Gas prices are edging up ever higher. Consumers feel the pain, with prices currently hovering around a dollar a gallon more than a year ago. The Biden Administration has called on OPEC and its allies to ramp up supply and bring prices down. However, we can’t help but wonder, why not ask U.S. drillers to do the same?
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. oil and gas industry became a major success story. The fracking boom had lowered energy prices across the country.
Domestic production from the Bakken and Permian Basins kept prices for motorists in check at the pump. And for the first time since 1952, the U.S. became a net energy exporter prompting Congress and President Obama to repeal the crude oil export ban.
So what happened?
The pandemic brought all this progress to a screeching halt. Lockdowns fueled decreases in power demand, depressing prices and leaving drillers with an oversupply. As a result, OPEC nations reduced supply to help boost prices back to their previous levels. But as the Covid-19 lockdowns subside, Americans are returning to everyday life. But with that reopening, consumers are now confronted with skyrocketing gas prices they haven’t seen in years. And now, in a bizarre twist, the Administration is now begging OPEC to ramp up supplies.
“Higher gasoline costs, if left unchecked, risk harming the ongoing global recovery. The price of crude oil has been higher than it was at the end of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic,” says national security adviser Jake Sullivan. “While OPEC+ recently agreed to production increases, these increases will not fully offset previous production cuts that OPEC+ imposed during the pandemic until well into 2022. At a critical moment in the global recovery, this is simply not enough.”
The President’s request seems more than a little hypocritical in light of his recent efforts to handcuff the U.S. oil and gas industry. His first actions as a new president were to swiftly issue a ban on new federal oil and gas leases and revoke a crucial cross-border permit for the Keystone pipeline construction. A federal judge later struck down the ban, but the Biden Administration has appealed the ruling. In addition, Keystone pipeline’s Canadian developer TC Energy formally canceled its project in June. The reasoning for these job-killing actions? Climate change concerns. Are you confused yet? So are we.
“It’s pretty simple: if the President is suddenly worried about rising gas prices, he needs to stop killing our own energy production here on American soil,” said Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas.
We agree. The U.S. oil and gas industry has made fantastic progress over the past decade. However, handcuffing it while begging other nations to feed our energy appetites does nothing for the fight against climate change and undermines U.S. leadership. Hopefully, the Administration will notice that this solution makes little sense and hurts the American people.