On Wednesday, January 20, 2021, President Biden signed the following executive orders focused on oil and natural gas production. Biden ran on a promise to reduce US oil production and in his first day in office, signed executive orders directing the Secretary of the Interior Department to halt new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters and to begin a thorough review of existing permits for fossil fuel development. He also killed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have cheaply and safely moved oil from Canada to the southern US.
In a statement by Anne Bradbury, president of the American Exploration and Production Council, “Penalizing the oil and gas industry kills good-paying American jobs, hurts our already struggling economy, makes our country more reliant on foreign energy sources, and impacts those who rely on affordable and reliable energy,”
While limiting US oil production, Biden supported the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany. The deal undercut Ukraine’s 5-year $7 billion deal on the transit of natural gas to Europe. A deal was made possible by Trump's opposition to Nord Stream 2. At the time Trump declared that Germany would be beholden to Russia. At this time, even as the US moves to block Russian oil imports, the EU is still reliant on Russian oil.
Under President Trump, crude production from federal and tribal lands and waters increased sharply, topping a billion barrels in 2019, which was almost a third higher than the last year of the Obama Administration.
Although sites claim the Biden administration is issuing issued permits at a higher rate than the Trump administration, this is the continuations of applications submitted under Trump, and a lease is not guaranteed oil will be pumped, it’s just an application to explore. Moreover, the Biden administration's promise to review applications and increase lease prices lead oil companies to curtail oil production by 160,000 barrels per day by November of 2021.
What could Biden do to help?
He could get out of the oil industry's way. Restart the Keystone XL, open ANWAR, including approvals for new pipelines, and open all possible land and water explorations. At the very least, meet with industry officials. In a February 12th Forbes article by David Blackmon:
That lack of understanding on energy-related matters in general by this administration and members of congress is certainly an assessment with which many leaders in the oil and gas industry would agree. At a recent industry conference, the CEO of one large upstream company referred to the Biden administration as being “energy ignorant.” Another CEO admitted that their company has “no relationship at all” with anyone in the administration. Another told me during an interview that they found it “impossible” to even get a meeting with relevant officials at the Department of Interior or DOE. How can any government official really understand an industry they refuse to to have a conversation with?
Instead, Biden traveled, hat-in-hand, to beg for oil from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela while failing to with US oil companies. By courting Iran, the administration has strained Mideast relations. Already leary of the Biden administration's commitment to upholding security agreements made under Trump to counter Iran's influence in the region, Biden's recent overtures to Iran have soured Mideast relations. Instead of arguing for why a stronger US oil industry insulates the US from external forces, we get Biden reaching out to Russian aligned enemies to the US like Iran and Venezuela. Both Iran and Venezuela will sell to the US, at a very high cost. Iran will want the full ability to develop nuclear weapons and has promised to attack Isreal when they achieve nuclear status; while Venezuela wants relief from sanctions. As Biden bolsters Iran, the rest of the Mideast countries refuse to take his call.
On January 19, 2021, the average price of gas in the US was $2.38/ gallon, By January 19, 2022, it was $3.32 per gallon, with an expectation for gas to hit all-time highs by Memorial Day. During the Trump presidency, the national average for gas never rose above $2.88. While the media attempts to run cover for one disastrous Biden policy after another, fuel prices began to rise shortly after Biden's reversal of Trump's policies. Additional factors like disruptions in the supply chain, and war in Europe helped to accelerate the increase but experts were predicted higher fuel costs just based on Biden's camping promises, long before the war in Ukraine.