White House on oil prices: "We always watch"

As a candidate, Bush said the president should do more.

Published January 2, 2008 7:06PM (EST)

When George W. Bush first ran for president, he faulted Al Gore for being part of "the administration ... in charge" as gas prices went "steadily upward," and he called on Bill Clinton to "jawbone OPEC members to lower prices."

The price of crude oil rose above $100 per barrel today for the first time in history. The reaction from the White House? "Well, we always watch energy prices," press secretary Dana Perino said. "And we know that higher energy prices have a perverse impact on families' budgets, especially small businesses, as well."

Citing the energy bill Bush signed late last year, Perino said that the president is working to reduce U.S. gasoline consumption while pushing Congress to "work toward expanding domestic production here in the United States in environmentally sensitive ways."

"While we try to transition our economy to one that can run on renewable and alternative fuels, that's going to take a long time," Perino said. "And so, what we can look toward is ways that we can increase supply here in the United States. And, of course, we work with our partners all across the road in regards to finding ways that we can work together. And that includes with Mexico and Canada."

Perino said she expects the White House to push again for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But if the president is planning any "jawboning," if he's looking to own up to the sharp rise in gas prices under his own administration, Perino didn't say.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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