RealClear Energy ran an op-ed by Mark Robeck, former Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy at the United States Department of Energy, focused on how the Biden Administration’s short term “fixes,” such as releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), are failing to bring down prices. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm held a closed-door meeting in mid-June with oil and gas executives to discuss ways to mitigate rising fuel costs, but the meeting yielded no tangible results. The administration continues to try to blame oil and gas companies for price gouging, “despite the fact many of Biden’s own policies are not alleviating the problem,” Robeck notes.
The administration seems set on ineffective approaches to our energy policy that will have no long term impact on the cost of energy. For example, Secretary Granholm visited a SPR facility in the Bayou Louisiana ahead of additional oil releases. Despite the record release from the SPR, gasoline prices are actually higher than they were when President Biden first announced the release in April. Now, President Biden has endorsed suspending the federal gas tax on gasoline, another futile short-term “solution.” Further, some estimates of fuel costs see gas prices rising towards an average of $6 per gallon nationwide.
Policy decision such as cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline, suspending offshore lease sales in Alaska and the gulf, as well as imposing more burdensome regulations on new energy production and infrastructure have all contributed to the pending domestic energy crisis. Democrats are now trying to fix the problem President Biden and his administration have facilitated. For example, Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representative Khanna (D-CA) introduced a bill known as the Windfall Profits Tax. This same policy was attempted by President Carter in 1980, but led to a decrease in domestic production and a greater reliance on foreign imports. Robeck says, “In the long run, this approach could have the reverse of the stated objective and instead reduce the production of oil which limits supply.”
Similarly, Robeck believes the release of 180 million barrels form the SPR threatens our national security, but is not lowering gas prices. The SPR is intended only for “severe energy supply disruptions” such as the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, or natural disasters. “The current high prices at the pump are a real national concern, but playing politics with a national security asset is not the way to address the problem,” Robeck writes. The President’s SPR release has weakened our national security and harmed the country’s ability to respond to a severe disruption in our energy supply, or even a natural disaster in the Gulf, for example.
Robeck concludes his piece by saying that in order for energy producers to deploy their capital, the Biden Administration has to instill confidence in the long-term recovery of those assets. Supporting the energy sector through new pipeline projects, less red-tape, and continued on and offshore leasing is key to fighting rising fuel costs. Demonizing energy companies is not part of the solution.