In addition to soaring inflation, Americans now face a rise in prices at the pump, as crude oil hit a 13-year high on Sunday, nearing $130 per barrel. In his State of the Union Address, President Biden announced plans to release 30 million barrels from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to “blunt gas prices here at home.” One week later, however, and prices continue to edge higher and higher, with the Wall Street Journal reporting the national average cost of gas reached $4.065 on Monday, “the highest price since July 2008.” At time of writing, average gas prices across the nation hit $4.25, with states like California seeing well over $5 per gallon.
Meanwhile, lawmakers and journalists alike rightly challenge the Biden administration for insisting on courting foreign oil producers rather than increasing production here at home. During Monday’s White House Press briefing, Peter Doocy of Fox News suggested the administration is “blaming Putin for the increase in gas prices recently,” but asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki if prices weren’t already rising from supply chain issues. Psaki countered that the “anticipated continued increase” in gas prices is the “direct result” of the invasion in Ukraine.
Psaki’s talking points further sidestepped the question on why the administration now looks to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela instead of seeking to increase domestic oil production. As Americans bear the brunt of energy dependence, Psaki sought to remind consumers last week that Russia is to blame, and that “that real energy security comes from reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”
The nation’s largest trade association for the oil and gas industry this week appealed to the Biden administration to resume oil and gas leasing and allow for approval of new liquefied gas facilities. Frank Macchiarola of the American Petroleum Institute said, “This administration continues to show that they are committed to talking about lowering gas prices and committed to restricting access to the oil and gas that will help lower gas prices.” The Biden administration insists on courting dictatorships like Venezuela and Iran, turning even to long-time ally Saudi Arabia, who Biden emphatically spurned at the beginning of his term.
The White House also put a halt to oil and gas leases just last month, only two days before Russia crossed the border into Ukraine, all in the name of costs to the climate. In a piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the editorial team brings it home by noting that “It’s almost a miracle that any oil and gas production is occurring in America amid this political hostility,” noting further that the crisis in Ukraine ought to cause a reset of policy in the Biden White House.
By principle (or sheer stubborn will), Biden remains married to the climate change pledges he ran on, even if it ends up hurting the very people who voted for him.