The White House could also tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, something it has said it would do only along with action by other countries. The U.S. released oil from its reserve last summer but saw little impact. Oil prices dropped nearly 5 percent when the government announced the release of 30 million barrels from the SPR on July 23, but prices quickly rebounded and oil ended the year higher than it started.
"Is there a lot that can be done in the short term that can have a huge impact? The answer to that is no," said William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and a former domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton. Yet he cautioned, "I don't think a posture of simply saying that and being the voice of responsibility in a rising political clamor is going to serve the White House politically well."
Republicans are trying to make sure of that. Ahead of the president's trip, the Republican-leaning super PAC Crossroads GPS was spending $650,000 on TV ads in Las Vegas, Albuquerque, N.M., and Columbus, Ohio, criticizing Obama's handling of energy policy and the Keystone XL pipeline.
Associated Press writers Jennifer Agiesta, Kasie Hunt, Steve Peoples, Brian Bakst and Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.
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