Manchin: Why is Biden begging other countries for oil production while stifling it here?

Manchin: Why is Biden begging other countries for oil production while stifling it here?

Good question, and it comes at an inopportune time for Joe Biden. CNN reports that Biden and his team have worked to arrange a kiss-and-make-up session with Saudi ruler Mohammad bin Salman, whose government Biden previously called a “pariah,” among other things.

When Biden needed some oil, he changed his tune … and got snubbed. With inflation being driven by high oil prices, suddenly MBS is a prince rather than a pariah:

President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, could meet for the first time as soon as next month, multiple sources told CNN. A meeting would come after months of diplomatic heavy lifting and represent a turnabout for a US president who once declared Saudi Arabia a “pariah” with “no redeeming social value.”

Biden administration officials are in talks with the Saudis about arranging a potential in-person meeting while the President is overseas next month, current and former US officials said. Saudi Arabia currently holds the presidency of the Gulf Cooperation Council, so any engagement between Biden and bin Salman, known as MBS, would likely coincide with a meeting of the GCC in Riyadh, the sources noted.

“You should count on something like this happening, it just comes down to when, not if,” a former US official familiar with the discussions said. Saudi officials did not respond to a request for comment.

We should indeed. Biden sent CIA Director William Burns to do some brown-nosing a couple of weeks ago, which apparently hasn’t loosened production levels but at least set up a face-to-face meeting between Biden and his diffident Saudi partner.

Insulting the Saudis and orienting toward Iran are strange foreign policy choices in any case. But if Joe Biden really wanted to pursue those strategies, shouldn’t he have laid the strategic groundwork first to ensure that the US supply of oil was elastic enough to avoid reliance on Saudi Arabia? Joe Manchin asked that question emphatically today in a Senate hearing today.

In fact, Biden’s begging annoyed Manchin enough to start clipping his own videos and demanding answers to Biden’s strategic incompetence and incoherence:

The Hill provided its own report on the Energy and Environment hearing, where Interior Secretary Deb Haaland struggled to provide coherent answers to Manchin’s questions:

In a hearing on the Interior Department’s fiscal 2023 budget request, Manchin pushed back on the administration’s repeated references to the industry’s 9,000 unused leases to explain the energy crisis, arguing the administration has the power to pressure industry to use them.

“If the administration’s argument is that industry is sitting on these leases… why don’t they do something about it?” Manchin said. “For example, if the concern is that too many leases are not being developed in a timely manner, the department could increase the rental rates over time to provide a financial disincentive against holding leases for speculation alone.”

Manchin conceded that “new lease sales would not immediately increase production,” but claimed the administration’s focus on current production “puts America’s energy security at risk.”

Oil producers need capital to explore leases, and they don’t have it — thanks in no small part to Biden’s oft-expressed hostility to new drilling. His EO 13990 makes it far more costly to explore and extract, and his promises to curtail drilling make capital investment in new oil production an investment dry hole. That is hypocritical anyway, given that Biden wants other countries to produce oil for our use anyway. It’s not the drilling and extraction creates emission concerns — it’s the end-stage usage of the products. And Biden wants more of it now because inflation from the predictable increase in gas prices is suddenly a problem for his political party.

Manchin sounds as if he’s about to get a lot more vocal about this. Wait until Biden has his tete a tete with MBS. Manchin should have some spicy quotes to offer at that time, too.

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