Despite being cagey about the topic on the campaign trail, Joe Biden went all in on environmentalism immediately upon entering the White House. Desperate for the approval of the climate crowd, the president killed the Keystone XL pipeline project on his first day in office, rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, and enacted a moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal land, all to squeals of delight from environmental activists worldwide.
Fast forward a few months and we're in an energy crisis. Now, Biden's green policies aren't solely to blame -- these are complex problems, and pandemic-related disruptions (which can themselves be blamed on the government, at least in part) are probably the bigger culprit. Still, they're making recovery harder than it needs to be.
What's more, it's no coincidence that the rising cost of fuel -- currently at a seven-year high, and expected to keep climbing -- tracks very closely with the president's tanking poll numbers. That collapse at the polls contributed to one Democratic candidate losing the Virginia gubernatorial race and another nearly losing in deep-blue New Jersey, and in the wake of those warning shots Biden's partisans have really started to panic. If things keep on this trajectory, next year's midterm elections are going to be devastating for their party, making the 2010 midterms, which saw the GOP pick up seven senate seats and 63 in the House, pale in comparison. At least in 2010, Barrack Obama was personally popular, even if his agenda was not. Joe Biden has neither going for him.
So Biden is desperate to turn things around. A month ago that meant begging resource companies to lower prices.
You can't make this stuff up - from Reuters just now:
White House asks U.S. oil-and-gas companies to help lower fuel costs -sources https://t.co/SMLDdM02bT
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) October 13, 2021
That didn't work -- shocker -- because that's not how markets work. So his administration has changed tactics. Their new plan is to open an investigation into the oil and gas industry for "anti-consumer behavior."
President Biden is asking the head of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into whether oil companies are illegally increasing prices as consumers face high costs at the pump. "The Federal Trade Commission has authority to consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump. I believe you should do so immediately," Biden wrote in a letter to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan on Wednesday.
As Luke Thompson put it, "This is vintage Biden. Create a problem. Blame others. Then try to demagogue the issue to avoid accountability." "Fortunately," Thompson continues, "his polling suggests Americans see what’s happening."
The truth is, the Biden administration's environmental actions fall neatly into the very category of "anti-consumer behavior" he's accusing the resource sector of engaging in. We'd be better off if he would change course, open the taps, build the pipelines, grant the leases. That is, steer the ship of state back towards energy independence, and not fret so much about what AOC and the Green New Dealers have to say. (By the way, they're likely popping champagne at the moment, as they did mid-pandemic when the price of oil went negative, a blow from which the industry is still recovering).
But chances are he'll just keep looking to shift the blame.