Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, pressed to explain why gas prices are around $0.50 higher per gallon than they were when President Biden took office, said that prices could have gone up “because of the virus.”
“Beyond whether or not you think your policies are to blame, are you worried that the prices could impact whether or not Americans travel, which is of course needed to put money back into the economy?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Granholm Friday.
“People need to travel, you’re right, but we need to get the virus under control first, we need to get to that 70%, we need to get to herd immunity,” Granholm replied. “Why have gas prices gone up? Could that be because of the virus itself as well? Everything is tied together.”
GAS PRICES SOARING AND COULD GO HIGHER: ANALYST
As the pandemic hit last year and the economy contracted, gas prices plummeted. As the coronavirus has receded and the economy picked up, prices have risen.
The average gas price in the U.S. is $2.95 per gallon, according to AAA. It’s highest in California, where prices have already broken $4, due to emissions regulations and blocks on drilling and production in the state. The Biden administration is pursuing similar policies on the national level.
The national average price was $2.38 per gallon when Biden took office on Jan. 20, and $2.11 on Election Day, Nov. 3.
Experts point to a variety of reasons for the uptick. Gas prices tend to climb closer to summer, an increase that is boosted by reopenings across the country. Many U.S. oil producers cut production last year amid lockdowns, and still have not raised it again, according to GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan.
Experts have also noted Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) leaders have continued to limit exports. DeHaan told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo that “U.S. oil production is still over 2 million barrels lower than last year” and that “OPEC is continuing its production cuts, not increases.”
GRANHOLM DOESN’T SAY IF BIDEN SHOULD PROMOTE COMPANY IN WHICH SHE INVESTED MILLIONS
Republicans have hit Biden’s shift toward green energy, which includes nixing the Keystone XL pipeline permit and pausing new federal oil and gas leases. The Department of Energy’s statistics agency found that the pause will have “no effect” on energy prices until 2022 due to an 8 to ten-month delay from leasing to production.
But some argue the actions and rhetoric send a message about the future of fossil fuels, and the markets believe the Biden administration will continue to work to inhibit oil and gas production.