Biden’s Empowering of OPEC Was a Really Bad Idea
Biden can’t control prices, but he could have mitigated the problem consumers now face.
If the average price of a gallon of gas falls by a penny, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain will take to Twitter and credit the Biden administration. In the last few months, due to lower demand and other factors, consumers have experienced a reprieve from historic highs. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre points out this is “the fastest decline in gas prices in over a decade,” which is like bragging about losing a couple of pounds after packing on 20.
Officials haven’t had much to say lately. That trend is likely to continue. Today, the OPEC+ cartel announced it’s going to cut production by 2 million barrels a day. This, even after the Biden administration engaged in a “full-scale pressure campaign,” according to CNN, to dissuade our alleged allies in the Middle East to change their minds.
As a presidential candidate, Biden called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state. Soon after the election, like all his predecessors, Biden traveled to the kingdom to kiss the ring. And still, he gets nothing. The oft-repeated claim that Biden is a savvy, highly respected foreign policy operator has been relentlessly debunked by reality. Biden wagered that he could placate his left wing, curbing fossil fuel production while also holding prices in check by pressuring the Saudis and emptying the U.S. strategic reserve, now at a 40-year low. It was a bad bet.
Biden can’t control prices, but he could have mitigated the problem consumers now face had he not disincentivized domestic fossil fuel production and refinery capacity. Remember that on Biden’s first day at work, he revoked permits to build the Keystone XL, a 1,179-mile pipeline that was going to carry approximately 800,000 barrels of oil a day into the United States that was slated to be completed in a few months. Seems like the kind of infrastructure that might be quite helpful. Days later, Biden signed a batch of executive orders halting any new oil and natural gas leases on all public lands. The administration has issued fewer oil leases than any president since the Second World War.
It’s unsurprising, considering the stated policy goal of his party has been to create fossil-fuel scarcity by “transitioning” — subsidizing, mandating and diverting capital — to unreliable and expensive “clean energy” projects. Democrats’ promises and rhetoric are also baked into the price. Even if Biden loosened regulations today, why would nefarious profit-hungry shareholders of the oil industry plow billions into long-term projects when Democrats promise to destroy their business in the not very distant future?
You can have windmills, or you can have affordable and reliable energy. You can’t have both.
Since oil is a fungible commodity, no single group or nation, leader or project is going to dictate prices. Among the entities that aren’t responsible for spiking prices is “Big Oil,” the bugaboo Biden and Democrats like to throw at the economic illiterates in times of crisis — but only when prices spike. Those poor bastards never get any credit for the years of stable, low prices.
Today, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had the gall to say OPEC’s cuts were “a reminder of why it is so critical that the United States reduce its reliance on foreign sources of fossil fuels.” His point, of course, is that we must speed up the approximately $30-bazillion clean-energy agenda — which, even if we embraced completely this second, would do absolutely nothing to alleviate the pain felt by 98% of people with cars and homes.
It is also true that Russia is a member of OPEC+. If we’re going to fight a proxy war against Putin in Ukraine, American leadership should have expected and planned for retaliation. Unlike Europe, North America had not yet surrendered its strategic energy advantage.
Michael McFaul says, “At this pivotal moment in history, Saudis side with Putin and against us.” But if depressing production means we’re siding with Putin, what does that say about a political party that is leading the fight to shut down pipelines, ban fracking, undercut exploration and artificially inflate the cost of reliable and affordable energy?
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