Biden Backtracks: “We’re going to need oil for another decade”

President Biden’s State of the Union focused on myriad issues across the U.S, but it was some of his off-script comments that caught the public eye. After discussing what his administration had done to combat climate change—one of his campaign pledges—and heavily criticizing “big oil” companies, the President seemed to contradict himself by admitting that America relies on oil and gas now and will in the future.

Both the President’s energy policies, and his rhetoric, have disincentivized private sector investment in our domestic oil and gas sector. On the campaign trail, Biden promised to “get rid of fossil fuels.” During a Democratic Presidential debate, he said “no more subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. No more drilling including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period. It ends.” On his first day in office, Biden canceled the cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and issued an executive order suspending all oil and gas leases on federal lands, which, thankfully, a federal judge reversed after finding it to be illegal.

Biden’s administration has also made it significantly harder to construct new energy infrastructure projects. The cumbersome permitting process must be reformed so projects such as pipelines and export facilities can be built to increase our domestic capacity, as well as increase the ability to send our energy resources to Europe. It is interesting to note that, while the President touted infrastructure bills and progress in his SOTU, no mention of energy infrastructure was made.

It is obvious why oil and gas producers were hesitant to invest in production when Biden took office. Now, he has backtracked on his misguided rhetoric. Catching the laughs of Republicans, he said that he reassured oil and gas companies that “we’re going to need oil for at least another decade.” 

Biden’s implication that ten more years in business should incentivize oil and gas companies to invest huge amounts in increased production is absurd. As GAIN advisor Brigham McCown stated, “no company would deploy capital with that timeline. Build a hotel but you have to tear it down in 10 yrs. Silly.” On top of that, it’s highly unrealistic to say that in a single decade the world won’t need fossil oil. 

If President Biden is serious about wanting to encourage oil and gas production in America – a goal that he should be pursuing –  his policies and rhetoric must be less hostile to U.S. energy production and transportation. 

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