The Biden administration needs gas prices to come down fast. But that could require supporting greater oil and gas production over the long term — the opposite of what it wants to do to fight climate change.
Why it matters: The result so far has been mixed messages and rising tensions with the energy industry, whose help the White House needs to bring gas prices down.The relationship between the industry and the White House has real world ramifications, since when it is contentious and frayed, it can be harder to bring relief at the pump.And for consumers, gas prices will likely stay high for the foreseeable future, despite a proposed gas tax holiday.
The big picture: The Biden administration has asked the oil industry to boost production and refinery output in the near term, while the White House remains committed to shifting away from fossil fuels over the long term to reduce the severity of climate change."We can deal with this immediate crisis of high gas prices and still seize the clean energy future," Biden said Wednesday.To oil industry officials, this doesn't signal any willingness to put in place policies that would encourage companies to spend money on new drilling or refining capacity — which is what they say it will take to increase supply enough to bring prices down.
The industry has not been subtle about its asks: More drilling permits on public lands, pipeline approvals, and taking other steps — while refraining from certain regulatory moves, to encourage putting more money into energy infrastructure.Bob McNally, founder and president of Rapidan Energy, said the White House's view is that "I need more oil right now. I need more refining capacity right now," without "blessing new, long-term infrastructure" due to the need to move toward clean energy sources. "That's where the disconnect comes in," he told Axios in an interview.
Zoom in: In addition, the industry is skittish about spending money now to pump more oil,...