by Brian Balfour
Senior Vice President of Research, John Locke Foundation
In a continued attempt to skirt blame for spiraling price inflation, and gas prices more specifically, the Biden administration continues to trot out easily disprovable excuses.
Previously, Biden & Co. of course insisted we blame Putin for high gas prices, even deploying Tik Tok influencers to parrot this excuse. But that doesn’t explain how gas prices had already climbed 42% from Biden’s inauguration up until Putin began attracting attention for his buildup on the Ukrainian border. The Ukrainian conflict just exacerbated an already existing trend.
Even prior to that, Biden blamed greedy gas station owners and other “profiteers” for the rising gas prices. I guess they just became greedy after Biden’s inauguration? And why would those greedy oil “profiteers” keep oil prices below $50 a barrel when Biden was sworn in, and below $75 a barrel for years prior – did they not like profit before Jan. 2021? I’m sure a demand backed by trillions in newly-created money had nothing to do with the rise in prices.
Now the latest excuse is to blame oil companies for not drilling enough, citing more than 9,000 “unused, approved drilling permits.” First, it’s odd that the president who campaigned on a “guarantee to end fossil fuels” is now demanding more drilling for fossil fuels. Second, if oil companies are so greedy, why would they sit by and not drill for more oil and make more profit?
Of course, these questions alone address how hypocritical and misguided Biden’s blame game has been to date. But more to the point, claiming that “They have 9,000 permits to drill now. They could be drilling right now, yesterday, last week, last year,” is misleading at best.
As former energy secretary Dan Bruillette said this week, it’s “not quite that simple.” There are permits required at every stage of the process of extracting and transporting oil, he pointed out. Indeed, there are more than 2,000 of these leases currently held up in court due to litigation. Still other locations may be found to not have accessible oil after having their permit approved, so they go unused. Others are facing a “six-month waiting period for piping materials needed to drill and are still short-staffed after layoffs spurred by the pandemic-induced drop in demand for oil.”
And there’s the fact that the federal permitting situation is “so inefficient and fraught with political interference,” according to the president of the Western Energy Alliance, that it’s no surprise that many permits are not yet being used.
The Biden administration is desperate to shift blame for rising gas prices anywhere and everywhere except themselves. Certainly, the conflict in Ukraine has exacerbated the situation, but there’s no denying that the fault lies with massive money printing and restrictive regulatory policies on the oil and gas industries.
It’s more important to them to assign blame elsewhere than to provide relief from skyrocketing prices.
It’s more important to them to assign blame elsewhere than to provide relief from skyrocketing prices. That tells you everything you need to know about what they truly care about.