Biden Caused Higher Energy Prices, Congress Hopes You Won’t Notice

This week, Democrats in the House of Representatives will try to misdirect voters about the source of high energy prices. Rather than taking on the policies of the Biden administration which are the actual cause of more expensive energy, the House will take up legislation about a phantom cause: “price gouging.” The bill, H.R. 7688, is named the “Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act,” and it would give the President vast powers to set price controls to combat this imaginary crisis of price gouging that is alleged to be sweeping the nation. The legislation is transparent politics, with politicians hoping to save themselves in the November elections, even though they have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with President Biden in his crusade to shut off American energy and even green energy mineral development in the U.S. 

President Biden has been one of the worst presidents for America’s energy fortunes in history. From shutting down pipelines, to shutting down leasing, to illegally ignoring his duty to hold timely leases, to covering private enterprise with the green tape extreme environmental groups demand, he has done everything in his power to shut down, impede and destroy American jobs and energy. Now that his actions are showing up at the pump, he wants to blame someone else. This bill gives him a green light to do so. Apparently, the “Putin Price Hike” messaging isn’t working, so the administration is looking for a new scapegoat. But Americans know this administration has been shutting down domestic energy production. 

Beyond the imaginary premise of price gouging, the bill itself is dangerously ridiculous. It allows the president to declare an “Energy Emergency” and then sic DOJ investigators on anyone of whom they decide to target in their snipe hunt. The bill is full of terms like “unconscionable pricing,” and “unconscionably excessive,” which would never stand up in any court but make for nice press releases for those who want to distance themselves from the absurdly high energy prices they are in fact responsible for. 

The legislation would also allow President Biden to order the Federal Trade Commission into action in search of supposed unfair or deceptive practices, presumably as soon as they get finished looking into the “price gouging” for baby formula that President Biden claims is happening. But like high energy prices, the baby formula shortage it actually a government-created problem, since it was the FDA that shut down one of the largest formula makers in the country and federal command and control of the dairy industry that limits alternative producers. Apparently, President Biden’s answer to the baby formula shortage is the same as his answer to energy prices: allege price gouging and call for more imports.

Ultimately, though, this bill isn’t a price-gouging bill; it’s a price control bill. It’s an attempt to give the President the power to set the price of fuels. This bill is an attempt to blame oil companies for the Biden administration’s policies. Just this last week he canceled offshore lease sales in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. He somehow thinks that voters will not notice the hypocrisy. 

Everyone should read this bill.  It’s pretty short and easy to understand. At the President’s total discretion, he can declare that the gasoline or diesel fuel price is unconscionably high and he thinks gas stations are exploiting an “energy emergency.” None of these terms are defined so they can mean whatever the President says they mean. And these price controls can be continued indefinitely.  Congress should be ashamed of itself for delegating this kind of unlimited power to the executive, to be used at his sole discretion. 

And this power is being handed to the President to combat an entirely fictitious issue. The Federal Trade Commission has studied price gouging for more than 20 years and they have failed repeatedly to find nefarious actions. Which should be no surprise. Despite the brand logos we see on gas stations, more than 90% of the gas stations in America are owned by independent owners. Each station determines its own pricing, it is not dictated by whatever large oil company might be named on the sign. If there were systematic efforts to gouge consumers or set prices, it would require a vast conspiracy of tens of thousands of participants. And the conspiracy would have long since been found out by now. 

The reality is that President Biden has taken action, and the actions he took drove up the price of fuel. He has illegally canceled lease sale after lease sale. He canceled the Keystone XL pipeline.  He has shut down oil leasing in Alaska. He has proposed additional taxes and additional regulations on oil producers. After all this, he claims he wants lower prices at the pump, but he is either lying, or he doesn’t know what his administration is up to. 

In fact, there are people in the Biden administration who want higher fuel prices, both to make electric vehicles look more competitive and to try to get people to use less oil (which they think is intrinsically bad). And those are the policies we are getting.  Both the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Transportation have repeatedly mentioned it in media interviews. High energy prices are not an accident, this has always been the plan.

If Congress wants to do something useful, they would pass a bill reversing everything energy action President Biden has taken. They could move to open up the baby formula factory the FDA closed at the same time. The “gouging” isn’t being done by your neighborhood gas station owner; Americans are being gouged by their government.

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