By: U.S. Senator John Barrasso
Sept. 2, 2022
President Joe Biden finally figured out how to lower gasoline prices without producing more American energy: drive our country’s economy into a recession.
Heading into the summer, the cost of gasoline was a huge concern for American families. From Biden’s first day in office through June of this year, gas prices more than doubled. Even now, the cost of a gallon of gasoline is more than 60 percent higher than when Biden took office. Yet the White House is claiming victory.
It’s hardly time for a victory lap. Prices are still too high. The incremental reductions in price are a sign of an economy in trouble. They are the result of the Democrats’ recession.
Prices at the pump aren’t down because of growing U.S. production, lower taxes, or improved supply chains. They’re down because demand is falling as families are forced to cut their spending. Gasoline demand was about 8% lower in July than it was a year ago.
President Biden's failed energy prices mean gas is still 60% higher than when he took office.
Biden’s sky-high gasoline prices and inflation have forced families to make painful choices. For too many, that means cutting back on groceries or a full tank of gas. People are canceling road trips to make ends meet, including skipping summer vacations.
Gasoline prices are still punishingly high. The average gasoline price in America today is still more than $1.50 higher than the day Biden took office.
We shouldn’t count on things getting better. Gasoline prices may be below the record-high levels we just experienced, but the reprieve could be temporary. There is no guarantee prices won’t rise again next month as Democrats continue their war on American energy. In the longer term, working families will continue to pay the price for the destructive energy policies of this White House.
On his first day in office, President Biden canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline. During the first week, he imposed a ban on new drilling on federal lands. In the months since then, his administration's policies have hammered production and sent gas and utility bills skyrocketing.
The latest numbers show that oil production still has not returned to its pre-pandemic levels. Oil output currently remains 7% below the pre-pandemic peak of almost 13 million barrels per day in late 2019.
Production is not only below where it once was. It is well short of where it should be. In 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration was forecasting that America would be producing more than 14 million barrels of oil per day this year. We are about 2 million barrels a day shy of that. It’s a basic rule of economics that reduced supplies mean higher prices. Democrats in Congress and the White House don’t want to admit this simple fact.
The irony is that during the Great Recession, when Biden was vice president, the oil and gas sector was the one bright spot in an otherwise tepid recovery. The surge in oil and gas output that the fracking revolution unleashed led to the United States becoming the globe’s leading producer of oil and gas. This made America more energy secure. But the Obama-Biden administration fought it every step of the way.
Now as president, Biden seems to have learned nothing from that experience. By once again stifling American energy, the White House is fanning the flames of inflation.
This summer, Biden went hat-in-hand to Saudi Arabia to ask that it pump more. We would be better off and more prosperous if he turned to our own energy producers. The United States is capable of producing much more.
America is stronger as a nation when we are selling energy to our friends, not buying it from our enemies. Instead, Biden has begged Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to sell us more oil. We have plenty of American energy in the ground to both power our nation and help our allies. Democrats are blocking the nation’s energy workers from producing it here.
The president has a simple choice. He can continue to undermine one of America’s biggest economic and geopolitical advantages. Or he can change course and unleash America’s entrepreneurs and workers to sustain America’s energy revolution.
He cannot do both.
Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican, represents Wyoming in the U.S. Senate, and is a medical doctor.