Americans are already struggling under the weight of crippling inflation, from skyrocketing gas prices to exorbitant grocery bills. And even if few Americans thought the Biden Administration had a plan to combat these things—especially considering the fact that their spending and regulatory problems directly created them—I’m betting most Americans didn’t think the President would take obvious actions to immediately make things worse either.
Yet, that is what he did this week, canceling one of the most important oil and gas leases at the country’s disposal in the middle of the night. This action will halt the potential to drill for oil in over 1 million acres on the Cook Inlet in Alaska, marking a devastating loss for those trying to increase the oil supply in the country.
A top official with the American Petroleum Institute, the country's largest oil and gas trade association, called the cancellation of the Cook Inlet lease "another example of the administration's lack of commitment to oil and gas development in the US."
According to The Hill, “canceling the sale would be in keeping with political promises President Joe Biden made in the name of halting global warming.”
Not only did the Biden Administration cut this lease, they also stopped two other pending leases in the Gulf of Mexico claiming there were “conflicting court rulings that impacted work on these proposed lease sales.”
This is a problem of basic Econ 101. High prices clearly demonstrate the country needs more oil and gas. But instead of opening up the supply chain, the Biden Administration continues to restrict it in numerous ways—proxy wars in Russia, trade wars, and now canceling leases that would allow us to develop our own resources.
Why are they doing this? No one can say for certain, but Public Choice Theory would suggest that Biden and co. care more about their political objectives and keeping their special interest groups happy (in this case, climate lobbyists) than about the lives their policies govern.
And make no mistake, high gas prices are no small issue as some elitists on the left will try to claim.
Behind skyrocketing gas prices are mothers who can’t get to their second job, parents who have to pick between transportation and food for their kids, women stuck in unsafe situations with abusive partners…the list could go on.
The point is, in public policy there are always trade-offs, something many progressives seem to refuse to acknowledge.
Do we want to take care of the earth and preserve our resources? Of course. Any good capitalist should be concerned with scarcity and preserving such things. But we have to balance that goal with the real lives that can be harmed if we go too far in one direction or the other. As the economist Thomas Sowell said, “there are no solutions, there are only trade-offs.”
So rather than blindly attacking fossil fuel development, we need to look for policies that help balance both goals—the desire to preserve the earth and its resources and the desire to make goods and services cheap and readily available so more people can be lifted out of poverty and enjoy a higher standard of living.
When it comes to the environment, there are free-market policies that can be pursued while also ensuring we still have the supplies to meet the basic needs of the humans already in existence. For instance, scientists are already finding ways to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere and turn it into valuable commodities like carbon nanotubes or even back into coal. And the market is rapidly providing more fuel-efficient cars and planes. Everywhere we look we can find ways the market is already providing better solutions to climate change.
Meanwhile, governments continue to be the biggest polluters.
The Biden Administration is willing to throw our citizens under the bus so they can reach a false, net-zero emissions utopia. But the reality is, we don’t have to have $5/gallon gas in order to save the planet.