Republicans wrongly blame Biden for rising gas prices

WASHINGTON — As gasoline prices have skyrocketed this week, top Republican lawmakers flooded the airwaves and congressional floors with...


WASHINGTON — As gasoline prices have skyrocketed this week, top Republican lawmakers flooded the airwaves and congressional floors with misleading claims that blamed President Biden and his energy policies.

Mr Biden has warned that his ban on Russian oil, gas and coal importsannounced on Tuesday in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, would lead to a further rise in gas prices. High costs are expected to last as long as the confrontation lasts.

While Republican lawmakers backed the ban, they claimed pain at the pump long preceded the war in Ukraine. The gas price hikes, they said, were the result of Mr. Biden canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, temporarily halting new drilling leases on public lands and abandoning “the ‘energy independence’ – all incorrect statements.

Here is a fact check of their claims.

what was said

“This administration wants to increase energy imports from Iran and Venezuela. They are respectively the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world and a rogue dictator in South America. They prefer to buy from these people rather than from Texas, Alaska and Pennsylvania. »
— Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and Minority Leader, in a speech on Tuesday

“Democrats want to blame Russia for soaring prices. But the truth is, their disconnected politics are the reason we’re here in the first place. Do you remember what happened on the first day with one-party rule? The president canceled the Keystone pipeline, then he stopped new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.
— Representative Kevin McCarthy, California Republican and Minority Leader, in a speech on Tuesday

“In the four years of the Trump-Pence administration, we have achieved energy independence for the first time in 70 years. We were a net energy exporter. But early on, with the destruction of the Keystone pipeline, the delisting of federal lands for exploration, the sidelining of oil and natural gas leases – again, before the Ukraine does happen, we have seen gasoline prices rise.
— Former Vice President Mike Pence in an interview on Fox Business on Tuesday

These claims are misleading. The main reason for the rise in gasoline prices over the past year is the coronavirus pandemic and its disruptions to global supply and demand.

“Covid changed the game, not President Biden,” said Patrick De Haan, head of oil analysis for GasBuddy, which tracks gasoline prices. “U.S. oil production has plummeted in the last eight months of President Trump’s term. Is it his fault? No.”

“The pandemic has brought us to our knees,” De Haan added.

In the early months of 2020, as the virus took hold, demand for oil dried up and prices fell, with the benchmark price of crude oil in the United States falling to negative $37.63 this April. In response, producers in the United States and around the world began to cut production.

As pandemic restrictions eased around the world and economies recovered, demand outstripped supply. This was “primarily attributable” to the decision by OPEC Plus, an alliance of oil-producing nations that controls about half of the world’s supply, to limit production increases, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Domestic production also remains below pre-pandemic levels, as capital expenditure decreased and investors remained reluctant to fund the oil industry.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine only made the problems worse.

“When you start a war on top of that, it might be the worst escalation you can have,” said Abhiram Rajendran, head of oil market research at Energy Intelligence, an oil news firm. ‘energy. “You are literally pouring gasoline on general inflationary pressure.”

These factors are largely beyond Mr Biden’s control, experts agreed, although they said he hadn’t exactly sent positive signals to the oil and gas industry and its investors by engaging reduce emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Mr De Haan said the Biden administration was “clearly less friendly” with the industry, which may have indirectly affected investor attitudes. But overall, he said, that stance played a “very, very small role in driving up gasoline prices.”

Mr. Rajendran said the Biden administration has been emphasizing climate change issues while pretending to talk about energy security.

“There was a pretty glaring miscalculation of how much supply we would need to keep energy prices at affordable levels,” he said. “It was taken for granted. We focused too much on the energy transition.

But presidents, Mr Rajendran said, “have very little impact on short-term supply”.

“The key relationship to watch is between companies and investors,” he said.

It is true that the Biden administration is in talks with Venezuela and Iran about their oil supplies. But the administration also urges American companies will increase their production — much to the chagrin of climate change activists and contrary to suggestions by Republican lawmakers that the White House intends to handcuff domestic producers.

Speaking before the National Petroleum Council in December, Jennifer M. Granholm, Secretary of Energy, told the oil companies to “please take advantage of the leases you have, hire workers, make your rig count.”

The idea that the United States achieved “energy independence” under Mr. Trump, and reversed course under Mr. Biden, is also misleading.

Even before Mr. Trump took office, the United States had been projected become a net exporter of energy by the 2020s “because favorable geology and technological developments result in lower-cost oil and natural gas production,” according to the Energy Information Administration.

The country has become a net oil exporter in 2020, the first time since at least 1949. This this remained the case in 2021. It became a net exporter of natural gas in 2018 and the rest today, with exports reach record levels in 2021.

The term “energy independence” may also suggest that the United States was not dependent on imports at all. This too is false. In 2020, the United States still imported 7.9 million barrels of crude oil and other petroleum products per day.

Moreover, the specific policies cited by Republican lawmakers as evidence of Mr. Biden’s supposed “war on American energy” have had little impact on rising gasoline prices.

The Keystone XL pipeline, which would have expanded an existing system carrying oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, has been a political and environmental battleground since its conception in 2008. The Obama administration denied the company behind itTransCanada, a construction permit in 2015. The Trump administration approved permit in 2017but the project stuck in litigation. At the time when Mr. Biden revoked his license on his first day in office, only 8 percent of it had been built.

Even if Mr. Biden had given the green light to the project and TransCanada, now known as TC Energy, had won its legal battles, it is unlikely that the pipeline would have been operational today given that the company believed in March 2020 that she would have commissioned in 2023. And “even if it were completed overnight, there is no capacity for oil to flow through this pipeline,” De Haan said, pointing supply chain issues and labor shortages that continue to affect US and Canadian oil and gas producers.

In the absence of the Keystone XL pipeline, imports of crude oil from Canada nevertheless increased by 70% since 2008 transported by other pipelines and rail. The Trump administration itself says PolitiFact in 2017 that the pipeline’s impact on prices at the pump “would be minimal”.

Claims about oil and gas leases are even more incorrect.

Although Mr. Biden temporarily halted new drilling leases on federal lands in January 2021, a federal judge blocked this move last June. In its first year, the Biden administration actually approved 34% more of these permits than the Trump administration in its first year. according to federal data compiled by the Center for Biological Diversityan environmental group.

“None of these permits are relevant to production at this time,” Mr. Rajendran said. “These permits are for production in three or four years. If they had approved 10 times as many permits, we would have the same production problems.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Republicans wrongly blame Biden for rising gas prices
Republicans wrongly blame Biden for rising gas prices
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