The pain at the gas pump shows no signs of abating, and the Biden administration seems to want to make it worse. The White House announced on Monday that it’s reverting back to the Obama administration’s policy of opening only 52% of Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve for oil and gas leases. Under the Trump administration, 82% of the land was open for drilling.
The National Petroleum Reserve is an area of about 23 million acres in Alaska, which the Harding administration set aside in 1923 as an oil reserve for the U.S. Navy. It’s now under the control of the Bureau of Land Management, which monitors the oil and gas leases for sale on the land.
“While the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had previously indicated that it had selected the Obama administration’s plan as its ‘preferred alternative’ for further consideration, on Monday it issued a Record of Decision formally affirming that it would return to the Obama-era plan,” reports The Hill.
In addition to the restrictions on where oil and gas companies can drill, the reversion to Obama-era policy sets aside specific areas of the reserve for environmental protection.
“In explaining its rationale, the administration said that it would better protect the environment while still allowing energy development,” The Hill notes.
In 2021, the administration suspended oil and gas leases on the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve as well.
Meanwhile, gas prices are nearly $2 higher than they were when Biden took office.
According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average price per gallon for gasoline was $2.379 the week Biden entered the White House. As of this writing, the average price for a gallon of gas is $4.107, after a high of $4.315 per gallon the week of March 14.
(You could be seeing much higher or lower prices depending on where you live, but remember, these are averages.)
For all of Biden’s blaming the rise in prices on Vladimir Putin, gas has only gone up about 70 cents per gallon since Russia invaded Ukraine, where gas prices began a steady climb as soon as Biden took office.
The Hill misses the point of what allowing more oil and gas leases in Alaska would do for gas prices.
Referring to the administration’s reversion to Obama-era energy policy, The Hill notes, “The move comes as the Biden administration is grappling with high gasoline prices and Republican criticism over its energy policies, but Monday’s move is not expected to have any immediate impacts on gasoline prices at the pump.”
“When a lease sale is held, it takes more than four years on average for companies to begin production,” the report continues. “The new decision represents an even earlier step in the process, designating what lands are eligible for lease.”
What seems to have been forgotten is that the mere announcement of more drilling for oil has a positive effect on prices. In July 2008, the Bush administration responded to high oil prices by announcing an expansion of drilling in Alaska. The effect was a noticeable drop in gas prices.
At the time, CNBC reported:
In a dramatic move yesterday President Bush removed the executive-branch moratorium on offshore drilling. Today, at a news conference, Bush repeated his new position, and slammed the Democratic Congress for not removing the congressional moratorium on the Outer Continental Shelf and elsewhere. Crude-oil futures for August delivery plunged $9.26, or 6.3 percent, almost immediately as Bush was speaking, bringing the barrel price down to $136.
Now isn’t this interesting?
Democrats keep saying that it will take 10 years or longer to produce oil from the offshore areas. And they say that oil prices won’t decline for at least that long. And they, along with Obama and McCain, bash so-called oil speculators. And today we had a real-world example as to why they are wrong. All of them. Reid, Pelosi, Obama, McCain — all of them.
Using the same U.S. Energy Information Administration chart, the week President Bush made that announcement, the average price for a gallon of gas was $4.113. Prices dropped steadily throughout the rest of the year and reached a low of $1.613 per gallon the week after Christmas.
The Biden administration will do no such thing because they’re committed to the far-left agenda of climate alarmism. So expect gas prices to stay this high until we get another Republican in the White House.
Until then, the administration hopes you’ll just settle for an expensive electric vehicle.