by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Despite reassurances from the White House that it is doing nothing to discourage oil companies from opening new drill sites, President Joe Biden’s allies in Congress just months ago pressured oil executives to decrease outputs because of climate change, raising questions about the Democratic Party’s strategy to lower prices for consumers.
In late October, for example, the House Oversight and Reform Committee called in the CEOs of Exxon, BP, Shell, and Chevron to explain what steps they are taking to produce less oil and gas, with Rep. Hank Johnson (D., Ga.) alleging that “the world can’t wait” any longer. At the time, gas prices were hovering around a 10-year high.
The hearing has gained new relevance as a global gas shortage has pushed prices to an all-time high. Prices are rising even more due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with no sign of falling after Biden’s announcement that the United States will no longer accept Russian oil imports. Those facts have left Democrats scrambling for a solution before the November midterms as Republicans demand that the White House encourage domestic oil drilling operations.
The president said on Tuesday that his administration’s policies are not “holding back domestic energy production,” echoing comments from Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who said that “federal policies are not limiting the supplies of oil and gas” before mentioning the thousands of unused pre-approved oil and gas drilling leases.
“You can draw a direct line from how the Democrats marauded energy production yesterday to the unprecedented pain Americans are feeling at the pump today,” said CounterPoint Strategies president Jim McCarthy, a policy adviser for leading energy companies.
Some Democrats, such as Rep. Ro Khanna (Calif.), have demanded that domestic oil companies dramatically curtail their domestic operations. At the same time, Khanna has called for the United States to end its dependency on oil imports from countries such as Russia.