After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, oil and gasoline prices skyrocketed to ludicrous amounts of money, with a barrel of oil costing around $100 per barrel and gasoline prices slowly creeping up past $4 per gallon.
President Joe Biden attempts to order a release of around one million barrels of oil per day and urge congress to press the oil industry to heighten work on increased drilling on federal lands in an attempt to quell the rising gasoline prices. The move was in response to quell the oil markets that drove the gasoline prices to all-time highs the nation has seen since 2008 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The rising gasoline prices have sparked criticism from would-be voters for the mid-term elections in November. Despite U.S oil production climbing ever since Biden has set foot in the White House, the rate of growth hasn’t averaged up when barrels of oil have been going for $100 per barrel.
All these changes may seem great on the surface, but they don’t bode well for the Environment as a whole. The first thing Biden did when first stepping into office was rejoin the WHO (World Health Organization) and the Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change adopted in 2015. It covers climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance. Ironically enough, the oil reserve plan Biden plans to enact is anything but healthy for the environment and definitely goes against what the Paris Agreement aims to quell. Crude oil (and other fossil fuels) are one of the main causes of environmental damage. Oil spills contaminate soil and water, making other resources such as fish and clean water harder to produce.
Biden on this topic of drilling more to obtain more crude oil has opted to use the Defense Production Act to obtain more critical minerals such as manganese, lithium, cobalt, etc needed to develop batteries, a crucial piece for the power grid and electric vehicles. This effort, however, won’t be enough to circumvent the environmental changes the drilling will do. This issue also ties in with the main resources of clean energy coming from China and Russia, controversial nations in the past months.
Biden is definitely amidst the crisis thanks to Russia’s invasion and the timing of its invasion. With the looming midterms close by, and the rising oil and gasoline prices, Biden’s forced to make an action to keep voters under his belt but both options have their own slew of problems. If Biden were to keep drilling for crude oil, the environment would tank in terms of health which is why he aims to do more to keep this from happening. The other problem at hand is that if he doesn’t do anything, the oil and gas prices would keep rising, causing a nation angry at said prices and demanding there be change. Biden is also attempting to gain more resources for clean energy, but there are few streamlines for permitting, and there would be little increase in American mineral production. He also can’t get clean energy resources from the main sources because of the controversies surrounding them, with Russia invading Ukraine and being the root cause of why gas and oil prices are high in the first place and China’s economy being a communist country under the name Chinese Communist Party.
All of these answers lead to more problems which may lead to Biden losing voters for the midterms, but what is the “correct” answer? Do we forego progress for environmental cleanliness for lower gas prices, or do we do nothing and let the nation go up in metaphorical flames as prices continue to rise?