It has been said there are no coincidences in politics, and Sleepy Joe Biden’s administration embodies this adage yet again as it considers restarting shuttered refineries amid not only record high gasoline prices, but also tanking poll numbers ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
The National Economic Council, a government agency founded by President Bill Clinton to oversee domestic and international economic policy matters, have contacted oil industry officials to inquire why oil production has been so precipitously curtailed and whether there are immediate plans to restart refinery production, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke to Bloomberg. This inquiry is strange and tone deaf given Sleepy Joe’s attack on traditional energy industry in favor or renewable and “green” energy, and his decisions to cancel oil and gas leases and revoke key permits needed to continue the Keystone XL pipeline.
But it becomes clearer as the summer driving season is almost under way. Last week on Wednesday May 25, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline hit a record $4.60, and continues to hit a new high each day. It is much higher in leftist California, where prices are more than $6 a gallon, according to AAA. Demand for gasoline appears to be plateauing, according to industry analysts, as consumers are more selective in how and when they drive their cars long distance. They combine errands rather than taking several short trips and continue to work from home when possible.
Someone in Sleepy Joe’s White house set up something called an “energy markets team” to monitor the energy supply and price data over the past several months. However, this brain trust says there are a few good options available to tame gasoline prices. Even the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s top U.S. lobbying group, defend the energy markets team and covered for Joe, but noted that the situation is both economic and political.
Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute said, “They are in a very difficult political situation. They are looking for every option that is out there.”
The team was quick to point out that pump prices have been skyrocketing amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that sent oil futures north of $100 a barrel but mentioned nothing about Sleepy Joe’s own decision to cut U.S. oil production which has reduced supply and increased prices.
Bloomberg states that more than 1 million barrels a day of the country’s oil refining capacity, or about 5% overall, has shut since the beginning of the pandemic. Elsewhere in the world, capacity has shrunk by 2.13 million additional barrels a day, energy consultancy Turner, Mason & Co. estimates. And with no plans to bring new U.S. plants online, even though refiners are reaping record profits, the supply squeeze is only going to get worse.
Many refineries shut down because of the high cost of meeting government demands on emissions. There is no point in reopening them if drilling bans and pipeline shutdowns limit feed stock.
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