When gas prices climbed rapidly, the Biden administration blamed the oil companies and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
What the administration and Democrats in Congress cannot admit, at least not without pain at election time, is that it was their explicit intent to reduce domestic oil and gas production, and record-high gasoline prices have not altered that strategy. Democrats believe that higher gas prices will nudge people to buy electric cars and solar panels for their houses and drive less, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of that has indeed happened, but those who cannot afford a Tesla or rooftop solar panels are stuck paying more.
One part of the administration’s plan to make oil and gas more scarce has been to put a moratorium on oil leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, which the courts recently ruled was illegal. Drilling permits on public lands in the rest of the country have plunged in recent months, and in January, the Bureau of Land Management approved just 95 new permits, over 50% lower than a year ago.
The administration is boxed in on its energy agenda to some degree, as it remains beholden to a liberal Democratic Congress to pass legislation. The last congressional hearing dealing with energy prices and domestic exploration culminated in high-ranking Democrats asking U.S. energy companies to pledge to lower oil production.
The white-hot economy has come roaring back from the COVID-19-induced recession, and inflation has crept into the system. High gasoline prices are just one manifestation of this inflation, and it has responded by blaming businesses for price gouging, oil companies for deliberately underproducing, and Putin for creating the geopolitical crisis that accelerated the rise in oil prices.
While it’s true that the U.S. embargo on Russian oil raised prices, the reflexive antipathy toward private businesses is well off the mark. For starters, oil prices are set in a global market, and no producer has any ability to affect prices. Accusing them of price gouging is a rhetorical dog whistle for the party’s collectivist core.
What’s more, the White House’s accusations that oil producers don’t want to produce and that there are leased lands not being developed are nonsensical. The proportion of leases that are active is approaching all-time highs, which makes sense given current prices. Then there’s the tired leased land talking point — it takes time to explore land, conduct an environmental analysis, determine if it has oil and where it is, procure scarce equipment, workers, and resources needed to start production, and determine whether the project will be profitable for shareholders. There also happens to be thousands of existing leases frozen in litigation. None of the administration’s proposals solve the problem of high gas prices, but they do make the problem harder to solve.
The administration’s response to the oil shortage, begging OPEC and Venezuela to produce more and taking steps to allow Iran to rejoin the world economy, comes with significant long-term geopolitical commitments with entities that aren’t exactly our friends and may lead to larger problems down the road.
We need to support our domestic energy sector. There’s no reason we can’t simultaneously encourage research in ways to improve renewable energy and fuel efficiency as well as methods to produce and transport oil in a more sustainable way.
Charles Sauer ( @CharlesSauer ) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is the president of the Market Institute and previously worked on Capitol Hill, for a governor, and for an academic think tank.
The Biden administration’s climate change policies have sharply increased oil prices, damaging the domestic economy and increasing the cost of nearly everything consumers buy. By increasing revenues for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime, they also made Russia stronger and more dangerous at a critical time, thus damaging national security. It is worth noting that Russia’s invasions of Georgia in 2008, Ukraine in 2014, and Ukraine again this year each happened after an oil price spike.
But worst of all, the Biden administration’s basis for these policies, the claim that global warming presents an “existential threat,” is fraudulent. It is not based on any scientific consensus, and in fact, it ignores evidence of environmental benefits of global warming that offset its harm.
Studies published in May 2015, July 2021, and August 2021 analyzed millions of deaths in numerous countries over recent decades and found that cooler temperatures kill several times more people than warmer temperatures. “Global warming,” environmental statistician Bjørn Lomborg wrote in September 2021, “now prevents more than 166,000 temperature-related fatalities annually.”
Matt Ridley’s February 2022 essay explained that global warming has increased both agricultural yields and growth of forests, grasslands, and tree leaves.
The facts regarding natural disasters also do not support the “existential threat” claim. The number of hurricanes per year, a 2021 EPA report shows, has not increased since the late 19th century. Moreover, although you wouldn’t know it from the panicky, sensationalized news coverage, the total acreage burnt by forest fires annually has decreased, and most rivers flood less today than they used to.
Since 1920, Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.12 degrees and the world population has quadrupled from less than two billion to almost eight billion. Even so, the number of people killed each year by natural disasters has declined by about 90%. That statistic, more than any other, puts the lie to claims of an existential crisis due to climate.
There is also the global air pollution death rate, which has declined by about 45% over the last three decades. Again, no “existential threat” here.
Climate change comes with trade-offs — this is not a new idea.
A group of eminent scientists, including Richard Lindzen of MIT and William Happer of Princeton, wrote in 2017 that “observations [over the last] 25 years, show that warming from increased atmospheric CO2 will be benign.”
Biden administration climate change policies are sensationalizing the threats while ignoring all the benefits. They rely on speculative “models” that supposedly project global temperatures and predict disasters. But these models are highly unreliable. In Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, Obama Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Steven Koonin shows that these models are unable even to reproduce the temperature changes of the 20th century.
The Biden administration’s campaign against U.S. oil production and pipelines is not just harmful — it is an environmental fraud. Now more than ever, with both a hot war in Europe and spiking energy prices wreaking economic havoc, it is vital to change our attitude and our policies toward this issue.
David M. Simon is a senior fellow at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity and a lawyer in Chicago.
Marche’s book purports to be a fair-minded analysis of our partisan divide, but isn’t. His effort is interesting mainly as a sociological exhibit of the incurious leftist mind. The author launches his investigation by claiming that he has no stake in American politics, considering himself neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Yet on…
Former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers offered a grim outlook for the U.S. economy this week, predicting stagflation and a “major” recession if the Federal Reserve continues on its current policy trajectory.
In a Tuesday op-ed for The Washington Post, Summers argued the Fed was operating within an “inappropriate and dangerous framework” when it came to addressing the inflation crisis and needed to take stronger action to address it lest the economy face far greater hurdles over the next few years.
“I believe the Fed has not internalized the magnitude of its errors over the past year, is operating with an inappropriate and dangerous framework, and needs to take far stronger action to support price stability than appears likely,” Summers wrote.
“The Fed’s current policy trajectory is likely to lead to stagflation, with average unemployment and inflation both averaging over 5 percent over the next few years — and ultimately to a major recession,” he added.
Summers argued, citing research he conducted with a colleague at Harvard University, that overheating conditions of high inflation and low unemployment, both currently facing the U.S., are usually followed by a recession.
He noted various errors he felt the Fed had made over the past year when addressing inflation, including predicting it would remain in the 2 percent range and be transitory, and continuing to buy mortgage-backed securities despite house prices increasing more than 20 percent.
“No explanation has been offered for these rather momentous errors. Nor is there any suggestion that the Fed forecasting procedures or the personnel that produced them will change,” Summers wrote. “Indeed, the most important change in the March Monetary Policy Report to Congress was in the wrong direction — the removal of the discussion of the various monetary policy rules that had suggested policy was dangerously loose.”
“So there is little basis for confidence in the Fed’s assessment of inflation risks,” he added.
NEW YORK, NY – MAY 24: Former Treasury Secretary and White House Economic Advisor Larry Summers is interviewed by FOX News’ Maria Bartiromo at FOX Studios on May 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
“It would not be surprising if these factors added three percentage points to inflation in 2022. And with price increases outstripping wage increases, a wage-price spiral is a major risk,” he wrote.
Summers called on the Fed to return to its framework of addressing inflation before it materializes and emphasized that price stability is “essential for sustained maximum employment.”
He argued that substantial increases in interest rates and temporary increases in unemployment were the only reliable ways to make progress against inflation increases.
“Central to success in fighting inflation is establishing credibility that a new paradigm is in place. Recognizing failed strategies, and then abandoning them, is the first step,” Summers wrote.
WASHINGTON – JANUARY 22: The Federal Reserve building is seen January 22, 2008 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
“I hope the Fed will make clear that inflation reduction is its principal objective, and that it will wind down efforts to promote worthy but nonmonetary goals such as social justice and environmental protection,” he added.
“To avoid stagflation and the associated loss of public confidence in our country now, the Fed has to do more than merely to adjust its policy dials — it will have to head in a dramatically different direction,” he wrote.
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