Energy sector leaders lashed out Tuesday at the White House’s attempt to blame them for skyrocketing gas prices.
During her daily briefing on Monday — a day when the price of a gallon of gas soared to an all-time high — White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked, “What is the president’s message to Americans who are going to the gas station today and seeing prices so high?”
She responded by saying, “The president’s message is that he’s going to do everything we can, everything he can to reduce the impact on the American people, including the price of gas at the tank.”
Psaki said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “created instability in the markets” but added, “Clearly, we will continue to have conversations with large oil producers and suppliers around the world about how to mitigate the impact and consider domestic options as well.”
She was then asked about increasing domestic production to reduce the pain at the pump. Her answer was that “federal policies are not limiting the supplies of oil and gas.”
However, Fox News’ Peter Doocy noted that President Joe Biden “signed an executive order his first week that halted new oil and gas leases on public lands.”
“Let me give you the facts here — and I know that can be inconvenient, but I think they’re important in this moment,” Psaki responded. “To the contrary, we have — we have been clear that in the short term, supply must keep up with the demand — we’re — we are — here and around the world, while we make the shift to secure a clear — clean energy future.
“We are one of the largest producers with a strong domestic oil and gas industry. We have actually produced more oil; it is at record numbers. And we will continue to produce more oil. There are 9,000 approved drilling permits that are not being used.
“So the suggestion that we are not let allowing companies to drill is inaccurate. The suggestion that that is what is hindering or preventing gas prices to come down is inaccurate.”
The press secretary went on to say, “So I would suggest you ask the oil companies why they’re not using those if there’s a desire to drill more.”
Industry representatives attending a CERAWeek energy conference rejected Psaki’s comments.
“That accusation is a complete red herring,” American Exploration & Production Council CEO Anne Bradbury said, according to Fox Business.
“It’s really a distraction from the fact that this administration has paused leasing on federal lands, something that we’re concerned about and something that we think needs to continue right away,” she said.
The Biden administration is “required under the law” to sell oil and gas leases on public land, Bradbury said.
“The fact is that industry is producing at a higher level on existing leases on federal lands than in the last 20 years and these leases take many years to explore, to develop and produce on,” she said.
Psaki’s jab at energy companies reflects an apparent unwillingness to understand energy development, some leaders said.
“This represents a fundamental misunderstanding as to how this process works,” American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Mike Sommers said.
“Once you lease land there is a whole process that you have to go through. First, you have to actually discover whether actually there is oil and gas in that land. Second of all, you have to get a permit to actually develop that land,” he told Fox Business.
“Right now we actually are developing more leases than we have in two decades so the White House certainly doesn’t have their facts straight on this,” he said.
Energy Workforce and Technology Council CEO Leslie Beyer said the Biden administration’s “moratorium on leasing certainly adds an additional … block to American energy production, so that is the opposite of what we need to be doing right now.”
“We need to stop the rhetoric that’s anti-fossil fuel and we need some clarity just in the regulatory sense that this administration is behind domestic energy production,” she said.
Beyer: “The moratorium on leasing certainly adds an additional…block to American energy production, so that is the opposite of what we need to be doing right now.
— Energy Workforce & Technology Council (@EWorkforceNews) March 8, 2022
Beyer said the chill from the White House toward oil and gas development scares away investors who supply the capital needed for the long-range development of oil and gas projects.
“There’s a lack of investment,” she said. “We need capital to be able to develop these assets. And certainly while that is the choice of the investors, the rhetoric coming from the administration and everything that is anti-fossil fuel informs those choices.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.