Biden’s Energy Policies Have Americans Bracing For An Expensive Summer Punctuated By Blackouts

After Campaigning On Ending Fossil Fuels, President Biden Has Spent A Year Implementing Policies That Have Made Energy Prices Skyrocket, With The Price Of Gas Doubling And Electricity Rates Predicted To ‘Rise By As Much As 233 Percent,’ Even As Utilities Warn Of More Blackouts From Decreased Generating Capacity


SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “In 2019, while running for the White House, President Biden made a public promise: ‘I guarantee you we’re going to end fossil fuels.’ Once in office, he wasted no time starting down that path. And working families are paying the price…. here are the headlines more recently. From a few weeks ago: ‘Biden Pulls 3 Offshore Oil Lease Sales, Curbing New Drilling This Year.’ And from just this past week: ‘Biden EPA to Make It Easier for States to Block Fossil Fuel Projects.’ So even if oil and gas producers could get past the Biden regulatory gauntlet to actually explore and produce in this country, they likely could not get a pipeline approved to move it to market. President Biden is delivering the holy war on American domestic energy that he promised on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, energy costs and gas prices for American families have absolutely skyrocketed. Gas prices have literally doubled since this Administration took office. The average price at the pump has doubled.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/07/2022)

  • LEADER McCONNELL: “Prices for natural gas and other home heating sources were likewise elevated all last winter. And don’t count on the warmer months bringing much relief. Here’s what the New York Times wrote about a month ago: ‘Get Ready for Another Energy Price Spike: High Electric Bills.’ ‘Already frustrated and angry about high gasoline prices, many Americans are being hit by rapidly rising electricity bills… the biggest annual increase in more than a decade.’ According to another report, ‘the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission predicts electricity prices could rise by as much as 233 percent over last summer’s power prices.’ And electricity costs aren’t the only problem. There is also reliability. According to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, Americans, particularly in the West and Midwest, should brace for potentially dangerous electricity blackouts this summer. Once again, you can credit Democrats’ war on fossil fuels. It retired too many fossil-fuel-powered electricity generators too quickly, while replacing them with big subsidies for less reliable sources of power. A few days ago, President Biden said soaring gas prices were just part of, ‘an incredible transition’ that will leave us ‘less reliant on fossil fuels.’ Did you hear that, American workers? Democrats say your financial pain is the necessary cost to make America more to the liking of the radical environmental left.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/07/2022)
  • LEADER McCONNELL: “[T]his doesn’t have to be this hard. The American people know exactly what we need: An all-American domestic energy strategy. Crude oil responsibly drilled in America, natural gas responsibly fracked in America, and more minerals and high-tech components responsibly mined in America. Democrats have a different plan: Less production and higher prices. And Americans are paying for it every day.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/07/2022)

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, Senate Energy And Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member: “Gas prices today on average $4.92 a gallon. That's $0.30 higher a gallon than when we were here two weeks ago. And Joe Biden has an opportunity to try to make things different for all of these people who are having to cancel summer plans, make changes in their life. But he's not doing it. Not at all. Tragically, he's refusing to take the steps needed to help the American people. He is so wedded to the climate extremists that he won't even mention the ideas of drilling for oil and gas in the United States. Instead, he wants to use the Defense Production Act for -- what does he want to use it for? Not for pipelines, not for more oil and gas exploration, but for solar panels. Solar panels when the price of gas is approaching five dollars a gallon.” (Sen. Barrasso, Press Conference, 6/07/2022)

  • SEN. BARRASSO: “American consumers are suffering significantly. The administration doesn’t seem to care very much about what the impact is on American  families who are trying to buy gasoline and at the same time buy groceries and at the same time send kids to school and buy clothing and maybe consider something they’d like to do for the summer. The gasoline prices that are the result of the administration’s activities, specifically the Department of the Interior’s activities…. No department plays a more critical role in enabling or undermining American energy production. It seems today that this department is undermining American energy production…. During this energy crisis, when the department could be opening up abundant American oil and gas reserves, the Department of the Interior has done everything possible to shut them down. The president says he wants his administration to encourage more American energy. Instead [the Interior] department stalls, postpones, and kills oil and natural gas lease sales. [The] department is undermining domestic energy production – not expediting it.” (U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing, 5/19/2022)


President Biden And His Advisors Came In To Office Pledging To Curtail Affordable Fossil Fuel Production In The United States, And They Have Proceeded To Do Just That

Biden: ‘I Guarantee You. We’re Going To End Fossil Fuel’

JOE BIDEN: “I want you to look at my eyes. I guarantee you. I guarantee you. We’re going to end fossil fuel.” (“In Intimate Moment, Biden Vows To ‘End Fossil Fuel’,” The Associated Press, 9/06/2019)

“As a candidate, Mr. Biden promised to stop issuing new leases for drilling on public lands. ‘And by the way, no more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period,’ Mr. Biden told voters in New Hampshire in February 2020.” (“Interior Dept. Report On Drilling Is Mostly Silent On Climate Change,” The New York Times, 11/26/2021)

Biden Administration Officials: ‘President Biden Remains Absolutely Committed To Not Moving Forward With Additional Drilling On Public Lands’

WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL CLIMATE ADVISOR GINA McCARTHY: President Biden remains absolutely committed to not moving forward with additional drilling on public lands. The challenge that we faced was that we had a court that ordered a new lease to be done. The Department of Energy had no choice but to put it out. But they also found ways to reduce the size of that and its impact. And we’ll keep doing what we need to do to appeal those decisions and to make our case in a court.” (MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson Reports , 4/20/2022)

THEN-WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JEN PSAKI: “Well, let me first say that today’s action … was the result of a court injunction that we continue to appeal.  And it’s not in line with the President’s policy, which was to ban additional leasing … I would just note that we are going to continue to fight this court injunction that is forcing our hand in allowing this to proceed, even as we have taken actions to reduce by 80 percent the areas to lease and impose stringent environmental standards…. [A]gain, these leases are not in line with our policy or the President’s view.” (White House Press Briefing, 4/18/2022)

Biden’s Interior Secretary: ‘If I Had My Way, It’d Be Great To Stop All Oil And Gas Leasing On Federal Lands’

NOW-INTERIOR SECRETARY DEB HAALAND: “Sure, if I had my way, it’d be great to stop all oil and gas leasing on federal lands, because those lands belong to all of us.” (“What Biden’s Interior Pick Means For Oil And Gas,” E&E News, 12/18/2020)


Last Month, The Biden Administration Canceled More Oil And Gas Lease Sales, ‘Curbing New Drilling This Year’

“The Interior Department confirmed Wednesday that it will not hold three oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska that had been scheduled to take place, taking millions of acres off the auction block. The decision, which comes as U.S. gas prices have reached record highs, effectively ends the possibility of the federal government holding a lease sale in coastal waters this year. The Biden administration is poised to let the nationwide offshore drilling program expire [in June] without a new plan in place. While President Biden has spoken in recent weeks about the need to supply oil and gas to Europe so those nations can stop importing energy from Russia in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine, the move would mark a victory for climate activists intent on curbing U.S. fossil fuel leasing.” (“Biden Pulls 3 Offshore Oil Lease Sales, Curbing New Drilling This Year,” The Washington Post, 5/11/2022)

“Barring unexpected action, the current five-year offshore drilling program will lapse at the end of June. Interior cannot hold any new oil and gas lease sales until it has completed a replacement plan. But though the federal government is legally obligated to prepare one, the administration has not released its proposal, nor have officials said when it might be coming. The program’s looming expiration means the government doesn’t have enough time left to hold the three remaining oil and gas lease sales scheduled under the current plan.” (“Biden Pulls 3 Offshore Oil Lease Sales, Curbing New Drilling This Year,” The Washington Post, 5/11/2022)


Even If The Administration Was Allowing New Energy Exploration, Last Week The Biden EPA Moved To Allow ‘States And Tribes To Veto Gas Pipelines, Coal Terminals And Other Energy Projects’

“The Biden administration … will move to restore authority to states and tribes to veto gas pipelines, coal terminals and other energy projects ... Without their certification, the federal government cannot approve a project.” (“E.P.A., Reversing Trump, Will Restore States’ Power to Block Pipelines,” The New York Times, 6/02/2022)


Gas Prices Have Doubled Since President Biden Was Sworn Into Office

“Gas prices have more than doubled under President Biden's administration. Since Biden took office in January 2021, the price for a gallon of gas has doubled. On Jan. 20, 2021, the average price for a gallon of gas nationwide was approximately $2.39. As of Saturday, the price for a gallon of gas has skyrocketed to $4.81, up five cents from Friday, according to AAA.” (“National Gas Prices Have Doubled Since Biden Took Office,” Fox Business, 6/04/2022)

‘In 10 States, A Gallon Of Gas Now Costs More Than $5’

“U.S. gas prices hit a new record on Monday, with a gallon of regular gas costing an average of $4.865 (not adjusting for inflation), according to the most recent data from AAA. The highest average price — $6.34 — is in California, but 10 states have now surpassed the $5 mark. The higher prices hit hard in the past week, when Americans hit roads and highways for the Memorial Day holiday travel.” (“In 10 States, A Gallon Of Gas Now Costs More Than $5,” NPR, 6/06/2022)


‘Already Frustrated And Angry About High Gasoline Prices, Many Americans Are Being Hit By Rapidly Rising Electricity Bills … The Higher Rates Will Leave Many People Paying A Lot More For Power This Summer’

“Already frustrated and angry about high gasoline prices, many Americans are being hit by rapidly rising electricity bills, compounding inflation’s financial toll on people and businesses. The national average residential electricity rate was up 8 percent in January from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase in more than a decade. The latest figures, from February, show an almost 4 percent annual rise, reaching the highest level for that month and approaching summer rates, which are generally the most expensive. In Florida, Hawaii, Illinois and New York, rates are up about 15 percent, according to the Energy Department’s latest figures. Combined with a seasonal increase in the use of electricity as people turn on air-conditioners, the higher rates will leave many people paying a lot more for power this summer than they did last year.” (“Get Ready for Another Energy Price Spike: High Electric Bills,” The New York Times, 5/03/2022)


In Addition To Higher Electricity Prices, Americans From New England And The Midwest To Texas And The Southwest, And Of Course, California, Could Suffer From ‘Potentially Dangerous And Costly Blackouts This Summer’

“The nation’s power grid is under stress like never before, with regulators warning that the kind of rolling outages that are now familiar to California and Texas could be far more widespread as hot summer weather arrives. A large swath of the Midwest that has enjoyed stable electricity for decades is now wrestling with forecasts that it lacks the power needed to get through a heat wave. The regional grid is short the amount of energy needed to power 3.7 million homes. New Mexico’s attorney general is preparing for ‘worst case scenarios’ after a regional utility warned of possible blackouts. North Dakota regulators advised the state to be ready for rolling outages, Arkansas officials are preparing emergency energy conservation measures, and power companies in Arizona are already sounding alarms about next year.” (“A Summer Of Blackouts? Wheezing Power Grid Leaves States At Risk.,” The Washington Post, 6/02/2022)

  • “Southern Illinois is among the most vulnerable places in the country heading into the summer, according to a newly published forecast by the North American Electric Reliability Corp., a regulatory authority that monitors risks to the grid. The area, along with large parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and other states linked to the regional grid, has been put on notice in the forecast that it is facing a ‘high risk of energy emergencies during peak summer conditions.’” (“A Summer Of Blackouts? Wheezing Power Grid Leaves States At Risk.,” The Washington Post, 6/02/2022)
  • “Some political leaders and utilities in the Midwest are assuring residents that their connections to neighboring grids can provide a backup of energy to avoid blackouts if the Midcontinent system gets overstressed. But energy experts warn those power transfers may not be available in the event of a prolonged heat wave that stretches across many states, as California learned when part of its grid became overwhelmed in the summer of 2020. ‘They were counting on transfers,’ Robb said. ‘But it was hot in Seattle, in Vancouver, in Portland. It was hot everywhere. Nobody had extra power to give.’ California has already put its residents on notice that a similar scenario could play out again this summer. State forecasts show that during peak summer periods, California will be short about the amount of electricity it takes to power 1.3 million homes.” (“A Summer Of Blackouts? Wheezing Power Grid Leaves States At Risk.,” The Washington Post, 6/02/2022)

‘A Major Reason Is That Some Of The Coal Plants That Regulators Assumed Would Keep Running For Another Year Or Two Are Instead Coming Offline. Some Plant Operators Are Choosing To Shut Down Rather Than Invest In Upgrades For Coal Plants That Do Not Fit With States’ And The Federal Government’s Long-Term Goals For Clean Energy’

A major reason is that some of the coal plants that regulators assumed would keep running for another year or two are instead coming offline. Some plant operators are choosing to shut down rather than invest in upgrades for coal plants that do not fit with states’ and the federal government’s long-term goals for clean energy. ‘We are seeing these retirements occur at a faster pace than expected,’ said Jim Robb, chief executive of the regulatory authority. ‘The economics aren’t great, so coal plant operators are saying ‘uncle.’’” (“A Summer Of Blackouts? Wheezing Power Grid Leaves States At Risk.,” The Washington Post, 6/02/2022)

“Texas, the West and Midwest are bracing for potentially dangerous and costly blackouts this summer due to extreme weather and volatile gas prices … In the Midwest, early coal plant retirements and a lack of replacement power threaten to create a precarious gap between supply and demand as temperatures rise going into June. And aging coal and gas-fired plants across the West risk being forced to reduce their output or shut down entirely as extreme heat and drought conditions threaten their access to water and disrupt required maintenance. Meanwhile, natural gas prices are expected to skyrocket. Coupled with high demand for power as temperatures spike, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission predicts electricity prices could rise by as much as 233 percent over last summer’s power prices.” (“Spiking Temperatures Could Cause More Blackouts This Summer. They Won't Be The Last.,” Politico, 5/31/2022)

“Residents of Massachusetts and other New England states have long endured some of the highest electricity rates in the country. Then in January, rates jumped again. And government forecasters say summer temperatures in the Northeast will be far above normal. Natural gas sells for about two to three times as much as it did two or three years ago, when a glut sent prices tumbling. New England faces an additional challenge: It does not have enough pipeline capacity to import the fuel from producers like Texas or Pennsylvania.” (“Get Ready for Another Energy Price Spike: High Electric Bills,” The New York Times, 5/03/2022)


‘The U.S. Aims To Electrify More High-Emitting Sectors Of The Economy,’ Encouraging A Switch To Heat Pumps And Electric Vehicles, Which ‘Place New Demands On The Electricity Network’

“This summer’s anticipated tight grid conditions are just the tip of the iceberg as … the U.S. aims to electrify more high-emitting sectors of the economy — eventually leading to even more demand on the aging power system.” (“Spiking Temperatures Could Cause More Blackouts This Summer. They Won't Be The Last.,” Politico, 5/31/2022)

“Some cities and towns in Massachusetts are trying to rely less on gas, including by seeking to ban its use in new buildings. Local and state officials want builders, homeowners and businesses to switch to greener technologies like heat pumps, which operate on electricity, rather than a furnace powered by natural gas or oil. Massachusetts is also encouraging people to buy electric cars to reduce gasoline use. While those technologies use less energy than furnaces and gasoline cars, they place new demands on the electricity network, forcing utilities to build more wind and solar farms and power lines, Mr. van Welie said. ‘You’re putting more and more of your eggs in the same basket, which is the grid,’ he said.” (“Get Ready for Another Energy Price Spike: High Electric Bills,” The New York Times, 5/03/2022)


Yet Generating Capacity Keeps Declining Even As Demand Increases Because Energy Producers Are ‘Retiring Existing Fossil Fuel Units More Quickly’ Than New Technologies Become Available, Leading To A Greater Risk Of Blackouts

“While waiting for new technologies such as battery storage to become commercially available, the system continues to add intermittent renewable generation to its fleet, but it is retiring existing fossil fuel units more quickly, [John] Bear [CEO of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator] said during a press briefing earlier [in May] hosted by the U.S. Energy Association.” (“Spiking Temperatures Could Cause More Blackouts This Summer. They Won't Be The Last.,” Politico, 5/31/2022)

“The Midwest region that he oversees faces the highest risk of reliability issues this summer, according to a recent report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation…. MISO will have 3.2 gigawatts less power capacity than it had in the summer of 2021 due in large part to retiring coal plants, according to NERC. The region is also expected to experience a slight uptick in demand, putting it at a higher risk than other regions of rolling blackouts this summer if temperatures spike or generators unexpectedly trip offline, according to the report.” (“Spiking Temperatures Could Cause More Blackouts This Summer. They Won't Be The Last.,” Politico, 5/31/2022)


In The Wake Of Biden Policies That Are Crushing Americans With High Energy Prices, Biden Administration Officials Are Now Throwing Up Their Hands, Declaring, ‘There Isn't Very Much More To Be Done,’ Never Once Considering Changing Any Of Their Energy Policies

CNN’s KATE BOLDUAN: “What is actually still on the table, though, to bring gas prices down at this point? Because the president has said and made very clear that there's not much left that he can do.”
COMMERCE SECRETARY GINA RAIMONDO: “Yes, good morning. Thank you for having me. Unfortunately, that is the brutal reality. You know, this is, in large part, caused by Putin's aggression. You know, since Putin moved troops to the border of Ukraine, gas prices have gone up over $1.40 a gallon. And the president is asking for Congress and others for potential ideas. But as you say, the reality is that there isn't very much more to be done.” (CNN, 6/07/2022)

TREASURY SECRETARY JANET YELLEN: “With respect to energy, the administration has done everything that they can to bring down energy costs, for example, through an historic release of a million barrels a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and energy prices, gas prices, while very high, have risen a lot. They would be higher without that.” (U.S. Senate Finance Committee Hearing, 6/07/2022)



Related Issues: Energy, Inflation