Ted Cruz: The Biden Administration's Antagonism towards Oil and Gas is Hurting Texans
Gasoline prices were rising before Russia invaded Ukraine, and it was because of White House policy.
A year ago, Russian hackers breached the network of the biggest pipeline in the country and demanded a ransom to unlock the system. Within 90 minutes, the pipeline was shut down for the first time in 57 years, and the transport of 2.5 million barrels of fuel a day, about 45% of the Eastern Seaboard’s supply, ground to a halt.
The Colonial Pipeline crisis should have been a wake-up call for Democrats, from the Northeast governors who won’t allow pipelines to deliver fuel from neighboring states to President Joe Biden, whose administration has made it exceedingly difficult for energy producers to return to pre-COVID-19 production numbers.
Despite the lesson of the pipeline attack, a year later the state of American energy is, holistically speaking, worse: When Biden took the oath of office, the average retail price of gasoline was $2.38 a gallon. On Monday, according to AAA, it was $4.32. In some parts of the country, we’ve seen gas prices reach as high as $6.90 a gallon.
That is not an accident. It’s not an unintended side effect. Nor was it principally the result of the war in Ukraine. This was the result of the Green New Deal zealots in the Biden administration and their desire to put an end to oil and gas. Before Putin invaded Ukraine, gasoline prices had already risen 48% since Biden became president.
The Biden administration’s assault on oil and gas production began during his campaign when he pledged during the debates: “No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill. Period.”
And Biden kept his promise. On his first day in office, he canceled the Keystone pipeline. The next week, he halted all federal oil and gas leasing, stopping development in the part of the country that produces 25% of the nation’s energy. On May 7, 2021, while the Colonial Pipeline was shut down and millions of Americans were scrambling for gas, Biden’s Interior Department announced plans to take 30% of public lands out of production.
On June 1, Biden revoked oil leases on a section of the North Slope of Alaska totaling 16 billion barrels of oil. To put that number into perspective, in the 70 years of oil and gas drilling in the entire U.S. Gulf of Mexico, drillers have produced 22 billion barrels in total.
Ironically, the Biden administration halted permitting on new natural gas interstate pipelines and exports, discouraging investment and production in this crucial resource that powers 40% of the nation’s electricity and greatly lowers carbon dioxide emissions when it replaces coal and other fossil fuels.
But Republicans are fighting back against the Biden administration’s antagonism toward the oil and gas industry and keeping up the pressure to undo the damage it’s causing to Texas and the country.
For example, I successfully pressed Biden’s secretary of energy to approve pending permits to export half a billion cubic feet a day of clean, U.S. liquefied natural gas. I had placed a hold on a senior Energy Department nominee whom the secretary very much wanted confirmed. I told her I would lift the hold if and only if she approved two pending permits to export LNG from Texas and Louisiana.
It worked, and roughly two weeks later, at the end of April, the Department of Energy announced approval of both permits, which means tens of billions of dollars of new development in Texas and Louisiana. It was a major victory for Texas and for American jobs, trade and our European allies, who will now have greater access to U.S. natural gas exports to loosen their dependence on Russian gas.
We have the resources and ability to produce clean, affordable energy in America in a way that eludes Russia, China and Venezuela. The Biden administration knows this, and yet stymies production instead of encouraging it.
Republicans will continue to press Biden and his administration to change their disastrous course, for the sake of millions of Americans struggling because of high energy prices and for our national security.
Ted Cruz is a U.S. senator representing Texas. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.