How Biden’s policies made this energy crisis
Published 12:37 pm Friday, April 1, 2022
BY SEN. BILL HAGERTY
President Biden has found a new scapegoat for continuously increasing gas prices.
Last Tuesday, when asked what his administration can do about record-high gas prices, the president replied: “Can’t do much right now. Russia is responsible.” This flippant response is both demonstrably inaccurate and an insult to the working Americans whose paychecks have been increasingly depleted every week since the Biden administration took office.
The truth is that the Biden administration has spent 14 months waging a war against American energy production, and we are now seeing the consequences. With the midterm elections rapidly approaching, Biden’s advisers, too stubborn to admit that Biden’s war on American energy was a mistake, have decided to use the Ukraine crisis to cover up this historic blunder. What’s more, President Biden — with his war on American energy increasing our dependence on Russian oil and the price of that oil — has funded Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The facts clearly reveal what has happened, and they stand in stark contrast to the false narrative that the White House is peddling. The truth is that American gas prices have steadily and substantially increased over the past 14 months because of President Biden’s myopic policies.
On Election Day 2020, the average price of gas in the United States was $2.11 per gallon. By the time President Biden took office two months later, the average price was $2.38 per gallon — a hike that likely anticipated Biden’s promised crackdown on American energy.
On his first day in office, the president revoked the Keystone XL pipeline permit, paused oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and placed new regulations on American oil and gas production, including directing agencies to assess a “social cost of carbon” on American producers. The same day, he rejoined the Paris Climate agreement, an international fossil-fuel-suppression mandate.
During his second week in office, President Biden signed another executive order stopping new oil and natural-gas leases on public lands and offshore waters, where a quarter of U.S. oil and gas production occurs.
By May 20, 2021, the average price of gas had climbed to $3.02 per gallon. That day, President Biden signed an order directing financial regulators to take actions to discourage financing of American oil and gas production in order to “mitigate climate-related financial risk.”
This order was part of a wider campaign to “de-bank” the oil and gas industry in order to promote faddish Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) financial guidelines that place virtue-signaling over the real needs of working Americans. Relatedly, President Biden has nominated to key posts green-energy radicals such as Saule Omarova and Sarah Bloom Raskin, who have been explicit that they want to use financial-regulatory bodies to put the oil and gas industry out of business.
These actions directly and significantly limited American energy production, reducing supply and thereby increasing prices. But perhaps even more harmfully, they discouraged energy producers from maintaining and investing in American production by sending the message that the Biden administration would fight them at every turn.
By August, with average gas prices nearing $3.20, his poll numbers sliding, and the midterm elections on the horizon, President Biden unsuccessfully tried to hide his blunder by asking the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies — including Russia — to boost production.
Of course, now, the Biden administration has pivoted away from Russian oil. Instead, Biden is turning to the terrorists and tyrants in Iran and Venezuela.
He’s talking with foreign killers while refusing to talk with American drillers.
This has far-reaching ramifications. When I was serving as U.S. ambassador to Japan, I worked very hard to get Japan to stop importing oil from Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. It was a challenge for Japan — a nation that imports most of its energy — but ultimately the Japanese agreed. At the time, Japan saw its national-security interests and its economic and energy security closely aligned with America.
Indeed, Japan invested billions of dollars in the necessary infrastructure to become a major recipient of U.S. liquefied-natural-gas exports. Japan appreciated what should be clear to all: America should be using our energy abundance to support our allies and cut off terrorist states, rather than supporting terrorist states and cutting off American energy producers.
If the president stopped bending to the radical Left in his own party, he wouldn’t need to rely on murderous dictators. Rather, we would simply reclaim the energy independence and security we achieved under President Trump.
President Biden’s statement that his administration “can’t do much” about high gas prices is an abdication of duty. Russia has made abundantly clear the national-security implications of energy dependence. The answer to high prices and economic vulnerability is in our own backyard.
The president needs to look in the mirror instead of looking for others to blame.
(Bill Hagerty represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.)