Happy Motoring in the Time of Biden

Have you ever heard of the dunes sagebrush lizard?

Most people haven’t.  Chances are you haven’t heard of it either.  Not unless you’ve spent time stumbling about the remote areas of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

That’s where the spiny creature lives.  Amongst the dunelands and shrublands.  This little 2-inch lizard burrows deep into the sandy dune areas beneath shinnery oak trees in the Mescalero and Monahans Sandhills.

And while you may not have heard of the dunes sagebrush lizard, its fight for existence will soon impact your life.  On May 17, the same day the DOW closed above 40,000 for the first time ever, it was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This means that this little lizard and its habitat are now protected by federal law.

Perhaps this new legal protection status came a little too late.  Most dunes sagebrush lizard habitat is long gone.  And what remains is fragmented into little patches.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, 95 percent of its habitat has been lost to oil and gas development and the mining of sand for fracking.  The intent of the USFWS is to preserve what little habitat is left so the lizard can flourish.

In fact, the USFWS’ endangered listing will designate critical habitat for the lizard.  As a result, it will restrict future oil and gas development, and slow production in parts of the Permian Basin – the highest producing oil field in the United States.

The listing requires oil and gas companies to avoid operating in areas the lizard inhabits, lest they incur fines and prison time.  At this point, the USFWS has yet to determine exactly where these critical habitat areas are.  More research is needed.

The Politics of Lizards

By all accounts, lizards are important.  Their lives matter.  Like you, and the duck-billed platypus, they deserve to live in peace and harmony.

Moreover, the politics of lizards, like the politics of global climate change, are especially important to regulating the oil and gas industry and diminishing energy security in the United States.  For a certain segment of the political class, and unlike the dunes sagebrush lizard, oil and gas companies should die.

In January, if you recall, President Biden suspended approvals for pending and future applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG).  The stated reason for suspending approvals was so the government could consider the impact of LNG export terminals on global climate change.

The real reason, however, has nothing to do with global climate change.  And has everything to do with scoring votes from climate change zealots.

The situation at hand stems from America’s blessing of abundant natural gas.  Thus, it is dirt cheap here.  By comparison, the cost of natural gas in Europe is generally over 450 percent higher than in the USA.

But before natural gas can be shipped and exported, it must be converted to a liquid – to LNG – by cooling it to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit.  This requires energy.  As does shipping.

Yet a lot of things require energy.  And some uses of energy are a complete waste.  For example, energy is required to light up and heat and cool the U.S. Capitol Building.  It is also needed to power Biden’s gas-guzzling 1967 Corvette Stingray and John Kerry’s private jet rides to climate change conferences.

In the world of climate change politics, certain uses of energy are acceptable while other uses are not.  Exporting LNG is not acceptable – for now.  After election day, that may change regardless of who wins.

Just Press the Button

Fossil fuels – petroleum, natural gas, and coal – account for 60 percent of total U.S. utility-scale electricity generation.  The transition to renewables anytime soon is unlikely.  And it won’t be accomplished without additional development of nuclear generation to provide a stable baseload.

In the meantime, America will continue to rely on oil and gas for its energy.  This is especially true for transportation, where, as of late-2023, electric cars only account for 1 percent of all registered vehicles on the road in the U.S.  This limited use of electric vehicles doesn’t make much of a dent in consumer demand for petroleum-based gasoline.

Fortunately, over the last decade, oil and gas production in the United States has had a nice run.  In late 2023, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude oil production hit an all-time high.  Reaching 13.25 million barrels per day in September 2023.

By November 2023, that number had increased to 13.29 million barrels per day.  Since then, it has backed off slightly.  But has remained consistently around 13 million barrels per day.

This record oil protection is remarkable, considering that as recently as 2010, monthly crude oil production in the U.S. was just 5 million barrels per day.  This significant turnaround was attained using oil extraction advancements in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.  These technologies have allowed U.S. oil producers to deliver an abundance of oil to consumers.

These improvements in drilling efficiency have led to record production, at competitive prices, while using fewer oil rigs.  And this record production has been attained in the face of the Biden administration’s restrictive oil and gas policies.

With everything going wrong in America, domestic oil production has been going right.  So much so that the politics of global climate change now take it for granted.  Biden’s actions while President demonstrate a belief that bringing new oil to market can be turned off and on by just pressing a button.

Happy Motoring in the Time of Biden

Domestic energy policy in the U.S. under the Biden administration, which limits the production and refinement of carbon-based fuels, compromises America’s energy security.  To counteract the impact of rising oil prices on American consumers, President Biden has made a habit of shortsighted political decisions.

Over the duration of his time in office, he’s been systematically draining the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve (SPR).  The intent of the SPR is to have an emergency cushion to soften the effects of supply disruptions.  President Biden, however, uses the SPR for personal political gains.

He released oil from the SPR prior to the 2022 mid-term elections to lower gas prices at the pump so his Democratic colleagues in Congress could remain in power.

The SPR currently stores about 368 million barrels of oil.  When President Biden assumed office in January 2020, the SPR had 638 million barrels of oil.  Hence, Biden has drained off over 42 percent of the nation’s emergency oil supply for non-emergency purposes.

And now he’s taking further reckless actions in a desperate bid to secure another term in office.  This time he’s draining off the Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve.  The stated purpose, per U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, is to lower prices for consumers during the summer happy motoring season.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is laser focused on lowering prices at the pump for American families, especially as drivers hit the road for summer driving season.  By strategically releasing this reserve in between Memorial Day and July 4th, we are ensuring sufficient supply flows to the tri-state and northeast at a time hardworking Americans need it the most.”

Sounds great, so long as there isn’t a geopolitical shock while the entire northeast is without gasoline reserves.

Moreover, with America’s energy security now compromised by regulations and the reckless draining of reserves, it is practically guaranteed that these political chickens – and lizards – will come home to roost.

[Editor’s note: Are you prepared for mass power outages?  Most people aren’t and they are putting their families at risk.  For this reason, I recently prepared a unique publication titled: “Energy Independence: Backyard Energy Savings and Abundant Power In A World Without Reliable Electricity.”  >> Click Here, to access a complimentary copy.]


MN Gordon
for Economic Prism

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