Since he took office, Joe Biden has had difficulty explaining record gasoline and energy prices. He’s tried a variety of explanations but refuses to accept that his policies have anything to do with oil and gas prices.
As gas prices have recently increased again, the latest comment is that presidents don’t control gas prices. That’s true, but while presidents don’t directly control gas prices, they do set energy policy, ultimately determining what consumers pay at the pump.
The Biden administration’s energy and climate policies are a disaster for consumers’ pocketbooks.
His Campaign Promises Set the Tone
At a New Hampshire campaign appearance in September 2019, a woman asked Biden about donations from the founder of a natural gas firm. Biden denied the donor’s association with the fossil fuel industry before calling the young woman “kiddo” and taking her hand. He said, “I want you to look at my eyes. I guarantee you. I guarantee you. We’re going to end fossil fuel.”
During a Democratic Presidential Debate on CNN (March 15, 2020), Biden promised, “No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period. Ends,” Biden said. “No new fracking.”
Biden’s statements during the campaign set the tone for the petroleum industry. Exploration is costly and takes years before delivering results. Do not underestimate the psychological impact of Biden’s comments.
A New York Post article titled “Why Biden energy policies have contributed to surging oil prices” makes the point. The story quotes Myron Ebell, Director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, who said, “Part of the run-up in oil prices is the psychology of it.”
Biden Looks to Blame Anybody or Anything Else for Rising Gas Prices
In 2021, gas prices rose to all-time highs. Biden blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin. He called it the “Putin Price Hike.” The public wasn’t buying it.
Biden also blamed supply distribution issues, Covid, and price gouging by oil companies, naturally.
Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate if oil and gas companies used illegal practices, including gouging, to manipulate prices. The FTC never found any unlawful actions by oil and gas companies.
Finally, Biden said he “couldn’t do much” about gas prices.
That didn’t stop him from trying.
Biden’s Efforts to Lower Gas Prices
- He released millions of gallons of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR).
- The Biden administration granted Chevron a license to negotiate with Venezuela’s Maduro government (which it has yet to recognize as the legitimate government) about more oil production. It was the first time the U.S. government authorized an American company to do business with the Maduro administration.
- The Biden administration also entered into talks with Iran about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, which would have lifted sanctions and allowed it to export more oil.
- Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia and met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom U.S. intelligence believes ordered the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Biden begged for more Saudi oil production.
The Biden Energy Policies That Led to Rising Prices
Biden repeatedly denied that his energy policies have hurt oil production or caused prices to rise. The Biden administration has doubled down on every bad energy policy of the past 50 years, pushing regulations by executive order further than any previous president.
- On his first day in office, he canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline.
- The administration put additional restrictions on pipeline construction, effectively canceling all pipelines. In the New York Post article previously referenced, Jay Hatfield, the chief investment officer of ICAP (Infrastructure Capital Advisors), said, “If you cancel a major pipeline project, that’s a hugely negative signal to the market.”
- Biden halted new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters. The courts had to order the administration to resume lease auctions.
- Even then, Biden initially refused to resume the lease sales.
- When the Department of the Interior finally announced it would reopen federal lands for oil and gas leasing, it increased the royalty rates. Biden’s EPA added new environmental regulations, which the Supreme Court later ruled required an act of Congress. The first lease sales were disappointing because of the higher rates and increased regulations.
- Other EPA regulations reduced refinery capacity, which was already below the level necessary to meet demand. These regulations are one of the primary causes of the spike in diesel fuel prices.
- Biden ended the Trump administration’s energy dominance strategy. Trump aimed to promote energy independence and reduce reliance on foreign oil. The Biden administration ended this strategy to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Biden Takes Credit When Prices Retreated
When gas prices retreated from all-time highs, Biden took credit for falling prices. Average Americans weren’t buying it and for good reason.
Although prices fell from all-time highs in mid-2021 through Spring 2022, prices at the pump remained higher than at any time before those dramatic records.
Motorists understood that even as gas prices receded, they remained significantly higher than at any point during the Trump years.
The monthly national average gas price from the start of the Trump administration (Jan 2017) through the most recent data (July 2023) shows that the highest monthly average price under Trump was $2.99 in May 2018.
For 2019, the average cost was $2.65.
When Biden took office (Jan 2021), the average price was $2.42, steadily increasing and topping three dollars a gallon ($3.08) for the first time in May 2021. Prices continued to rise through November 2021, hitting $3.49 before a brief reprieve in December.
Gas prices took off in 2022, peaking at over $5.00 a gallon in June before receding to $3.32 (the lowest it fell) in December 2022. While Biden bragged about gas prices coming down, he lacked credibility. After blaming everybody for the record prices, then saying there was nothing he could do about the cost of gas, he wanted credit for when prices fell.
Biden is like an arsonist taking credit for putting out the fire he started. However, with prices still well over three dollars a gallon, Biden didn’t comprehend that gas was still too expensive for people to be responsive to his message.
Further, no sooner had Biden taken credit for falling gas prices than they started rising again. The average price per gallon approached four dollars a gallon by mid-August 2023. Suddenly, Biden became “Silent Joe” regarding gas prices. Once again, the official policy is “the president doesn’t control gas prices.
|Month-By-Month All Grades All Formulations Retail Gas Prices Per Gallon|
True, the president can’t directly control gas prices. However, the president drives energy policy. From the beginning of his 2020 campaign, his rhetoric aimed at gas and oil companies forewarned how unfriendly a Biden administration would be to the industries. He has lived up to his promises, doubling down on the worst energy policies of the past 50 years.
If Biden wants gas prices to fall, he would cease demagoguing oil and gas companies. Then, with the stroke of his pen, he would permit pipelines, reduce his administration’s regulations, and create additional leases with more favorable terms. Oil prices would fall considerably, causing production and supply to increase. Prices at the pump would follow. Then Joe Biden could rightly take credit for lowering gas prices.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President of Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.