Biden's Phony War on Gas Prices

By Steve Milloy | April 14, 2022 | 3:58pm EDT
Joe Biden participates in a debate. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Joe Biden participates in a debate. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

President Biden has repeatedly promised to “work like the devil” and “to do everything in my power” to lower gasoline prices. Is he?

Biden has promised to release one million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for up to six months. Although that sounds like a lot, it’s not.

U.S. oil consumption is on the order of 20 million barrels per day in a world that consumes almost 100 million barrels of oil per day. Given that oil is a global commodity and gasoline prices depend on global oil prices -- per Biden’s own Department of Energy -- it’s difficult to imagine how a temporary one percent increase in the global oil supply is going to make any difference at the gas pump.

Given the foregoing, the only way to reduce gasoline prices is to significantly ramp up supply. And the only way to do that is to increase domestic oil production. Is Joe Biden doing anything about that?

His first day in office he issued an executive order stopping the leasing and permitting of new oil and gas drilling on public lands. When a federal court ordered him to resume the leasing process he reluctantly conducted one auction, but then stopped again because another federal court put a stop to his plans to use a dubious metric called the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) in the oil and gas leasing approval process.

Although an appellate court put a hold on the SCC decision, thereby removing Biden’s excuse for not stopping the oil and gas leasing process, no announcement of the next oil and gas lease auction has been announced.

Instead Biden has taken to accusing the oil industry of price gouging as well as not using 9,000 or so leases issued by the government to the oil industry.

But there is no evidence to support an accusation of price gouging. Even left-wing economists accept the fact that gasoline prices depend on global oil prices.

As to the 9,000 leases dodge, there are about 37,500 leases in effect. An oil industry lease utilization rate of 75% is a record high. Permits are still pending for about 4,600 leases. About 2,200 leases are stuck in court. And there are a variety of other reasons why leases are not being utilized, including that needed pipelines are being blocked by the Biden Administration working with activists.

Don’t forget that Joe Biden campaigned against fossil fuels, even advocated the banning of fracking. While he doesn’t have the power to ban fracking, he does have the power to make it more difficult and expensive – and he is exercising that power. Since he has been president, he has reversed Trump-era deregulatory rules concerning the transmission of oil and gas, his Environmental Protection Agency is taking other regulatory action to make oil and gas pointlessly more expensive, and his Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is cooking up a scheme to block new oil and gas pipelines on the basis of climate.

Perhaps the most obvious shunning of the U.S. oil and gas industry was Biden’s turn to OPEC, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and even Communist China to increase oil production. Although all refused, Biden still refuses to unleash the U.S. oil and gas industry.

Americans have faced high gas prices before. In the 1970s and 2000s when gas prices spiked, we were trapped by our dependency on OPEC. But those days should be over.

President Trump made the U.S. oil and gas industry so globally dominant that Russia and Saudi Arabia were forced into an oil production war in early 2020 that caused the price of oil to dip below zero.

President Biden could do that same thing. But he doesn’t want to. His climate agenda is more important to him than the well-being of Americans and our national security.

Steve Milloy is founder and publisher, was on the Trump EPA transition team, and is the author of "Junk Science Judo: Self Defense Against Health Scares and Scams" and “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA” (Bench Press, 2016). His research and writing has been featured on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, and the Fox News Channel.

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