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Running on Empty

By Matt Patterson, November 17, 2021

The holiday season is quickly approaching with Thanksgiving less than two weeks away. This means it is time for turkey, football, familial spats, and travel. AAA Travel is predicting that around 53.4 million Americans will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, which is an increase of 13 percent from 2020.[i] The Tampa Bay Times points out that “90 percent of Americans plan to travel by car, despite gas costing over a dollar more per gallon than this time last year.”[ii] The increased cost is not limited to automobiles, however, as CNBC reports that jet fuel is the most expensive it has been since 2014.[iii] The fuel prices have risen significantly in recent months as U.S. jet fuel was $2.27 per gallon on November 10th, an increase of 25% from three months earlier.[iv] Due to the energy crunch in Europe and poor policy decisions by the Biden administration that have stifled oil and gas production, holiday travelers will have to pay a lot more than usual to get to their holiday destinations.

But the shortage goes beyond holiday travel as the winter months approach. BP (formerly British Petroleum) warned on Tuesday that the gas market would be “tight” in the coming months as demand rises to keep warm during the winter:

BP's warning about gas prices comes not long after the U.S. Energy Information Administration released a report warning that U.S households will pay more for energy this winter than they have for "the past several winters." "On average across the United States, we expect prices for all fuels to be higher than in recent winters. Rising wholesale commodity prices for natural gas, crude oil, and petroleum products are being passed through to retail prices," the agency said. Energy price spikes have been affecting households around the world, particularly in European countries. According to AAA, the national average gas price in the U.S. was $3.41 on Tuesday [November 2nd].[v]

Skyrocketing fuel prices can no longer be ignored, no matter how much the Biden Administration would like to pretend it is not happening. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a rare moment of clarity, urged President Biden to tap into emergency petroleum reserves to lower rising gas prices before the holidays, stating that “we’re here today because we need immediate relief at the gas pump and the place to look is the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).”[vi] 11 Senate Democrats joined the Majority Leader in urging the administration to tap the SPR and to ban crude oil exports, a move that would likely anger allies and violate long-term contracts.[vii]

Yes, that is correct. The same administration that ended the Keystone XL Pipeline, drastically reduced oil and gas production on federal lands, and pleaded with OPEC to increase oil supplies, is now facing the realities of poor policy decisions and considering tapping into the SPR. Furthermore, in a story featured in October, CBS News reported that “Americans’ use of coal is set to increase this year – the first time in seven years that annual use of the energy source has risen."[viii] Coal production, which had been in decline since the rise of natural gas from hydraulic fracturing (fracking), is seeing a comeback due to record high natural gas prices resulting from a decline in production.

Setting increased coal production aside, rising gas prices and a depletion in oil and gas production under the current administration seem to be more of a feature than a bug. Saule Omarova, President Biden’s nominee for Comptroller of the Currency, did not hold back her feelings about plans for the oil and gas industry, proclaiming “A lot of the smaller players in that industry are going to, probably, go bankrupt in short order – at least, we want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change.”[ix] As The Wall Street Journal editorial board suggested, “Give Ms. Omarova credit for candor. Most progressives disguise their real intentions.”[x] As TxEnergyProject’s Michael Geary wrote in August, “These aren’t the actions of an administration concerned about “affordable and reliable energy.” These are the actions of an administration hostile to domestic fossil fuel development.”[xi]

This holiday season will undoubtedly feature Americans paying more to travel and to heat their homes. It will also see, ironically, an increase in harmful emissions due to the increase in coal production. As it turns out, some of these “green energy” policies may not be so green. Happy Holidays! If you get coal in your stocking, hold on to it. It might be worth more than you think.

[i] [ii] Ibid. [iii] [iv] Ibid. [v] [vi] [vii] [viii] [ix] [x] Ibid. [xi]


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