Ever since Joe Biden became President, American gas prices have increased ever so slightly. Where I live, gas prices have gone up roughly $0.03 a gallon, which is far from the end of the world. However, a little more here and there can cut into the savings of lower and middle-class families, and in big cities where the price of gasoline was already higher than average, it can be a rather punch in the face.
On 4/28/2021, rapper Deante’ Hitchcock posted a video on Twitter of him having to pay $89.03 for 21.003 gallons of gas — or roughly $4.24 a gallon. (Dante’ reacted with shock, which I found rather odd considering gas stations, in my experience at least, have a massive sign right outside their parking lot which tells you how much their gas costs per gallon.) Stories like this have been coming from all over the country, and Joe Biden is getting the blame for it.
I remember seeing an MSNBC chyron say gas prices “are the highest they’ve been in seven years.” But seven years ago was 2014, the year the oil markets crashed and gasoline became cheap as a result — in fact, the market crashed so bad it wiped out Venezuela’s entire economy. Of course gas prices today are going to be higher than they were when that market crashed, that’s not a sign that Biden is a bad president, that’s a sign that the oil markets are not currently crashing.
Meanwhile, the idea that Biden is the sole reason for the increase in gas prices is utterly nonsensical. Forbes looked into this back in March and found that while Biden and Harris talking about renewable energy was related to an increase in gas prices, in fact, one of the things causing it is one thing Republicans have been calling for throughout all of 2021:
The loosening of COVID restrictions globally in recent months has led to a rapid recovery in global demand for crude oil that has exceeded the expectations of all of the “experts” on the subject, leading to a tightening of global crude markets.
This makes sense, due to COVID-19 restrictions, people have been spending the past year driving less than they normally would. Data from The Economist found that Americans drove 13% fewer miles in 2020 than they did in 2019. Back in January, Kelly Blue Book did a deep dive into the data and found the following:
Data comes from two sources, but they largely mirror one another. Ford has released a report based on anonymized information collected from more than 1.5 million connected vehicles that report some driving data back to the automaker. Ford reports that drivers of connected cars made 22 percent fewer trips, for about 20 percent fewer overall miles, in 2020 than they had in 2019.
The dropoff was not uniform throughout the year. Owners of connected Ford vehicles were driving about nine percent more in early 2020 than they had in early 2019. Then the lockdown hit. By the week of April 6 (about a month into shutdowns in most states), drivers were taking 45 percent fewer trips each day than on the same day the previous year. Mileage gradually recovered from that point, though it only approached normal on a single day — Christmas, when Americans drove little this year and little in a normal year.
Obviously, as COVID-19 restrictions are loosened, more people will be driving, either by choice or by requirement. The increase in demand without an increase in supply means an increase in prices, that’s just basic economics.
The last time there was a major energy crisis in this country was in 2007 through 2010 or so, and during that time, and Republicans had a plan that could be summed up in three words: Drill, baby, drill. That was the actual term Michael Steele used at the 2008 Republican National Convention, and it was used by Sarah Palin during her 2008 debate with Joe Biden. The term disappeared altogether after the 2010 BP oil spill, but just because the term left discourse, that doesn’t mean expanded oil drilling didn’t take place.
Under Donald Trump, the United States became the number one exporter of oil worldwide. At the time, Republicans praised Trump for this even going so far as to say Donald Trump made the United States energy independent, which has been a goal of Republicans going back decades. However, being the number one exporter can only truly be done if you have a government in favor of free trade, and Donald Trump was a protectionist President who started a trade war. Combine that with the COVID-19 pandemic that Trump badly mishandled (which so badly hurt the oil industry that they had to give oil away at a negative price) and Biden entered office in a rather tricky situation. As Politico wrote on 10/27/2020:
Though some of those industry woes were emerging last year as companies grappled with a glut of oil, people in the business say they were made worse by the president’s trade wars and mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. So far least 40 U.S. oil companies have sought bankruptcy protection in 2020 while dozens of others have slashed spending and cut tens of thousands of jobs.
Basically, under Trump, especially at the end of his administration, the oil market was not doing very good. And this was made worse because, as was Republican policy for decades, Trump did as much as possible to keep oil a primary energy source. For just one example, back when Rex Tillerson the former CEO of ExxonMobil was Secretary of State Trump signed a tarrif on solar panels, something he tried to expand back in October.
However, primarily getting our energy from one source is never a good idea, as we learned recently. Specifically, a Colonial pipeline that ran all across the country had to be shut off because the hacking group DarkSide hacked their computer network. This has created, as Mike Cernovich put it, “literal gas shortages.” Since then, videos have appeared all over Twitter of gas stations literally running out of gas.
It should be noted that many on the right are trying to blame this on President Biden, which makes no sense. It was not the fault of Donald Trump when Equifax was hacked in 2017, despite the fact that Donald Trump had been in office for longer when that happened than Joe Biden has been while this is happening. The non-metaphorial gas shortages are more a result of consumers panic buying than anything else, which is just what happens whenever people are scared they won’t be able to get an important product for a long period of time.
However, lets take a minute and talk about why this is an issue in the first place. The main reason why a non-metaphorial gas shortage is such big news is because our energy is so relient on it. Here’s what Biden’s Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm had to say on the pipeline hacking at a Press Confrenece recently:
I mean, we obviously are all in on making sure that we meet the President’s goals of getting to 100% clean electricity by 2035 and net zero carbon emissions by 2050. And you know, if you drive an electric car this would not be affecting you, clearly.
Mind you, I think that Biden is over-emothasizing Electric Cars to the point of absurdity, but Biden’s plan to move us off of fossil fuels is a rather good one. However, although Granholm was not the most eloquent, she is right when she says that this would not be affecting you if you drove an electric car. Renewable energy usually does not need pipelines that can be hacked to be transported. Biden should be using this to help sell his energy plan to the Ameircan people, pointing this specifically out as what happens when you focus too much on fossil fuels.
Joe Biden is right about energy, and this recent gas shortage is proving it.