Donald Trump’s final year as president was 2020. The average closing price of oil that year was $39.68 a barrel. The year before that, it had been 56.99 a barrel. At one point this past week, oil was trading as high as $138 a barrel. That’s a ridiculously steep increase, a huge hit on every Mom that drives her children to school, to every truck driver delivering food to your local grocery store and to every delivery of all those items Amazon drops on your front doorstep.
“Russia is responsible.”
Those were the words of President Joe Biden earlier this week. He also warned that gas prices will continue to go up and, in his words, he “Can’t do much right now.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has indeed impacted world oil prices. Still, Mr. Biden’s actions, beginning literally on day one of his presidency, had dramatically jacked up prices at the pump long before Mr. Putin went postal. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in April of 2020, the national average of a gallon of gasoline in the United States was $1.93. In February of this year, before Russia began the violence in Ukraine, America’s average gallon of gas was $3.61. Clearly, there was a problem before the Russia mess.
In November of 2021, in an effort to address skyrocketing fuel prices, the White House announced its intention to release 60 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Reserve. At the time, there was no mention from the Biden administration that Russia was the culprit. No boogeyman.
However, in the past two weeks, Mr. Biden has apparently determined that America is a nation of short-term memory nitwits and can’t see through his blame game. On March 1, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced America’s intention of working in conjunction with allies of the U.S. to release 60 million barrels of oil from emergency reserves. Thirty million of which would come from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Thirty million barrels sounds like a lot. To put that in perspective, however, the United States uses about 20 million barrels of oil every day, so the Biden administration’s contribution will help for a whopping 36 hours.
Mr. Biden’s spokesperson, Jen Psaki said it was the White House’s response to, you guessed it, the gas price crisis caused by Russia. And to reiterate, Mr. Biden himself, responding to a question from the media, blamed Russia and said, “Can’t do much right now.”
Frankly, that’s a lie. There is plenty that can be done.
Congressman Jim Banks summed it up best, “When Joe Biden crushed the American energy industry on day one of his presidency, he left Americans dependent on our foreign adversaries for oil. This sent gas prices through the roof and allowed Putin to fund his unprovoked war.”
Oddly enough, Team Biden seems to be slow learners. After canceling the Keystone pipeline in favor of Nord Stream 2, Russia’s pipeline, and putting a stop to oil leases on U.S. Federal lands, which account for 22% of America’s oil and gas production, America lost its status as energy independent. By cutting world supply, Mr. Biden directly drove up world prices, and by importing 4 million barrels a day from Russian companies, the president put increased money directly in the pocket of Vladimir Putin at the same time.
Who would knowingly give big money to bad actors on the world stage? Apparently, the answer was then and is still now, Joe Biden.
Instead of doing all in his power to increase American oil supply, drive down the world price, and take back some semblance of control over this enormous economic lever, Mr. Biden wants to get more oil from various places, none of them particularly good. At the top of the list is Venezuela. Such a move would require America to lift restrictions against the country where our official position is that we don’t even recognize Nicolas Maduro as their head of state. Pumping money into Venezuela will provide stability to the hard-fisted government of Maduro himself. Giving money to a bad guy? Sound familiar? Even Democrats think that is a bad idea.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, didn’t mince words. “Nicolás Maduro is a cancer to our hemisphere, and we should not breathe new life into his reign of torture and murder,” He continued “As such, I would strongly oppose any action that fills the pockets of regime oligarchs with oil profits while Maduro continues to deprive Venezuelans of basic human rights, freedoms, and even food.”
Biden’s Option B is to go to Iran. You know, the place where they praise the holocaust and chant “Death to America.” The West generally recognizes Iran as the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism. Yes, that Iran.
The Biden administration keeps telling us that a revived version of the old Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran is imminent. That agreement will end sanctions and allow Iran to generate billions of dollars by selling its oil on the world market, including to the United States. Again, the U.S. will apparently provide money to a sworn enemy.
New York Democrat and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Sean Patrick Maloney, thinks all of this is a lousy idea. “We need to blow a hole in the Russian economy. We need to lower gas prices for American consumers. Everything should be on the table,” he said in an interview. “But I don’t support strengthening one dictator to hurt another.”
Congressman Banks addressed the Iran option as well. “To add insult to injury, the Biden administration is now considering buying oil from Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. There is absolutely no reason to import terrorists’ oil when we can drill better, cheaper, and cleaner right here at home.”
Here’s a bit of dark irony in the Iran agreement. Russia has been taking the lead on negotiations on behalf of the United States and our European partners. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Russia (our enemy) is negotiating for the Biden administration with Iran (also our enemy) so that both can have more control of the world oil markets and generate billions of dollars.
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have said publicly they don’t believe Iran can be trusted, not on the nuclear portion of the deal, not in their long-term goals and certainly not to limit their hostile foreign policy. Iran will continue to hate America and threaten Israel’s very existence, all while taking our money and using it against us. Israel is not thrilled. Neither is Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis are Option C on the Biden “begging for oil friends” tour. According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House has attempted to set up phone calls between President Biden and Saudi Arabia’s acting leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). MBS hasn’t been taking Joe’s calls. The world is on fire, and MBS is letting the phone ring unanswered. Why? Most assume because he’s still sore that Mr. Biden very publicly blamed the crown prince for the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Mr. Biden also snubbed MBS by communicating directly with his elderly father, King Salman, instead of with the prince.
Taking into consideration his apparent hurt feelings, Reuters news service columnists Lauren Sliva Laughlin and George Hay wrote, “it is likely that the Prince will teach Biden a lesson before pumping more oil.”
MBS intends to teach Mr. Biden that the latter must show the Prince proper respect. The lesson Mr. Biden should be getting from all this is that American energy independence, rather than depending on bad actors and evil leaders, is both achievable and desirable.
The president should be listening to Charlotte Whelan of the Independent Women’s Forum who issued a paper this week saying, “We should increase U.S. energy supply, improving our energy security and that of our European allies, instead of simply changing which foreign nation we’re dependent upon for critical energy. There is no downside to increasing U.S. energy supply — economically, politically, or environmentally — and the Biden administration must recognize that and ask U.S. suppliers to boost their production.”
At the risk of repeating myself, however, Team Biden seems to be slow learners.
- Tim Constantine is a columnist for the Washington Times.