By: Conner Nicklas
In March of 2021, the national average price for a gallon of gas was $2.898. This March, that same gallon costs $4.322. Similarly, the average price for a pound ground beef in March 2021 was $4.21; this year, it costs $5.24. Other important products such as chicken, natural gas for heating homes, and wheat and corn products have also all seen dramatic cost increases. In fact, inflation has surged to a 40 year high of 8.5%. Simply put, the price to survive for an average American has skyrocketed.
What is worse is that we currently have a presidential administration whose policies and actions are a direct cause of these price increases. And although President Biden recently said in a speech that he is doing “everything” within his power to bring down the price of gas and food and to fix the supply chain, his actions suggest otherwise. Consider the following examples:
First, oil and gas development continues to be under attack. Last year the Biden Administration put a “pause” on all new oil and gas drilling leases. According to a study from the University of Wyoming, the federal lease moratorium restricted or prevented access to 2.9 billion barrels of potentially recoverable oil reserves on federal lands and the associated $12.9 billion in tax revenue.
Then, on Good Friday, the Department of the Interior announced that it would be ending the moratorium on new onshore mineral leases. However, the conditions surrounding the lifted restriction make the announcement a hollow gesture. First, the proposed lease sales will only cover 144,000 acres of land on 173 parcels. These 144,000 acres are a fraction of what was originally proposed for lease prior to Biden’s moratorium. Second, the Administration is proposing to increase the royalty rate oil companies will have to pay the federal government from the traditional 12.5% to 18.75%. This would amount to a 50% increase. Couple this increased royalty rate to the many restrictions and red tape required to drill on federal land, it appears that the Biden Administration is attempting to essentially continue the leasing moratorium by making federal minerals unmarketable.
Second, pipelines have also been discriminated against by the Biden Administration. On his first day in office, President Biden dealt the final deathblow to the Keystone XL Pipeline by revoking its cross-border presidential permit granted by President Trump. Had the pipeline been constructed, it would have delivered up to 900,000 barrels of oil daily into the American system. That additional 900,000 barrels of oil daily would have more than covered the oil deficit created by the recent Russian-Ukrainian War.
President Biden has now announced that the Army Corps of Engineers will be reviewing whether it will revoke Clean Water Act Nationwide Permit 12. Nationwide Permit 12 allows pipeline companies to construct or repair their pipelines under a much more simplified and affordable process. Without this permit, pipeline companies could spend years trying to apply for individual Clean Water Act permits.
Third, the Administration has avoided taking actions that could reduce the food supply shortages felt by many Americans. Earlier this month the Secretary of Agriculture announced that his Department would not take farmland out of conservation programs to boost grain production during the Russian war in Ukraine. To date, nearly 16 million acres of farmland are enrolled in these conservation programs. However, the Administration explained that allowing farming on those lands, even temporarily, would cause a “detrimental impact on producers’ efforts to mitigate climate change…”
While these are tangible attacks from the Administration against the industries who keep Americans fed, clothed, and supplied with energy, what often goes unseen are the dozens of projects across the country that have never been attempted. These policies not only shut down existing projects, they hamper any incentive to explore for new energy sources, build new infrastructure, and produce more food. Now, every day Americans suffer the consequences of higher food and energy costs.