Ad blames Obama for high gas prices

TITLE: "Too Much"

LENGTH: 30 seconds.

AIRING: On broadcast and cable networks in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia.

KEY IMAGES: The ad sponsored by Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit arm of a Republican super PAC, blames President Barack Obama for high gas prices and accuses him of pursuing policies that have decreased energy production. Crossroads GPS is the sister group of American Crossroads, a super PAC that has promised to raise millions to defeat Obama.

The ad opens with the words "President Obama's TV Claim" emblazoned across the screen and a narrator saying: "Under President Obama, oil production is at an 8-year high." A second narrator interjects, "Oh really? His own administration admits production is down where Obama's in charge," says a March 14 quote from the environmental and energy newsletter Greenwire: "Oil production fell by 14 percent ... on federal lands and waters."

"The real story," says the narrator. Then a clip from NBC's "Meet the Press" on March 25 shows host David Gregory saying to Obama senior adviser David Plouffe that a lot of the increase in production is due to decisions by former President George W. Bush, and that most of the production is on private lands.

"So you're taking credit for this boost in exploration, which is not really fair," says Gregory. "Taking credit for others' hard work," says the narrator. "Typical Washington. No matter how Obama spins it, gas costs too much."

A sign advertising regular gas at $4.99 per gallon fills the screen and the narrator urges viewers to tell Obama to stop blaming others and to work to pass better energy policies.

ANALYSIS: The ad is the latest broadcast salvo over high gasoline prices, a prime concern for voters as Mitt Romney cements his hold on the Republican presidential nomination and the general election contest against Obama begins to heat up. It is aimed at six states that are expected to be competitive in the election.

Republicans blame Obama for policies they claim are restricting U.S. oil production and pushing up energy costs. They also say he's taking credit for energy production increases that owe much to his Republican predecessor, Bush.

However, Obama's assertion that domestic oil production is at an eight-year-high is solid. In 2011, the U.S. produced more oil than any year since 2003, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. But much of that gain came from oil development on private lands, over which the federal government has little control, and which Obama can't take full credit for given the lag time between exploring for oil and actual production.

The ad's claim that oil production is down by 14 percent on federal lands — where the government is in charge of leasing and permitting — is correct. Oil production dropped by that amount from fiscal year 2010 to 2011, according to the energy information agency. Much of that decline was offshore, where the Obama administration put in place a moratorium on drilling after the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

But by using only the most recent year of data, the ad tells only part of the story. Oil and gas production goes up and down when discoveries are made. In some years there was less oil produced on federal lands under Bush than under Obama. In fact, oil production on federal lands onshore and offshore dropped 16.8 percent from 2003 to 2008 under Bush.

The ad's implication that the president has control over gas prices at the pump falls flat. A statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production by The Associated Press shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.

That's because oil is a global commodity and U.S. production has only a tiny influence on supply. Factors far beyond the control of a nation or a president dictate the price of gasoline. And the ad's portrayal of a gas pump priced at $4.99 a gallon is misleading; the average price nationally as of Tuesday was $3.92.