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President Obama's re-elect team defended White House energy policy on Sunday as gas prices shoot toward the $4 mark and beyond, a level that could devastate voters' pocketbooks as well as Obama's chances for a second term.
Nationally, gas prices are $3.53 a gallon, up 25 cents since Jan. 1, and likely headed to $4.25 a gallon by late April. Republicans have demanded more oil production at home, as well as building the Keystone XL pipeline across the middle of the U.S. to allow oil from Canada to reach Texas refineries.
Obama rejected the plan, but one of his spokesmen, Robert Gibbs, said the president is looking to increase domestic energy production.
"Just on Friday, the Department of Interior issued permits that will expand our exploration in the Arctic. The president has increased our fuel efficiency and energy efficiency standards so we do use less energy, which will help drive down the price," Gibbs said. "Our domestic oil production is at an eight-year high, and our use of foreign oil is at a 16-year low. So we're making progress."
But John Hofmeister, former CEO of Shell Oil and founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy, told Fox News that oil production today is only 7 million barrels per day when it used to be 10 million per day.
The OPEC heavyweight saw production decline by 237,000 barrels per day (bpd) from three-decade highs of 10.047 million bpd in November, the JODI data showed on Sunday.