Hugo Gurdon writes at Washington Examiner that Biden Hopes You Forget His War on US Energy Producers. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
Joe Biden’s decision to order the Federal Trade Commission to investigate high gasoline prices and see if Big Oil is manipulating them prompts an ironic chuckle, for it is perfectly emblematic of this presidency. It is calculated to suggest concern about a widely felt problem without actually giving two hoots about it except insofar as it might do serious electoral damage to the party of the Left.
Since their drubbing in the Virginia governor’s race and elsewhere on Nov. 2, panicky Democrats have scrambled to create the illusion that they’re still in touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans. Biden touts his Build Back Better — or is it Bankrupt? — welfare plan as a “blue-collar blueprint” for prosperity. Translation: Hey, little people, I’ve got your back. The hapless veep nods toward government’s need to hear everyone’s voice. Translation: We don’t think you’re deplorables.
And now, because everyone notices and dislikes rising pump prices, Biden wants to persuade us saps to disregard Occam’s razor and believe corporate baddies are to blame, not his mismanagement and cheek-by-jowl adherence to the Left’s anti-energy agenda.
The reality is that Biden and his minions have waged war on domestic energy producers since his first day as president. Even now, he is doing his best to foist a comptroller of the currency onto the nation who explicitly calls for the ruin of oil companies, saying she wants them to “go bankrupt.”
Prices are soaring because demand outstrips supply, and several of the reasons can be laid at Biden’s door.
He’s weakened the supply chain, discouraged domestic production in part by raising costs, and failed to persuade Russia, the Saudis, and others to bail him out with more output. (He begged them to increase production — another national embarrassment — which would substitute dirty overseas output for the world’s most regulated and cleanest production here at home. So much for concern about greenhouse gas emissions).
The problem for Biden is that sleight of hand, extra PR, and frantic communication efforts don’t fix underlying problems, as the Washington Examiner’s Byron York recently noted . The administration can spin like a dreidel — goodness knows, it’s trying — but spin doesn’t change the facts.
Obscuring the real causes of rising prices won’t make prices come down or people feel them less. Saying inflation is a luxury concern and anyway is only temporary won’t make it so. Saying another $4 trillion of spending, much of it with borrowed money, will reduce price acceleration won’t achieve that end.
So, as you drive to join family members to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, you’ll know who to thank for the extra $20 you must pay to fill your gas tank each time. When you sit down to dinner, you’ll know who to thank for the fact that your favorite foodstuffs were out of stock.
Yet, for all that, there are real reasons, even in today’s politics, to be thankful. One is that voters have already seen through the Democrats’ spin and are signaling that change is a-coming. Another is that presidential terms don’t last longer than four years.
War on Energy Case Study: Trainer Refinery south of Philadelphia
Gordon Tomb writes at Real Clear Energy East Coast’s Remaining Refineries’ Daunting Domestic Threat. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
The modernization of the Trainer Refinery south of Philadelphia is initially obscured by aged brick buildings and hulking equipment. With closer examination, however, emerge brightly painted pipes, scores of gleaming white tanks and towering construction cranes that hint of ongoing upgrades.
With a growing post-pandemic economy and strong energy prices, prospects are bright save for threats of a controversial carbon tax scheme by the governor and federal regulations. Federal rules have contributed to the closure of seven independent refineries on the East Coast since 2009, leaving only Trainer and three others remaining. And one of those — owned by PBF Energy in New Jersey — closed half its refining units and laid off 250 employees last summer.
Monroe Energy, which owns the Trainer Refinery, annually spends tens of millions of dollars on improvements to keep abreast of government regulations and customer needs. A few years ago, it invested nearly $200 million on installing equipment to make low-sulfur gasoline. Currently, the company is building high-efficiency electrical substations, as well as water-cooling units that enable millions of gallons of water to be reused, drastically reducing dependence on Delaware River water.
It employs approximately 500 people and hires at any one time up to 1,400 members of the Philadelphia Building Trades for maintenance projects that can last for months. Because of their work, Trainer produces daily more than 8 million gallons of fuel, mainly for transportation and heating.
Among the worries is Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to institute a tax on electricity generators that use fossil fuels through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This taxation scheme is intended to replace fuels like coal and natural gas with more expensive wind and solar energy.
In comments to regulators, Monroe Energy noted its extensive use of electricity and cited data showing that the cost of power was 38 percent less outside existing RGGI states. The company has spent hundreds of millions on environmentally beneficial investments with plans for more. “However, Monroe added, “we fear that enacting a program like RGGI will increase costs to such an extent that we may be unable to move forward with some of these projects.”
RGGI also would put at risk tens of thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania’s electric-power and manufacturing industries by inducing operations to move away.
An even more immediate issue for Monroe is the federal government’s 16-year-old Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refiners to add ethanol to transportation fuels or buy credits. The RFS has expanded since its inception creating a burden that threatens to put Monroe out of business if not addressed.
Ethanol is added to fuel as it is distributed to end users — or shortly before — to protect the equipment of refiners and transporters from the additive’s corrosive effect. Because Monroe does not sell to end users, it has virtually no ability to add ethanol and has to buy credits, whose price has risen from a few cents to nearly two dollars.
“The difference between credit prices of 2 cents and 2 dollars for us is hundreds of millions of dollars in compliance-obligation costs,” says Mr. McGlaughlin. Since buying Trainer in 2012, Monroe has spent more than $800 million on RFS compliance — multiples more than the refinery’s purchase price.
The negative consequences of both RFS and RGGI — including job losses and diminished fuel security — seem obvious to nearly everybody. Yet the employees at Trainer are still waiting for relief from Washington while also hoping to avoid the economic wreckage proposed by the governor and the absurdity of bureaucrats trying to improve the climate.
“We hope people will side with us and allow us to keep doing our jobs,” says Ron Pierce.