WASHINGTON — As gas prices hit a high this week, prime Republican lawmakers took to the airwaves and the flooring of Congress with deceptive claims that pinned the blame on President Biden and his vitality insurance policies.
Mr. Biden warned that his ban on imports of Russian oil, gas and coal, introduced on Tuesday as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, would trigger fuel costs to rise additional. High costs are expected to last so long as the confrontation does.
While Republican lawmakers supported the ban, they asserted that the ache on the pump lengthy preceded the warfare in Ukraine. Gas value hikes, they mentioned, have been the results of Mr. Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, the non permanent halt on new drilling leases on public lands and the surrendering of “energy independence” — all incorrect assertions.
Here’s a reality verify of their claims.
What Was Said
“This administration wants to ramp up energy imports from Iran and Venezuela. That is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror and a thuggish South America dictator, respectively. They would rather buy from these people than buy from Texas, Alaska and Pennsylvania.”
— Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority chief, in a speech on Tuesday
“Democrats want to blame surging prices on Russia. But the truth is, their out-of-touch policies are why we are here in the first place. Remember what happened on Day 1 with one-party rule? The president canceled the Keystone pipeline, and then he stopped new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.”
— Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority chief, in a speech on Tuesday
“In the four years of the Trump-Pence administration, we achieved energy independence for the first time in 70 years. We were a net exporter of energy. But from very early on, with killing the Keystone pipeline, taking federal lands off the list for exploration, sidelining leases for oil and natural gas — once again, before Ukraine ever happened, we saw rising gasoline prices.”
— Former Vice President Mike Pence in an interview on Fox Business on Tuesday
These claims are deceptive. The main purpose for rising gas prices over the past year is the coronavirus pandemic and its disruptions to world provide and demand.
“Covid changed the game, not President Biden,” mentioned Patrick De Haan, the top of petroleum evaluation for GasBuddy, which tracks gasoline costs. “U.S. oil production fell in the last eight months of President Trump’s tenure. Is that his fault? No.”
“The pandemic brought us to our knees,” Mr. De Haan added.
In the early months of 2020, when the virus took maintain, demand for oil dried up and costs plummeted, with the benchmark value for crude oil within the United States falling to negative $37.63 that April. In response, producers within the United States and world wide started lowering output.
As pandemic restrictions loosened worldwide and economies recovered, demand outpaced provide. That was “mostly attributable” to the choice by OPEC Plus, an alliance of oil-producing international locations that controls about half the world’s provide, to restrict will increase in manufacturing, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Domestic production additionally stays under prepandemic ranges, as capital spending declined and investors remained reluctant to supply financing to the oil business.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has solely compounded the problems.
“When you throw a war on top of this, this is possibly the worst escalation you can have of this,” mentioned Abhiram Rajendran, the top of oil market analysis at Energy Intelligence, an vitality info firm. “You’re literally pouring gasoline on general inflationary pressure.”
These elements are largely out of Mr. Biden’s management, specialists agreed, although they mentioned he had not precisely despatched constructive alerts to the oil and fuel business and its buyers by vowing to scale back emissions and fossil gasoline reliance.
Mr. De Haan mentioned the Biden administration was “clearly less friendly” to the business, which can have not directly affected investor attitudes. But general, he mentioned, that stance has performed a “very, very small role pushing gas prices up.”
Mr. Rajendran mentioned the Biden administration had emphasised local weather change points whereas paying lip service to vitality safety.
“There has been a pretty stark miscalculation of the amount of supply we would need to keep energy prices at affordable levels,” he mentioned. “It was taken for granted. There was too much focus on the energy transition.”
But presidents, Mr. Rajendran mentioned, “have very little impact on short-term supply.”
“The key relationship to watch is between companies and investors,” he mentioned.
It is true that the Biden administration is in talks with Venezuela and Iran over their oil provides. But the administration is also urging American corporations to ramp up manufacturing — to the dismay of climate change activists and opposite to Republican lawmakers’ options that the White House is intent on handcuffing home producers.
Speaking earlier than the National Petroleum Council in December, Jennifer M. Granholm, the vitality secretary, told oil companies to “please take advantage of the leases that you have, hire workers, get your rig count up.”
Understand Rising Gas Prices within the U.S.
The notion that the United States gained “energy independence” beneath Mr. Trump, and reversed course beneath Mr. Biden, can also be deceptive.
Even earlier than Mr. Trump took workplace, the United States had been projected to grow to be a web vitality exporter within the 2020s “because favorable geology and technological developments result in the production of oil and natural gas at lower costs,” in line with the Energy Information Administration.
The nation turned a net exporter of petroleum in 2020, the primary time since not less than 1949. That remained the case in 2021. It turned a net exporter of natural gas in 2018 and stays so at present, with exports reaching record levels in 2021.
The time period “energy independence” may counsel that the United States didn’t rely in any respect on imports. That, too, is unfaithful. In 2020, the United States nonetheless imported 7.9 million barrels of crude oil and different petroleum merchandise a day.
Moreover, the particular insurance policies cited by Republican lawmakers as proof of Mr. Biden’s supposed “war on American energy” have had little influence on rising fuel costs.
The Keystone XL pipeline, which might have expanded an current system transporting oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, has been a political and environmental battleground since its conception in 2008. The Obama administration denied the company behind it, TransCanada, a development allow in 2015. The Trump administration approved the permit in 2017, however the undertaking stalled in the face of litigation. By the time Mr. Biden rescinded its permit on his first day in workplace, just 8 percent of it had been built.
Even if Mr. Biden had greenlighted the undertaking and TransCanada, now often called TC Energy, had gained its court docket battles, it’s unlikely that the pipeline would have been operational at present on condition that the corporate estimated in March 2020 that it might have entered into service in 2023. And “even if it were completed overnight, there’s no capacity for oil to be put into this pipeline,” Mr. De Haan mentioned, pointing to supply chain issues and labor shortages that proceed to have an effect on American and Canadian oil and fuel producers.
Absent the Keystone XL pipeline, crude oil imports from Canada have nonetheless increased by 70 percent since 2008, transported by different pipelines and rail. The Trump administration itself told PolitiFact in 2017 that the pipeline’s influence on costs on the pump “would be minimal.”
The claims about oil and fuel leases are much more incorrect.
Though Mr. Biden temporarily halted new drilling leases on federal lands in January 2021, a federal decide blocked that move last June. In its first yr, the Biden administration really permitted 34 % extra of those permits than the Trump administration did in its first yr, according to federal data compiled by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group.
“None of these permits are relevant to production right now,” Mr. Rajendran mentioned. “These permits are for production three, four years down the line. If they had approved 10 times as many permits, we would have the same production issues.”