Republicans in Washington have accused the policies of the Biden administration and of his political allies of worsening a global energy crisis that is causing pain at the pump for Americans nationwide.
The average gas price for the week ending May 20 reached $4.59 a gallon, after eleven days of record-high consecutive price increases.
Global energy prices are continuing to worsen as the European Union pledged further oil sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Record-high inflation and high fuel costs are beginning to cause a slowdown in the U.S. economy, with the consumer price index rising 8.3 percent in April from a year prior, just below March’s 40-year high.
Republicans in the Senate and the House slammed the Biden administration for its “de facto ban on new drilling,” after news that average gas prices in the United States hit a record $4.589 a gallon on May 19, according to a gas price report from AAA.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and twenty other Republican senators sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo calling for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to immediately issue permits required to bring additional production online from existing offshore federal oil and gas leases to ease the crisis.
“While the Biden Administration and Members of Congress fault the domestic oil and gas industry for sitting idle on over 9,000 drilling permits and millions of acres in ‘inactive leases’, NMFS’s permitting delays represent one example of the Administration’s de facto ban on new drilling—impeding domestic oil and gas investment, exploration, and production,” wrote the senators.
“It is unacceptable that agency miscalculations have restricted access to safe, secure, and reliable domestic oil and gas production through substantial, unnecessary, and arbitrary permitting delays,” they added.
The agency admitted that the delays in issuing drilling permits were caused by three mathematical errors that miscalculated the number of endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico in its 2021 final ruling governing offshore oil and gas exploration.
Biden in his first week in office in 2021, had signed an executive order temporarily suspending new oil and gas leases on federal lands for environmental reasons.
The administration was forced to resume new leasing last month, after it lost a court challenge against the ban, which it is continuing to appeal.
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania, in a May 20 interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business, accused the Democrat administration and the radical left of declaring war on domestic gas production and excusing White House energy policies, by blaming the fuel shortages on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine.
“The reason the gas prices are so high is because Joe Biden and the radical left have, in essence, declared a war on U.S. energy production. Just as you said, Maria, day number one, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Reschenthaler.
“Even before that, saying that he was going to ban drilling on federal land, also saying that he was going to phase out hydrocarbons during the Democrat debate. And what does that do? That dries up investment, dries up capital going into the energy sector. So you cannot find funding to build the pipelines,” said the congressman.
“And that’s even when you can get the permitting to get pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure in place. It would help alleviate this crisis. Now it’s just convenient for them that they can turn around, blame Putin.”
The Biden administration has blamed Putin for the record-high gas prices across the United States, using hashtags such as “#PutinPriceHike.”
The Department of the Interior canceled an oil and gas lease sale for over 1 million acres in Alaska’s Cook Inlet last week, which it attributed to a “lack of industry interest,” in addition to the termination of two Gulf of Mexico leases, after Biden vowed to do everything he could to shield Americans from “pain at the pump.”
Biden announced last month that the EPA will allow the sale of E15 gasoline, which uses a 15 percent ethanol blend, across the country this summer.
He also announced that he would release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next 6 months.
The president is also calling on Congress to penalize companies for idled oil wells on non-producing acres of federal lands, to incentivize new production.
However, Biden’s critics on the Hill say that the administration’s incentive will actually hurt drillers already being punished by regulators and that it will not do enough to solve the shortages.