The White House hasn’t considered boosting domestic oil production as it scrambles to think up solutions to address record gasoline prices, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Senior administration officials have mulled issuing millions of fuel rebate cards and invoking Cold War powers to prevent supply shortages, people familiar with internal discussions, who were granted anonymity to discuss private conversations, told WaPo. However, the high-level discussions appeared to leave out any policy that would incentivize greater oil drilling activity or lead to more federal lease sales.
“Not only is there not an extant solution, but nobody thinks there’s going to be a compelling solution,” an economic expert who the White House has consulted told WaPo. “They’re fighting about narrative rather than fighting about substance, because realistically, what are they going to do?”
The average price of gasoline nationwide hit a record of $5.02 per gallon on Tuesday while the average price of diesel fuel reached its own all-time high of $5.80 a gallon Friday, according to AAA data.
In addition, Biden administration officials have considered asking state governors to lower or waive gas taxes, according to WaPo. The White House is reportedly debating a federal gas tax holiday, a move that would ease gasoline prices by 18 cents a gallon and diesel prices by 24 cents per gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
White House officials are also considering a ban on fuel exports to combat the high prices, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
Domestic producers shipped 864,000 barrels of motor gasoline per day abroad in March, EIA data showed. However, the U.S. exported a whopping 1.1 million barrels of gasoline a day in November 2017 when pump prices hovered near $2.50 per gallon, or 50% lower than the current level.
President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has waged a war on fossil fuels, nixing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ditching a major oil drilling project in Alaska, attempting to ban new drilling leases on federal lands and making it harder for utilities to gain approval for natural gas projects. The Biden administration has also canceled all remaining offshore oil and gas lease sales while placing tight restrictions on future onshore lease sales.
To address gas prices, though, Biden has instead opted to order multiple large emergency oil stockpile releases and scrap renewable fuel rules. The actions have had a muted impact on gasoline and oil prices.
On Tuesday, Biden sent a letter to seven major oil companies, threatening action if they didn’t boost refining efforts. But refineries are churning out fuel at their highest rate in years, June data from the EIA showed.
“Refiners do not make multi-billion-dollar investments based on short-term returns,” two fossil fuel industry groups said in a letter Wednesday responding to Biden’s threats. “They look at long-term supply and demand fundamentals and make investments as appropriate.”
“To that end, following on your campaign promise to ‘end fossil fuel,’ consider just some of the policy and investment signals being sent by various federal agencies and allied state governments to the market about our refining industry,” they continued.
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