Psaki: Biden Allowing Keystone Pipeline Won’t Affect Gas Prices Faster Than Getting U.S. Off Fossil Fuels

Melanie Arter | March 8, 2022 | 10:21am EST
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Gas prices over $6.00 and $7.00 a gallon are posted at a petrol station in Los Angeles, California on March 7, 2022. - Californians filling up their cars winced at the spiraling cost of gasoline, but largely shrugged as residents of the state that has long had the highest gas prices in the United States. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
Gas prices over $6.00 and $7.00 a gallon are posted at a petrol station in Los Angeles, California on March 7, 2022. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

( – White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that if President Biden reversed his executive order and allowed the Keystone Pipeline to go forward, it would not affect gas prices faster than getting the entire country off of fossil fuels.

The press secretary said that federal policies are not limiting oil and gas supplies. She said there are 9,000 approved drilling permits that are not being used so suggesting that the federal government is not letting companies drill is “inaccurate” and so is the suggestion that that is what is preventing gas prices from coming down.

Psaki also said that the United States produced more oil in the past year than it did during former President Donald Trump’s first year in office and that the Department of Energy projects that the U.S. will produce more oil than ever before.

“It sounds like you guys are blaming Putin for the increase in gas prices recently, but weren’t gas prices going up anyway because of post-pandemic supply chain issues?” Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy asked. 

“Well, I think there’s no question that, as we have seen and outside analysts have conveyed this as well, the increase, and the anticipated continued increase — which is, I think, what some of your colleagues were asking about — that that is a direct result of the invasion of Ukraine, and also, there was an anticipation of that that was — that was — it was factored in, as gas prices have gone up,” Psaki said. 

DOOCY: So you say that you’re going to do everything that you can to reduce the impact that high gas prices have on Americans. We’re asking other countries to think about maybe pumping more oil. Why not just do it here? 

PSAKI:  Well, to be very clear, federal policies are not limiting the supplies of oil and gas. To the con- — let me finish — to the con- — let me finish —

DOOCY:  President Biden signed an executive order his first week that halted new oil and gas leases on public lands.

PSAKI:  Let me give you the facts here — and I know that can be inconvenient, but I think they’re important in this moment: To the contrary, we have — we have been clear that in the short term, supply must keep up with the demand we’re — we are — here and around the world, while we make the shift to secure a clear — clean energy future. 

We are one of the largest producers with a strong domestic oil and gas industry. We have actually produced more oil; it is at record numbers, and we will continue to produce more oil. There are 9,000 approved drilling permits that are not being used. 

So the suggestion that we are not let allowing companies to drill is inaccurate. The suggestion that that is what is hindering or preventing gas prices to come down is inaccurate. 

DOOCY: Would President Biden rescind his executive order that halts new oil and natural gas leases on public lands?

PSAKI: Well, 90 percent of them happen on private lands, as I’m sure you know, and there are 9,000 unused approved drilling permits. So I would suggest you ask the oil companies why they’re not using those if there’s a desire to drill more.

DOOCY: Would President Biden ever undo his executive order that stopped the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline? 

PSAKI: Are you suggesting that would solve the gas prices issue? 

DOOCY:  Well, do you think that that would maybe affect prices faster than getting the whole country off of fossil fuels? 

PSAKI:  I actually don’t think it would. The Keystone was not an oilfield; it’s a pipeline. Also, the oil is continuing to flow in, just through other means. So it actually would have nothing to do with the current supply imbalance. 

DOOCY:  So, gas prices are approaching an all-time high per gallon. How high would they have to get before President Biden would say “I’m going to set aside my ambitious climate goals and just increase domestic oil production, get the producers to drill more here, and we can address the fossil fuel future later”?

PSAKI: Well, again, Peter, the U.S. produced more oil this past year than in President Trump’s first year. Next year, according to the Department of Energy, we will produce more oil than every — than ever before. Those are — those are the facts, in terms of oil production, and again, right now there are 9,000 unused approved permits to drill on shore. 

So, I think you’re misidentifying what the actual issue is, but if we’re looking to the future and what — how — what we can do to prevent this from being a challenge in future crises, the best thing we can do is reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, because that will help us have a reliable source of energy so that we’re not worried about gas prices going up because of the whims of a foreign dictator. 

DOOCY:  Right, and you guys think that asking Saudi Arabia or Venezuela or Iran is reducing our dependence on foreign oil? 

PSAKI:  That’s actually — I just outlined each of those specific scenarios and the range of discussions that we’re having with each of those countries.  I don’t think anybody is advocating for Iran to continue acquiring a nuclear weapon, perhaps except for the former president who pulled us out of the deal. 

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