Gas prices reached a nationwide average of $4.60 per gallon on Thursday as they maintain an upward climb with record-setting prices each day for more than two weeks straight, according to AAA’s gas tracker. Diesel fuel, critical for tankers, trains, trucks, and farming machinery remained high at $5.53 per gallon, just 3 cents shy of its record of $5.57 set last week.
“[When] it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition,” President Joe Biden said in Japan on Monday. “When it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels.”
Biden’s animosity toward fossil fuels launched the day he took office with his cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline and an indefinite suspension of oil and gas leases on federal lands, which directly raises gas prices while leaving the power grid in jeopardy of blackouts.
Last week, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation forecast a season of repeat outages as power stations are stretched beyond capacity amid summer heatwaves and dry conditions. The early retirement of conventional power plants is in part to blame, while smoke from the coming wildfires prepares to block sunlight from inefficient solar panels and investors shy away from projects that involve fossil fuels. Biden’s continued cancellation of domestic energy projects from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico in recent weeks has continued to spook investors from promoting the capital-intensive industry.
In April, the Department of the Interior announced the administration would finally move forward with a series of public land leases for oil and gas drilling in compliance with a federal court order. White House officials have made clear, however, that the leases are only moving forward because a federal judge overturned the president’s suspension of new drilling operations on public land.
“President Biden remains absolutely committed to not moving forward with additional drilling on public lands,” White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy pledged on MSNBC days after the announcement.
To minimize new drilling operations while remaining compliant with the court order, the Interior Department offered only 20 percent of the land initially nominated for leasing, complemented by a 50 percent tax increase on what’s extracted.
In March, Biden announced an “unprecedented” release from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserves maintained for emergencies to suppress gas prices going into the midterms. Biden ordered that 1 million barrels of crude be released each day for 180 days beginning May 15, with no coincidence that the order will expire immediately following the November elections. Despite the release, gas prices have continued to reach new peaks each day since.