Faced with self-inflicted gasoline and inflation cost hikes that are killing them in the polls, Democrats are scrambling to find a quick fix to help squeak candidates through a rough 2022 congressional campaign season.
According to a recent Quinnipiac University National Poll, 41% of Americans — including 82% of Republicans and 39% of Independents — attribute rising gas prices mostly to Biden administration economic policies.
Only 24% attribute those increases to the war between Ukraine and Russia, and among Independent voters, it’s basically a similar breakdown.
President Biden has attributed those skyrocketing prices on demands that shot up faster than supplies following the COVID pandemic, plus Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine provoked a bipartisan ban on Russian oil, gas, and coal imports.
Let’s remember, however, that gas prices began going up long before either occurred.
In televised November White House remarks, Biden also blamed the oil industry for gasoline prices which were then running at a seven-year high, stating: “Gas supply companies are paying less and making a lot more. That’s unacceptable.”
That’s a hard case to make for an administration whose war on fossil energy has blocked and stalled drilling and pipeline permits for the express purpose of running those companies out of business.
It’s additionally difficult to explain after having unsuccessfully pleaded with OPEC, Russia, Venezuela and Iran for oil just a year after the U.S. had been energy independent and a net exporter. Nor would it likely have advanced the Biden administration’s primary goal of saving the planet from climate change.
On top of all that, one might well wonder where the liquid natural gas (LNG) will come from that President Biden has pledged to help bail out Europe from dependence on Russian reliance after having relieved Trump sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 trans-Baltic pipeline from Siberia to Germany.
Having failed in all other attempts to relieve midterm pump pain, the Biden White House has now announced plans to “borrow” 180 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) over the next six months, the biggest release in history, reducing it to the lowest emergency level since 1984.
This is the third time Biden has turned to SPR in a little over four months. He ordered the release of 50 million barrels of oil last November, and another 30 million barrels which he announced during his March State of the Union address.
Established in late 1975 under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act signed by President Ford, SPR was created in response to U.S. supply shortages attributed to the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo during which time the average price of imported crude tripled.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush authorized withdrawing nearly 34 million barrels during the Gulf War, although only 17 million barrels were used. And in 2011, President Barack Obama approved the release of 30 million barrels to offset the disruption of supply from Libya.
Whereas even though the latest million barrel per day drawdown is a huge amount of a 568 million remaining March SPR total, consider that even under COVID conditions the U.S. consumed nearly 20 million barrels a day last year, with worldwide consumption topping 97 million barrels daily.
That one million barrels a day will only make up for slightly less than 600,000 barrels the U.S. alone was importing from Russia last year, not enough to make much of a dent in helping Biden fulfill his magnanimous pledge for America to help compensate for European dependencies.
Canada was our top supplier, about 4.5 million barrels per day, and the Keystone XL pipeline that Biden cancelled during his first day in office would have delivered about 830,000 more.
In addition to not making much of a difference is easing Democrat gas pains ahead of the 2022 midterms, also don’t count on any longer palliative fix leading into the 2024 presidential election so long as the Biden administration remains set on its goal to bankrupt U.S. oil and gas producers.
As White House Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy clarified to attendees at a March American Council on Renewable Energy forum, U.S. climate policy “is not a fight about coal anymore. It is a challenge about natural gas and infrastructure investments because we don’t want to invest in things that are time-limited. Because we are time-limited.”
Herein lies one of the big obstacles to Joe Biden’s European LNG export bailout offer: a shortage of pipeline capacity due to permitting delays which discourage industry investment.
The time required to obtain federal Energy Department permitting can take four to five years for a pipeline that can be constructed in six to nine months. Since it can require decades to recoup the costs, McCarthy’s comment about “time limits” will lend no investor confidence to future such ventures.
Although the Energy Department scrambled to finally approve two LNG export permits that it had been sitting on for more than two years, Secretary Jennifer Granholm again made it clear that this was a temporary circumstance premised upon the Ukraine invasion.
Speaking on March 9 in Houston, Granholm said: “We are on a war footing — an emergency — and we have to responsibly increase short-term [oil and gas] supply where we can right now to stabilize the market and to minimize harm to American families. … And that means you producing more right now, where and if you can …”
Meanwhile, the Biden White House hypocritically vilifies U.S. producers as enemies of the state for making “extraordinary profits and without making additional investment to help with supply”—even as its financial regulators tell banks not to lend for fossil fuels.
There should be an obvious message in all of this for Europe as well as American voters.
If they can’t continue to rely on Russia as a reliable energy supplier, than why would they imagine that they can count on America to make up any substantial difference so long as we have an administration headed by someone who campaigned on the pledge that “I guarantee you we’re going to end fossil fuels.”
That theme continues to dominate his presidency, and we are all paying a painful price.
This article originally appeared at NewsMax