Putin’s war is not the cause of Biden’s energy price hikes
From day one, President Biden has sought to curb U.S. supply of fossil-based energy. It’s one campaign promise of which he has delivered. Where the country was once a celebrated net energy exporter, we are now dealing with record-breaking prices at the pump made worse by rising inflation.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine has made the situation worse, but we were well on this path prior to Putin’s invasion. High energy prices are by Democrat design. Calling the latest price increase “Putin’s price hikes” isn’t fooling anyone. As the Afghanistan withdrawal exposed the haphazardness of Biden’s foreign policy, Ukraine is now exposing how delusional his domestic energy policy is and it’s the American citizens — not the insulated elites — that must deal with the extreme consequences.
Day by day and brick-by-brick, Biden’s team of political appointees has sought to dismantle the Trump policy of energy dominance and to their credit, they have been very successful. The cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline and drilling moratoriums made the headlines, but their plan goes deeper than that.
They’ve undermined permitting reforms so that projects end up in a state of endless bureaucratic purgatory. They have pared back transparency tools limiting the public’s ability to understand and engage in all manner of agency actions. Using enforcement ambiguity, Biden appointees at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have promised to crack down on pipeline development.
The Biden administration has also unleashed a barrage of costly red tape impacting energy producers and developers. Strategically, Biden’s senior officials started this process first by calibrating a range of nuanced regulatory tools such as the “social cost of carbon” and reimposing a reliance on “co-benefits.” All one needs to know about the effect of these tools is that the federal government will always be able to justify new regulations, regardless of cost or whether any tangible environmental impact is actually realized.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came out with new vehicle standards that took a good environmental idea to the extreme. Where the initial Cleaner Trucks effort aimed to set realistic standards that cut pollution without adding unnecessary costs, the proposed Biden version has devolved into another regulatory piece of the Green New Deal. This action stands to land another expensive blow to the U.S. trucking industry.
The Biden team has also gone out of its way to chill financial investment towards traditional energy sources. With Larry Fink acolytes heading the White House National Economic Council and other key economic posts, they have taken their Wall Street oil and gas divestment strategy in-house and are now enjoying the broad range of federal tools to amplify that goal. It’s no wonder they have nominated someone for the Federal Reserve that has called oil and gas a “dying industry” and promised to develop regulations to prohibit investment if confirmed.
In the face of Biden’s all of the government approach to devalue the extraction, development and use of traditional energy there is no quick fix. Getting to this point has been over a year in the making as his team has made good on donor-driven commitments to the environmental left.
While the president claims he “can’t do much” about high gas prices at this point, that simply is not true. As a reminder, he promised to “work like the devil” to mitigate these prices a few weeks ago. Since then, he’s decided blaming someone else for this problem instead of admitting any degree of ownership is a better political course. Vladimir Putin is the latest scapegoat but the blame game strategy has constantly bounced between villainous versions of American companies, American workers and those of us who deign to drive gas-fueled vehicles.
Thankfully, there is one party that knows what can and should be done. Republicans have developed legislation, strategic plans and letters giving President Biden and his team ample options. American voters are no doubt taking note of which party is coming up with constructive help amidst this crisis and which one is merely trying to assign the newest form of blame.
Politics and poor leadership aside, the American people stand ready to help. The solution is not nearly as complicated as how we got here. The Biden administration can unleash the American energy industry and let them do what they proudly do best: deliver affordable, clean energy to the American people and our allies abroad.
Mandy Gunasekara is the former chief of Staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency