Interior's Ken Salazar: No Promises on Oil Prices

Interior secretary: "We do not control the price of oil."

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Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar did little to ease the minds of American consumers Tuesday during an address at the National Press Club in Washington.

Salazar challenged the notion that Barack Obama or any other president has much control over gas prices.

"No one has the ability. Not even Harry Potter to simply wave a magic wand to say we are going to have gas prices at $2 or $2.50 ," Salazar said.

Pressed about whether gasoline prices might stabilize, or skyrocket to the level consumers see in European markets, Salazar admitted the administration has little knowledge of what lies ahead.

"We do not control the price of oil. I check the price of oil every day because I care," he said. "I don't think anyone can speculate what will happen with oil prices and gas prices."

The secretary turned up the heat on Congress Tuesday, accusing House Republicans of living in a "fairy tale" energy world. [See a collection of political cartoons on gas prices.]

"It is a place where oil shale seems to be mistaken every day in the House of Representatives for shale oil, where record profits justify billions of dollars in subsidies, where rising oil U.S. production and our falling dependence on foreign oil somehow add up to bad news. One member of Congress went so far as to say that the jobs from solar, wind, and biofuels are somehow phony," Salazar said. "President Obama got it right when he said if these folks were in charge when Columbus set sail, they would have been the charter members of the Flat Earth Society."

Salazar didn't stop there, condemning the GOP members of the House for being out of touch with what Americans really want in an energy policy. "The good news," Salazar said, "is that the imagined energy world is actually very small. I think you can find its edge when you walk out of the House of Representatives." [How a War With Iran Would Cause $7 Gas]

Salazar outlined a few "low-hanging fruits" he would like to see Congress tackle this election year, but offered little optimism. "I am not trying to give a laundry list of 100 things, because I am not sure they can get it done," Salazar said.

He criticized Congress for failing to pass a single piece of legislation relating to offshore oil and gas safety since the disastrous BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010.

The secretary also criticized Congress for not supporting the U.S. and Mexico's Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement, which allows both countries to expand joint drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. [Where Are the Highest Gas Prices in the Country? (Hint: Not In Cali)]

Salazar made a campaign-style push for what he called the White House's "all of the above" energy policy, offering up that U.S. domestic gas production is at an all-time high, oil production is at an eight-year high, and the U.S. has cut net imports of oil by 10 percent in the last last year, or by a million barrels a day.

Of course, Salazar didn't shy away from the strides the Obama camp has made in the way of renewable energy.

Since 2009, Salazar says, the Department of the Interior has authorized 29 solar, wind, and geothermal projects on public lands.

"We all know that we cannot drill our way to energy independence," Salazar said.

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