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Biden has few options to combat surging gas prices as voters grow concerned about inflation

  • October 25, 2021

Oil prices are the byproduct of market forces of supply and demand, and domestic energy advocates say the White House’s own environmental policies have served to limit the supply of oil and natural gas coming into the market. 

At the start of the year, President Joe Biden cancelled a permit for the Keystone Pipeline and paused drilling activity on federal lands and waters. A judge overturned the drilling ban and ordered the Biden administration to restart leasing activity. The administration is appealing the decision.

The federal government will resume leasing land for oil and gas drilling next year, after the Bureau of Land Management cancelled planned quarterly lease auctions in 2021 to comply with the White House’s executive order calling for a comprehensive review of the program.

The Bureau of Ocean Management will lease water in the Gulf of Mexico this year, a sale rescheduled after the federal judge’s injunction.

Louisiana is one of 13 energy-producing states that are suing the administration over the drilling ban. State Solicitor General Liz Murrill says the White House should “take the handcuffs” off energy producers if it wants to improve the situation sooner.   

“I don’t think that the administration can create a problem, and then declare an emergency arising from the problem it created,” Murrill told CNBC.  “That’s not an emergency, that’s a problem you created yourself.”

Combined with price spikes across a variety of goods, inflation is hitting Americans’ wallets and threatening the economic rebound heading into the 2022 midterm elections. 

Voters are increasingly blaming Biden for the spike in prices: 66% of respondents in an early October survey conducted by CBS News blamed U.S. government policy for inflation, and 60% said the administration is not focused closely enough on the issue. 

“Politically speaking, Democrats need the economy to be going as well as it can,” said Stephen Myrow, managing partner of Beacon Policy Advisors and a former Treasury official. “At the same time, [Biden] has prioritized climate change and clean energy, and inevitably there’s conflict between those priorities.” 

The conflict is intensifying in the weeks leading up to the United Nations climate summit beginning in Glasgow, Scotland on Nov. 1. According to progressive lawmakers, Biden has said he needs to show up with a trillion-dollar policy framework on climate change to protect “American prestige.”  

CNBC’s Patrick Manning and Pippa Stevens contributed to this article.

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