Just a day after not exactly apologizing to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin for promising a San Diego audience to replace coal fired power plants with wind farms, President Joe Biden turned to promising a New York audience to shut down drilling for oil instead.
Stumping for embattled New York Gov. Kathy Hochul at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers Sunday, the President responded to a shouted question from an audience member about his longstanding promises to shut down fracking and new drilling on federal lands and waters by saying “no more drilling…there is no more drilling…I haven’t formed any new drilling.”
When the questioner persisted by pointing out there has been new drilling in federal lands and waters in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico during his presidency, Biden said, “That was before I was president. We’re trying to work on that to get that done.”
While any U.S. president can be excused for not knowing every detail of what is happening in his or her administration, neither response was in fact accurate. The Biden administration has not just approved more drilling for oil and gas on federal lands and waters, it has boasted about how many new permits it has issued for such operations whenever the moment was convenient for its purposes, including a recent claim it has issued 9,000 new drilling permits during its 22 months in office.
But the President’s responses to these questions, while not accurate, do betray his mindset on the matter, which he has expressed repeatedly from the beginning of his presidential campaign in mid-2019. Simply put, the regulatory and legislative agenda of the Biden administration has pushed to restrict and, where possible, eliminate drilling for oil and natural gas in the United States.
But Biden is not above slamming oil companies for not drilling enough wells whenever the moment moves him, either. Just days ago, on October 31, the President accused “big oil” companies of war-time profiteering and threatened to impose a new windfall profits tax on them if they do not increase their pace of drilling new wells. That harangue came within a few days of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm reaching out to refining companies with what were described as “cordial” phone calls promising to work collaboratively with them to find ways to increase their output of diesel fuel.
If executives at these companies sometimes appear to be suffering from a case of whiplash, it should come as no surprise.
In his Saturday statement chastising Biden for his attacks on the coal industry, Senator Manchin complained, “Comments like these are the reason the American people are losing trust in President Biden. … It seems his positions change daily depending on the audience and politics of the day.”
Who knew that the President would make Manchin’s point for him just a day later in his latest attack on the domestic oil industry? If the constant confusion and upset caused by this rudderless administration weren’t so damaging to U.S. consumers and the country’s energy security, it would all be amusing.