Full Text Obama Presidency April 17, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Urges Congress to Increase Pressure on Oil Market Manipulation

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Obama Calls for Increased Oversight of Oil Markets

Source: NYT, 4-17-12

President Obama announced a plan to crack down on oil market manipulation, calling on Congress to increase federal supervision of oil markets and to provide a way for bigger penalties for those who manipulate markets….READ MORE

Cracking Down on Oil Market Manipulation

Source: WH, 4-17-12

President Barack Obama announces a plan to increase oversight and crack down on manipulation in oil markets (April 17, 2012)

President Barack Obama announces a plan to increase oversight and crack down on manipulation in oil markets (April 17, 2012)

Lately, President Obama has spent a lot of time discussing his all-of-the-above strategy for American energy.

The central idea is this: It’s going to take a range of initiatives, from increased drilling to scientific breakthroughs in the development of renewable fuel sources, to put the United States on solid footing when it comes to our energy future.

But one of the reasons that fuel prices can jump unpredictably has nothing at all to do with production or even consumption. There are those who work to manipulate the energy markets for their own financial gain.

And today, President Obama announced a new series of steps to strengthen oversight over those markets — while asking lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at curbing illegal behavior and holding the people who manipulate markets accountable.

At an event this morning in the Rose Garden, the President outlined the reasons for action:

We can’t afford a situation where speculators artificially manipulate markets by buying up oil, creating the perception of a shortage, and driving prices higher — only to flip the oil for a quick profit. We can’t afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions, while millions of American families get the short end of the stick. That’s not the way the market should work. And for anyone who thinks this cannot happen, just think back to how Enron traders manipulated the price of electricity to reap huge profits at everybody else’s expense.

The President’s plan would do five things:

1) Increase funding to increase the number of surveillance and enforcement staff charged with oversight of the oil futures market;

2) Allow the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to upgrade the technology used to monitor the energy markets;

3) Increase the civil and criminal penalties for those convicted of manipulating the oil futures market;

4) Provide the CFTC with additional the authority to limit disruptions in the oil market; and

5) Expand access to CFTC data so that analysts can better understand trading trends in the oil markets.

Read his full remarks here.


Learn More:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Increasing Oversight on Manipulation in Oil Markets

Rose Garden

11:27 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Lately, I’ve been speaking a lot about our need for an all-of-the-above strategy for American energy — a strategy that produces more oil and gas here at home, but also produces more biofuels and fuel-efficient cars, more solar power and wind power and other sources of clean, renewable energy.

This strategy is not just the right thing to do for our long-term economic growth; it’s also the right way for us to reduce our dependence on foreign oil right now. It’s the right way for us to put people to work right now. And ultimately, it’s the right way to stop spikes in gas prices that we’ve put up [with] every single year — the same kind of increase that we’ve seen over the past couple of months.

Obviously rising gas prices means a rough ride for a lot of families. Whether you’re trying to get to school, trying to get to work, do some grocery shopping, you have to be able to fill up that gas tank. And there are families in certain parts of the country that have no choice but to drive 50 or 60 miles to get to the job. So when gas prices go up, it’s like an additional tax that comes right out of your pocket.

That’s one of the reasons we passed a payroll tax cut at the beginning of this year and made sure it extended all the way through this year, so that the average American is getting that extra $40 in every paycheck right now.

But I think everybody understands that there are no quick fixes to this problem. There are politicians who say that if we just drilled more then gas prices would come down right away. What they don’t say is that we have been drilling more. Under my administration, America is producing more oil than at any time in the last eight years. We’ve opened up new areas for exploration. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to circle the Earth and then some.

But as I’ve said repeatedly, the problem is we use more than 20 percent of the world’s oil and we only have 2 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. Even if we drilled every square inch of this country right now, we’d still have to rely disproportionately on other countries for their oil. That means we pay more at the pump every time there’s instability in the Middle East, or growing demand in countries like China and India.

That’s what’s happening right now. It’s those global trends that are affecting gas prices. So even as we’re tackling issues of supply and demand, even as we’re looking at the long-term in terms of how we can structurally make ourselves less reliant on foreign oil, we still need to work extra hard to protect consumers from factors that should not affect the price of a barrel of oil.

That includes doing everything we can to ensure that an irresponsible few aren’t able to hurt consumers by illegally manipulating or rigging the energy markets for their own gain. We can’t afford a situation where speculators artificially manipulate markets by buying up oil, creating the perception of a shortage, and driving prices higher — only to flip the oil for a quick profit. We can’t afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions, while millions of American families get the short end of the stick. That’s not the way the market should work. And for anyone who thinks this cannot happen, just think back to how Enron traders manipulated the price of electricity to reap huge profits at everybody else’s expense.

Now, the good news is my administration has already taken several actions to step up oversight of oil markets and close dangerous loopholes that were allowing some traders to operate in the shadows.

We closed the so-called Enron loophole that let traders evade oversight by using electronic or overseas trading platforms. In the Wall Street reform law, we said for the first time that federal regulators will make sure no single trader can buy such a large position in oil that they could easily manipulate the market on their own. So I’d point out that anybody who’s pledging to roll back Wall Street reform — Dodd-Frank — would also roll back this vital consumer protection along with it.

I’ve asked Attorney General Holder to work with Chairman Leibowitz of the Federal Trade Commission, Chairman Gensler of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and other enforcement agencies to make sure that acts of manipulation, fraud or other illegal activity are not behind increases in the price that consumers pay at the pump.

So today, we’re announcing new steps to strengthen oversight of energy markets. Things that we can do administratively, we are doing. And I call on Congress to pass a package of measures to crack down on illegal activity and hold accountable those who manipulate the market for private gain at the expense of millions of working families. And be specific.

First, Congress should provide immediate funding to put more cops on the beat to monitor activity in energy markets. This funding would also upgrade technology so that our surveillance and enforcement officers aren’t hamstrung by older and less sophisticated tools than the ones that traders are using. We should strengthen protections for American consumers, not gut them. And these markets have expanded significantly.

Chairman Gensler actually had a good analogy. He said, imagine if the NFL quadrupled the number of teams but didn’t increase the number of refs. You’d end up having havoc on the field, and it would diminish the game. It wouldn’t be fair. That’s part of what’s going on in a lot of these markets. So we have to properly resource enforcement.

Second, Congress should increase the civil and criminal penalties for illegal energy market manipulation and other illegal activities. So my plan would toughen key financial penalties tenfold, and impose these penalties not just per violation, but for every day a violation occurs.

Third, Congress should give the agency responsible for overseeing oil markets new authority to protect against volatility and excess speculation by making sure that traders can post appropriate margins, which simply means that they actually have the money to make good on their trades.

Congress should do all of this right away. A few weeks ago, Congress had a chance to stand up for families already paying an extra premium at the pump; congressional Republicans voted to keep spending billions of Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars on more unnecessary subsidies for big oil companies. So here’s a chance to make amends, a chance to actually do something that will protect consumers by increasing oversight of energy markets. That should be something that everybody, no matter their party, should agree with. And I hope Americans will ask their members of Congress to step up.

In the meantime, my administration will take new executive actions to better analyze and investigate trading activities in energy markets and more quickly implement the tough consumer protections under Wall Street reform.

Let me close by saying none of these steps by themselves will bring gas prices down overnight. But it will prevent market manipulation and make sure we’re looking out for American consumers. And in the meantime we’re going to keep pursuing an all-of-the-above strategy for American energy to break the cycle of price spikes year after year. We are going to keep producing more biofuels; we’re going to keep producing more fuel-efficient cars; we are going to keep tapping into every source of American-made energy.

And these steps have already helped put America on a path to greater energy independence. Our foreign — our dependence on foreign oil has actually decreased each year I’ve been in office — even as the economy has grown. America now imports less than half of the oil we use for the first time in more than a decade. So we are less vulnerable than we were, but we’re still too vulnerable.

We’ve got to continue the hard, sustained work on this issue. And as long as I’m President we’re going to keep placing our bets on America’s future — America’s workers, America’s technology, America’s ingenuity, and American-made energy. That’s how we’re going to solve this problem once and for all.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END
11:35 A.M. EDT

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Full Text Obama Presidency March 7, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Energy Announces $1 Billion Fund to Promote Energy Efficient Vehicles

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

America Built to Last

President Obama announces a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to help boost the deployment of clean, advanced vehicles all over America.

President Obama discusses energy
Lawrence Jackson, 3/7/12

President Obama Announces $1 Billion Fund to Promote Energy Efficient Vehicles

Source: WH, 3-7-12

President Barack Obama tours a Daimler Trucks North America plant (March 7, 2012)

President Barack Obama tours Daimler Trucks North America Mt. Holly Truck Manufacturing Plant in Mount Holly, North Carolina, March 7, 2012. On this part of the tour the President saw the Chassis Airing Station where multi-colored nylon air lines are installed for the brake system. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama made a trip to a manufacturing plant for Daimler Trucks North America in Mount Holly, North Carolina. He was in the Tar Heel state to discuss more ways his administration is taking an all-of-the-above approach to American energy.

He talked about how his administration is pursuing new domestic energy sources, expanding oil and gas production, and reducing our overall reliance on oil through development of renewable energy.

But at a place where workers are busy assembling trucks that run on natural gas, the President also announced a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to help boost the deployment of clean, advanced vehicles all over America:

To cities and towns all across the country, what we’re going to say is, if you make a commitment to buy more advanced vehicles for your community — whether they run on electricity or biofuels or natural gas — we’ll help you cut through the red tape and build fueling stations nearby. And we’ll offer tax breaks to families that buy these cars, companies that buy alternative fuel trucks like the ones that are made right here at Mount Holly. So we’re going to give communities across the country more of an incentive to make the shift to more energy-efficient cars.

Have questions about President Obama’s Blueprint for American-Made Energy? Learn more here.

 POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Energy — Mount Holly, NC

Daimler Truck Manufacturing Plant
Mount Holly, North Carolina

12:50 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, North Carolina!  (Applause.)  Hello, Mount Holly!  (Applause.)  Thank you, Juan, for that introduction.  I did not know he was a preacher.  (Laughter.)  He must be at least a deacon.  (Laughter.)  I was hearing — “Welll” — (Laughter.)  He was starting to get the spirit up here.  I’m going to take Juan on the road to introduce me everywhere.  (Laughter.)  Can I hear an “amen”?

AUDIENCE:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  Amen.

I want to thank Mark Hernandez, Ricky McDowell — (applause) — and Martin Daum for hosting us and being such great tour guides.  Thank you so much, everybody.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

We’ve got a few outstanding North Carolinians in the house.  You’ve got your Governor, Bev Perdue, is here.  (Applause.)  Your mayors, Bryan Hough and Anthony Foxx are here.  (Applause.)  Two outstanding Congressmen, Mel Watt and Heath Shuler are here.  (Applause.)  Thank you all for being here.

It is good to be in North Carolina.  Anthony Foxx pointed out that I decided to wear a tie that could be a Tar Heel — (applause) — but it’s got a little Duke color in there, too.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t want to get in trouble with anybody, so I was hedging my bets.  (Laughter.)

I always tell people I am one of the best advertisers for North Carolina.  I love this state.  (Applause.)  Love this state.  Everybody here is so nice, so welcoming.  Even the folks who don’t vote for me, they’re nice to me.  They usually wave five fingers.  (Laughter.)  So it’s just a great pleasure.

And I just had a chance to see some of the folks who are doing the work here today.  I couldn’t be more impressed.  Some people have been here — like Juan — 32 years, 25 years.  Some folks have been here for four months, or six months, have just gotten hired.  But everybody had such pride in their work.

And the Freighterline trucks that you’re making here at this plant run on natural gas, and that makes them quieter, it makes them better for the environment, it makes them cheaper to fill up than they would be with diesel.  I hear you sold your 1,000th natural gas truck last November -– (applause) — the first company to reach that milestone.  And it was made right here in Mount Holly.  (Applause.)  And last year, this plant added more than 1,000 workers, hiring back a lot of folks who were laid off during the recession.  (Applause.)  That is something to be proud of.

Now, here at Daimler, you’re not just building trucks.  You’re building better trucks.

AUDIENCE:  That’s right.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re building trucks that use less oil.  And you know that’s especially important right now because most of you have probably filled up your gas tank a time or two in the last week, and you’ve seen how quickly the price of gas is going up.  A lot of you may have to drive a distance to work.  Higher gas prices are like a tax straight out of your paycheck.
And for companies that operate a whole fleet of trucks, the higher costs can make a big difference in terms of the profitability of the company.

Now, here’s the thing, though — this is not the first time we’ve seen gas prices spike.  It’s been happening for years.  Every year, about this time, gas starts spiking up, and everybody starts wondering, how high is it going to go?  And every year, politicians start talking when gas prices go up.  They get out on the campaign trail — and you and I both know there are no quick fixes to this problem — but listening to them, you’d think there were.

As a country that has 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, but uses 20 percent of the world’s oil — I’m going to repeat that — we’ve got 2 percent of the world oil reserves; we use 20 percent.  What that means is, as much as we’re doing to increase oil production, we’re not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices.  Anybody who tells you otherwise either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or they aren’t telling you the truth.

Here is the truth.  If we are going to control our energy future, then we’ve got to have an all-of-the-above strategy.  We’ve got to develop every source of American energy — not just oil and gas, but wind power and solar power, nuclear power, biofuels.  We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks, in our buildings, in our factories.  That’s the only solution to the challenge. Because as we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down.  It’s pretty straightforward.  That’s the only solution to this challenge.

And that’s the strategy that we’ve now been pursuing for the last three years.  And I’m proud to say we’ve made progress.
Since I took office, America’s dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year.  In fact, in 2010, it went under 50 percent for the first time in 13 years.

You wouldn’t know it from listening to some of these folks out here — (laughter) — some of these folks — (laughter) — but a key part of our energy strategy has been to increase safe, responsible oil production here at home.  Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than any time in the last eight years.  Under my administration, we’ve quadrupled the number of operating oilrigs to a record high.  We’ve got more oilrigs operating now than we’ve ever seen.  We’ve opened up millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration.  We’ve approved more than 400 drilling permits that follow new safety standards after we had that mess down in the Gulf.

We’re approving dozens of new pipelines.  We just announced that we’ll do whatever we can to speed up construction of a pipeline in Oklahoma that’s going to relieve a bottleneck and get more oil to the Gulf — to the refineries down there — and that’s going to help create jobs, encourage more production.

So these are the facts on oil production.  If somebody tells you we’re not producing enough oil, they just don’t know the facts.

But how much oil we produce here at home, because we only have 2 percent and we use 20, that’s not going to set the price of gas worldwide, or here in the United States.  Oil is bought and sold on the world market.  And the biggest thing that’s causing the price of oil to rise right now is instability in the Middle East.  You guys have been hearing about what’s happening with Iran; there are other oil producers that are having problems.  And so people have gotten uncertain.  And when uncertainty increases, then sometimes you see speculation on Wall Street that drives up gas prices even more.

But here’s the thing.  Over the long term, the biggest reason oil prices will go up is there’s just growing demand in countries like China and India and Brazil.  There are a lot of people there.  In 2010 alone, China added nearly 10 million cars on its roads.  Think about that — 2010, 10 million new cars.  People in China, folks in India, folks in Brazil — they’re going to want cars, too, as their standard of living goes up, and that means more demand for oil, and that’s going to kick up the price of oil worldwide.  Those numbers are only going to get bigger over time.

So what does that mean for us?  It means we can’t just keep on relying on the old ways of doing business.  We can’t just rely on fossil fuels from the last century.  We’ve got to continually develop new sources of energy.

And that’s why we’ve made investments that have nearly doubled the use of clean, renewable energies in this country.  And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.  It also means we’ve got to develop the resources that we have that are untapped, like natural gas.  We’re developing a near hundred-year supply of natural gas -– and that’s something that we expect could support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.

And that’s why we’ve worked with the private sector to develop a high-tech car battery that costs half as much as other batteries and can go up to 300 miles on a single charge.  Think about that.  That will save you some money at the pump.  And that is why we are helping companies like this one right here and plants like this one right here to make more cars and trucks that use less oil.

When I ran for office, I went to Detroit and I gave a speech to automakers where I promised that I was going to raise fuel standards on our cars, so that they’d go further on a gallon of gas.  I said we should do the same thing on trucks.  I have to tell you, when I said it, I didn’t get a lot of applause in the room, because there was a time when automakers were resisting higher fuel standards — because change isn’t easy.  But you know what, after three decades of not doing anything, we got together with the oil companies, we got together with the unions, we got together with folks who usually do not see eye to eye, and we negotiated new fuel economy standards that are going to make sure our cars average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade.  That’s nearly double what they get today — nearly double.  (Applause.)

Now, because of these new standards for cars and trucks, they’re going to — all going to be able to go further and use less fuel every year.  And that means pretty soon you’ll be able to fill up your car every two weeks instead of every week -– and, over time, that saves you, a typical family, about $8,000 a year.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We like that.

THE PRESIDENT:  You like that, don’t you?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Eight thousand dollars — that’s no joke.  We can reduce our oil consumption by more than 12 billion barrels.  And thanks to the SuperTruck program that we’ve started with companies like this one, trucks will be able to save more than $15,000 in fuel costs every year.  Think about that, $15,000.

It looks like somebody might have fainted up here.  Have we got some of the EMS, somebody.  Don’t worry about — folks do this all the time in my meetings.  (Laughter.)  You’ve always got to eat before you stand for a long time.  That’s a little tip.  But they’ll be okay.  Just make sure that — give them a little room.  All right, everybody all right?  Okay.

So these trucks can save $15,000 every year.  I want people to think about what that means for businesses, what it means for consumers.  It is real progress.  And it’s happening because of American workers and American know-how.  It’s happening because of you.  It’s happening because of you.

We’re also making it easier for big companies — some of your customers, like UPS and FedEx — to make the shift to fuel-efficient cars and trucks.  We call it the National Clean Fleets Partnership.  And since we announced it last year, the number of companies that are taking part in it has tripled.  And that means more customers for your trucks.  (Applause.)  We’re creating more customers for your trucks.

And I am proud to say that the federal government is leading by example.  One thing the federal government has a lot of is cars and trucks.  We got a lot of cars and we got a lot of trucks.  And so what I did was I directed every department, every agency in the federal government, to make sure that by 2015, 100 percent of the vehicles we buy run on alternative fuels — 100 percent.  (Applause.)

So we’re one of the biggest customers in the world for cars and trucks and we want to set that bar high.  We want to set a standard that says by 2015, 100 percent of cars, alternative fuels.

So we’re making progress, Mount Holly.  But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much natural gas, or flex-fuel or electric vehicles you have if there’s no place to charge them up or fill them up.  So that’s why I’m announcing today a program that will put our communities on the cutting edge of what clean energy can do.

To cities and towns all across the country, what we’re going to say is, if you make a commitment to buy more advanced vehicles for your community — whether they run on electricity or biofuels or natural gas — we’ll help you cut through the red tape and build fueling stations nearby.  (Applause.)  And we’ll offer tax breaks to families that buy these cars, companies that buy alternative fuel trucks like the ones that are made right here at Mount Holly.  (Applause.)  So we’re going to give communities across the country more of an incentive to make the shift to more energy-efficient cars.

In fact, when I was up in New Hampshire, in Nashua, they had already converted all their dump trucks — they were in a process because of this program — they were converting it to natural gas-driven trucks.

This is something that we did in education — we called it Race to the Top.  We said we’ll put in more money but we want you to reform.  We’re going to give you an incentive to do things in a different way.  And if we do the same thing with clean energy, we can save consumers money and we can make sure the economy is more secure.  So we’ve got to keep investing in American-made energy and we’ve got to keep investing in the vehicles that run on it.  That’s where our future is.

And in order to continue this progress, we’re going to have to make a choice.  We’ve got to decide where our priorities are as a country.  And that’s up to all of you.  And I’ll give you an example.  Right now, $4 billion of your tax dollars goes straight to the oil industry every year — $4 billion in subsidies that other companies don’t get.  Now, keep in mind, these are some of the same companies that are making record profits every time you fill up your gas tank.  We’re giving them extra billions of dollars on top of near-record profits that they’re already making.  Anybody think that’s a good idea?

AUDIENCE  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Me, neither.  (Laughter.)  It doesn’t make any sense.  The American people have subsidized the oil industry long enough — they don’t need the subsidies.  It’s time to end that taxpayer giveaway to an industry that’s never been more profitable, invest in clean energy that’s never been more promising.  (Applause.)

So I called on Congress, eliminate these subsidies right away.  There’s no excuse to wait any longer.

AUDIENCE:  That’s right!

THE PRESIDENT:  And we should put every member of Congress on record:  They can stand up for the oil companies or they can stand up for the American people and this new energy future.  (Applause.)  We can place our bets on the fuel of the past, or we can place our bets on American know-how and American ingenuity and American workers like the ones here at Daimler.  (Applause.)  That’s the choice we face.  That’s what’s at stake right now.

So, in between shifts, get on the phone or email or send a letter or tweet — (laughter) — your member of Congress; ask them where they stand on this — because it will make a difference.  And you’ll know where I stand on this.  Let’s make sure our voices are heard.  The next time you hear some politician trotting out some 3-point plan for $2 gas — (laughter) — you let them know, we know better.

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  Tell them we’re tired of hearing phony election-year promises that never come about.  What we need is a serious, sustained, all-of-the-above strategy for American-made energy, American-made efficiency, American innovation, American fuel-efficient trucks, American fuel-efficient cars.  We may not get there in one term —

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s going to take us a while to wean ourselves off of the old and grab the new.  But we’re going to meet this challenge because we are Americans.  Our destiny is not written for us; it is written by us.  We decide what that next chapter is going to be.

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  And I’m confident, working with folks like you, the outstanding working people of Mount Holly, of this plant, of North Carolina, of states all across the country, we can pull together, and remind everybody around the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
1:11 P.M. EST

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