Biden's Venezuela Capitulation Deepens Energy Policy Incoherence

Posted on Thursday, December 8, 2022
by Outside Contributor

At this point, Joe Biden’s affection toward petroleum-rich dictatorships and hostility toward American energy producers approach fetish status.  

Or, in the inimitable wit of Senator John Kennedy (R – Louisiana), the Biden energy policy amounts to a “moronathon.”  

In the latest episode, the Biden Administration just agreed to lift sanctions on the murderous, terror-sponsoring dictatorship of Venezuela and allow U.S. companies to resume drilling operations there. That reverses years of sanctions beginning in 2006 in response to Venezuelan interference in U.S. counterterrorism and anti-drug efforts, compounded in subsequent years due to human rights abuses and criminal activities.  

That reversal is repugnant enough standing alone. But it’s compounded by the Biden Administration’s treatment of U.S. ally Guyana, which sits just next door to Venezuela. The administration vetoed a loan for drilling Guyana’s far cleaner oil, based on the Treasury Department’s August 2021 guidance seeking to end support for fossil fuels.  

Except for fossil fuels in places like Iran and Venezuela, apparently. Make sense of that.  

The Biden Administration’s malpractice sadly recalls Henry Kissinger’s observation that, “To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be America’s friend is fatal.”  

When asked to justify its energy policy incoherence, the Biden Administration simply reverts to its deceptive and discredited “9,000 unused domestic drilling permits” rationalization. This week, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked National Security Council spokesman John Kirby why Biden would rather encourage U.S. companies to drill for comparatively dirty oil in Venezuela than here in America. Kirby answered, “The president has issued 9,000 permits for drilling on U.S. federal lands, Peter, and 9,000 are being unused. There are plenty of opportunities for oil and gas companies to drill here in the United States.”  

Energy policy specialist David Blackmon labeled that continuing rationalization “gaslighting,” and explained why:  

The taking of a lease, whether on federal or private lands, is a speculative act, an agreement between a lessee and a lessor to allow, for a price, the lessee to test and explore for oil and gas resources for a specific period of time. When a lease is taken, the lessee seldom knows whether economic volumes of oil and gas resources lie beneath the ground. That can only be determined by running seismic and other evaluation methods before then deciding to risk millions in drilling an initial test well.  

In many circumstances, the preliminary tests don’t produce results justifying such an investment… So we see that, just because a company has entered into a lease and then sought to obtain a permit to drill, that doesn’t mean that a well will necessarily be drilled and oil and gas produced from it.  

Moreover, many of those leases preceded the Biden Administration, which has actually leased fewer acres for onshore and offshore oil and gas drilling than any other administration at this stage in history – and it’s not even close. In the first 19 months of their administrations, President Kennedy leased 3.38 million acres, President Johnson leased 1.79 million acres, Nixon leased 1.87 million, Ford leased 10.23 million, Carter leased 11.77 million, Reagan leased 47.58 million, George H. W. Bush leased 17.23 million, Clinton leased 9.69 million, George W. Bush leased 12.74 million, Obama leased 7.25 million and Trump leased 4.4 million.  

And Joe Biden?  He has leased a miniscule 0.13 million, less than one-tenth the number of his closest competitor Lyndon Johnson.  

Accordingly, the Biden Administration’s repeated citation to 9,000 unused leases to portray itself as pro-domestic energy is the height of dishonesty.  

Meanwhile, American consumers continue to pay the high price of the Biden Administration’s energy policy debacles. This week, the U.S. retail gas price stood at $3.65 per gallon, versus just $2.39 on the day Biden took office in January 2021.  

In additional ominous news, the price of diesel fuel is up 50% since just last year, threatening American consumers as the holiday season approaches. Because ships, trains, trucks, tractors and other farm equipment run on diesel fuel, that translates to higher costs for gifts, food and other holiday goods and services.  

The Biden Administration’s indefensible energy agenda punishes American consumers, cripples our domestic energy industry, undermines jobs in that sector and strengthens hostile dictatorships like Venezuela and Iran. Stuck with a new Republican House, public discontent and Senate Democrats facing a particularly challenging 2024 landscape, the administration may soon discover that there’s a limit to tolerance of its mismanagement.