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Tag: gas prices

Biden Orders Record Strategic Oil Release To Stabilize Prices Amid War

By Alexandra Alper and Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Thursday launched the largest release ever from the U.S. emergency oil reserve to try to bring down gasoline prices that have soared during Russia's war with Ukraine, the White House said.

Starting in May, the United States will release 1 million barrels per day of crude oil for six months from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a senior administration official told reporters.

The 180 million barrels is equivalent to about two days of global demand, and marks the third time Washington has tapped the SPR in the past six months.

The release will more than cover oil exports to the United States from Russia, which typically produces about ten percent of the world's crude, but only accounts for eight percent of U.S. liquid fuel imports. Biden banned U.S. imports of Russian oil this month.

But the release will fall short of a loss of about three million barrels per day of Russian oil which the International Energy Agency estimates will be caused by Western sanctions and as global buyers avoid the oil.

Biden also called on Congress to make energy companies pay fees on wells from leases they have not used in years, for U.S. oil companies to drill more, and for boosts in production of electric vehicles and batteries.

The oil release will "serve as bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up," the White House said.

The Biden administration has worked with allies in the IEA in recent weeks to coordinate releases which will bring the total volume to global markets to well over 1 million barrels per day, the official said.

The 31-member IEA, the world's energy watchdog, may announce a release when the member states meet on Friday. The group, representing industrialized nations including the United States, but not Russia, presided over the fourth coordinated oil release in its history on March 1 of over 60 million barrels of crude – its largest yet. The U.S. portion of that release was about half of the total.

Oil prices plunged about five percent on the news of the latest U.S. reserve draws while OPEC+, a production group including Saudi Arabia and Russia, stuck to a modest deal to slowly ramp up output. [O/R]

'Use It Or Lose It'

The Biden administration has long said that energy companies are sitting on thousands of unused leases and are slow to open the spigot. Biden will call for a "use it or lose it" policy that will seek to push oil companies to take advantage of unused oil leasing permits, a senior administration official told reporters.

"We do think there should be consequences if you're sitting on unused approved permits for production on federal lands," the official said. The policy would charge companies if they are sitting on wells and not developing leases, the official said.

Oil companies have said they like to have a deep inventory of permits to give them flexibility on future planning and that labor and logistical constraints can be a headwind in using them.

Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to support the production and processing of minerals and materials used for large capacity batteries used in electric vehicles - such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and manganese, the White House said. He also urged Congress to pass his plan to move the country toward clean energy policies.

(Reporting By Timothy Gardner, Alexandra Alper, Steve Holland; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Internet Slays Joe Manchin Over Dumb Comments That Fossil Fuels Can Produce Clean Energy

United States Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) on Wednesday claimed that oil can be used to generate clean power as the nation transitions to renewables sources of energy.

"For us to be strong, to be the superpower of the world, we should develop here in North America a North American energy alliance with Canada and basically Mexico and the United States as one continent basically that could be the energy hub," Manchin told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe.

"We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can make sure that we produce the cleanest resources basically from fossil but also be able to segue into a cleaner environment with the technology and investments that it'll take to transition," Manchin continued.

"I think we can do both, but we have to maintain. You can't do just one and not the other and think we're gonna be fine. And that's what we're running into – the conundrum here. We should be ramping up production," Manchin added. "We should be out there doing everything we can to maintain our independence but be able to backfill everywhere we can. And if we don't get Europe up and loaded for next winter, for the summer when they've depleted all their reserves, there's gonna be a big problem coming."

Manchin – a wealthy coal magnate who drives a Maserati and lives on a yacht while representing one of the poorest states in the country – is a lone voice among the Democratic Senate caucus when it comes to retrofitting the American energy grid to tackle climate change. He killed President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan in part because of its provisions that called for investments in renewables. Manchin also refuses to consider amending the filibuster, which Republicans used to obstruct the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

Twitter blasted him for touting the very industry that is padding his pockets and poisoning our biosphere.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Biden Slams Big Oil For Padding Profits At Working Americans' Expense

President Joe Biden is blasting Big Oil and he has the facts to prove his case.

It’s rare for President Biden to single out any particular group or industry for criticism, unlike his predecessor who seemed to almost daily, but on Wednesday he slammed the fossil fuel industry for price gouging.

“Oil prices are decreasing, gas prices should too,” Biden said on Twitter. “Last time oil was $96 a barrel, gas was $3.62 a gallon. Now it’s $4.31.”

“Oil and gas companies shouldn’t pad their profits at the expense of hardworking Americans,” he added, posting a chart to prove his point:

Republicans and far-right media have been hammering Biden unfairly, falsely claiming America is no longer energy independent (it is) and blaming him for higher prices at the pump – which he has no direct control over and little indirect ability to impact as well.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Mainstream Outlets Echo GOP Snark On Rising Gas Prices

Mother Jones, MSNBC, The Nation and Salon are among the mainstream media outlets that often do an excellent job debunking the lies and distortions that come from Fox News, Newsmax TV, Breitbart News and other right-wing media outlets. But there are other times when mainstream media outlets echo false claims that come from the far right. Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin, in her March 13 column, cites Fox News’ claims blaming President Joe Biden for rising gas prices as a false narrative that mainstream media outlets have picked up when they should know better.

“It’s increasingly obvious to those outside the right-wing bubble that the ‘news’ side of Fox often serves as a content provider for the MAGA propaganda machine,” Rubin explains. “But the rest of the White House press corps and cable TV news outlets also habitually repeat GOP talking points on energy, even as reliable print media debunks them.”

Rubin continues, “Headlines such as ‘GOP Blames Biden for Gas Prices After Pushing For Russian Oil Ban’ on ABC News’ website serve to amplify false claims. Politico’s ‘Biden Blames Putin for Inflation. GOP Blames Biden’ might be the perfect distillation of bothsidesism. And NBC’s ‘Republicans Cheer Russian Oil Ban snd Jeer Biden For Rising Gas Prices’ epitomizes coverage that treats the topic as a contest of partisan claims.”

The Post columnist, herself a Never Trump conservative who has voted Republican in many presidential elections but supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020, cites the New York Times as an outlet that has debunked the false claim that Biden’s policies are to blame for rising gas prices in the United States.

“The pandemic brought the economy to a halt, reduced energy demand and slowed production; when demand popped back, supply was low and prices increased,” Rubin explains. “Moreover, the (Biden) Administration has not reduced domestic production since the Trump Administration…. As for the (Biden) Administration’s cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, another go-to GOP attack, our imports from Canada increased 70% without it…. So, if GOP talking points are factually incorrect, why does the White House press corps repeat them, giving them the air of legitimacy?”

Rubin elaborates, “It is part of a familiar pattern in which mainstream TV reporters and White House press equalize the two political parties. Republicans say X; the White House says Y. That is the prevalent notion of ‘balance’ and being tough on an administration, even though the current one does not routinely lie the way its predecessor did. When facts are verifiable, the media’s pretense of balance is misleading.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

GOP Blames Biden On Gas Prices, But Fact Checkers Debunk The Slur

As gas prices across the United States continue to soar, Republican lawmakers are using the moment as an opportunity to blame President Joe Biden; not Russian President Vladamir Putin, the dictator who started the war that led to this economic domino effect.

Now, fact-checkers are weighing in to refute the lawmakers' claims. According to Yahoo! News, multiple Republicans have attempted to spin the truth about gas prices this week.During a press conference this week, House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) claimed, "These aren’t Putin prices. They’re President Biden’s prices.”

While speaking to Fox Business this week, former Vice President Mike Pence said, "In the four years of the Trump-Pence administration, we achieved energy independence for the first time in 70 years.”

He added, "We were a net exporter of energy. But from very early on, with killing the Keystone pipeline, taking federal lands off the list for exploration, sidelining leases for oil and natural gas – once again, before Ukraine ever happened, we saw rising gasoline prices.”Despite Republicans' bogus claims, Yahoo News explains:

"Fact-checkers have pointed out that the main cause of increasing gas prices over the past year is disruptions to global supply and demand following the coronavirus pandemic. Only a 10th of the Keystone XL pipeline was complete when Biden cancelled it and it was not likely to become operational until 2023 at the earliest."

Kurt Bardella, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) advisor, has also pushed back against Republicans' flawed claims criticizing their attempts to score "political points.""It just goes to show that there are no lengths to which Republicans won’t stoop to try to score political points, in this case using the unthinkable and tragic situation that the Ukrainian people find themselves in.

“To try to exploit that and use it to effectively lie and mislead the American people about conditions here at home is an unconscionable act of political cowardice.”

Bardella also pointed out that Republicans were in favor of Biden imposing sanctions on Russia prior to the surge in gas prices.“Republicans were so vocal about how the Biden administration needed to do sanctions on Russian oil and then they start attacking him. You can’t win because everything that they do is basically an illustration of how they operate in bad faith."

He added, "Joe Biden could do every single thing that the Republican party wants and they would still attack him at the end of the day. Republicans just seem to operate in a purely craven political dynamic. It’s irresponsible and downright un-American, and it’s exactly what they would have said if Democrats had done this in the wake of 9/11 or in the run up to the war on terror.”

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Remember When Trump Jacked Up Oil Prices? Neither Does The Media

Only last week we learned that one Donald J. Trump was, in effect, the Typhoid Mary of the Covid epidemic during the 2020 campaign. What’s more, unlike the original, an Irish-born cook who unknowingly infected whole families in early 20th century New York, Trump had tested positive for Covid, but didn’t bother to warn any of the scores of individuals he came into close contact with before himself being hospitalized.

So was Trump deliberately trying to infect Joe Biden when he arrived at their first presidential debate visibly Ill? Nobody knows. Only that the entire Trump family showed up unmasked in defiance of agreed-upon rules. Five of the six persons who helped Trump rehearse came down with Covid, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who almost died, and who blames Trump for infecting him.

Elsewhere, a 38-page Power Point presentation detailing a crackpot scheme to steal the 2020 presidential election was inadvertently turned over to the House Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who subsequently developed an acute case of “Executive Privilege” lockjaw. The idea was that Trump would declare a National Emergency and seize voting machines on the grounds that Chinese hackers had corrupted them—for which there’s not a particle of evidence.

And what was the big political news story of the week according to our esteemed Washington press corps? Why the rising cost of milk and gasoline, of course. Last week’s announcement of a 6.8 percent increase in inflation over the past year provoked semi-hysterical coverage reinforcing the media narrative that terrible economic conditions had the Biden White House reeling. On her nightly broadcast, CNN’s Erin Burnett was practically feral—talking over guests and treating their explanations with scorn. How could anybody deny that runaway inflation was crushing American families?

On his invaluable PressRun Substack, media critic Eric Boehlert details what he characterizes as a Washington press corps “married to a Biden Doomsday storyline.” Dan Kennedy at Media Nation faults what he calls “the media’s primordial need for balance — for treating Democrats and Republicans as if they are both legitimate actors even though the Democrats, for all their flaws, continue to act as a normal political party while the Republicans have descended into authoritarianism.”

We have seen this movie before; an allegedly even-handed establishment press succumbing to feverish gang coverage of stories that never add up. Remember Hillary’s e-mails? The great “Whitewater” scandal of legend and song? The 2000 “War on Gore?” Selling Saddam Hussein’s non-existent “Weapons of Mass Destruction” as a pretext for invading Iraq would also qualify.

CNN recently found a family it portrayed as driven to near penury by rising milk prices. Supposedly, the cost of a gallon had risen from $1.99 to $2.79 where they live. That’s a forty percent increase. According to the Consumer Price Index, milk has risen four percent over the past year—noticeable, but ten percent of what CNN reported.

This too: The family reported buying 12 gallons a week—enough to bottle-feed several calves. (Granted, it was a large family.) Even so, MarketWatch documented that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, milk hasn’t cost less than $2.00 a gallon since the turn of the century.

CNN’s story had no basis in reality.

Not to be outdone, the New York Times profiled a man in Toms River, N.J. whining about the rising cost of gasoline for—get this—his Cadillac Escalade: “Aldo McCoy, who owns an auto repair shop in Toms River…recalled recently filling his 2003 Cadillac Escalade and seeing the price go above $100, where it used to be $45.”

For the record, a Cadillac Escalade comes advertised as a “full-sized luxury SUV.” Slightly smaller than a school bus, an Escalade retails for around $80,000. So I suspect that McCoy may be laying it on a bit thick when he reports working 15 hours overtime every week to gas up the behemoth.

It’s also true, as The Tines reports, that the notoriously volatile price of gasoline “is $3.41, which is $1.29 more than it was a year ago, according to AAA.” Also that it’s dropping fast as oil-producing nations ramp up production. Me, I paid $2.79 the other day. Your mileage may differ.

So here’s another New York Times story dated April 12, 2020, ancient history, detailing an “unprecedented” agreement between the Trump administration and its pals in Saudi Arabia and Russia, for “the largest [oil] production cut ever negotiated” for the express purpose of driving up prices and increasing energy industry profits.

“Oil prices spike by a record 25% as Trump talks up huge production cuts,” was how CNN headlined the story. Like most Trump schemes, it failed due to the pandemic. Today, however, OPEC is sharply increasing production. Prices are dropping.

But until they do, it’s all Joe Biden’s fault.

Trump Ignored Cyber Defense, But GOP Blames Biden For Pipeline Hack

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Colonial Pipeline announced that its East Coast gas line resumed operations around 5 pm ET on Wednesday evening. But the company cautioned that operations will ramp up for a few days before the line reaches full capacity.

Gas prices are up this week after a hacker attack shut down a major East Coast gas pipeline. Congressional Republicans are blaming the increased prices on President Joe Biden.

On May 8, the Colonial Pipeline Company announced it had been the victim of a cyberattack involving ransomware. The attack forced a shutdown of most of the privately held company's 5,500-mile East Coast pipeline, which ordinarily delivers 45% of the region's fuel and runs from Houston to New York. Panic-buying since the announcement has resulted in gas stations running out of fuel and the highest gas prices in six years.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a group of hackers with ties to Russia is behind the attacks, though there is no evidence they are acting on behalf of any government. The group, DarkSide, has a history of extorting money after hacking into company computer systems in the United States and Europe.

Rather than blame the problems on the group behind the attack or inadequate security at Colonial Pipeline, several Republican lawmakers have blamed the shutdown and the gas price spikes on Biden and cited it as evidence to condemn his presidency.

"Increased taxes, the largest increase in inflation since the '08 Obama jobless economy, and skyrocketing gas, energy, and household goods prices," accusedSen. Todd Young of Indiana on Wednesday. "American workers and families are being pummeled by the Biden economy."

"Highest gas prices in 6 years," tweeted Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma. "Working families cannot afford Joe Biden's America."

"The people of NC-11 are feeling the effects of Biden's utter incompetence as they see gas prices soar and inflation loom," complained Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. "Biden is hurting our people. I will fight for a better life for my neighbors every day. Enough is enough."

"Skyrocketing gas prices," wrote Alabama Rep. Barry Moore. "This is Joe Biden's America."

"Lines around city blocks for a gallon of gas," said Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson. "By any objective measure, Biden's first 100 days have been a disaster."

"In Joe Biden's America you can't get gas or a job," added Colorado Rep. Ken Buck.

"In the 1970's, during the last major gas shortage, Joe Biden was already in government," said Rep. Lauren Boebert, also of Colorado.

While Republican lawmakers are busy tweeting, the Biden administration saysthe attack "has triggered a comprehensive federal response focused on securing critical energy supply chains." This includes creating an interagency response group, temporarily waiving fuel standards, giving emergency safety waivers to those transporting fuel, and providing security guidance for other infrastructure.

Colonial Pipeline Company praised the White House on Tuesday for "leadership and collaboration in resolving this matter."

Ransomware attacks predate Biden's 112-day-old administration, but few, if any, GOP lawmakers attacked Donald Trump for his handling of cybersecurity.

Experts say Trump not only failed to take the problem seriously, but actually made things worse. "Much of the work done … [during the Trump administration] was weakened by a president who didn't prioritize cyber-issues and who, in many cases, actively undercut any actions or messaging against our adversaries," Chris Painter, who coordinated cyber operations at the State Department under President Barack Obama, told the Washington Post in December.

Biden announced Monday that his administration will do everything possible to "disrupt and prosecute ransomware criminals" and "will be pursuing a global effort of ransomware attacks by transnational criminals who often use global money-laundering networks to carry them out."

But, Biden noted, much of the nation's vital infrastructure "is privately owned and managed, like Colonial," and those "private entities are making their own determination on cybersecurity."

The president added, "So to jumpstart greater private-sector investment in cybersecurity, we launched a new public-private initiative in April. It begins with a 100-day sprint to improve cybersecurity in the electric sector, and we'll follow that with similar initiatives in natural gas pipelines, water, and other sectors."

Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee used the exposure by hackers of the vulnerability of one company to claim that America needs another oil pipeline.

"America is facing a gas shortage," Blackburn tweeted on Wednesday. "We need to get the Colonial pipeline back to work, and the Keystone pipeline back to construction."

Unlike the Colonial Pipeline, the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline would not transport oil to Americans; it would be used by a Canadian company to transfer tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Most of that refined oil would then likely be exported overseas.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Iran Nuclear Deal Could Drive Down U.S. Gas Prices

By Ed Felker and Lauren Gardner, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)

WASHINGTON –– The tentative deal designed to limit Iran’s nuclear program led to a quick — though modest — decline in oil prices, raising the possibility that U.S. drivers may enjoy a prolonged break from high gasoline prices and creating an opening for Republican lawmakers to step up efforts to end a ban on exporting domestic oil.

Analysts at Washington-based ClearView Energy Partners noted that lifting economic sanctions against Iran could return as much as 1 million barrels a day to world markets, flows that have been cut off because of the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other western nations.

That new flow could depress world prices by as much as $12 below the $67 per barrel predicted by the end of 2016 by the Energy Information Administration, a forecast that assumed sanctions wouldn’t be lifted.

“We don’t want to belabor the obvious: The Iran deal is bearish for crude,” ClearView said in a note to clients.

EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski in April told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that higher Iran oil exports would either depress world prices by as much as $15 a barrel next year, or cause global production to slow.

The world price of oil is the key driver of U.S. gasoline prices. The national average price for unleaded regular was $2.78 a gallon on Thursday, according to data compiled by AAA.

If the EIA’s predicted average summer price of $2.67 a gallon holds true, it would be the lowest since 2009. The EIA attributed the low prices to the 41 percent decrease in the price of international benchmark Brent crude since last year.

The prospect of prolonged pressure on oil prices comes as U.S. producers seek a relaxation of the ban on most exports of domestic crude.

They have argued that without access to world markets and expected flat demand in the U.S., growth in oil production and direct and indirect industry jobs will level off or decline.

Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said recently the prospect of higher Iran oil exports will put U.S. producers at a “competitive disadvantage,” and that the ban should be lifted.

“As soon as Iran is permitted to export its surplus oil on the world market, why can’t we allow our own companies to do the same with their American-made surplus of crude oil?” he said.

The American Petroleum Institute also called for lifting the ban.

Photo: The Iran deal could mean good news for consumers at the pump. AFP/Justin Sullivan