The Biden administration advocated for continuing use of natural gas Wednesday, highlighting the White House’s difficult political position as it navigates between a global energy crisis, left-wing protestors, and a drive for a large clean energy package on Capitol Hill.
Natural gas and oil prices have soared as a result of the epidemic recovery, increasing concerns about inflation and energy supply for winter. It’s also giving fossil fuels, especially coal, a temporary boost, and fuelling Republican criticism as Biden’s efforts to address climate change in Congress hit a snag.
“The rapid but uneven economic recovery from last year’s Covid-induced recession is putting major strains on parts of today’s energy system, sparking sharp price rises in natural gas, coal, and electricity markets,” the International Energy Agency said in a report released yesterday, adding that “for all the advances made by renewables and electric mobility, 2021 will see a large rebound in coal and oil use.”
Despite climate activists’ demands that Biden cease fracking and suspend all U.S. fossil fuel exports, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki claimed there was a “need for the United States to continue to export natural gas” yesterday outside the White House gates.
Biden has instructed his team “to continue to examine what the alternatives are that we can take to solve these shortages,” Psaki added.
She said the government had a “variety of choices” to explore, but she didn’t say which ones.
According to many news reports, the White House has also spoken with US oil and gas producers about lowering prices, but Psaki said she was unaware of any communication with oil and gas firms “about this specific topic.”
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who was allegedly involved in White House negotiations on gas prices this week, stated last week at a Financial Times virtual event that the Department of Energy was considering an emergency release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and reimposing a crude export restriction.
The government then clarified that the actions were simply one of several potential “tools” for dealing with the price hikes. The White House was sent questions by the Energy Department.
According to experts, the White House has few alternatives for influencing energy prices. It has previously discussed raising oil output with OPEC members, but the organization has imposed supply restrictions since the outbreak began.
The more expensive energy comes as the United States deals with increased prices on a variety of consumer products, from bacon to rent, as well as supply chain bottlenecks that are slowing goods delivery.
It raises the stakes for Biden, who said yesterday that he had struck a deal with the Port of Los Angeles to work around the clock to clear the backlog. The interruption at US ports, he added, demonstrates why his infrastructure and climate change legislation must be approved.
“We must take a longer perspective and invest in better resilience to survive the types of shocks we’ve seen year after year, whether it’s pandemics, extreme weather, climate change, cyberattacks, or other disruptions,” Biden said.
High gas costs, along with a slew of other household concerns, have sparked bipartisan criticism of Biden, which some experts believe may stay if prices continue high.
“Supply chain issues, energy price spikes, and the shakiness of some areas of the post-pandemic economy are all issues,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University professor of history and public affairs. “Democrats want their party to feel good going into the midterm elections, even if the chances are stacked against them” (historically). People are anxious about their finances right now, and these figures will be bad for the president’s party.”
Republicans have attempted to link rising gas prices to Biden’s energy policy, despite the fact that the two are essentially unconnected.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) declared last week on Fox News that “he does not want energy to be inexpensive.” “The Green New Deal movement, which now has his ear, wants us to obtain our energy from the sun and windmills.”
The Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis wrote in a statement that renewable energy isn’t to blame for the present energy crisis, adding that computer chips and copper have also suffered shortages and price hikes.
According to some observers, the high costs may also present a chance for Biden’s attempts to move to cleaner energy. According to the IEA research, solar or wind power is currently the cheapest available source of new energy generation in most markets.
“The government, like other administrations, needs to be careful that consumer energy prices don’t grow too high as a political concern,” said Paul Bledsoe, a strategic consultant with the Progressive Policy Institute.
However, unlike in 2012, when former President Barack Obama faced the danger of rising gas costs as his reelection campaign approached, Bledsoe claimed that there are lower-cost renewable options available.
“Now, the difference is that we have low-cost options for both power and transportation,” he explained. “Given the present high price of oil and gas, the government must more clearly communicate the mid- and long-term cost savings of clean energy.” They must demonstrate that renewable energy is not just better for the environment, but also less expensive.”
Meanwhile, the US Energy Information Administration predicted that Americans will spend more money on energy this winter than they did last year, particularly in houses heated with propane or heating oil. The projection is based on the agency’s expectations for high retail energy prices, which “many are already near multi-year highs,” according to the report. As a result of the epidemic, many energy costs have fallen to multi-year lows, according to the EIA.