The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity  (AFP) is taking their misinformation machine on the road  in an attempt to convince American consumers that President Obama is causing the spike in gasoline prices. AFP is claiming that the president is intentionally keeping gas prices high because he refuses to allow oil companies to drill for oil in protected areas of the United States.
The tour is necessary for the AFP, as Americans do not believe  that President Obama should be blamed for high gasoline prices. A staggering 61% of Americans  say that the blame lies on the shoulders of the energy companies, and 59% say  that some of the blame lies with the oil speculators. These numbers are not sitting well with the oil industry, and the AFP tour is just one of many oil industry tactics to try to shift public opinion using misinformation.
AFP’s “Running on Empty” campaign has scheduled stops in Virginia, Michigan, and Ohio in the upcoming days, to “teach” Americans about the numerous ways in which President Obama is making them pay higher prices at the pump.
AFP conveniently ignores the fact that gas prices were north of $4 a gallon during the Bush administration , when they peaked at $4.12, as pointed out by protesters who showed up at one of AFP’s early gas tour events in Nebraska. But in the alternate reality that AFP is creating to enable Koch’s further oil profits, it’s somehow all Obama’s fault.
Here are the specific actions the president has taken, according to AFP , that have raised gas prices:
Illegal Moratoriums: After the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf, President Obama issued a moratorium on all new offshore drilling. The message is clear: Obama is against domestic energy production.
Canceling existing oil and gas leases: Amazingly, not only has Obama blocked any new permits but he’s also reaching back and canceling drilling leases that were already in place when he took office.
Locking up lands in the West: The federal government is working overtime to make sure Americans cannot access their own domestic resources.
EPA’s job-crushing regulations (you can read the truth about these “job-crushing” regulations here. )
As we’ve covered in the past , increased domestic oil drilling will have absolutely no impact on gas prices. Oil prices are set on an international market , and since the amount of oil (and the amount of time it would take to get to market) in the U.S. is relatively small, the most significant impact  it could have would be to lower gas prices by about 2 cents per gallon. But still, Republicans continue to push the myth that increasing domestic drilling will benefit all of us immediately.
And their critique of President Obama seems way off base as well. President Obama has actually been a supporter of domestic drilling , and is currently working to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico – an area that is still awash with the remnants of oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year – as well as rethinking the ban on oil drilling in ANWR. These are not the actions of an oil industry foe.
But this still isn’t enough for the Koch brothers and their Astroturf bus tour. More domestic drilling might not have a noticeable impact on our bank accounts, but those in the oil industry can expect billions of dollars in profits from increased drilling. This is why the Koch brothers, and their Americans for Prosperity front group, spent a combined $2.6 million dollars on electioneering last year alone. From the Center for Responsive Politics :
Americans for Prosperity spent $1.3 million on electioneering communications in the 2010 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In the 2010 cycle, the Koch Industries PAC gave $1.3 million to Congressional candidates with 90 percent going to Republicans.
The Koch Industries PAC has handed out $300,500 in contributions to federal candidates and political committees so far in 2011, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) received $45,000 from Koch Industries PAC in the 2010 cycle, falling only second to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) re-election campaign.
Charles Koch donated at least $107,900 to federal candidates and committees in the 2010 cycle (not including his donations to the Koch PAC). Top recipients included the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) with $30,400 in donations and the National Republican Congressional Committee ($24,500).
David Koch spent at least $99,291 on campaign contributions to federal candidates and committees in the 2010 cycle (not including his donations to the Koch PAC), with the NRSC receiving $34,900 and the NRCC receiving $25,000.
The Koch’s spend a lot of money  to purchase, or defeat , members of Congress, and in their effort to blame Obama for high gas prices, it looks like a few Republicans are trying to pay off that Koch debt by getting their hands dirty.
Several freshman GOP Congressman  have taken it upon themselves to stage “gas pumping events” at gas stations in their jurisdictions to promote the lie that the rise in price is Obama’s fault. Two of the four Republican congressman involved in these stunts – Jeff Duncan (SC) and Todd Young (IN) – have taken $2,500 and $5,000 respectively  from Koch Industries.
The Koch brothers and AFP are working with seemingly limitless funds, and it is unlikely that they will allow their gas price tour to end before they are able to change at least a few people’s minds. The bigger issue is whether the Democrats and President Obama will cave into the pressure from these groups and allow more drilling in an attempt to appease the Kochtopus, which will surely be funding GOP candidates in the next election.