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September 7, 2023

The Green New War on Alaskan Oil

Just as Biden promised, he’s doing everything he can to thwart oil drilling and energy independence.

On January 20, 2021, the average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. was $2.39; today it’s $3.80 — the highest seasonal level in a decade, albeit down from a June 2022 record of $5.02. We routinely pick that 2021 date because it was the day Joe Biden was inaugurated. It was also the day he set about to destroy the energy independence Donald Trump had worked so hard to achieve. On Wednesday, Biden announced his latest volley in the war on fossil fuels.

From canceling the Keystone Pipeline to limiting drilling permits to subsidizing and mandating electric vehicles, Biden has governed to the hard left. To be fair, he also campaigned that way, saying: “No more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period.” He pledged to achieve the Green New Deal vision to “end fossil fuels.” In reality, this dystopian vision has exacerbated rampant inflation.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a massive wilderness area in northern Alaska managed by the Interior Department. But it holds billions of barrels of oil, as well as the possibility of $40 billion in economic activity and 77,000 jobs.

After congressional legislation authorized it, Trump opened the area to drilling and held a sale on leases in January 2021. “The oil and gas industry largely failed to embrace the 2021 lease sale,” scoffed NBC News, “which generated just $14 million in high bids, mostly from AIDEA,” the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. Well sure. Trump had just lost the 2020 election and oil companies aren’t run by fools. They knew Biden would yank those permits long before oil could actually be extracted.

Indeed, Biden suspended the seven leases later in 2021 and has now officially canceled them, along with banning drilling anywhere on more than 40% of National Petroleum Reserve lands. After angering many climate cultists with his March approval of the Willow Project, another drilling effort in northern Alaska, Biden had to signal that he’s still a true believer.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is sometimes rumored to be a Republican, and in this case she sounded like one. “It just kind of sends a signal that when it comes to Alaska, it depends on the whim of an administration,” Murkowski said of Biden’s move. She added, “These decisions are illegal, reckless, defy all common sense, and are the latest signs of an incoherent energy policy from President Biden.”

Administration policy is definitely not conducive to basic good business practices, never mind energy independence or doing what’s best for American consumers. No business, oil companies included, can possibly invest in big projects when there are such drastic pendulum swings between administrations.

“The constant barrage of government regulation changes and whipsaws tells investors that Alaska is not a place to do business,” noted Alaska Oil and Gas Association President Kara Moriarty. That “makes no sense because Alaska has high environmental standards and some of the lowest emissions in the country.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Jack Spencer adds, “The American gas and oil industry has a strong record working along Alaska’s coastal plain, having safely produced around 18 billion barrels of oil since production began at Prudhoe Bay in 1977.”

Regardless of such pesky facts, Democrats have become so rabidly cultish about climate change that fossil fuels and the oil companies that extract them are among their favorite bogeymen.

Biden practically said as much in a statement: “As the climate crisis warms the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the world, we have a responsibility to protect this treasured region for all ages. Canceling all remaining oil and gas leases issued under the previous administration in the Arctic Refuge and protecting more than 13 million acres in the Western Arctic will help preserve our Arctic lands and wildlife, while honoring the culture, history, and enduring wisdom of Alaska Natives who have lived on these lands since time immemorial.”

Funny, but he didn’t mention that it’s also Bidenomics, which is the practice of driving up prices as high as possible in service to the Left’s radical agenda.

We don’t want to overstate the consequences of canceling one batch of leases. This single move isn’t going to send gas prices back up to $5 a gallon, and it isn’t going to cripple American oil production.

Yet it’s part of a pattern that is “accomplishing” all of those things.

Aside from the aforementioned pipeline and lease cancellations, Biden also plundered the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help his flagging poll numbers. Not only did it not help his numbers, but it put the SPR at its lowest level in nearly 40 years. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told lawmakers in March that it could take years to restock it. In August, the administration delayed restocking again as oil prices rose. Biden doesn’t want to be hit with his own inflation given that Brent crude is trading around $90 a barrel now, up 25% since June.

More than once, Biden went hat in hand to beg the Saudis to increase oil production in order to cover his own cuts. That didn’t pan out. In fact, Saudi Arabia and Russia are cutting production, in part to keep prices and margins high, and in part to squeeze Biden and America.

Biden’s energy policy has been a disaster for Americans in just about every way. But maybe we now know why Biden is otherwise inexplicably going to spend September 11 in Alaska.

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