Amid record gas prices, Biden snubs oil CEOs for wind execs

President Biden skipped his administration’s summit with oil company executives amid record gas prices on Thursday and instead paid a surprise visit to a meeting of wind industry executives at the White House.

“When I think about environment, I think about jobs,” Biden told a group that included five wind industry CEOs gathered in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

“We are building a better America,” Biden said at the meeting, which was attended by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Home Secretary Deb Haaland and Govs. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) and John Carney (D-Del.)

The president’s visit was not on his daily schedule and came shortly after a closed-door Granholm meeting with major oil refiners to discuss how to deal with a price hike following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is about $5, according to the AAA.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, wind power accounted for just 3.3% of US electricity generation in 2021.

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden declined to meet with oil industry leaders even after trying to blame them for soaring gas prices.
Getty Images/Drew Angerer

CEOs at the wind power meeting with Biden included Liz Burdock of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, David Hardy of Ørsted Offshore North America, Robert Blue of Dominion Energy, Jeffrey Grybowski of US Wind and Lars Pedersen of Vineyard Offshore.

Based in Virginia, Dominion Energy has a broad portfolio of power sources including nuclear, coal and natural gas.

Oil industry executives, meanwhile, said they were encouraged by their meeting with Granholm.

“Secretary Granholm’s meeting with American refiners today was a constructive discussion on how to address rising energy costs and make global energy markets more secure,” the oil industry said in a joint statement.

The American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers continued, “While these challenges and their causes are complex – from Russia’s war in Ukraine to market imbalances left over from COVID – today’s productive results should send a positive signal send to the market that the US is committed to long-term investment in a strong US refining industry and aligning policies to reflect that commitment.”

Biden told reporters Monday that he would not meet with oil industry leaders, despite trying to blame them for the high prices. The President has claimed that the industry is not drilling or refining enough and accused it of making a profit, sparking a war of words.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s meeting explored ways to address rising energy costs and make global energy markets more secure.
AP/Susan Walsh

Chevron CEO Michael Wirth, who heads the country’s second-largest oil company, said Thursday, “Today’s meeting was a constructive conversation about addressing both near-term issues and the longer-term stability of energy markets.” Wirth wrote in an open letter on Tuesday, that the data contradicts Biden’s claims that the industry is not drilling or refining enough.

“In 2021, Chevron produced the highest volume of oil and gas in our 143-year history. In the first quarter of 2022, our U.S. production was 1.2 million barrels per day, up 109,000 barrels per day from the same quarter last year,” Wirth wrote.

“In the Permian Basin [centered in West Texas] By the end of the year alone, we expect production to be close to 750,000 barrels per day, an increase of more than 15 percent over 2021,” Wirth added.

Chevron gas van
In 2022, US oil and gas production was 1.2 million barrels per day.
Getty Images/Brandon Bell

“And Chevron’s U.S. refinery usage rose to an average of 915,000 barrels per day in the first quarter of this year from 881,000 in the same quarter last year.”

Biden responded Tuesday by mocking Wirth as “slightly sensitive.”

“We need more refinery capacity. This notion that they don’t have oil to drill and produce is just not true,” Biden said Tuesday, responding to Wirth. “We should be able to work something out that will enable them to increase refining capacity and still not abandon the transition to renewable energy.”

Chevron reported a profit of $6.5 billion in the first quarter of 2022 — a quadrupling of profit of $1.7 billion from the first quarter of 2021 — as global oil prices rose.

High gas prices are contributing to the worst inflation since 1981, although Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that “inflation was high before that – certainly before the war in Ukraine broke out.”

Biden appealed to gas station owners on Wednesday to unilaterally lower prices at the pump. About 60% of US pumping stations are owned by one person or family that operates only one site.

Republicans say Biden contributed to the gas price crisis by trying to impose a moratorium on new oil drilling on public lands last year and by pushing new oil pipeline projects, including Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

Biden on Wednesday asked Congress to temporarily waive the state gas tax of 18.3 cents a gallon. He previously ordered the release of one million barrels a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and allowed a higher ethanol content in gas over the summer, but neither move lowered prices. Amid record gas prices, Biden snubs oil CEOs for wind execs


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