U.S oil and gas producers and their advocates, including Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, are roundly criticizing the Biden administration for reaching out to OPEC to help keep gasoline prices from going any higher.
Fuel prices in the U.S. are currently about $1 higher than they were at this time last year, due in part to increasing demand as more Americans are traveling, but with supply still at levels dictated by the pandemic.
The administration last week urged OPEC to boost oil production, saying current crude oil production is insufficient as people and economies around the world recover from COVID-19.
"We think that policy makes no sense, and we hope they reverse course," said Frank Macchiarola, Senior Vice President for Regulatory Affairs with the American Petroleum Institute.
In a zoom interview Tuesday, Macchiarola said the administration's overture to OPEC last week only added insult to injury, as U.S. producers, he said, feel the Biden's policies have done nothing but stifle investment in domestic production from the moment he took office.
"We think the best approach to providing affordable and reliable energy for the American people is to produce more of what we have right under our feet," said Macchiarola.
Oklahoma's congressional delegation is outraged over the outreach to OPEC.
“Hypocrisy is nothing new in this White House,” said Rep. Kevin Hern, (R) OK-1, in a statement. “President Biden catered to supporters of the radical Green New Deal when he ended the Keystone Pipeline and used executive orders to cripple domestic oil production on the first day of his presidency…Now, Biden wants OPEC – made up of several countries who wish harm on America – to increase their oil production to make up for his failures.”
Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford joined several other Republicans in sending a letter to the President, urging him to rethink his strategy.
"It is astonishing that your administration is now seeking assistance from an international oil cartel when America has sufficient domestic supply and reserves to increase output which would reduce gasoline prices," the Senators stated in the letter. “The best and most effective way to reduce the cost of gasoline at the pump is to unleash clean, affordable and reliable American energy.”
The Biden administration insists that it is simply trying to protect American consumers in the short term from unnecessarily high fuel prices. It is also a long-term goal of the administration to reduce the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.
Macchiarola said relying more on domestic production, not foreign, is actually a win for the environment.
"Because we have some of the most stringent environmental standards right here in United States, so why rely on other countries in regions that are less safe, less secure for our energy needs?" said Macchiarola.
OPEC and its allies did agree to a minor increase in production last month, but so far there's no indication of an intention to increase it any more.