- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

As Democrats increasingly worry that rising gasoline prices could hurt President Obama’s re-election effort, the White House on Tuesday lashed out at House Speaker John A. Boehner for renewing his call to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“That’s the kind of empty promise that politicians make when we face hikes in the global price of oil that is really dishonest with the American people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said of Mr. Boehner’s latest effort to get the administration to approve the pipeline.

Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, wrote a letter Tuesday to Mr. Obama urging him to “change course” and approve TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline.

Last month, Mr. Obama rejected the proposed crude-oil pipeline through environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico.

On Monday, the White House said it was open to the company’s proposal to build a portion of the pipeline from Oklahoma to the Gulf, and to reapply for the northern part of the route.

But Mr. Boehner said Americans can’t wait that long.

“Over the last three years, your administration has blocked, slowed and discouraged the production of critical American energy sources,” Mr. Boehner wrote to the president. “These actions are bad for energy prices and bad for jobs.”

Administration officials, including first lady Michelle Obama, have been telling audiences in recent weeks that rising gas prices are cyclical and beyond the president’s control. Mr. Carney said the spike in gas prices has been “recurring almost annually.”

But gas prices have risen about 42 cents per gallon since Jan. 1, and are at the highest level since summer 2008. And Democrats are clearly worried about the impact it could have on the party in power in an election year.

“They’re not at historic high levels,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, told reporters Tuesday. “But they are high, and yes, I’m concerned, and yes, I’m concerned about the impact it has on the administration.”

According to AAA, the average price of gas is currently $3.72 per gallon.