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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

OPINION:

Despite no evidence to support his claims, President Biden continues to double down on his assertion that lowering gas prices is a priority. The irony is that while he’s busy blaming oil and gas companies for keeping prices artificially high, his policies are irresponsible.

In a tone-deaf series of letters to oil companies this week, Mr. Biden even went so far as to threaten emergency powers to force refineries to increase capacity. Not only is this a blatant overstep by the White House, but it also completely disregards the role this administration plays in inflation and rising gas prices. No PR stunt is going to distract the country from the truth: Mr. Biden’s policies are intentionally stifling the American energy industry and making gas unaffordable for Americans.


Just one week after he took office, Mr. Biden issued an executive order stating clearly that, “responding to the climate crisis will require …net-zero global emissions by mid-century or before.” And four months later, he issued another executive order calling on the full force of the financial oversight powers of the federal government to deliver on the left’s climate utopia.

These orders were the first signals of a White House that is trying to constrain free enterprise in the name of the environmental, social and governance movement. Among the results of the orders are two pending ESG regulations from the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission that are a calculated attack on Americans’ wallets.

The first proposed regulation came from the DOL in October of last year and will require employee retirement fund managers to consider climate change risks in their investment decisions. In May, 38 state officials including state treasurers and attorneys general responded by saying the department was forcing fiduciaries to replace “political decisions for financial decisions.” At a time when a 40-year-high inflation rate is already canceling our retirement fund returns, Americans can ill-afford a further restraint on their financial future.

The second regulation came from the SEC. Under the proposed rule, publicly traded companies would be required to disclose all climate-related risks as measured by greenhouse gas emissions.

This rule is a grave overreach of the SEC’s mission, and it will further stifle the American economy. In the rule, the SEC admits that the top affected industries would not only be oil and gas, but also rail and maritime transportation, electric services and steel manufacturing. In an unprecedented move, the SEC is overstepping its authority of protecting investors to become a federal agency that directs private capital. While the president claims he wants to “build back better,” he is simultaneously deconstructing the free market, paralyzing the backbone of American industry.

One of the SEC’s own commissioners, Hester Peirce, blasted the regulation saying plainly if “executives focus less on financial metrics and more on other things, the financial performance of companies is likely to suffer.” Even more alarming is Ms. Peirce’s prediction that “driving more capital toward green investments … could fuel an asset bubble that could make the financial system more vulnerable rather than more resilient.”

Regular gasoline is now more than $5 per gallon.

Contrary to the president’s accusation that oil companies are intentionally limiting supply so they can line their own pockets, ExxonMobil made nearly as much money in 2018, when gas was well under $3 per gallon, as it did last year when oil prices soared. Blaming oil companies for why the country is suffering is a convenient strawman that gives cover to the president so he can continue driving up prices through his climate agenda.

We are now on the cusp of seeing the devastating economic effects of unelected bureaucrats. And Americans have little recourse in the midterm elections to push back against the administrative state as executive agencies operate independently from congressional oversight. All signs point to the White House continuing down this course of prioritizing their radical “green” agenda regardless of how much it will cost the average American household.

With record gas prices, inflation at a 40-year high, and the stock market entering a bear market, it is obvious the administration is sacrificing prosperity for politics. One can only conclude that the Biden administration is either economically inept, or worse — Americans’ financial suffering is all by their design.

• Eric Bledsoe is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability.


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