More than a year into the Biden administration, and gas prices remain a dollar higher on average than they were at nearly any point in the Trump administration, according to the Energy Information Administration.
The latest price spikes to reach seven-year highs are no coincidence. They are instead a direct consequence of White House policy, suppressing production in the name of climate change through a cascade of environmental regulation.
In a weekend filing, the Biden Justice Department (DOJ) quietly sought once again to do just that with a request in federal court to stay a decision on “social cost of carbon (SCC)” rules. The estimates calculated to determine potential cost/benefit analyses of environmental regulations were dropped from $51 per ton of carbon dioxide under the Obama administration including global damage from emissions to $7 under Trump, exclusive to domestic damage. President Joe Biden reversed the figure to $51 again while his Interior Department designs its own guidelines.
On Saturday, administration officials demanded the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana suspend a preliminary injunction against the SCC rules after a challenge from a coalition of 10 Republican-led states. Earlier this month, Judge James D. Cain Jr. blew back the curtain on Biden’s use of the administrative state to “artificially increase the cost estimates” of oil and gas drilling and granted the Republican injunction.
The appeal filed by DOJ attorneys, however, will pause oil and gas projects as regulators wait on confirmation of how to proceed, using Trump-era estimates for the social cost of carbon or Obama’s until new rules are handed down. The higher cost will raise oil and gas prices by justifying more limits on federal leasing, and the Biden Interior Department has been aggressive in its desire to reform the oil and gas program at the heart of its climate agenda.
Industry leaders slammed the appeal as another effort to antagonize domestic producers.
“The Biden Administration’s action takes burying controversial news when nobody’s watching to a whole new level: usually it’s a late Friday evening release, not a Saturday night. When a government tries to overstep its legal authority on multiple levels, it must engage in such desperate moves,” said Kathleen Sgamma, the president of the Western Energy Alliance based in Denver. “The use of the SCC is novel and requires full administrative procedures to be used, not the short cuts a judge has blocked the administration from taking. Asking the court to let the government continue to use something that isn’t supported by law and hasn’t gone through rulemaking is like asking a police officer to enforce a law that hasn’t been passed yet.”
Larry Behrens, the communications director for Power the Future, an energy non-profit, echoed the trade group’s sentiment.
“When the Biden administration swears they are not responsible for skyrocketing gas prices, remind them of this filing,” Behrens told The Federalist. “American families are suffering under crippling inflation caused by Biden’s energy policies and it’s clear the president will continue to point fingers anywhere but at himself.”
The turbulence over the contested measure comes amid tensions in Ukraine threatening to send global power prices soaring depending on whether Russia pulls the trigger on invasion. European energy supplies are a lynchpin issue with the continent’s instantaneous power needs provided by Russian gas after nations knee-capped their own capacity with Biden-like bans on production and overreliance on unreliable wind and solar. Fortune Magazine headlined a prediction that some areas will suffer gas prices exceeding $5 a gallon.
Biden, who has deflected blame for high gas prices onto adversarial nations’ refusal to ramp up output, has already laid the seeds for blaming war in Europe for sticker shock at the pump.
“I will not pretend this will be painless,” Biden said last week while the president’s press secretary said the same.
“If Russia decides to invade, there could be consequences here at home, and that could have an impact on energy prices, which could have an impact on prices at the gas pump,” Jen Psaki added from the White House briefing room.