WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., responded to remarks made today by President Obama about skyrocketing gas prices, at a White House press conference.

Sen. Landrieu said:

“I share President Obama’s concern about how the current crisis in Libya and the constriction of supply in the U.S. are causing gas prices to skyrocket. Unfortunately, this administration still doesn’t seem to understand that the best way to combat rising gasoline prices is to encourage new domestic development and production of oil. By issuing permits in the Gulf and by opening new areas for development, we can combat the geopolitical events that affect what this country pays at the pump.

“The president wants his administration to account for of all the undeveloped leases held by oil and gas companies in the Gulf. I don’t know how the president expects companies to develop leases in the Gulf when they can’t even get permits to conduct exploratory activities. Since new regulations went into place last year after the spill, only one new exploration plan has been approved by the BOEM – only one permit in 10 months. By contrast, in March 2010, the month before the Macondo accident, 48 exploratory plans were issued. The president can’t hold companies accountable for development of leases when they simply can’t get permits to develop them.

“In addition, the president likes to boast that oil production in the U.S. is the highest it has been in seven years. This is certainly the direction our country needs to head to become more energy secure, but what the president doesn’t realize is that next year, production in the OCS will decrease by 250,000 barrels of oil a day and in 2012, production will be down by 500,000 barrels a day, all because of his policies. Before the Macondo accident, EIA expected production to increase in those years. So, this administration’s policies are actually taking us backwards, to the lowest amount of OCS production since at least 2008. Cleary, the president isn’t painting the full picture of U.S. oil and gas production.

“At his press conference, the president also indicated he was ready to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve if the crisis got any worse. I believe the Reserve is an invaluable tool and it should be used in times of true supply emergencies. Right now, we don’t have a supply crisis, we have a price crisis, caused, in part, by this administration’s policies. The Reserve was used in 1991 after Desert Storm and in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. Right now, I do not believe the current situation rises to the emergency level needed to release oil. If the president wanted to send a signal to the market to help slow down the acceleration of gas prices, he would get the U.S. industry back up and working as quickly as possible. That would send a stronger signal to the market than opening the Reserve.”