The Biden administration's push for lower fuel prices grates with its efforts to secure global leadership in the fight against climate change by transitioning the economy away from fossil fuels toward cleaner energy sources and electric vehicles.

Biden has set a goal to decarbonize the US economy by 2050 and has paused new drilling lease auctions on federal lands pending a review of its environmental and climate impacts.

A Republican lawmaker criticised Biden for the clashing priorities.

“It’s pretty simple: if the President is suddenly worried about rising gas prices, he needs to stop killing our own energy production here on American soil," said Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the top US oil producing state.

The administration also said on Wednesday that it had not called upon US producers to ramp up output. US oil production has been stagnant at about 11 million barrels per day since the fallout of the pandemic pulled it from a record high of 12.3 million bpd in 2019.

The White House on Wednesday also directed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which polices anti-competitive behaviour in domestic US markets, to investigate whether illegal practices were contributing to higher US gasoline prices.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the US oil industry, slammed the administration's actions as a "return to the days of relying on OPEC to meet our supply needs" and called the request to the FTC "a distraction."

"Rather than requesting investigations on markets that are regulated and monitored on a daily basis or pleading with OPEC to increase supply, let’s lift restrictions on US energy right away," the group's senior vice president of regulatory affairs, Frank Macchiarola, said.

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