Aug 31, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Trump seeks political gain from low gasoline prices

U.S. gas prices

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Saturday that drivers should "Enjoy the low gas prices over the Labor Day weekend!," yet he inaccurately characterized U.S. energy markets in the same message.

Where it stands: Per AAA, the average gasoline price nationally is $2.58, the lowest level heading into the Labor Day holiday since 2016 (but quite similar to 2017 levels).

Why it matters: The tweet comes amid signs of a slowing U.S. economy that could create political headwinds for the president, whose approval rating is already mired in the low-40s, according to polls analyzed by FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics.

What Trump tweeted: "My energy policies have made America energy independent while keeping prices low, just like a Tax Cut. The Democrats 'green' policies will raise your price of gas!"

Reality check: As we noted here, U.S. presidents have limited and indirect influence on pump prices. In addition, the U.S. is not energy independent despite its strengthening position in global markets and rising exports of oil and natural gas.

  • Crude oil imports have fallen significantly amid the domestic production boom over the last decade.
  • Crude exports have been generally rising since heavy restrictions were lifted in late 2015, and have exceeded 3 million barrels per day at times in recent months, though levels bounce around.
  • Looking at energy products more broadly, the Energy Information Administration said early this year that the U.S. is on the cusp of becoming a net exporter.
  • But, but, but: That's not a synonym for "independent" because the U.S. remains deeply connected to global markets.
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