by Dan McCaleb
With gasoline prices up more than $1 a gallon over the past year, the Biden administration took heat Wednesday over a statement from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan pressuring OPEC nations to increase oil production.
“Higher gasoline costs, if left unchecked, risk harming the ongoing global recovery. The price of crude oil has been higher than it was at the end of 2019, before the onset of the pandemic,” Sullivan said. “While OPEC+ recently agreed to production increases, these increases will not fully offset previous production cuts that OPEC+ imposed during the pandemic until well into 2022. At a critical moment in the global recovery, this is simply not enough.”
OPEC – the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran – cut production last year as travel drastically slowed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gasoline prices in the U.S. have soared over the past year, with the early August average at about $3.18 a gallon in the U.S., more than a dollar above August 2019.
But President Joe Biden’s energy policies also are being blamed for rising prices. Early in his administration, Biden halted construction of the Keystone Pipeline, paused new oil and gas leases on federal lands, and imposed further restrictions on U.S. oil companies.
“Simply put, begging foreign countries for energy production after destroying thousands of American energy jobs is pathetic,” Larry Behrens, communications director at Power the Future, told The Center Square. “Skyrocketing gas prices and dependence on foreign energy are direct consequences of Joe Biden’s actions to cancel pipelines and shut off public lands to development. It’s safe to say the 1970s are calling, and they want their energy policy back.”
U.S. oil production has fallen by about 1.715 million barrels a day from a year ago. As a result, U.S. imports of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia reached 22.9 million barrels in March, the highest level since August 2010, according to International Energy Agency.
“It’s pretty simple: if the President is suddenly worried about rising gas prices, he needs to stop killing our own energy production here on American soil,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a statement. “Begging the Saudis to increase production while the White House ties one hand behind the backs of American energy companies is pathetic and embarrassing.”
Behrens, Cornyn and others said Sullivan’s Wednesday statement run contrary to Biden’s actions.
“President Biden has made clear that he wants Americans to have access to affordable and reliable energy, including at the pump,” Sullivan said. “Although we are not a party to OPEC, the United States will always speak to international partners regarding issues of significance that affect our national economic and security affairs, in public and private. We are engaging with relevant OPEC+ members on the importance of competitive markets in setting prices. Competitive energy markets will ensure reliable and stable energy supplies, and OPEC+ must do more to support the recovery.”
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Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square.