This week President Biden showed just how wide the intellectual disconnect within his administration has become with regards to reining in America’s surging energy costs.
In what appears to be a ploy to score quick political points in the wake of approval ratings that have reached a new low, President Biden has called upon the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether increasing gas prices are a result of oil companies illegally fixing prices.
His letter to the FTC alleges that “In the last month, the price of unfinished gasoline is down more than 5 percent while gas prices at the pump are up 3 percent in that same period.”
Never mind that it comes in the midst of broader inflationary pressure due to labor and goods shortages and unprecedented government spending. Although it is nearly impossible to pinpoint increasing fuel costs on market manipulations against this backdrop, the president appears to fail to consider these factors affecting the American economy writ large.
While it is also hard to discount the effect of such price increases for something so vital to everyday life, a 3% increase in prices at the pump is unfortunately a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the over 60% increase in the average price of gasoline since Mr. Biden took office.
This is doubly true when one considers the fact average household budgets are coming under increasing pressure from the skyrocketing costs of a whole basket of essential items.
If the president truly wants to make energy more affordable for average Americans, he needs to look inward. Instead of jetting off to Europe to engage in “climate diplomacy” that is often nothing more than laying thinly veiled plans for the wholesale dismantling of the production of traditional energy sources, the president should be focusing on ways he can get the energy industry on track back here in America.
Unfortunately, Mr. Biden’s ambivalence toward the oil and gas industry has been clear since his campaign for president where he called for the elimination of fossil fuels by 2050. Since assuming the Oval Office, the policies he has promoted as commander-in-chief are reflective of an executive intent on carrying out this mission.
The animosity the White House has exhibited toward the energy infrastructure necessary to carry fuels to market have been well documented. Most notable has been the shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Biden administration in effect killed this project by revoking previously issued permits, ultimately causing enough regulatory uncertainty for the project developer to pull the plug after years of mounting costs and bureaucratic wrangling.
But the minor diplomatic row this move created with our Canadian allies who were jointly developing this project as well as the blow this decision dealt to American energy has left the White House undeterred. It appears they are now setting their sights on another major energy infrastructure project known as Line 5, and are considering wading into the debate surrounding the project right before winter energy demands increase.
The pause on oil and gas leasing on federal lands that the Biden Administration instituted shortly after taking office, also needs to be reversed. While Department of Interior auctions of 80 million acres of leasing rights for energy development this week were a welcome first step, they were carried out reluctantly and only under court order.
A broader shift that returns the United States to Trump-era policies that encouraged responsible development and stewardship of such resources on federal lands would go a long way toward reducing the price at the pump.
In 2019 America became energy independent for the first time in over 60 years, but since President Biden took office domestic energy production and transportation have been kneecapped. As a result, the United States has once again been forced to rely on foreign countries to help meet our energy needs, with the president having to go as far as to plead with the leaders of oil producing countries to pump more oil.
The time has come for President Biden to make a decision regarding our country’s energy future. While a carbon-free energy future is an admirable goal, the question is how the United States can effectively manage this transition.
One scenario as outlined by Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyo., in a recent Senate Energy Committee hearing on the rising costs of energy leaves our country “dependent on the OPEC cartel and Russia” with a likely continuation of skyrocketing energy costs.
In another scenario the United States restarts its domestic energy renaissance, helping to free our country and its allies from the coercion of often hostile petrostates as we chart our energy future.
The choice is yours Mr. President, and for the sake of the country, I hope you choose wisely.
Travis Korson is a veteran of politics with years of experience in campaigns, communications, and public policy. He previously served in the Bush White House and has also spent time at various conservative organizations and government institutions including the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, and the Faith and Freedom Coalition. He is a graduate of the George Washington University where he studied International Affairs with a focus on International Economics. Read Travis Korson's Reports — More Here.