Republicans Blame Biden’s Modest Climate Agenda for Gas Prices. They’re Wrong.

At a virtual hearing of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources this week, Rep. Pete Stauber of Minnesota, the ranking Republican, displayed a visual of President Joe Biden pointing to a gas pump with the price set at $3.49 and the words, “I did that!” Climate policies pushed by Biden and Democrats, Stauber insisted, are driving up fuel prices.

“Life is simply more expensive for Americans under the Biden administration,” Stauber said.

Blaming Biden and his modest climate agenda for everything from post-lockdown inflation to high fuel prices is all the rage among Republicans these days, but in reality, the bulk of Biden’s climate proposals have not been enacted. Experts say current fuel prices are the result of multiple domestic and international factors, including the industry’s own moves to boost returns for shareholders by limiting oil exploration as pandemic restrictions fade and demand increases.

Pieces of Biden’s climate agenda will be funded by a new infrastructure package that passed Congress with bipartisan support, but popular plans(which Stauber opposed) to update the transportation and energy grids to be more energy efficient and to withstand climate-fueled disasters were not the focus of the Republican’s attack.

Stauber instead pointed to Biden’s orders shortly after the presidential inauguration, to block a key permit to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and to halt sales of public lands for oil and gas drilling. The Interior Department was reviewing leasing programs that government watchdogs long criticized for being dysfunctional.

PolitiFact’s non-partisan fact-checkers recently examined the Keystone XL talking point after a viral post linking high gas prices to “shutting pipe lines down” was flagged on Facebook as misinformation. The massive pipeline would have transported heavy, carbon-intensive oil from Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands and bisected much of the country, angering climate activists, tribal governments and farmers in its proposed path.

PolitiFact determined the post — which claimed that gas prices were lower in other oil-producing countries because their governments are not canceling pipelines like Keystone XL — to be false.

“The pipeline shutdown has absolutely nothing to do with gas prices,” Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, told PolitiFact. “Prices are higher because production has lagged behind, not because there isn’t enough pipeline capacity — there is.”

Biden has come under pressure to cancel permits for other pipelines, including the Line 3 pipeline in Stauber’s home state of Minnesota, which Indigenous activists resisted with fierce resistance despite intense police repression. After the pipeline was opened in October, water protectors across the country rushed to protect it. Washington, D.C., was where they all convergedTo demand that Biden abandon fossil fuels, a mass protest was organized.

Climate activists claim that new fossil fuel infrastructure is unnecessary, and will continue to make the United States dependent on dirty energy well into the future. The U.S. is already a fossil fuel nation. the world leaderFracking boom and the existing infrastructure have led to an increase in oil and gas production.

U.S. crude oil production dropped sharplyLockdowns imposed restrictions on commerce and travel in the early 2020s. Federal data show that it remains well below levels of pre-pandemic. Biden has responded to consumer anger, as the economy recovers and gas prices rise. pressuredThe industry will lower prices and unlock strategic federal oil reserves.

Experts believe the oil industry is cutting back on crude oil production and reducing costs to increase cash returns to shareholders. accordingTo an analysis by Bloomberg News. The fracking boom in recent years that has driven U.S. fossil fuel production to record highs also led. a glut of fuel and plummeting pricesNatural gas prices rose sharply, resulting in drilling companies going bankrupt and investors seeking a large return. Some producers closed down during the pandemic. This could also have led to higher gas prices than consumers used to.

That’s one reason why the fossil fuel industry has aggressively pushed to expand its industrial foothold across the country: The U.S. is producing plenty of oil and gas as fracking booms continue in Texas and beyond. To transfer and transport oil and gas, new pipelines and infrastructure are required. export fossil fuels into international markets. Notably, Republicans aren’t saying much about exports to other countries as they complain about high prices at home.

Some experts say the Biden’s climate agenda and global efforts to reduce emissions could chill private investment in oil and gas, but investors make decisions based on a variety of factors, including the growth of renewable energy and the myriad economic risksChanges in the climate pose new challenges. Some financial investors take notice when scientists warn that rising seas, droughts and extreme weather will all threaten already struggling energy grids and change our way of living.

International market plays an important role in setting gas price at home. Because oil is traded globally at prices determined by speculation and geopolitics, as well increased demand as travel and commerce pick up, global oil prices are also affected. Over the past month, Biden’s high-profile fightOver oil production, we have had discussions with foreign producers such Saudi Arabia. bled over into other realmsDiplomacy.

Republicans argue that any attempt by the U.S. to reduce fossil fuel production will make the nation more reliant on competitors like China and Russia, and imports from these countries will simply replace the domestic supply to meet America’s demands for energy. However, Biden and Democrats in Congress are not actually advocating for canceling the industry’s current operations. They’re mulling options for reducing Future Only drilling on public lands or ocean waters

Biden’s administration offered to lease more that 80 million acres of Gulf of Mexico to oil-and-gas drilling companies. But, the industry was only interested in expanding its existing presence in the Gulf. The administration also plans to lease up 734,000 acres of public land across the country next fiscal year. objectionsFrom environmental groups, who filed lawsuits to stop both leasing sales.

Climate justice activists demand more from the Biden administration. They want a halt on new pipeline expansions, as well as reparations to communities that have been harmed by climate change and industrial polluters.

Stauber claimed Biden’s “ban” on oil and gas leasing on public lands threw the industry “into chaos,” but a federal judge blocked Biden’s leasing moratorium earlier this year. According to Democrats on House Natural Resources Committee (Democrats), oil and gas companies already lease at least 26 millions acres of public lands. Less than half these acres are currently being used for drilling.

Federal researchers estimate that nearly a quarterDomestic carbon dioxide emissions resulted from fossil fuels used on public lands and in ocean waters between 2005 and 2014. Biden pledged to ban new leasing during his campaign. His executive order did not place a temporary moratorium oil and gas leasing. This allowed the Interior Department to review the leasing programs that the Government Accountability Office had reviewed. flagged as “vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement.”

Regulators released the resultsAn internal review of the application was done in a report last week that identified “significant shortcomings” in the leasing program and recommended several reforms supported by Democrats in Congress, including an increase in royalties and rents paid by drillers to provide a “fair return” for taxpayers.

The hearing by the House Energy and Mineral Resources subcommittee focused on the Interior Department’s leasing programs and climate-warming emissions from oil and natural gas drilling on public lands. Republicans attacked Biden on Thursday over gas prices. For their part, Democrats on the subcommittee said they are encouraged by the Interior Department’s embrace of reform but are disappointed that the leasing report only mentions emissions — and the “climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers” — in passing.

“In my view, this was a missed opportunity, and it’s a critical issue we must address,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat from California and chair of the subcommittee. “America’s public lands contain massive fossil fuel reserves, and Interior’s leasing practices and its management of these resources are incredibly outdated and destructive.”