Gas prices are skyrocketing; they are up an average of $1.30 since November 2020. According to experts, this is response to many factors. First, the Keystone Pipeline was shut down via an executive order from Joe Biden just days after he took office in January 2021. Soon after shutting the Keystone down, Biden ordered a halt to all new oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Some pundits are opining that Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, particularly its focus on climate change, will only serve to drive energy costs – including gasoline and oil as well as the energy used to heat homes.
According to the American Energy Alliance, in 2019, White House policies had made America energy independent, for the first time in 62 years. However, if one asks the Biden Administration for reasons attributed to higher gas prices, they will tell you that more people are traveling as the pandemic wanes. They claim this is a case of supply and demand.
The question remains – if we were energy independent just two years ago, why are we now asking OPEC to open up more lines of production? Plus, with analysts saying that demand has dropped since Fourth of July weekend, why is the price of gas continued to rise? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, consumption is down 1.7 percent where it was before the pandemic. This refutes the supply and demand excuse that the Biden Administration is using.
Consumers are already upset over the skyrocketing fuel prices; however, on Monday, talk regarding possibly shutting down yet another pipeline fueled even more concern regarding the economy at this time. Politico originally released a story stating that the Biden Administration “is currently exploring the possibility of taking action to terminate the operation of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline.”
At first, the White House denied that it was going to shut down the pipeline. Reporters during a press conference asked White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre about the shut down. Initially, Jean-Pierre appeared perplexed and replied that there were no plans to shut the pipeline down. However, when pressed, Jean-Pierre walked initial comments back and stated that the Administration was “looking into” the effects of shutting the pipeline down. On Tuesday, however, Jean-Pierre said that there were no plans to shut down the pipeline at this time.
There were those in the general public who were shocked that the White House would even consider shutting the pipeline down when gas prices are already at a seven-year high. The idea regarding shutting the pipeline down is not President Biden’s – at least not initially.
The Biden Administration received a request from Michigan’s twelve federally recognized Native American tribes to shut down the Line 5 pipeline. In particular, the group is requesting that a four-mile section that is underwater in the Great Lakes is the focus of the shutdown. The tribes cited environmental risks to the freshwater resource of the Great Lakes area. They also asked the Biden Administration to support Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, who has called for a shutdown of the pipeline. In addition, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed a suit against Enbridge, the company that operates the pipeline.
On Tuesday, however, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre seemed to walk back the statement made on Monday. She stated that the Biden Administration is not considering shutting down the pipeline in Michigan. Jean-Pierre pointed out that Canada has invoked the terms of a treaty made with the state regarding the pipeline. Jean-Pierre said, “(it is) certainly not an indicator that the U.S. government is considering shutdown. That is something that we’re not going to do.”
On Monday, Jean-Pierre did say that the U.S. Army Corps is studying a replacement for part of Line 5. Details on this replacement have not been released.
Governor Whitmer ordered the pipeline shut down earlier this year. Enbridge refused, and the case is in litigation.
It is noteworthy to add that earlier this week, eleven Senate democrats sent a letter to President Biden asking that he open up the reserves in order to alleviate the price of gas for American consumers. These same senators also requested that we no longer export oil in this time of shortage.