The Obama administration appears to have been slow to grasp the political implications of an escalation in the price of oil. When asked about it, outgoing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs referred the questioner to the Department of Energy.
Not everyone is alarmed by the incipient rise in the oil price. Republicans, who are especially close to the oil industry and its Washington lobby, orchestrated by the American Petroleum Institute, think that a great deal of hay can be made while this particular sun shines. They plan to attack the administration for spending too many resources on alternative fuels, over-regulating the industry, and keeping too many federal lands away from oil prospecting. They also accuse the administration of being too frugal with its release of drilling areas in the Gulf of Mexico and on the two coasts, as well as Alaska.
The Republicans have unlikely bedfellows in their quest to politicize the price of oil. They are joined by environmentalists who have long believed that only high prices will break America's passion for the automobile.
Environmentalists have long advocated European-style taxation to drive motorists out of their cars and onto buses and trains.
A third interest group that will take some pleasure in rising oil prices are those who are invested in alternatives such as ethanol, oil from algae and electric vehicles.
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