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Thursday, March 17, 2022

OPINION:

When President Biden moved into the White House on Jan. 20, 2021, a gallon of regular gasoline cost an average of $2.37.

Now, it’s $4.39 and rising nearly every day — sometimes by double digits, according to GasBuddy.com.


So of course the question on everyone’s lips is — why?

A whole bunch of Americans point their finger at one man — the president of the United States. And there are a lot of them, judging from all those little stickers on gas pumps that have a smiling Mr. Biden pointing up saying, “I did that!”

But the White House says no, Mr. Biden didn’t do that.

“We’re asking other countries to think about maybe pumping more oil. Why not just do it here?” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked press secretary Jen Psaki at a press briefing this week.

As the carrot-topped pepperpot often does, Ms. Psaki lost her cool. “Let me give you the facts here and I know they can be inconvenient but I think they’re important in this moment,” she spat.

“We have been clear that the short-term supply must keep up with the demand here and around the world while we make the shift to a secure clean energy future. We are one of the largest producers with a strong domestic oil and gas industry. We have actually produced more oil, it is at record numbers and we will continue to produce more oil,” she said.

Ms. Psaki also pointed at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, despite the fact that the U.S. gets less than 8% of its gas from the authoritarian country.

“What is also true, is that because of the actions of President Putin, because he invaded a sovereign country that created instability in the markets, that is something the president talked about even before Russia and President Putin move forward with their actions,” she said.

But many experts object to that version (although they’re quite difficult to find in the mainstream media). And a slew of MSM headlines sounds just like this one from The New York Times: “Russia’s War in Ukraine Raises Gas Prices and Unsettles Stocks.”

Still, there are these unquestionable facts: Mr. Biden — pressured by the left-wing of the Democratic Party — took numerous actions to shut down or stifle oil production in the U.S. from the very day he took office.

“One of Biden’s first actions after taking office was to halt new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, the Biden administration has delayed decisions on these leases — a move that results in higher energy costs for the most vulnerable consumers,” Americans For Prosperity wrote last week. 

The administration canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and suspended oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and New Mexico (despite opposition from the Navajo Nation). It also resurrected the “Waters of the United States” rule, which would increase barriers to energy projects,” said the libertarian-conservative political advocacy group.

For his part, Mr. Biden says don’t blame him. When asked last week about soaring prices and what he’s doing to help, he said, “Can’t do much right now … Russia is responsible.”

Only partly true. In April 2020, a barrel of oil cost $21.04. The price began rising after Mr. Biden won the election, and by the time he took office, a barrel cost $54.77. The price hit $71.05 this past January, and days before Russia invaded Ukraine, the price was $84.97. So a barrel had quadrupled since Donald Trump was president.

A chart compiled by gasbuddy.com shows that less than two months after Mr. Biden took office, the average price had jumped from $2.37 to about $2.85. A gallon topped $3 in May 2021, then soared to $3.25 by October. At the end of 2021, with the price nearing $3.50, Mr. Biden announced the U.S. Department of Energy will release 50 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Every economist knows that such a move is a short-term fix that literally lasts just a couple of weeks. And it may be fair to say instability prompted by Russia’s invasion could have pushed prices higher, but Mr. Biden had already failed for more than a year, and his early decisions on energy were the main driving forces for soaring pump prices.

As if he could do any more wrong, the Biden administration has been forced to woo the despotic leaders of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to beg for oil. Mr. Biden will soon travel to Saudi Arabia, where he’ll no doubt bow heavily as he pleads for sheiks to open up the oil spigots.

Despite the president and his administration pointing fingers at everyone but themselves, it turns out those little stickers on the pumps are right: Mr. Biden really did do that.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.


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