Soaring gas prices put the Biden administration in a bind

The Biden administration is walking a tightrope when it comes to dealing with rising gas prices in a way that aligns with the administration’s climate policies.

Driving the news: The White House is caught between the need to deal with the high price of gas, which hit a national record on Tuesday, and its ambitious climate program.

  • In the short term, this leads the administration to engage governments it had avoided, such as Venezuela, or criticized, such as Saudi Arabia, for additional supplies.
  • At the same time, senior officials are adamant that their policies are not hampering domestic oil and gas production, but that transitioning to clean energy is the only way to become truly energy independent in the long term.

Why is this important: For the public to blame the Biden administration’s energy policies for high gas prices could have high political costs for Democrats.

Enlarge: The energy industry has highlighted the need for policy changes to increase the amount of home oil and gas drilling.

  • It’s a position the White House and its environmental allies reject, noting that oil production has already increased under Biden and is expected to hit an all-time high in 2023.
  • But for a typical customer refueling their SUV at a gas station, in disbelief at the cost, it might seem logical that policies such as the cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline, a move Biden made early in his presidency, would be guilty.
  • White House officials have taken to Twitter to champion Biden’s energy agenda and the need for a clean transition.
  • “The suggestion that we don’t allow companies to drill is inaccurate,” press secretary Jen Psaki said at Monday’s press conference. “The suggestion that this is what is hindering or preventing gas prices from coming down is inaccurate.”

Between the lines: Nikos Tsafos, an energy and climate expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Axios that the White House and Republicans are locked in a political row when they should be focused on confronting Russia. .

  • “I think we’re bonding with the talking points,” Tsafos said. “You know, I don’t understand why it’s so hard for the White House to say, we need more American oil produced right now.”
  • That would still be in line with his climate agenda, he told Axios.
Total imports of crude oil and petroleum products. Data: IEA; Painting: Will Chase/Axios

This table of the The International Energy Agency presents the top 15 countries in Europe by share of crude oil and petroleum products combined from Russia.

  • The strong demand for these barrels helps explain the reluctance to directly cut or sanction Russian oil, although the response to the crisis is already squeezing supplies.

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