Energy information chief blames market for high fuel prices
The head of the Energy Information Administration (EIA) testified Tuesday that market forces, rather than specific policies taken by the Biden administration, were to blame for high fuel prices. The remarks by Stephen Nalley, acting administrator of EIA, came during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. "World consumption of petroleum is recovering faster than production, which is resulting in steady draws on global oil inventories and upward pressure on prices," Nalley said, in his opening remarks. The EIA is considered a nonpolitical statistics agency within the Energy Department.
Former President Donald Trump has been attacking President Joe Biden over this year's increase in gas prices -- and greatly exaggerating the size of that increase. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images A customer pumps gas into his vehicle at a Shell station on November 22, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
In a Fox News interview that aired on Sunday, Trump said, "Look, when I left, gasoline was $1.87. That was a year ago. And now, it's I guess just hit $7.50 in California, the rest to follow..."
In another Fox News interview that aired on Tuesday, Trump claimed the increase was even bigger: "Gas was at -- gasoline, $1.83 or $1.86 when I left, a gallon. And now it's at $7.70 in California, in different places in California, and it's heading that way everywhere."
Daily on Energy: Biden Gulf of Mexico drilling lease auction generates big interest
Subscribe today to the Washington Examiner magazine and get Washington Briefing: politics and policy stories that will keep you up to date with what's going on in Washington. SUBSCRIBE NOW: Just $1.00 an issue! © Provided by Washington Examiner DOE Newsletter Default 11-2021 AN EAGERLY AWAITED AUCTION: President Joe Biden can do no right when it comes to grappling with high energy prices. Republicans are blaming Biden’s policies, including his pause on new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, while giving him no credit for restarting auctions, rather than doing more to fight a court order.
Facts First: Both of Trump's claims about gas prices at the time he left office were off by more than 50 cents per gallon. The national average for regular gas on his last day in office, January 20, was $2.393 per gallon, not $1.83, $1.86 or $1.87, according to data provided to CNN by the American Automobile Association. And while there is a remote California station where gas prices have exceeded $7.50 this fall, it's misleading to cite any one station as the figure for "California," as Trump appeared to do on Sunday -- especially because this station has been known for years as one of the most expensive in the country. The average gas price in California was $4.704 on Sunday and $4.705 on Tuesday, according to AAA data. That was the highest average for any state, but it was far from Trump's claims of $7.50 and $7.70.
Gas prices hit record high in California
Gas prices in California reached an all-time high on Monday as the average cost of a regular gallon hit $4.68. The prices of gas rose in several California counties. In Los Angeles County, the average price was $4.67, nearing a record set nine years ago, while Orange County prices spiked to an average of $4.64, according to The Los Angeles Times. Doug Shupe, spokesman for the American Automobile Association (AAA) of Southern California, attributed the price hikes to higher crude oil costs and an increased demand for fuel, the Times reported.
In the interview that aired on Sunday, Trump said that gas was selling for $1.87 both "when I left" and "a year ago." In context, the "a year ago" very much seemed to still be referring to prices at the time he left office, which was actually 10 months ago. But for the record, he would have been incorrect even if he was talking about prices a full year prior to the interview's air date. The national average gas price was $2.113 per gallon on November 21, 2020, according to AAA.
A big increase, but smaller than Trump claims
There's no doubt that gas prices have spiked internationally, nationally and in California in 2021. The increases have been driven by a complex array of global economic factors, notably including increases in the price of crude oil.
California gas prices have hit a series of record highs in November, most recently on Monday. National gas prices -- an average of $3.403 per gallon on Tuesday, according to AAA -- are currently the highest since 2014 overall and the highest since 2012 for a Thanksgiving holiday period, AAA spokesperson Ellen Edmonds told CNN on Wednesday.
Poll: Rising prices take toll on Americans' wallets, and Biden's numbers
The president is also facing criticism on his handling of immigration.Meanwhile, in Washington, although President Biden was able to tout the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill that draws majority backing from Americans, it is inflation and the economy that are on the minds of Americans as the main measures of what they say they're using to judge him right now.
So drivers have felt real pain during the Biden era. Still, the starting prices Trump used for Biden's term -- $1.83, $1.86 and $1.87 -- were all at least 52 cents per gallon too low.
And it's obviously invalid to compare any previous national average price to the recent price at a single station, particularly an infamously prohibitive one like the coastal California station that received media and social media attention over its October prices of $7.599 per gallon for regular and $8.499 per gallon for premium. (The man who answered the phone at the station on Wednesday afternoon said the current price was $6.80 for regular.) Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN on Wednesday that pricing at this station in the community of Gorda "likely is the highest in the country."
It's also worth noting that prices at the Gorda station at least sometimes exceeded $6.50 per gallon for regular under Trump. That happened in May 2019, according to a local news report at the time, and in June 2020 and October 2020, according to De Haan on Wednesday.
Fact check: Dominion Voting Systems did not lose its lawsuits against Giuliani and Powell
Claims on social media that Dominion Voting Systems lost its defamation lawsuits against former Trump lawyers Giuliani and Powell are still false.Conspiracy theories and false claims targeting Dominion, a private company supplying voting systems in 28 states, were repeatedly promoted on social media and on One America News Network and Newsmax, conservative television networks who are also accused of spreading misinformation in lawsuits filed by the company.
A strategic release
Facing political pressure over the high gas prices around the country, the White House announced Tuesday that the federal government would release 50 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a coordinated move with other major countries. The US release is its largest on record.
Biden said in a Tuesday speech that while "our combined actions will not solve the problem of high gas prices overnight, it will make a difference."
"It will take time, but, before long, you should see the price of gas drop where you fill up your tank. And in the longer term, we will reduce our reliance on oil as we shift to clean energy," Biden said.
It's not clear, however, how much the oil releases might actually lower gas prices at US pumps. CNN Business reporter Matt Egan explored the complexities of the situation in an analysis you can read here.
In shadow of Texas gas drilling sites, health fears escalate .
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — At a playground outside a North Texas day care center, giggling preschoolers chase each other into a playhouse. Toddlers scoot by on tricycles. A boy cries as a teacher helps him negotiate over a toy. Uphill from the playground, peeking between trees, is a site where Total Energies is pumping for natural gas. The French energy giant wants to drill three new wells on the property next to Mother's Heart Learning Center,Uphill from the playground, peeking between trees, is a site where Total Energies is pumping for natural gas. The French energy giant wants to drill three new wells on the property next to Mother's Heart Learning Center, which serves mainly Black and Latino children.