A month and a half ago, we made fun of the Heartland Institute for claiming “dozens of actions” by President Biden “have increased energy costs,” then only listing eight things, many of which were proposed rules that haven’t gone into effect yet, but have somehow nevertheless influenced gas prices.
But where most people see nonsense, the GOP saw a solid line of research for the Republican Study Committee, who recently released its own version, just as ridiculous, and just as credulously reported by Fox News as Heartland’s was by the Examiner.
The RSC, led by Rep. Jim Banks, put together a much lengthier list of 81 “actions” that still failed to find any actual policies that had any more of an impact on gas prices than the whole pandemic thing. But they have to cover for their fossil fuel donors somehow! The industry made billions in 2021, its CEOs are profiting off of the war in Ukraine, and they’re largely refusing to produce more because they want to keep up these profits. Since 'Pay more so our Big Oil benefactors can afford to keep donating to my reelection campaign!' isn’t exactly a winning political message, they’re blaming Biden, and a compliant rightwing media will dutifully carry their propaganda.
What are Republicans claiming Biden has done to raise gas prices? There are the fact-checked classics like canceling Keystone, which wouldn’t be done yet anyway, and lots of mentions of his support for clean energy, which by some sort of imagined transitive property of energy, somehow raises gas prices. Similarly suspect are all the entries about how asking companies to disclose climate costs are “disincentivizing oil and gas production,” which is a nice tacit admission that fossil fuels cause climate change, probably the closest we’ll get to the GOP accepting that fact.
Biden’s revocation of a Trump rule allowing oil and gas on federal lands to kill more birds apparently raised gas prices by “increasing regulatory burdens,” another admission that the fossil fuel industry can’t do its job without killing wildlife. Fossil fuels being dirty is hardly Biden’s fault, though!
Then there’s all the time-travel-required complaints, like how Biden’s 2022 budget would tax oil and gas producers, somehow raising prices in 2021, or the DOJ Climate Action Plan and other proposed efforts across the government to transition to electric vehicles, which despite reducing demand for gas and therefore lowering prices, they include as a cause of rising prices. Same for proposed rules on car emissions, which would encourage non-gas-transport, which somehow raised gas prices on August 23rd of 2021, despite the fact that the report actually shows prices dropping from the previous entry, in which the RSC noted gas prices rising for two weeks in August, with a blank space where Biden’s policy causing such a rise is supposed to be.
Our favorite entries that show exactly how serious the RSC is, and how desperately they’re scraping the bottom of the oil barrel to come up with ideas, are the ones about Biden’s nominees, like Saule Omarova and Sarah Bloom-Raskin, who had to withdraw their nominations. Not only did these people not have time to actually carry out their supposedly anti-carbon agenda in the government, they didn’t even end up in the position! They had literally zero control over anything, and yet just the utterance of their name was apparently so powerful that it
caused forced oil and gas companies to jack up prices.
Sure, maybe in an alternate universe where they’re confirmed, and after a year or two of implementing policies, these folks would be able to be credibly blamed for raising gas prices. But unless the GOP can somehow prove that Saule Omorova and Sarah Bloom-Raskin’s climate agenda is so powerful they can travel through time and across the multiverse to assert authority they don’t yet have, they don’t have a case here.
They are, though, ready to grant that sort of time-traveling power to their opposition, as the last “Biden Action” that’s apparently responsible for high gas prices is an “upcoming” environmental justice meeting.
Who knew climate action was so easy! No need to actually implement policies, we just have to schedule meetings to discuss environmental policies!
Surely, though, if meetings were all it took to solve the fossil-fueled climate crisis, it’d be done!