Monday, September 25, 2023
Monday, September 25, 2023

The Biden-era energy policy Republicans keep pretending not to notice

by admin
The Biden-era energy policy Republicans keep pretending not to notice

If a typical voter watched Wednesday night’s Republican presidential primary debate, and had no independent knowledge about the Biden administration’s energy policies, he or she might come away with the impression that energy production in the United States has been dramatically curtailed in recent years.

This, for example, was the line Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed during the event:

“We need to lower your gas prices. We’re going to open up all energy production. We will be energy dominant again in this country.”

And here was Republican entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

“This isn’t that complicated, guys, unlock American energy, drill, frack, burn coal, and embrace nuclear.”

And former Vice President Mike Pence touted a related line:

“I’m incredibly proud of the record of the Trump-Pence administration. … We unleashed American energy.”

None of the rhetoric was especially surprising. Republicans talk about “unlocking American energy” all the time, especially when consumers have to pay more at the pump.

But it’s worth noting from time to time that there’s a relevant detail GOP officials and candidates pretend not to notice: President Joe Biden has already done much of what they’re promising to do.

Revisiting our earlier coverage, it wasn’t long after the president took office when the Democratic administration started approving more oil and gas drilling permits on public lands than Donald Trump did.

As a Vox report explained, “Biden has done nothing to halt oil leasing. In fact, the Biden administration has outpaced Trump in issuing drilling permits on public lands and water in its first year, according to federal data analyzed by the Center for Biological Diversity.”

Politico published a related report last fall, noting that the Biden administration has “approved new oil and gas wells at a far faster pace than the Trump administration did during its first 21 months in office — a fact that undermines Republican election-year arguments about the causes of this year’s high gasoline prices. The U.S. has also produced more crude oil since Biden’s inauguration than it had done during the equivalent period of former President Donald Trump’s presidency, a POLITICO review of federal energy data shows.”

The report added that under Biden, the United States “is still the world’s top oil and natural gas producer, as it had been under Trump, as well as the largest exporter of natural gas, gasoline and other transportation fuels.”

The Hill, meanwhile, reported yesterday that the Democratic White House has in recent months “drawn the ire of environmentalists with moves like oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the approval of the Willow Project, a massive Alaskan oil drilling project.”

With this in mind, when DeSantis says a Republican administration is “going to open up” energy production, it’s worth emphasizing the fact that this has already happened. And when Ramaswamy says it’s important to “unlock American energy,” it’s only fair to note that there’s no need to unlock something that isn’t currently locked.

This post updates our related earlier coverage.

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He’s also the bestselling author of “The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.”

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