Commentary by Patrice Douglas originally published by RealClearEnergy.org
The ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia has underscored the American energy sector’s vulnerabilities. Record high gas prices, coupled with soaring inflation, make it increasingly difficult for hard working Americans to make ends meet. Instead of unnecessarily looking to geopolitical foes to boost energy production, the Biden Administration should be boosting output right here at home.
President Biden set out from day one steering the nation away from becoming a net exporter of petroleum products for the first time since 2011. While President Biden would like to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for our high prices at the pump, fuel prices have risen 39 percent since he took office in January, 2021. With such heavy restrictions on domestic oil production, it’s hard to isolate responsibility for the price hikes in just the past few weeks. Gas prices at the pump are averaging more than $4 per gallon as crude oil spot prices are now more than $100 a barrel. The best way to combat these challenges is to increase domestic energy production.
The administration seems reluctant to look to U.S. companies and their workers for viable answers. Instead, the administration is calling on geopolitical foes; Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Venezuela. What the president has not considered are the possible solutions in states like Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, as well as Pennsylvania. Even if a reversal on the Keystone XL pipeline decision is not on the table, there are other alternatives.
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is one of the most technologically advanced and safest pipelines ever built. Entirely underground, this pipeline meets or exceeds every state, local and federal safety requirement but is once again being subjected to a redundant court-ordered environmental review. In a recent nationwide poll, Americans supported the continued operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline by a five to one margin. This survey, one of the first to be conducted nationwide after President Biden’s announcement to ban Russian oil imports, also found that 53 percent of Americans would support increasing U.S energy production in light of this embargo. The data is clear: domestic energy production is the best way to avoid a crisis at home.
Absent assistance from the Middle East and elsewhere, America has the potential to bring oil to market quickly and efficiently, increasing output by 1.5 million barrels per day within 18 months; yet, this too, is dependent on a change in the administration’s position regarding domestic fossil fuels. Undeniably, Americans are hopeful that rising gas prices and the ensuing economic consequences can be resolved.
Encouraging domestic oil production should become a core tenet to President Biden’s approach. Specifically, the administration should support a more efficient process for permitting pipeline infrastructure, and reverse the current pause on federal leasing. The consequences for not investing in domestic energy production here at home are clear. But it is not too late to put our country back on the right course to – once again – reach energy independence.
Patrice Douglas is an attorney and former chairman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.