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Obama May Tap Oil Reserves as Gas Prices Continue to Soar

Petroleum IndustryKTLAConsumersAAAHurricane Katrina (2005)Barack ObamaLand Resources

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- Gas prices are continuing their upward climb, and there's no indication that the pain at the pump will subside any time soon.

The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in California is now $3.897, the highest in the country.

Nationwide, the average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline is $3.509, according to a daily survey by AAA.

The new Lundberg Survey finds gas prices have jumped nearly 34 cents over the last two weeks across the U.S.

Gas prices nationwide are up 82 cents a gallon since September.

The U.S. government reiterated that it could tap its strategic oil reserves in order to safeguard economic growth as surging gasoline prices increase pressure for action.

While longstanding U.S. policy is to release reserves only in the event of a significant and immediate supply shortage, some analysts say the Obama administration may feel compelled to try to tamp down prices that are being fueled both by outages in Libya and concern unrest could spread in the Middle East.

Echoing comments made by a number of Obama officials over the past week, White House Chief of Staff William Daley told NBC television's "Meet the Press" on Sunday: "We are looking at the options. The issue of the reserves is one we are considering."

"It is something that only is done -- has been done -- in very rare occasions. There's a bunch of factors that have to be looked at and it is just not the price," he added. "All matters have to be on the table when you go through -- when you see the difficulty coming out of this economic crisis we're in and the fragility of it."

He spoke just before a survey showed the second-largest two-week rise in gasoline pump prices ever. The national average for a gallon of self-serve, regular gas was $3.50 on March 4, according to the influential Lundberg Survey of about 2,500 gas stations, up 32.7 cents from the Feb. 18. For details, see

Congress has pressured the Obama administration to look to the emergency oil supplies as an option to ease consumers' fears over rising U.S. gasoline prices, which are nearing the all-time high of $4.1124 per gallon hit on July 11, 2008, according to the Lundberg Survey.

Higher oil prices could undermine the fragile U.S. economic recovery and damage President Barack Obama politically as he moves toward a 2012 re-election bid.

Some Republicans say the answer lies within our own borders.

"What we need to do is to find more of our own energy, and that means explore offshore, that means exploring federal lands for oil and natural gas, and it means exploring Alaska, Sen, Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee said.

The Lundberg Survey says the only time prices have climbed more quickly was in 2005, during Hurricane Katrina.

Prices spiked 38 cents in two weeks as the killer storm hit the Gulf Coast.

For the lowest gas prices in your neighborhood, visit our Gas Finder Map at http://www.ktla.com/news/traffic/gasprices/

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Petroleum IndustryKTLAConsumersAAAHurricane Katrina (2005)Barack ObamaLand Resources
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