instead, Newell pointed to other global issues as the main source of rising gas prices.
“In terms of how this all shakes out, there’s really a number of competing things going on right now in global oil markets,” Newell said in the hearing. “A principal one is the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. Japan was weighing on that yesterday, but today it seems like the resurgence is more associated with again turning to unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Earlier this month, the EIA projected regular gas at the pump will average $3.70 per gallon this summer and $3.56 per gallon for 2011.
The focus of the hearing was “Harnessing American Resources to Create Jobs and Address Rising Gasoline Prices, and Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., accused the Obama administration of stifling efforts to produce American jobs and lower gas prices.
“Since the President’s earliest days in office, his administration has blocked, delayed, hindered and obstructed energy production across America from coast to coast, on-shore and off-shore all the way to Alaska,” Hastings said. “All of these actions cost American jobs and lead to higher gasoline and energy costs.”
But Ranking Member Ed Markey, D-Mass., countered Hastings with a horse racing analogy calling the Republican’s position of “Drill Baby Drill” an “old horse, the one running flat out for decades,” in contrast to the “much recent entry in the race” – clean energy.
“The Republican energy policy amounts to nothing more than beating a dead horse,” Markey said. “If we unleash clean energy, let her out of the starting gate, we will find ourselves in the winner’s circle in no time, as a country, looking over our shoulders at number two and three in the world.”