On Thursday morning in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm repeatedly refused to acknowledge that the Biden administration's war on U.S. energy had caused gas prices to rise since the president took office and started cracking down on domestic energy production.
Even after Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri laid out the proof of the Biden administration's anti-fossil fuel policies that have limited supply and driven up costs, Granholm still wouldn't accept any responsibility for the soaring cost of gas as the national average for regular unleaded hit another all-time high on Thursday morning.
"Today in the State of Missouri, the average price of gasoline is $4.10," Hawley noted, adding the "average price of diesel is $5.18. And I'm sure you've seen the reporting this morning that now AAA is projecting that gas prices will hit a national average — average — of $6 a gallon by the month of August, he said. "Is this acceptable to you?"
"No, it is not," Secretary Granholm claimed before saying "you can thank the activity of Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine," another Biden administration blame-shifting attempt.
"Oh nonsense," Hawley interjected. "With all due respect, Madam Secretary, that's utter nonsense."
"In January of 2021, the average gas price in my state was $2.07," Hawley reminded Granholm. "Eight months later, long before Vladimir Putin invaded, that price was up 30 percent and has been going up consistently since. What are you doing to reverse this administration's policies that are drawing down our own supply of energy in this country, that are throttling oil and gas production in the United states of America - what are you doing about it?" he asked.
"With respect sir, it is not administration policies that have affected supply and demand," Granholm claimed.
"How can you say that when the price of gas was up over 30 percent from January?" pressed Hawley.
"Let me answer," Granholm quipped before Hawley again asked his question and explained the Biden administration's policies that limited supply.
"From January to August, the price of gasoline was up over 30 percent in my state alone," he reiterated. "It has been a continuous upward tick since then, and here's what your president did when he first came to office. He immediately reentered the Paris Climate Accord, he canceled the Keystone Pipeline, he halted leasing programs in ANWR, he issued a 60-day halt on all new oil and gas leases and drilling permits on federal lands and waters — that's nationwide, that accounts, by the way, for 25 percent of U.S. oil production — he directed federal agencies to eliminate all supports for fossil fuels, he imposed new regulations on oil and gas and methane emissions," Hawley noted. "Those were all just in the first few days, are you telling me that's had no effect on our energy supply?" he questioned.
Granholm dodged the question and instead cited to "94 percent of the oil and gas executives that were surveyed by the Dallas Fed said that administration policies had nothing to do with the increase in the price of oil."
"I'm not interested in opinions of these people, I'm interested in the facts," Hawley said. "Are you telling me that these policies had no effect...Madam Secretary, are you telling me, under oath, that these policies had no effect?" he asked again.
"I'm telling you that 94 percent of the oil and gas industry executives said that they had no effect, so no they did not," Granholm stated again.
Let’s review. Upon taking office, Biden canceled Keystone, halted oil & gas leases, imposed new regulations on energy production, and cut off support for fossil fuels. But @SecGranholm says: no effect on gas prices— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 19, 2022
"That is a remarkable statement," Hawley said of Granholm's claim that the Biden administration's policies didn't have any role in steadily increasing energy prices over the last fourteen months.
"Ask Vladimir Putin about the increase in demand and the decrease in supply from pulling Russian barrels of oil off the market thanks to, rightly, the United States saying we're not going to take Russian oil," Granholm said again trying to pass blame, before trying to blame the rising costs on the country "coming out of COVID."
"Coming out of COVID, there was an increase in demand because people were driving again," Granholm said. "When there was no demand, the prices dropped — that is a basic law of economics," she retorted.
Hawley was still having none of it. "I have to say, Madam Secretary, your answers are insulting and they are insulting to the people of Missouri who are looking for action," he said. "You said two months ago your department was on war footing, what are you doing to bring down the price of gasoline which has been going up consistently since you took office?"
Speaking as if she were giving a lecture to a toddler, Granholm slowed down her cadence to explain that "the price of gasoline is derived from the price of oil, the price of oil is at $110 a barrel, and it is trading on a global market. We are paying extremely high prices today just as they are in Japan, just as they are in Germany, just as they are in South Africa," she said patronizingly.
Hawley, again, pressed for an actual answer on what the Biden administration was doing to help ease the burden of high gas prices for Americans.
"We are calling for an increase in supply, we are releasing a million barrels a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to try to balance out supply and demand — it is the largest tool that we have," Granholm claimed.
"Who are you calling for an increase in supply from?" Hawley questioned.
"From our domestic oil and gas manufacturers, from international oil and gas manufacturers," Granholm said.
"Even as you cancel their leases?" Hawley pointed out.
If Granholm and Biden were serious about increasing supply in order to bring down prices, they wouldn't be making a national pastime out of canceling oil and gas leases, canceling projects, and demonizing the U.S. energy industry. Even Granholm has previously admitted this is all part of the "transition" away from fossil fuels, one that will be painful for Americans — but Biden and Granholm don't seem to care.