January 11, 2024

Why Is Oil Production Booming Under Biden?

Seemingly at odds with Joe Biden’s promises about “green” energy and the end of fossil fuel, American oil production recently hit a record high.

Recent headlines noting that U.S. oil production has hit an all-time high may come as a surprise to many, especially given Joe Biden’s anti-fossil fuel agenda. In October, American oil production hit 13.2 million barrels a day, surpassing the previous monthly high of 13 million per day under Donald Trump in November 2019.

How can this be? Trump’s energy policy regarding oil was effectively drill, drill, drill, whereas Biden’s has been kill, kill, kill. Furthermore, it was under Biden that the national average price of gas at the pump hit a record high of $5.02 a gallon in the summer of 2022.

While it’s true that more oil is being produced now than under Trump, there’s a massive caveat — namely, that oil production in America has increased despite Biden, not because of him. Indeed, Biden has done much to hurt future oil production, and we may not fully feel it for years.

The current oil production boom is thanks in big measure to Trump’s presidency. Trump opened the nation’s energy production floodgates, and for the first time since 1952 the U.S. became a net exporter of energy in 2019 and 2020.

Unfortunately, after COVID hit, U.S. energy production fell off precipitously and only fully bounced back to pre-pandemic levels last year. Of course, Biden’s anti-fossil fuel efforts haven’t helped, but most oil and gas production is, thankfully, taking place on private land.

The Biden administration has infamously sought to decrease this fossil fuel production by reducing the number of public land drilling permits granted to energy companies. According to Newsweek, “The number of permits approved for federal land fell from 9,173 in 2021 to 6,732 in 2022, but in the calendar year ending in October, the number crept up to 7,247 permits.” However, the Biden administration has also further hampered the process by giving out fewer public land leases, which are needed for a drilling permit.

The Biden administration’s actions are thus hamstringing the fossil fuel industry’s future development but not its immediate production capabilities because much of the latter was established under Trump.

This reality is why, despite the record-high current oil production, the American Petroleum Institute is spending big money on a public lobbying effort heading into the 2024 election. As API President and CEO Mike Sommers explained: “The goal of the campaign is really to educate voters and policymakers on what’s at stake for American energy going forward. The real concern that we have is that some of the policy decisions that this administration has made over its first few years could really sow the seeds for the next energy crisis if we don’t make the right decisions in the next year.”

Sommers argues, as have many practical-minded folks, that we can’t “just stop oil.” He adds: “We still get 70% of our energy from oil and gas. These energy transitions take a very long time. In fact, we’ve never transitioned from one fuel to another. What we’ve really done is we have added new kinds of energy as the world needs more energy.”

While not opposed to renewable energy, “the baseload energy is still going to come from oil and gas,” Sommers correctly points out. “And if we don’t make the right investment decisions, which flow from the right policy decisions, we’re going to be in a world of hurt years down the road.”

For the foreseeable future, to meet America’s growing energy demands, fossil fuels will have to remain the primary energy source, and Biden’s green vision will remain a pipe dream — albeit an expensive one.

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