December 1, 2022

The Truth About Those 9,000 Oil Permits

The Biden administration routinely blames oil companies for unused permits, but it’s complicated.

When Joe Biden and people in his administration lie, it is with the intent to deceive, to mislead, to make you think the opposite of the truth. That was rarely the case with Donald Trump’s hyperbole, but you could always count on the Leftmedia “fact-checkers” to “well technically” the stuffing out of Trump’s statement and call them lies. Naturally, just the opposite happens for Biden — “fact-checkers” circle the wagons.

That rank partisanship is why we routinely put “fact-checkers” in scare quotes.

If Trump had bragged about the federal government issuing 9,000 permits for oil drilling, it would have been to highlight the truth that his administration was doing a lot for domestic energy production by getting the federal government out of the way. When Biden or, as happened earlier this week, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby trot out the same number, their intent is to make it seem as if his administration isn’t doing everything it can to hamper domestic oil production out of dogmatic dedication to their climate agenda.

Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy challenged Kirby regarding the Biden administration’s green light for Chevron to resume oil drilling in Venezuela.

“Why is it that President Biden would rather let U.S. companies drill for oil in Venezuela than here in the U.S.?” Doocy asked.

Kirby responded with the same canard about permits: “The president has issued 9,000 permits for drilling on U.S. federal lands, Peter, 9,000 of them being unused. There are plenty of opportunities for oil and gas companies to drill here in the United States.”

It’s no small irony that Merriam-Webster announced its “Word of the Year” this week: “Gaslighting” is “The act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.” The amusing part is that gas prices are the reason for a lot of White House gaslighting about oil.

Biden himself pioneered the claim about 9,000 permits in March, though pointing to permits as a way to blame supposedly lazy and greedy oil companies dates back to Bill Clinton. “It’s simply not true that my administration or policies are holding back domestic energy production,” Biden insisted. “[Oil companies] have 9,000 permits to drill now. They could be drilling right now, yesterday, last week, last year.” PolitiFact rated his bogus claim “mostly true.”

Oddly enough, the word “Keystone” cannot be found in that “fact-check,” though to be fair that pipeline was meant to transport Canadian oil to U.S. refineries. Another thing not mentioned was Biden’s moratorium on issuing any federal leases when he took office, which a judge had to overturn.

At least PolitiFact went on to explain that “it’s not as simple as Biden made it seem.” Oil companies don’t receive a permit and immediately fire up a drill later that afternoon. A lot of evaluation, exploration, and ramp up is needed because a permit doesn’t mean there’s oil in them there hills. Many of those leases are simply there to run out the 10-year clock because companies can’t extract anything. Biden blocked drilling in ANWR, where oil companies know there’s oil.

Moreover, environmental regulations come into play. Gernot Wagner, an associate professor of environmental studies at New York University, alluded to that: “While the cost to extract one barrel in Saudi Arabia is somewhere around $10 or $15, in West Texas it can be as high as $70.” Hence, when Biden brags about increasing oil production in his first year over Trump’s last year, it’s because oil had dropped well below $70 a barrel because of a little thing called COVID and it became a money-losing proposition to drill in 2020.

Quoting and paraphrasing Abhi Rajendran of Energy Intelligence, says, “The price collapse in early 2020 led to ‘a massive reduction’ in capital expenditures, with companies going into a ‘fetal position’ to ‘weather the downturn,’ he said, and there has been only ‘a very modest recovery’ since in terms of capital spending. It dropped about 25% from 2019 to 2020, and went up by only 3% to 4% in 2021, compared with 2020, he said.”

Exploiting COVID in myriad ways to beat Trump was a brilliant (and gimme) election strategy, but it doesn’t make Biden a better president. His climate agenda is responsible for hampering American energy production, which — surprise! — yielded much higher prices for oil, gas, natural gas, and electricity.

Since those March “fact-checks,” Biden has threatened oil companies with punitive taxes for making what he considers to be too much profit. (Funny, but he doesn’t mention the profit the federal government rakes in for all those leases.) When challenged recently on there being so many drilling permits when he’s supposed to be fighting climate change, he snapped, “No more drilling. There is no more drilling.”

He has virtually declared war on oil companies and then he and his administration have the gall to blame them for high gas prices.

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