The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, April 5, 2022
House Democrats must have political amnesia—or hope Americans do. On Wednesday they’re holding another political struggle session to lash oil and gas CEOs for surging gasoline prices. But only last autumn they were demanding that these same companies produce less oil to reduce the global supply of crude.
During the Oct. 28 hearing, California Rep. Ro Khanna praised BP and Shell CEOs for pledging to reduce their oil production. Then he asked U.S. oil execs why they weren’t doing the same. “Are you embarrassed as an American company that your production is going up while the European counterparts are going down?” he asked Chevron CEO Michael Wirth.
Mr. Wirth tried to explain that new supply was needed to meet rising global demand, but the Silicon Valley Congressman persisted: “It is not a gotcha question. Do you commit to do anything to matching your European counterparts to try to bring the actual demand of oil production down?”
Mr. Wirth replied: “With all due respect, I’m very proud of our company and what we do.”
He should be. The U.S. oil and gas industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and produces far fewer methane emissions than Russia. Until recently the U.S. was the world’s swing oil producer, helping keep crude prices down. Not everyone can afford a Tesla.
Mr. Khanna next flogged Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods : “Would you commit to matching your European counterparts to reducing the production of oil?”
Mr. Woods answered gamely, “We’re committed to lowering our emissions.”
Mr. Khanna wasn’t satisfied: “No. Are you committed to lowering the production as the Paris accords say or no? It’s a yes or no.”
If progressives truly cared about the climate, they’d support more U.S. oil and gas production, which could replace supply from countries with lower environmental standards and higher emissions. More U.S. natural gas exports would also reduce global consumption of coal, which is much more carbon intensive. But the Democratic left’s main goal nowadays is reducing U.S. oil and gas production, which all other things being equal means less supply and higher energy prices.
California Rep. Katie Porter illuminated this when she chided the CEOs for opposing Mr. Biden’s halt on new oil and gas leases on federal land: “You already have 13.9 million acres! This is equivalent to Maryland and New Jersey combined. How much more do you need?” Twenty-six House Democrats have signed onto a bill introduced in December to ban fracking as well as oil and natural gas exports.
Now they blame oil companies and Vladimir Putin for high gasoline prices, but their policies empower Vladimir Putin by keeping global oil prices higher than they should be.