CASPER, Wyo. — Facing a crowded field of challengers in the 2022 General Election, Wyoming’s U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney has been back in Wyoming touting her commitment to fighting for the state’s oil and gas industry in recent days.
Cheney said via Twitter on Tuesday that she took a tour of Jonah Energy in Pinedale this week and used the opportunity to declare that Wyoming’s oil and gas industry is “under attack from the far-left and the Biden Administration’s heartless energy policies in Washington.”
Wyoming politicians have frequently claimed that oil and gas policies under President Joe Biden’s administration could harm Wyoming’s economy. Cheney on Friday attempted to tie Biden energy policies to rising gas prices and gas shortages.
“From cancelling the Keystone Pipeline to banning new oil & gas leasing on federal lands, Biden’s energy policies are having devastating consequences,” Cheney said via Twitter. “We’ve already seen a glimpse of this devastation with prices skyrocketing & gas shortages hitting communities across the country.”
While Cheney is attempting to link gasoline price increases and shortages to the Biden administration’s policies, shortages in the eastern United States in recent weeks were due to a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, which was temporarily shut down on May 7 before resuming operations on May 12.
That pipeline provides about 45% of fuel consumed on the East Coast, according to the Associated Press, and the shut down impacted gasoline distribution, though there was and is not a shortage of overall supply:
The pipeline shutdown also had an impact on the price of gasoline and some gas stations in the southeast part of the country are still seeing supply strain stemming from the shutdown, according to AAA.
But price impacts due to the shutdown have showed signs of easing.
“The national average has stabilized following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, but pump prices are likely to fluctuate leading up to the holiday weekend,” AAA said on Monday. “Over the past weekend, the national gas price average declined a penny to $3.03, the first decrease in two weeks.”
That is still $1.12 more per gallon than a year ago, according to AAA.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted oil prices as did a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
“In January 2020, after seeing a customary decline due to business shutdowns for the Chinese New Year celebration, oil demand from China continued to fall because of economy-wide pandemic-related closures,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in an Oct. 2020 article. “Demand for oil decreased by 3 million barrels per day, which represents approximately 20 percent of the country’s overall oil consumption.”
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spread across the world, Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest oil producer behind the United States, urged fellow Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members and Russia to cut production. Having formed a 2016 alliance with OPEC to control the price of oil through production cuts, Russia, the world’s third-largest oil producer, now resisted the call for further reductions in response to the pandemic. Russia sought to gain market share in anticipation that the U.S. shale industry’s profitability and output would fall in the face of lower prices.”
After Russia and OPEC failed to find agreement, OPEC started ramping up production.
“By the beginning of April, OPEC had raised output by 1.7 million barrels per day, up to a level of 30.4 million barrels per day, the largest production jump since September 1990,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said. “The production boom coincided with an International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate that global demand for oil was down by almost 30 million barrels per day because of the shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With demand down, the addition of petroleum to an already saturated market led to a near-record level of 535.2 million barrels of crude petroleum stockpiles in the United States on May 1.”
The pandemic, the price war and the cyberattack are a few examples that show the complex nature of fuel prices across the planet. Historic data shows that while gasoline prices in the U.S. are higher this spring than in recent years, prices tend to increase in spring and summer each year:
Cheney is not the only politician attempting to use fuel prices as an opportunity to condemn Biden policies. Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso last week also blamed Biden for higher fuel prices as well as higher grocery prices, attempting to link them to not only Biden oil and gas policies but also to spending under the American Rescue Plan.
Wyoming politicians aren’t alone in attempting to use crises or natural disasters to bolster their messaging. Texas Governor Greg Abbott attempted to blame wind and solar energy and the “Green New Deal” for power outages that were largely caused by disruptions to fossil fuel powered souces amid the Arctic blast in February, as explained by the Texas Tribune.
If the Biden administration’s oil and gas policies are having an impact on Wyoming’s economy, that hasn’t yet started showing up in tax revenue data. The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group said in their April update that the impact on Wyoming from the Biden administration’s federal leasing moratorium and cancellation of federal lease sales “is yet to be seen.”