When Biden administration officials aren’t promising to put them out of business, they’re calling oil companies “un-American” for not drilling more. They should look in a mirror.
Amos Hochstein, Joe Biden’s “senior adviser for energy security” at the State Department, complained to the Financial Times last week that oil companies were using profits to buy back stock rather than invest in oil production.
“It is not only un-American, it is so unfair to the American public,” he said. “You want to pay dividends, pay dividends. You want to pay shareholders, pay shareholders. You want to get bonuses, do that, too. You could do all of that and still invest more. We are asking you to increase production and seize the moment.”
This is the same guy, by the way, who just a few months ago said that oil output must be limited in order to “make sure that we’re in a better footing to accelerate the transition” away from fossil fuels.
In any event, by Hochstein’s standard, Biden is the most un-American president in history, because his policies are behind both the industry’s increased profit margins and its decision to spend that money on stock buybacks rather than increase production.
A little context is in order.
Remember that President Donald Trump came into office promising U.S. energy dominance. And in four short years, he was well on his way to achieving that. Oil and gas production exploded, and the U.S. became a net exporter for the first time in decades.
Biden, however, ran for office promising to “transition from the oil industry.” He talked up a “100% clean-energy economy” with “net-zero emissions.” He blurted out things like “no more subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. No more drilling including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill period. It ends.”
Since taking office, Biden made good on his pledge to reverse Trump’s gains.
On his first day in office, Biden shut down construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
At one point he paused all oil and gas leases.
The Institute for Energy Research reported in September that leasing on public lands in Biden’s first 19 months was down 97% from the first 19 months of Trump’s term. “The U.S. Department of Interior awarded 203 leases for oil and gas development during Biden’s first 19 months in office while former Presidents Trump and Obama each approved 10 times as many leases during that time period,” it reported.
If that wasn’t enough, Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency used a lawsuit filed by his environmentalist friends as an excuse to stop previously approved oil and gas leases on more than 58,000 acres of public land.
Fox News reported that the settlement with the plaintiffs “represented the Biden administration’s latest effort to aggressively scale back the federal oil and gas leasing program as part of its climate agenda. The administration has repeatedly delayed holding both onshore and offshore lease sales since taking office.”
And just this month, Biden’s regulators proposed a rule that would tighten standards on methane gas leaks on public land, which OilPrice.com said “could have a significant impact on the industry if passed.”
American Energy Alliance President Tom Pyle notes that the AEA has “tracked about 125 specific actions that this administration and the Democratic Congress have done to slow down or stop oil production in America. (Biden) has an ‘America last’ energy policy.”
All of these attacks on energy production are to appease the “climate change” scaremongers, whose ultimate goal is to entirely eliminate fossil fuels as an energy source.
Well, Biden’s efforts have had the intended effect: they forced energy prices through the roof. Even with the recent drop, gasoline costs are up 31% from the start of 2020. They’d be higher still if Biden hadn’t been draining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a short-sighted and dangerous effort to protect his political interests.
Those higher prices, in turn, pushed up oil company profits, which inevitably results when oil prices spike.
To be sure, the constant media mantra about “massive” oil industry profits is a fiction. In dollar figures, the numbers look impressive, but the industry’s profit margins are still below those of many others. And, as we pointed out in this space, today’s profits follow several years of steep losses.
Still, why aren’t oil companies taking their current windfall and investing in new production?
Would you? Would you invest in exploration and recovery of oil at a time when the federal government is promising to put you out of business? Or would you do something else with that money, such as buy back stock?
The only thing un-American in all this is Biden’s refusal to come clean with the American people about why we’re in such a fix.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board