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Politics: White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season

Energy information chief blames market for high fuel prices

  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.

The White House is pulling out various stops in an effort to get gas prices under control at the start of what is expected to be a busy holiday travel season.

White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season © Associated Press/Evan Vucci White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season

The administration is tapping into the strategic petroleum reserve and President Biden has called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether oil companies are responsible for increased prices.

But the focus on gas prices has provided fuel for Republican attacks on Biden's handling of the economy, and his energy policies in particular, at a time when the White House is hoping to rally support for ambitious climate goals in its roughly $2 trillion spending plan.

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  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.

AAA predicted this month that 53.4 million people will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, a 13 percent increase from 2020 when many Americans opted not to travel with coronavirus cases and deaths surging around the country.

The busy travel season to come has put a spotlight on gas prices in particular amid broader concerns about inflation, something the White House has attempted to show it has under control.

"Obviously, the president does not control the price of gasoline -- no president does," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters on Tuesday. "But what we're seeing right now is this global mismatch between supply and demand. Oil production is lagging behind as the rest of the economy roars back to life after the shutdown."

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  Fact check: Minority leader Kevin McCarthy made false claims in marathon House speech House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy gave the longest House floor speech in US history on Thursday night and Friday morning -- an 8-hour, 32-minute address that delayed the passage of a $1.9 trillion Democratic bill to expand the social safety net and fight the climate crisis. © House Television/AP In this image from House Television, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks on the House floor during debate on the Democrats' expansive social and environment bill at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Washington. (House Television via AP) The House passed the bill on Friday morning.

"So, we, in this administration, are leaving no stone unturned as we examine the market to figure out what's behind the high prices," she said.

The White House has shown more urgency in recent weeks in publicly messaging how it is trying to provide relief for Americans grappling with inflation, particularly after the Labor Department released statistics showing consumer prices grew far faster than expected in October and that annual inflation had hit a 30-year high. That rise was in part a result of rising energy costs, and increased costs at the gas pump.

Biden last week wrote to the Federal Trade Commission requesting the agency look into whether oil companies were unfairly spiking prices at the pump.

And on Tuesday, the administration announced it would release 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve in coordination with several other countries in an effort to match supply with demand.

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  Biden mum on Line 5 dispute between Canada and top Michigan Democrat President Joe Biden faces pressure to fulfill an aggressive climate portfolio that reduces American dependence on fossil fuels, lowers gas prices ahead of the holiday season, and appeases an important diplomatic ally and trade partner that has invoked a decades-old treaty between the two countries over oil flow. © Provided by Washington Examiner All three collided last week during Biden’s closely held meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose government has made clear that it is backing the Calgary firm that operates a pipeline Michigan Democrats have tried in vain to shut down.

Experts have questioned whether either move will do much to meaningfully bring down prices immediately, and they cautioned other factors, like the course of the pandemic, are more likely to affect the trajectory in the months to come.

That has led some conservatives to question whether the White House's actions on gas prices were more of a political maneuver as poll after poll has shown voters souring on Biden, particularly over his handling of the economy, with his approval ratings dropping into the low 40s.

"This is being done in order to use every tool at the president's disposal to lower the price of gas for the American people," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday when asked if tapping into the strategic reserve was being done for political purposes.

Republicans have gone on offense over inflation for the last few weeks, and the Biden administration's decision to release oil from the strategic reserve provided more fodder for attacks on its energy policies.

Former President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers argued the Biden administration's desire to shift away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy industries has led to problems at the pump.

Climate summit another example of Biden's America-last agenda

  Climate summit another example of Biden's America-last agenda What President Biden and many of his fellow Democrats don’t understand is that recognizing the real need for oil and gas doesn’t conflict with incorporating other sources of energy. I support an all-of-the above energy approach. My West Texas district produces more wind energy than the entire state of California. There's no reason why we can't walk and chew gum at the same time.In light of Democrats' attacks, I am proud to support the men and women who keep the lights on and America up and running.

"Today's announcement is nothing more than a gesture. If the president and his administration wanted to make a real, long-term impact, they would work to maximize domestic production and expedite energy infrastructure like pipelines-not close federal lands to drilling and add a federal tax to methane," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, accused Democrats of "waging a war on American energy.

Even Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has opposed some climate initiatives in Biden's Build Back Better agenda, called the release of oil from the reserves an "important policy Band-Aid for rising gas prices" while criticizing the administration's energy policy as "shortsighted."

Biden in remarks Tuesday sought to assure the public that the U.S. economy was on the upswing and a rise in prices would not be a long-term concern.

"I also want to briefly address one myth about inflated gas prices: They are not due to environmental measures. My effort to combat climate change is not raising the price of gas or increasing its availability," Biden said in prepared remarks, arguing investments in electric vehicles, solar panels and other sectors would spur job creation and innovation.

"Let's beat climate change with more extensive innovation and opportunities," he added. "We can make our economy and consumers less vulnerable to these sorts of price spikes when we do that."

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.

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