Gas price speculation and the dueling Trump and Biden dynasties

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Democrats are always looking for ‘the leadership that has a hard fork’ in the belly

President Donald Trump blasted Democratic leaders for wanting lower gas prices, but Vice President Mike Pence and then Attorney General Jeff Sessions also raised prices – while Democrat Joe Biden presided over rising gas prices under President Barack Obama.

The two political dynasties clearly have different causes and hassles as leaders.

The president often huffs and puffs and can be heard on the radio calling critics “idiots”.

But the oil market is not in that strong a mood. It is much weaker and in even worse shape after the large drop in oil prices this week.

‘Environmental assessments’

Democrats, who usually blame Republicans for high gas prices when they have power, are not the only ones pointing the finger at the president for this week’s spike.

“America’s seniors are struggling higher and higher at the pump, the average gas cost has tripled over the last decade. Gas prices should be headed down. Because of the Trump administration we’re on track to see gas prices rise by up to 40 cents a gallon,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said this week.

“America’s moms and dads are spending 15% more on gas now than they were just a year ago. Gas prices keep climbing, families can’t afford it, and, as we head into the Fourth of July weekend, the president’s hands are tied,” said incoming House Democratic leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday.

“The president’s Environmental Assessment is critically important for our oil & gas industries, and to help keep prices down. That’s why I just filed three new bills to give American families fuel relief by speeding up construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, ending the moratorium on drilling for oil in Arctic waters, and more,” said Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday.

The Keystone pipeline, which has made history by giving much-needed energy to a region of the world where it is not abundant, would be what Democrats call an “environmental assessment”.

Image copyright AFP Image caption A copy of the bill introduced by Mr Ryan is seen at a news conference in Washington

The political class calls it a guarantee that the project will be in operation by 2026, a prerequisite for building before a federal permit can be obtained. The pipeline company Kinder Morgan is working on that long-term guarantee.

After a brief wait, however, Republican federal authorities announced on Monday that the critical environmental concerns raised by critics, especially environmental groups, had been met and there was no need for the president to grant a permit.

In 2013, then President Obama blocked the project over concerns that the pipeline, from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico, would be environmentally damaging.

His argument then seemed to be for that state of being Native American tribes involved would be forced to rely on Canada for their drinking water.

It later turned out that the way to avoid those problems was to make the project part of the US government’s responsibility. This mechanism known as the National Interest Determination was supposedly reformed.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Former Vice President Biden presided over higher prices under President Obama

However, the pipeline and several others have gone ahead elsewhere without the president’s permission.

This time, Mr Trump has said he has no choice but to make the decision on Keystone because he needs to use the project to boost US energy security by shipping Canadian oil instead of Saudi oil.

Mr Ryan blames the rise in gas prices on “foreign energy companies” that “cheat” the American people.

President Trump, who likes to weave these kinds of long, convoluted political yarns, says Americans are paying too much at the pumps for only “numerous” reasons, but they all point to the same thing.

With more than 70% of US gasoline coming from foreign sources and if Congress approves Mr Ryan’s bill, US consumers would do better by keeping our energy self-sufficient.

The political fealty between Democrats and Republicans does not extend to the run-up in prices at the pump. They are primarily focused on fighting one another.

Expect much more wrangling between Congress and the administration over oil prices.

And Congress might take a look at Vice President Pence’s record on gas prices, which has been pretty dismal.

Pence has long blamed foreigners for driving up prices in the United States, and for the past week the Congress has ignored his comments and tried to pass two bills to cut petrol prices.

One of those bills, introduced by Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal, would let US states go back to using older fuel standards.

The second proposal, co-sponsored by Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, also allows oil refineries to sell fuel for up to 33.3% below cost, also known as

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