Biden Team Debates Whether to Act Fast on Oil Prices or Wait
Some officials push for action, others a wait-and-see approach
- Consensus has yet to emerge as climate talks enter final stage
The White House is debating whether to act immediately to try to lower U.S. energy prices or hold off on dramatic measures in the hope markets settle, as President Joe Biden’s concern about inflation runs up against climate, trade and foreign policy considerations.
For several weeks, a small group of top Biden aides has discussed measures to bring down the cost of gasoline, according to people familiar with the matter. Consensus has so far been elusive, with some Energy Department officials pushing back against tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve while White House aides lobby for a release, or the even more radical step of halting oil exports, the people said.
They asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
The recent spike in U.S. gasoline prices to a seven-year high has put Biden in a quandary: He’s trying to boost fuel production and bring down costs while remaining credible on environmental issues as the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow enters its final, crucial stage. Energy price inflation took on fresh urgency Wednesday after government data showed the sector helping to drive the U.S. consumer price index to a 31-year high.
“It’s decision time for the Biden administration,” said Bob McNally president of consultant Rapidan Energy Group and a former White House official under President George W. Bush.
A White House representative pushed back on the notion of a divide in the administration and said it’s committed to taking action, if needed.
Officials designing the response include White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain; Brian Deese, the head of the National Economic Council; National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and her deputy, David Turk; and Amos Hochstein, an energy expert Biden hired earlier this year to work at the State Department.
The group has met regularly in recent days, people familiar with the matter said…
(TLB) Header featured image (edited) credit: Gas pump (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
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