Biden strangled US energy just when we needed it most | Opinion
A competent presidential administration plans, anticipates and implements strategies. An ineffective administration bounces pell-mell from crisis to crisis. It’s the difference between playing chess and playing pinball.
Joe Biden’s mishandling of soaring gas prices gives us a clue as to what game he is playing.
Gas prices, already high and rising due to supply chain issues and inflation, soared when Biden announced a ban on US imports of Russian oil. Prior to making this announcement, a competent administration would have begun to alienate the government from national energy producers and open access to our vast oil and gas resources on public lands.
Instead, the Biden administration has made it harder for America to produce and sell energy. Rather than pave the way for American energy producers, Biden prefers to ask perpetrators of human rights abuses like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Iran to do for the United States what he wants. won’t do.
At first, Biden welcomed his plans to restrict energy based on oil and natural gas. Now that gas prices are really taking off, however, he denies slowing national oil drilling. But it has.
Not only did he block major oil and gas operations, but he broke the law to do so.
On his first day in office, Biden issued an executive order directing the Secretary of the Interior to impose a “temporary” (bureaucratic for “permanent”) moratorium on the Coastal Plain oil and gas leasing program. This program directs the Bureau of Land Management to lease certain lands in Alaska for the extraction of oil and gas.
A few days later, he issued another order “suspending” oil and gas leases on all public lands and waters.
According to the bureau, the Alaska Coastal Plain is “one of the most promising lands in Alaska’s North Slope.” It contains billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. It is the royal ransom of energy wealth, and the law requires the administration to make it available for extraction.
The Trump administration complied, and the office began granting leases to energy companies near the end of its term. But Biden immediately terminated the program and likely violated the Administrative Procedure Act in the process. Meanwhile, his decision to suspend leases on public lands violated another law that requires quarterly lease sales.
The result: Biden has illegally trapped much of America’s vast energy reserves behind a wall of bureaucratic red tape, leaving them unavailable now that the country needs them. Because of this, Americans are going to suffer at the pumps far more than they should.
If Biden was playing chess instead of pinball, he wouldn’t have made this mistake.
At the very least, he would have taken steps to address other issues that are artificially inflating oil prices. He would have, for example, issued a waiver to the Jones Act, temporarily suspending the law while pushing Congress to repeal it permanently.
The Jones Act requires that goods shipped between U.S. ports be shipped on American-built, flagged, and crewed vessels. This greatly restricts shipping options and makes US shipping much more expensive than foreign shipping. So expensive, in fact, that it is often cheaper to buy foreign oil and gas, and so limited that – in the case of liquefied natural gas – there are no Jones-Act compliant ships to transport it.
As a result, Americans are too often stuck with expensive foreign energy rather than the cheaper energy we produce here. Only the unique twisted logic found in Washington could justify a law that makes it cheaper to buy foreign oil and gas compared to the United States.
Hawaii, for example, gets 28% of its oil imports from Russia, in part because the Jones Act makes it too expensive for Hawaiians to buy gasoline on the mainland. Hawaii is set to lose more than a quarter of its imported supply, and Biden has no plans to replace it with American energy.
Instead, his administration is telling people to buy electric cars. Not that it does Hawaiians any good; oil-fired power plants provide more than three-quarters of the state’s electricity.
If Biden reopens the coastal plain and public lands and waters to exploration, it would likely lower prices somewhat simply by sending a signal to the global market that US energy is open for business. But it will take time for production to ramp up and prices to fall further.
If only someone had predicted this a year ago.
As with his withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden again failed to anticipate and mitigate the negative consequences. It’s high time the administration stopped paying for pinball. The American people pay too high a price when they miss the ball.
(GianCarlo Canaparo is a legal scholar at The Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.)