Opinion: Did Biden ‘shut down’ American energy? Hardly
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President Joe Biden “shut down American energy,” Rep. Steve Scalise hollered with great confidence. The Louisiana Republican was nominating Kevin McCarthy for House speaker when he appended some commentary unburdened by facts.
Scalise painted a sad, sad picture of American families “who can’t even afford to put gas in their tanks.” They can’t “make it to the grocery store because we have such horrible energy policy,” he said.
The evidence fails to support the melodrama. “National gas prices drop to 18-month low,” Forbes reported on Dec. 20, “and could hit $3 By Christmas.”
In Louisiana, a gallon of regular now averages $2.90. This reality may be spied in the prices hanging outside Baton Rouge gas stations. And if we’re not mistaken, Biden is still president.
Scalise went on to warn of threats to our energy security. “There’s absolutely no reason that we need to rely on foreign countries to produce our energy,” he stated.
Scalise is right about that. We don’t need to rely on others to produce energy. But guess what, we don’t.
“Exxon, Chevron Focus on Oil Projects in the Americas,” read a Wall Street Journal headline that very day. The growth of U.S. shale has eased Western oil companies’ concerns about securing oil, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Exxon is now spending big to raise oil and gas production by 500,000 barrels a day by 2027. It is selling assets in Africa and the Middle East and plans to expand in the Permian Basin of New Mexico and West Texas — and elsewhere in this hemisphere. The U.S. has just granted Chevron a new license to again pump oil in Venezuela.
Measuring energy independence by exports-minus-imports, 2021 saw our highest level of energy independence in history. Biden was president, then, as well.
Is Biden set on moving us to new low-carbon technologies? He is, and Exxon and Chevron say they are planning to expand in that direction, too. We can assume they know the energy business.
Natural gas prices in Europe have fallen below what they were before Russia invaded Ukraine. Fears that cutoffs of Russian energy would freeze much of Europe this winter have not materialized. Why? Because giant ships carrying U.S. liquified natural gas are sailing to Europe from ports in Louisiana and Texas.
“U.S. LNG has become a foundation for European energy security,” said energy historian Daniel Yergin. Warmer weather helped reduce demand, for sure, but American natural gas more than met the demand.
The United States is now the world’s biggest producer of natural gas. Cooling it to a liquid state makes it a lot easier to transport long distances.
LNG shipments to Europe more than doubled last year. As a result, gas storage facilities in Germany, once very dependent on Russian natural gas, are now near full. And lower energy prices helped France’s inflation rate fall to 6.7%.
America’s biggest LNG terminal is located near the Sabine Pass River, between Louisiana and Texas. There are others in Louisiana, with more on the way. U.S. exporters enjoyed record revenues in 2022, meanwhile, and expect more of the same this year.
If Scalise and his Republican colleagues limited their complaints to Biden’s border policy, they might have had a point. But they kept beefing about rising gas prices that were actually falling — and higher food prices that were also going down. Not distinguishing yesterday’s news from today’s news is something we’ve gotten used to. We don’t expect much in the way of updates tomorrow.
But Joe Biden is definitely president. And there is zero evidence of his “shutting down” American energy, at least for those of us stuck in the world of reality.
— Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist with Creators.