Who wants to tell them? Now that Joe Biden has gotten pushed into an embargo on Russian oil imports — with Senate Democrats doing a considerable amount of the shoving — the inevitable problem of consumer shock at gas prices will have to get tackled next. The ban on Russian oil will definitely keep those prices escalating, unless the US can find much more production to replace it.
And that has Senate Democrats panicking in a midterm cycle that already looked like a disaster:
The economic reverberations of a proposed ban on Russian oil and gas imports are fueling angst among Democratic lawmakers who are wrestling over what to do about rising prices, which have mushroomed into a big political problem for President Biden.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers are coalescing behind a proposal sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to ban Russian energy imports but some Democrats worry it could boomerang on them if it leads to higher inflation.
Democratic senators say they worry that oil companies could use the ban on Russian imports as an excuse to further increase gas prices and that they’ll wind up getting the blame.
They already know the answer to this question, a point to which we’ll return. CBS News, however, doesn’t know the answer, or at least not the full answer. Their report this morning limits the options to the usual round of Dictators R Us:
Gas prices have reached an all-time high in the U.S. as the conflict in Ukraine continues.
Congress is prepared to pass bipartisan legislation banning the import of Russian oil — but the countries the Biden administration is turning to now are raising questions. pic.twitter.com/wq17vhJ5AI
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) March 8, 2022
The answer to this question isn’t Saudi Arabia. It certainly isn’t Iran or Venezuela either; at least the Saudis are friendly to the US. The answer to the conundrum for Senate Democrats is not just clear, they already know it:
They also expect Republicans to ratchet up calls to open up federal lands to oil and gas exploration, something Biden and his Democratic allies don’t want to do. Democrats argue that more drilling on federal lands won’t make a difference in fuel prices in the near term.
The “near term” dodge is nonsense. Democrats have trotted that out since Barack Obama’s famous claim that we couldn’t drill our way to lower gas prices. We did, and had we continued to do so, we wouldn’t be in this economic position — and Putin may not have been in position to start a war, either.
The US has plenty of oil and natural gas for our own use, a resource that we had begun to strategically leverage in the four years prior to Biden’s inauguration. Expanded exploration and extraction, especially through the use of fracking, made us so rich in oil and natural gas that the US became a net exporter in both. We had the option of total energy independence, at least briefly, and that helped keep global oil prices low enough to help contain Vladimir Putin, Iran, and Venezuela. Biden squandered that strategic advantage in his first day in office through a series of EOs and decisions that began limiting US production as a pander to Biden’s progressive wing and their climate-change hysteria.
What’s more, Senate Democrats know that too. Maggie Hassan, an incumbent Democrat who’s likely to lose in November, wasted no time in stabbing the Sierra Club in the back just after its endorsement, Michael Graham notes, in demanding more production from “Big Oil”:
Tough talk about “Big Oil” is nothing new from liberal Democrats like Sen. Maggie Hassan. After all, she has called climate change an “existential threat” and has voted for both restrictions on carbon and tax hikes for oil and gas producers.
But a Democrat who has called climate change an “existential threat” talking tough about energy companies not producing enough oil and gas? That’s new.
“We’ve got to stand up to Big Oil and really tell them that they need to start increasing production,” Hassan said on WGIR radio Monday. “I’ve been standing up to Big Oil, now more than ever, pushing them to increase supply.”
Just three days earlier, Hassan was touting her endorsement by the environmentalist group, the Sierra Club.
The problem isn’t that “Big Oil” wants to keep production low. It’s that Joe Biden, Hassan, and the rest of Senate Democrats have made it clear for years that they want to force “Big Oil” out of business entirely. They’d rather put money in the hands of Iranian terrorists and Putin’s imperial army than put it on the household tables of American oil workers. Even the sight of Russians targeting civilians in Ukraine hasn’t changed their calculus on their opposition to American production of fossil fuels as a necessity for strategic leverage in a very dangerous world.
As long as that strategic blindness lasts, so will high gas prices. And Democrats deserve every ounce of blame for it, with or without an embargo on Russian oil.
Update: Via Brit Hume, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board slams Biden and Democrats for seeing oil from malevolent dictators in Tehran and Caracas rather than in the good ol’ USA. It makes no sense from a security perspective, nor from an economic perspective:
Easing Venezuelan sanctions would be a strategic blunder that provides a financial lifeline to Mr. Maduro while doing little to ease the oil price spike. Venezuelan oil companies say they can increase production by several hundred thousand barrels a day in eight months. The war in Ukraine may be over by then. …
Shale producers can increase production twice as fast as Venezuelan oil companies, and the profits would go to U.S. workers and shareholders rather than another dictatorship.
That’s a good answer for our “near term” needs, no?