News & Politics

Fact-Checkers Say Biden Not to Blame for Gas Price Hikes. Oh, Really?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The Associated Press attempts to fact-check Republican claims that Joe Biden’s energy policies are leading to higher prices at the gas pump. This should be entertaining.

The AP evidently doesn’t have anyone on staff with energy policy experience. If it did, it would not have beclowned itself with this ham-handed attempt to run interference for Biden as pain at the gas pump is being noticed by Americans, just as millions are returning to offices for work. Prices shot up after Biden took office. Is there a cause and effect here? There isn’t always; events and policies overseas do impact fuel prices here. But sometimes policy here does make a difference on what things cost, including energy.

The energy independence America achieved between 2017 and 2021 made energy shocks from overseas much less likely. Domestic sources are a whole lot more stable than sources elsewhere. Alaska and Texas > the Middle East for the purposes of price and access. The pandemic lockdowns crushed demand for gasoline, which led to lower prices. Now prices are going back up, fast. Why?

I do have energy experience, on the regulatory side as chief of staff to a Texas energy regulator, and at another Texas agency that lives on the energy royalties side of the equation.

Let’s take a look at the AP’s alleged fact-check.

REP. LIZ CHENEY, R-Wyoming: “From cancelling the Keystone Pipeline to banning new oil & gas leasing on federal lands, Biden’s energy policies are having devastating consequences. We’ve already seen a glimpse of this devastation with prices skyrocketing & gas shortages hitting communities across the country.” — tweet Friday.

THE FACTS: Biden’s action on the Keystone XL pipeline has nothing to do with the recent spike in gasoline prices. The pipeline handles crude oil, running from Canada to Texas through the Midwest, not gasoline, which had shortages on the East Coast after the Colonial Pipeline hack.

Questions for the AP: First, why were gas prices rising before the Colonial hack? Second, where do you folks think gasoline comes from?

To answer the second question first: gasoline does not come out of the ground as gasoline. It comes from crude oil, which is refined to make it. Here’s a helpful explainer from the United States Energy Information Administration. So if you choke off the supply of crude, you are eventually choking off the supply of gasoline, which will result in higher prices.

(Side note: Californias pay a lot more than most other Americans for gasoline because that state demands its own gasoline blends, which cost more to produce.)

Canceling the Keystone XL will reduce supply, but Biden proactively already reduced supply when he canceled oil and gas leases on federal land. The states west of Texas have a lot of federal land, under which exists a lot of crude oil. Biden’s unilateral lease cancelation affects all of that, if not today, then tomorrow — and investors look at tomorrow when making their choices of where to put their money. America’s most productive oil field at the moment is the Permian Basin. A whole lot of that is federal land in New Mexico.

Assuming the AP’s folks can understand a simple graph, here’s one showing what happened to gas prices recently.

Graphed price of gas over time.

The Colonial Pipeline hack happened on May 7, 2021. By then, most of the current price increase was already baked in.

It looks like something significant happened in January 2021 that impacted the price of gas. What might that be, AP?

Just spit-ballin’, but could it be Joe Biden canceling oil and gas leases on federal lands just ahead of demand increasing, which pumped the price more than demand would have by itself, and also canceling a major pipeline expansion?

If you take the graph back five years, the ongoing trend looks less bad — but we’re still currently at the highest price point for a gallon of gas since Barack Obama left office.

I rate the AP’s fact-check: Clownish.

Next claim.

MCCARTHY: “Despite gas prices being at historic lows this time last year, the average price for a gallon of gas is currently an astounding $3.10. That’s the highest it’s been since 2014, the last time Joe Biden was in the White House.” — blog post on Monday.

REPUBLICANS on the HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE: “Biden’s policies have led to the highest gas prices in six years.” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: Biden’s policies aren’t behind the price increases. Gas prices are up because of a rapid and unexpected bounce-back in demand, and because of lingering problems from the forced shutdown early this month of the Colonial Pipeline, which provides 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.

Ok, last year at this time we had historically low gas prices because demand had crashed thanks to lockdowns. Nobody could go anywhere, so they weren’t buying a lot of gasoline. This year, with the Democrat lockdowns receding, gas prices are going up as demand increases. But — Biden’s policies aren’t helping at all. With demand increasing, he is also choking off supply by nixing the Keystone XL and by canceling oil and gas leases on federal lands. He did both of these things. They will have economic consequences.

AP brings up the Colonial hack again as if that’s some kind of talisman. It’s actually proving the point that shutting off pipelines drives prices up. Hackers did that, and so did Biden. Hackers did it to extort…and so did Biden, if you logically roll through what he wants to use economic policies and high prices to coerce Americans to do.

The cancelation and the hack are not mutually exclusive events.

Here’s a fun claim:

Prices have also increased because the economy has reopened much more quickly than most analysts expected. Stimulus payments to American households, including $1,400 checks that were distributed in March, have helped Americans ramp up spending.

Um, right. The jobless situation is not moving “much more quickly than most (unnamed) analysts expected.” Who are these analysts, AP? Let’s see their names and their work.

AP is just lying here. Remember — the job creation expectations were way off by about a quarter-million in April. The market called that a “huge disappointment.” Where was the AP when that happened? Americans’ confidence is pretty grim.

I rate the AP’s fact-check: Hackish.

Just recently, these hackish clowns were caught either harboring or not being aware of actual Hamas terrorists operating from a building the AP also occupied. How does that happen to a global news organization? I once had to go all the way to Baghdad, Iraq, to fact-check these clownish hacks — and found that they’d gotten their big story all wrong. Again.

The AP should stick to reporting and get out of the media hall-monitor business. They’re no good at it.