Biden defends energy policies amid GOP attacks
President Biden on Tuesday pushed back against criticism from Republicans that his energy policies are to blame for soaring gas prices during an announcement that the U.S. would no longer allow imports of Russian oil.
In his remarks on Russian oil imports, Biden argued that his administration’s policies are not limiting domestic energy production, insisting the U.S. needs to invest in clean energy so Americans are not at the mercy of gas prices.
“It’s simply not true that my administration or policies are holding back domestic energy production. That’s simply not true,” Biden said. “Even amid the pandemic, companies in the U.S. pumped more oil during my first year in office than they did during my predecessor’s first year.”
White House officials have used the comparison of Biden’s first year in office to the Trump administration’s first year in office to argue they have not capped oil production, though production was higher in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Biden also noted that 90 percent of onshore oil production in the United States happens on land not owned by the federal government, and he pointed to thousands of acres that oil and gas companies have leased for drilling they are not using.
In recent days, Republicans have blamed Biden for rising prices and argued his policies, such as his decision to nix the Keystone XL pipeline, have caused high prices.
But experts have disputed that is the case. The pipeline was only about 8 percent complete when Biden revoked its permit, and the company behind it said in 2020 that it didn’t expect the vessel to deliver energy until 2023.
Biden and others have also rejected arguments that limits on leasing have spiked prices. The Biden administration has also been approving permits to drill at a rate comparable to the Trump administration.
Biden also used the occasion on Tuesday to push for greater investments in clean energy, a key part of his legislative agenda that has been stalled in Congress.
“Loosening environmental regulations and pulling back clean energy investment won’t … lower energy prices for families,” Biden said. “But transforming our economy to run on electric vehicles run powered by clean energy … will help. And if we can, if we do what we can, it will mean that no one has to worry about price at the gas pump in the future.”
“That will mean tyrants like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin won’t be able to use fossil fuels as weapons against other nations,” he added.
Still, Biden warned the ban on Russian oil could exacerbate costs in the U.S., where consumers are already facing record high gas prices and broader inflation on other goods.
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