Letter to the editor: Biden not responsible for higher gas prices

Published 7:50 am Monday, December 20, 2021

To the editor:
As a regular reader of the Enterprise Record, I am struck by the numbers of In the Mail letters expressing opinion as fact. People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.
Democracy functions only when we have an educated electorate. From reading letters to the paper, one might get the impression that President Biden is directly responsible for gas prices. This opinion wrongly assumes he should do something about it.
Here are some facts to consider. Gas prices have continued an upward trend since April 2020 when the average price of a gallon of grade 87 unleaded gasoline was $1.87. Today, the same grade is $3.24, a rise of 73%. My question is, would the gas prices have continued to rise at the same level if then President Donald Trump had shown the public a more positive approach to trying to control the spread of the Coronavirus? Would the gas prices have continued to rise at the same level, if President Trump had encouraged everyone to mask up and get vaccinated, with a vaccine which he correctly fast tracked?
Energy experts tell us the gas price increase is largely due to supply and demand rather than presidential policies.
The Coronavirus pandemic created a big drop in oil demand and gasoline prices due to declines in driving and air travel. As the economy slowly rebounded, growing demand boosted prices at the gas pump. Interesting fact, the gas prices rose 73% since April 2020, but 30% of that increase occurred while Trump was still in office. The low price of $1.87 in April 2020 was followed by the emergence of Covid-19 in the first quarter of 2020 and that’s when gas prices plummeted. The pandemic shut down industries including air travel, and other vehicles which are used to commute to work and school.
Crude oil prices follow the trends in retail sales of gasoline. There are other factors to consider in the rising price of crude oil. The OPEC oil cartel and Russia made voluntary production cuts which added to the pressure on gas pricing.
There are underlying issues in the US helping to drive prices of gasoline up. Low oil prices discourage investment in drilling new wells and pressure from environmentalists to move away from fossil fuels because of their harmful effects on the ozone layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, contributing to global warming, has to affect gas prices.
What about President Biden cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline? What are the strategic interests of pumping shale oil to southeastern US refineries? China. Yes, China contributed to funding the original pipeline from interior Canada to refineries in Vancouver. From there, oil was shipped to Asia on transport containers. When Canadian environmentalists together with native tribes blocked the pipeline through their ancestral homelands and the Canadian Rockies, the next obvious place to run it was from Alberta to Nebraska and from there to the pipelines directing the oil to Louisiana and Texas refineries.
Many times subtle facts are left out of the story. Much of today’s Alaska pipeline oil is sold to Japan. The argument that these oil interests somehow tie into US energy independence is false. There are companies and politicians making a lot of money on purely political decisions.
So, is President Joe Biden responsible for high gas prices?
No.
Mazie Laurence
Advance