By Kevin Killough, energy reporter
President Joe Biden seemed to contradict earlier statements he’s made the impact of his policies on the oil and gas industry when he stated at a rally Sunday that there has been no new drilling and that he’d continue to work to end federal drilling.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming has argued that the administration has made oil and gas drilling on federal lands, where most operations happen in Wyoming, much more difficult than under the administration of former President Donald Trump. As a result, the nation’s oil supply can’t meet demand, which drives up gas prices.
Association spokesperson Ryan McConnaughey said Biden’s statements this weekend just confirm what the association has been saying all along.
“This is just another example of the president trying to have his cake and eat it too,” McConnaughey said. “He wants oil and gas companies to invest more in production and future capabilities, yet says that he’s not going to allow any more production on federal lands.
“You really just can’t have it both ways.”
Biden’s statement was made in response to an audience member, whose initial questions can’t be heard on the video over the noise of the rally.
Biden replied, “No more drilling. There is no more drilling. I haven’t formed any new drilling.”
The audience member then said, “Five more years of offshore drilling. Not on the Atlantic or Pacific, but in the Antarctic and off the Gulf of New Mexico — or the Gulf of Mexico.”
Biden responded that all that happened before he was president and that, “We’re trying to work on that, get that done.”
‘Nonsense,’ Biden Says
Since last summer, the Biden administration has been insisting there nothing it’s been doing has limited domestic oil production.
Last June, Biden said, “This idea that they don’t have oil to drill and bring up is simply not true. This piece of the Republicans talking about Biden shutting down oil fields is wrong.”
The following day at a press conference, Biden stood by the claim, saying, “I know my Republican friends claim we’re not producing enough oil and I’m limiting production. Quite frankly, that’s nonsense.”
Energy watchdog Michael Shellenberger, who has regularly criticized Biden for denying his role in causing high gas prices, reported that earlier this month Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a Twitter post that disinformation about the president’s energy agenda is being used to scare Americans while oil companies make record profits.
“This Admin outpaced the previous Admin on crude oil production + oil/gas well approvals while also making historic investments in a clean energy transition,” Granholm tweeted.
“As such, Biden has effectively admitted that he, Energy Secretary Granholm, and others in his administration have been lying,” Shellenberger wrote on a substack post about the president’s statements Sunday.
Danny Lass, president of Gillette-based Precision Well Service Inc., said the oil industry is benefiting from higher oil prices, but the uncertainty the Biden administration creates makes it hard to plan for the future.
“This is the hard part. Where do we put our money? Where do we expand? Where do we cut back?” Lass said. “We have a lot of problems keeping employees, because everything is so unsure right now. We just don’t know what to think.”
Precision performs oil field support services such as maintenance and workover rigs, which is a mobile unit that helps restore or increase a well’s production.
Lass also pointed out that Biden really couldn’t stop all drilling. He can stop it on federal lands, but he has no authority to stop it on private and state lands.
Not The First Time
Biden’s promise this weekend to limit domestic oil production was not the first time he’s made statements hostile to the industry. At a campaign stop in New Hampshire during his campaign in September 2019, Biden told a member of the audience that, “I guarantee you we’re going to end fossil fuels.”
On Friday, Biden said he was going to shut down coal plants across the country and replace them with wind and solar farms because they cost too much money.
“No one is building new coal plants because they can’t rely on it, even if they have all the coal guaranteed for the rest of the existence of the plant,” Biden said.
In a statement on the president’s remarks, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said threats to close coal plants are “not only outrageous and divorced from reality, they ignore the severe economic pain the American people are feeling because of rising energy costs.
“Being cavalier about the loss of coal jobs for men and women in West Virginia and across the country who literally put their lives on the line to help build and power this country is offensive and disgusting.”
Just Economic Realities, Says Biden Camp
Biden Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president’s words were “twisted” and he wasn’t vowing to destroy America’s coal industry. He was only remarking on economic realities.
McConnaughey said the climate of uncertainty the administration creates each time Biden vows to harm the oil industry has a negative impact on the industry’s ability to finance operations.
“Especially here in Wyoming where we’re so reliant on federal lands, investors are going to do one of two things,” McConnaughey explained. “They’re going to take caution at investing in the industry at all, or they’re going to shift investments to places where they don’t have to deal with the federal government. And that’s really a direct attack on Wyoming.”
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, also was critical of the president’s comments Sunday.
“They have been sabotaging American energy independence and the American economy,” Barrasso told Fox Business. “People have been suffering.”