It appears the Biden administration is turning NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) into a foreign policy principle.
Amid record oil prices brought on by the war in Ukraine, the White House has sought to alleviate the problem—not by investing in domestic oil production—but by begging the Venezuelans to increase their output. Earlier this month, a delegation of White House and State Department officials traveled to the South American country to meet with its president, Nicolás Maduro, an authoritarian in the same mold as Vladimir Putin himself.
In response to criticisms of the meeting, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said that “there [was] absolutely no quid pro quo,” and that the purpose of the visit was to secure the release of detained Americans and promote the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people. A likely story, considering that a source familiar with the meeting told The Financial Times that the agenda had included the possibility of lifting oil sanctions.
Energy costs have skyrocketed, but Joe Biden thinks the answer lies with countries like Venezuela and Iran who hate America.
Mr. President, it’s time to unleash American energy production.
— Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) March 14, 2022
The State Department obfuscation and backpedaling no doubt stems from the backlash that erupted as soon as the real purpose of the delegation became obvious. From the first day of his administration, President Biden has shown an often self-defeating aversion to developing the energy resources of the United States and friendly countries, such as Canada.
This comes at the same time that Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan, is attempting to close down Enbridge Energy’s Line 5, citing environmental concerns. The pipeline, constructed in 1953, transports oil from Michigan and northern Wisconsin to Canadian refineries, and Whitmer’s timing couldn’t be worse. It also seems entirely gratuitous, given that Enbridge Energy has already undertaken to secure the pipeline with a new underwater tunnel project.
Shutting down the pipeline would only contribute to the country’s energy woes, during a volatile time when the White House has been recklessly imposing sanctions on recalcitrant countries like Putin’s Russia and Maduro’s Venezuela.
And even if the sanctions were lifted and the Venezuelans complied, there’s no guarantee that their oil production could make up for the current shortfall, noted Fox Business. The oil industry in Venezuela is nowhere near as sophisticated as that in the United States, and its heavier and dirtier oil poses a number of extraction challenges. Producing quality fuels from this oil requires complicated machinery and refining facilities, to say nothing of quality engineers. Of course, it didn’t help that most of these were run out of the country when Hugo Chavez nationalized the country’s oil industry.
The country currently produces about 800,000 barrels of oil a day—and that’s actually an improvement over the 525,000 barrels a day it was producing a year ago, according to Fox Business. Even in the unlikely event that the dysfunctional socialist country could increase its output to 1990s levels when it produced over 3 million barrels of oil a day, Venezuela’s oil production wouldn’t be enough. With the U.S. producing around 12 million barrels of oil a day and consuming upwards of 20 million barrels, the Venezuelan input would scarcely make a dent.
So now he's thinking of lifting Sanctions on Venezuela and the thug Ruler Maduro. We have plenty of oil but just one more example of Biden's nonsense energy policy. He governs this way, if it doesn't make sense, do it. pic.twitter.com/GcrLUGZ4js
— Richard Vonderlinde (@RVonderlinde) March 21, 2022
There’s also the environmental and climate impact of using foreign oil.
Phil Flynn, a senior energy analyst at The PRICE Futures Group, slammed the Biden administration’s policies as “climate craziness,” Fox Business reported, adding that Flynn warned that declaring a climate emergency only makes investors jittery about fossil fuels, which in turn creates shortages and record-high gas prices, leading to political instability.
And Biden’s erratic foreign policy decisions have done little to improve his chances of cutting a deal with Maduro.
“You think Maduro is going to play nice with us?” Ryan Sitton, an oil and gas engineer, told Fox Business. “This is the big problem. It’s easy to say, ‘Oh we’ll just buy Venezuelan crude.’ I’m sure Maduro’s over there saying, ‘Yeah, I’ll show you my crude oil. It’s going to be 150 bucks a barrel because he knows we’ve got to have it.”
Therein lies the problem. Biden’s prior commitments and ideological rhetoric have backed him into a corner, and there’s no easy way out. It’s a safe bet that Trump-era gas prices won’t be returning anytime soon.
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