Don’t go to Saudi Arabia, President Biden

The news last week that the European Union has reached an agreement to drastically reduce the purchase of Russian oil is a welcome development that signals that the continent is not only united against the genocidal attack on Ukraine, but that its political leaders are prepared to make tough choices in response.

It’s a choice worth remembering as Americans toil under high gas prices this summer. And it reminds us why we need a robust domestic energy industry that includes the continued development of oil and gas production as well as investment in renewable energy research and infrastructure.

According to the Associated Press, the countries of the European Union depend on Russia for 25% of their oil and 40% of their gas. Last week’s decision was all about oil. Gas weaning will be much more difficult.

Yet we hope and anticipate that this will lead to an increase in the Russian price for Vladimir Putin’s war. The sooner he is brought to heel, the better off the whole world will be.

But we also recognize that higher prices will be borne by all of us. Reports early last week suggested that President Joe Biden would visit Saudi Arabia in hopes of persuading its leader to put more oil on the market. The president compounded that later in the week when he said he had “no direct plans at this time.”

The president shouldn’t go there at all. The Saudi regime is a pariah state. US intelligence under Biden has determined that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was personally responsible for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In March, Human Rights Watch reported that the Saudi regime killed 81 men in a mass execution. More than half of them belonged to the Shia Muslim minority.

Opening up the OPEC oil machine could be a fast track to relief at the pumps, but it would come at the cost of getting closer to the oil tyrants. What if, on the contrary, this country did everything it could to support national production?

No, it would not have the same immediate effect on pump prices. But it would be a better long-term strategy than spending time with the Saudi prince.

US production is already high. The country produced 11.6 million barrels of crude a day in March, the most recent figure listed by the US Energy Information Administration. That’s less than the record high of 12.9 million barrels per day in November 2019. But average daily production so far this year is above any production level before 2018.

We take advantage of this resource. But more could be done to make sure it keeps circulating.

At the same time, high oil and gas prices present an opportunity for renewable energy development: bringing greater renewable resources online, increasing battery production and research, and moving away from fossil fuel dependence more quickly. .

Instead of flying to Saudi Arabia, the President would do better for the country if he stayed home and worked to put in place a national energy policy that maximizes all of our resources and generates a more powerful American future.

About Leni Loberns

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