The decade's most triggering comedy
OPEC, an economic bloc constituted by Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other countries with a large share of global oil production, unexpectedly announced that they would reduce output by 1.15 million barrels per day from May through the end of 2023. Brent crude, the benchmark for fuel drilled in the Atlantic, soared from $79 per barrel on Friday to $85 per barrel on Wednesday.
Reporters questioned Jean-Pierre during a Tuesday press briefing about the White House response to the move from OPEC, which comes ahead of the busy summer travel months. Jean-Pierre responded that the administration would do “everything that we can to make sure that we lower costs and meet the American people where they are,” asserting that policies enacted by Biden have previously mitigated increases in fuel prices.
“Analysts had said last year that prices were going to go up, and that did not happen. If anything, in fact, gasoline prices went down by $1.50 when it was at its peak this past summer. A lot of that is because of the actions that this president took,” she said. “Because of what the president did, because of the policies that he put forward, because of the actions that he put forward, we have seen those prices go down.”
Biden has repeatedly claimed that the United States witnessed the “fastest gas price decline in eight years” and annualized headline inflation, which has declined for “six months” due to his economic policies. Both assertions ignore the reality that energy costs and overall price level increases were much lower before he assumed control of the Oval Office: national average gas prices were $3.42 per gallon at the end of March 2023, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, marking a 44% increase from $2.38 per gallon in January 2021.
Jean-Pierre claimed that the Inflation Reduction Act, which earmarked $369 billion for various renewable energy initiatives, helped to reduce fuel expenses by increasing “energy security.” She also asserted that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the CHIPS and Science Act, two of the other landmark legislative actions from the Biden administration, have been “critical and important” to decreasing prices at the pump.
Biden has nevertheless garnered criticism for approving the release of 180 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a stock of emergency crude oil created to manage supply disruptions in energy markets, thereby depleting the reservoir even as the costs to refill the stores are now elevated. He also moved last year to enable American oil production in Venezuela and asked Saudi Arabia to delay oil production cuts until after the midterm elections.
One reporter asked Jean-Pierre whether Biden would consider jettisoning more supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve or soliciting more fuel from Venezuela. The official brushed off the question by saying she would not “get into hypotheticals” and claiming that “what the president has done has worked.”