Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Joseph Curl.
Back in March, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, gasoline prices in the U.S. began to soar.
Make no mistake, though. Prices were already rising quickly. When President Joe Biden took office on Jan. 20, 2021, the average cost for a gallon of regular gas cost $2.38. By the time Putin invaded, it cost $3.53.
So Putin wasn't to blame for that - even though Biden has long called skyrocketing costs at the pump "Putin's price hike."
By the end of March, a gallon cost $4.23. That's when Biden decided to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), America's massive reserve set aside for emergencies.
Congress created the SPR in 1975, not long after Americans suffered through gas shortages and long lines at the pump as a result of the 1973 embargo by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The law was designed "to reduce the impact of severe energy supply interruptions,"
either by embargos or natural disasters, Forbes reported.
Biden authorized the release of 125 million barrels of oil (the reserves can hold more than 700 million barrels). But the United States consumes about 20 million barrels per day - so Biden's release wouldn't last long.
Prices kept going up - $4.23 per gallon by the end of March - then leveled off a bit, running just above $4 for about five weeks. Then it started all over again: $4.62 by the end of May and an even $5.00 in mid-June.
Then prices, as prices do, began to fall again, dropping to $4.33 by the end of July. Biden took a victory lap, releasing a White House statement saying the Treasury Department "estimates that Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases by President Biden and international partners reduced the price of gasoline by up to 40 cents per gallon."
"I've been working to make sure that when the price of oil comes down, the price at the pump comes down as well and comes down in real time,"
Biden said then, noting that pump prices had "fallen every day this summer for 38 days in a row."
Economists, though, said the SPR release wasn't the reason for falling prices. Prices had gotten so high that consumers stopped consuming. "But the main reason for the fall is the decline in oil prices,"
CNBC reported in August. "Crude is the single largest factor influencing gas prices, accounting for more than 50% of what we pay at the pump."
After 99 days of falling prices, they started going up again. So on Tuesday, reporters asked White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about it all.
"You've said the president was responsible for gas prices coming down. Is the president responsible for gas prices going up?"
a reporter asked.
"So, it's a lot more nuanced than that,"
Jean-Pierre said. "You know this. There have been global challenges that we have all have dealt with. When I say 'all,' meaning other countries as well have dealt with since the pandemic. There's been pandemic and there's been Putin's war. And Putin's war has increased gas prices at the pump. We have seen that over the la- - past several months,"
And there you have it. Biden will take the credit, but not the blame.
Prices are expected to continue rising - the nationwide average price of gasoline increased Tuesday for the 14th consecutive day, hitting $3.81 per gallon.
One reason: "Major petroleum refinery snags and policies disincentivizing more fossil fuel production or nationwide refinery capacity have contributed to the price uptick,"
analysts told Fox News.
Fox reported that "U.S. refiners are churning out about 90% of their total operable capacity, according to the most recent data from the Energy Information Administration. That figure is down from the roughly 95% utilization rate recorded in June."
Over the last couple of weeks, as prices began to rise again - one region has seen a 60-cent jump - Biden began to blame oil companies, even though he had taken credit for falling prices.
"Oil and gas companies are still making record profits, billions of dollars in profits,"
Biden said at a meeting with the White House Competition Council in September.
"My message is simple. To the companies running gas stations and setting those prices at the pump: Bring down prices you're charging at the pump to reflect the price you're paying for the product. Do it now."
The Biden administration has gone so far as to tell U.S. refiners they should limit fuel exports, according to a letter Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm sent to seven big refiners obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
"Given the historic level of U.S. refined product exports, I again urge you to focus in the near term on building inventories in the United States, rather than selling down current stocks and further increasing exports,"
Granholm wrote in a letter to seven American refiners in August.
But refiners fired back. "Banning or limiting the export of refined products would likely decrease inventory levels, reduce domestic refining capacity, put upward pressure on consumer fuel prices, and alienate U.S. allies during a time of war,"
the industry leaders wrote in response to Granholm.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, ripped Biden for demanding oil companies increase refining capacity while also saying it wants to end fossil fuel and go to electric vehicles (EVs).
"The White House is basically picking a winner,"
De Haan told Fox. "It's picking EVs and it's picking a loser: fossil fuels. What oil company is going to invest billions of dollars in building a new refinery? In this climate, it would be foolish."
"Talk about doublespeak. 'We need to build more and we're going to shut you down in 10 years.' That confusion is not going to build confidence in oil companies to say, 'Hey, you know what, we'll expand our refinery by 100-.' No, nobody's going to do that,"
But wait, there's more. The SPR has now been drained from 640 million barrels to 450 million barrels - the lowest since 1984.
Biden also stopped a lot of the progress of oil production that was being made in the U.S.
"Consider that in 2005, the U.S. imported 10.1 million barrels per day (BPD) of crude oil, of which 4.8 million BPD (
48%) came from OPEC. The SPR contained 685 million barrels. With the U.S. importing 10.1 million BPD of crude oil at that time, that was enough oil to cover 68 days of supply,"
"In 2021, the U.S. imported 6.1 million BPD, of which only 800,000 BPD came from OPEC. More importantly, a lot of that imported oil was refined and re-exported as finished products. Net imports of U.S. crude oil and finished products were actually -62,000 BPD (i.e., the U.S. was a net exporter)."
But U.S. imports are on the rise. "U.S. Gulf Coast crude imports rose last week to the highest since September 2021, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed,"
one report said in September.
And in one of his first official acts in office, Biden killed the Keystone XL Pipeline, which was estimated after completion to transport 830,000 barrels of Alberta tar sands oil per day from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
"Killing 10,000 jobs and taking $2.2 billion in payroll out of workers' pockets is not what Americans need or want right now,"
Andy Black, president and CEO of the Association of Oil Pipelines, said on Jan. 20, 2021.
In the end, Biden deserves none of the credit - but all of the blame - for soaring prices at the pumps.
The views expressed in this piece are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.