The Other Side of the Story

The Other Side of the Story

© David Burton 2023

The Conservative Perspective

     Just about every story in real life has two (or more) interpretations. This is especially true in politics, where Conservatives and Liberals interpret just about everything in diametrically opposite ways. These days, the Right and the Left generally espouse the extreme Republican conservative philosophies of Donald Trump and that of Democratic liberal Joe Biden. While I lean toward the conservative outlook on politics, both Trump’s and Biden’s positions are too extreme for my liking.

     To illustrate my point, consider the issue of energy, with its related problems of pollution, global warming, international politics, and national defense,

     President Joe Biden immediately, after taking office in January 2021, signed a series of executive orders that prioritized climate change across all levels of government with the goal of putting the U.S. on track to curb planet-warming carbon emissions.
     Biden’s orders directed the secretary of the Interior to halt new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters, and begin a thorough review of existing permits for fossil fuel development.
     In addition to the pause on leasing, Biden directed the federal government to conserve 30% of federal lands and water by 2030 and find ways to double offshore wind production by that time.
     That series of actions kicked off the Liberal agenda of reducing the country’s emissions and establishing stricter targets under the Paris climate accord, the landmark agreement by nearly 200 nations aimed at slowing or halting adverse global climate change.
     On Biden’s first day in office, he had the United States re-enter the Paris accord and he cancelled the permit for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
     During Barack Obama’s presidency, the U.S. vowed to curb emissions between 26% and 28% below 2005 levels by 2025 but it failed to come anywhere near that goal. Progress on reductions essentially came to a screeching halt during the Conservative Trump administration, which minimized the role of climate change and weakened more than 100 environmental regulations in favor of fossil fuel producers.
     Biden, in turn, pushed to implement an ambitious $2 trillion climate control plan. Oil and gas producers strongly opposed Biden’s move. “Penalizing the oil and gas industry kills good-paying American jobs, hurts our already struggling economy, makes our country more reliant on foreign energy sources, and impacts those who rely on affordable and reliable energy,” said the president of the American Exploration and Production Council. On the other side, environmental groups, who had long pushed for the changes, were ecstatic and praised the orders.
     Biden’s climate plan included goals to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, cut emissions from electric power to zero by 2035 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.[1]

     Consider now the flip side of the energy coin. Do you want to pay more for your energy? If so, President Joe Biden’s new drilling prohibition in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is good news for you. The rest of us, though, are less than thrilled with his efforts to throttle the energy sector. Today, it is estimated that this Liberal president is needlessly costing each and every American family an extra $2,400 on their annual energy bill.
     On his first day in office, Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and issued what was supposed to be a temporary moratorium on all oil and natural gas activities in ANWR. But then he canceled all leases and permits there, closing off one of the nation’s most energy-rich areas to development.
     This unwise action followed closely on the heels of his administration’s ban on shipping liquified natural gas by rail. By blocking the transport of domestic natural gas via additional pipelines and now the railroads, the president is simultaneously increasing the nation’s dependence on energy imports, driving up energy prices and increasing countless costs throughout the chemical and manufacturing industries.
     While about 80% of the world derives their fossil-fuel-based chemical feedstocks from crude oil, America gets about 80% of its feedstocks from its abundant reserves of inexpensive, clean natural gas. This gives American industry about a 70% cost savings on feedstocks, which are then passed to consumers on countless items.
     But restricting the transportation of inexpensive natural gas curtails how much of this relatively clean energy is available to domestic industry, squandering that advantage. The result is higher prices throughout the economy. This increase in energy prices is devastating to many American families.
     Since Joeseph Biden took office in 2021, every energy source has seen a dramatic increase in price: gasoline 60%, diesel 47%, natural gas 25% and propane 23%. These increases, combined with a 70% increase in the price of coal, have also driven electricity prices up 24%.
     Those higher electricity prices are also the result of the Biden administration mandates that force unreliable energy sources into the nation’s electricity grid. That’s an additional cost that ultimately gets passed to consumers.
     As a presidential candidate, Biden repeatedly promised he would wage war on reliable, American energy if elected. He has followed through on that pledge, hitting domestic energy producers with higher taxes, more onerous regulations and possibly the most hostile business environment in that industry’s history.
     Here in 2023, U.S. energy production remains artificially depressed under the withering attacks of the Biden administration. Oil production remains below its pre-pandemic level and substantially below its pre-pandemic trend. Biden’s policies have decreased domestic oil production by between 2 and 3 million barrels a day, and between 20 and 25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.
     As a major negative consequence, Americans have been forced to import more oil – some from very unfriendly nations. Even with the addition of this energy from abroad, private oil stocks are still falling almost 800,000 barrels per day because we simply aren’t producing enough domestically. Privately owned oil stockpiles haven’t been this low since 1985.
     Thanks to the ultra-Liberal policies of President Biden, the government’s oil stock in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is way down, almost 290 million barrels or 45%, since he took office. Reduced production and reserves jeopardize America’s ability to adequately meet a national crisis. Should one arise, prices would soar even higher than their current elevated levels.
     But that’s the goal of Biden’s “green” agenda. Higher prices are a success in his eyes, not a failure, because they force families to use less energy. High energy prices are a feature, not a failure. Our economic pain in the meantime? Tough. It’s just something we must endure!
     While the nations of OPEC+ cut their petroleum production and raise their prices, the United States should be increasing its own oil and gas production, powering both the American and the global economies. Instead, this liberal president and his Democratic administration are willing captives to our enemies, costing American families thousands of dollars and resulting in this country losing national prestige.[2]

     Concerning America’s energy sector, here is some information.

     The US exported about 30% more energy than it imported in 2022. Average prices for a gallon of regular-grade gas rose from $3.45 in January 2022 to $4.87 in June — the highest level since September 2012, after adjusting for inflation. Prices dropped back to around $3.50 in mid-2023. But, toward the end of September 2023, regular gasoline prices were once again nearing the $4.00 per gallon mark.
     Energy consumption per person increased in 2022 after dipping in 2020. About 68% of U.S. energy consumption is from petroleum or natural gas, while renewable and nuclear sources account for 20%. Coal production has declined since 2010. Natural gas and crude oil production are growing. Nuclear energy production, the nation’s leading non-fossil fuel energy source since 1984, has remained flat for two decades. Solar and wind energy are growing. In 2019, wind energy became the nation’s third most-produced source of non-fossil fuel energy after nuclear and biomass.
     U.S. Carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption rose in 2021 and 2022.
     The US exported about 30% more energy than it imported in 2022. Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 disrupted energy markets, leading to a lower supply of crude oil (the US’ largest energy import) from Russia and higher US petroleum product exports (its largest energy export) to Europe. America imported 84% more crude than it exported in 2022. The crude oil trade deficit has fallen since 2010, when the nation brought in more than 200 times as much crude oil as it shipped out.
     Energy consumption per person in 2022 increased for the second year after dipping in 2020. However, per-person energy consumption in 2022 was still 1% lower than the 2010s average.[3]

     As the United States enters another presidential election year, the question of where we stand on climate change can be reviewed.

     After a year in office, the results of President Biden’s actions were summarized in January of 2022 as follows: “Simply rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and producing the United States’ nationally determined contribution will do little to mitigate climate change. While the Biden Administration has addressed climate change through executive orders and regulations, these actions can easily be reversed by future administrations. Meanwhile, the administration’s climate priorities have largely not been codified in law, beyond the extension of funding to existing environmental programs in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It is clear that funding research and the development of innovative climate and energy technologies enjoys bipartisan support, but support for the president’s other—and more substantial—policies to mitigate climate change has proved elusive.” (Ref. 4)

     There’s a popular genre of fiction books and TV programs that explore what the world might have been like if history had taken a different twist. What if Julius Caesar never crossed the Rubicon? What if Napoleon won at Waterloo? What if the Allies lost the Great War? And what might gasoline prices look like today if we didn’t have a president deliberately trying to force Americans off our most abundant, most reliable energy sources? Counterfactuals like these are just that - fiction. But they can help us see reality a little more clearly.
     It was no secret on the campaign trail that Joe Biden wanted to end America’s use of conventional energy such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Biden’s first executive orders in office deployed a sweeping regulatory agenda throughout the executive branch to that end. This radical agenda has been the consistent message and persistent policy choice of Joe Biden’s administration.
     The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) Annual Energy Outlook in 2020 gave us a hint of an “alternate history” of what might have been. This outlook made projections for the next three decades, assuming that existing laws and regulations at the time - prior to the Biden policies - remained the same.
     After a record-breaking year of energy production in the U.S. in 2019, what did the Energy Information Administration expect in the outlook for 2021 and 2022 - that is, the first two years of Biden’s presidency?
     In 2020, prior to Joe Biden assuming office, the EIA anticipated that gasoline prices would increase in both its baseline case and a scenario where crude oil prices were much higher than expected. It projected gasoline prices to be around $2.78 per gallon in 2021 and $2.85 per gallon in 2022. It didn’t expect to see $5 gasoline until 2040.
     In reality, gasoline prices increased 48% from Inauguration Day 2021 to the week before Russia invaded Ukraine, and diesel prices increased 49%. The national gasoline price in 2021 averaged $3 a gallon. Gasoline prices in mid-2020 were actually averaging above $5, nearly 20 years “ahead of schedule.”
     Assuming no policy changes from what Congress and the Trump administration had on the books at the close of 2019, the EIA projected strong production growth of U.S. crude oil and petroleum products, with the United States being a net exporter through 2050. It projected even greater crude oil production and petroleum exports under a scenario where global oil prices were assumed to be high.
     Just like gasoline prices, oil production did not play out the way the EIA anticipated. The pandemic and government responses to it totally changed the situation. As Americans drastically changed their commutes and travel plans, the price of oil plummeted and oil production sharply dropped in March 2020 before showing signs of recovery over the summer.
     And then the U.S. had a presidential election where two very different energy policy agendas were competing. Perhaps the first hint that recovery and reality would be different from one another was after the election when oil and gas companies raced to secure thousands of government permits to drill on federal lands in the waning months of the Trump presidency. They were concerned, with good reason, that Biden would follow through on his campaign promises. To date, Joe Biden is the only president in modern history not to have held a single oil and gas lease sale on federal lands despite clear direction from Congress to do so quarterly.
     The Department of Interior immediately decreased the amount of available acreage for drilling by 80% even as it cut fees and red tape for renewable “green” energy production. Concurrently, times to approve permits to drill on already leased land ballooned by more than 67% from the Trump administration’s best average of 108 days in 2019 to over 180 days in 2020 under the Biden administration, and scores of permits were held up by litigation initiated by extreme environmental groups allied with the White House. Offshore, the Biden administration did not complete a single lease sale. In contrast, Trump held 8 sales in his single term and former President Barack Obama held 29 in his two terms.
     When Biden entered office with his clear agenda to forcefully transition Americans away from fossil fuels, that inserted artificial constraints on oil production despite demand. U.S. crude oil production in 2021 - during Biden’s first year in office - was 9% below 2019 levels and, incredibly, even below 2020 levels when the worst of the pandemic shock took place. Where the 2020 outlook anticipated production of 13.2 million barrels of crude oil per day in 2021, reality was only 11.2 million barrels per day. Offshore, oil rig counts fell drastically in 2020. There were half as many onshore rigs operating per month in 2021 as in 2019. Domestic oil production that is happening today is a result of federal lease sales under Trump and Obama and production that is being done on private and state lands despite the Biden administration’s long-term agenda.
     The invasion of Ukraine by major energy producer Russia’s is undoubtedly factoring into the high prices Americans are paying for gasoline. But to stop there is to totally ignore the policy choices being made by the Biden administration that have led to significant increases in energy prices even before Russia invaded Ukraine. The Biden administration has made very clear: that it intends to put the oil industry in America out of business in the long term. The Biden administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline was only the most visible of those measures. It also has proposed or finalized regulations that restrict nearly every aspect of the oil industry: financing and private-sector investment, exploration and production, pipeline construction and operation, and consumer use. It’s hard to say how much faster markets could have corrected after the pandemic. However, actively pushing policies to prevent significant new oil production infrastructure from being built can only work against the market self-correcting.
     Biden’s persistent pursuit of an anti-fossil fuel agenda is only making a bad situation worse. At times, the administration has even admitted that high prices for the American family are part of the process.
     What we have been witnessing most recently is a classic battle between a free market and a socialistic government administration. History has repeatedly proved that attempts at goverment directed economies fare poorly in comparison with free market economies. A government directed economy has never been the American way!
     There were reasons why Californians were paying $6.27 for a gallon of regular gasoline in 2020 - $1.27 more than the national average - and why they pay billions more per year than if they were paying the national average price for gasoline.
     California requires a boutique blend of gasoline to meet its own climate and environmental regulations and heavily regulates the refineries that produce fuel. It is also working to restrict and eventually eliminate oil and gas production in the state and it severely restricts pipelines, forcing the state to rely on expensive, heavily regulated domestic shipping of petroleum. Its Low Carbon Fuel Standard is designed to penalize conventional gasoline and diesel and subsidize alternative fuels. And it is requiring an increasing number of trucks and all new passenger vehicles sold in the state to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. If California’s policies sound vaguely familiar, they should. The Biden administration was working in effect to nationalize California’s energy and climate policies.
     Similarly, for well over a decade, Europe was unnecessarily rejecting proven technologies like hydraulic fracturing to access cleaner natural gas energy resources; heavily subsidizing less efficient, less reliable wind and solar energy technologies; and taxing or eliminating the use of natural gas, coal, oil, and, in some cases, nuclear energy. This was in addition to a regional carbon tax and plans to build out a financial taxonomy system to force banks and other private financing away from fossil fuels and toward green energy. The combination of decreasing domestic production of useful sources of energy while heavily subsidizing inherently intermittent resources has left Europeans with a costly and fragile energy sector and exposed Europe to greater risk both in energy markets and political independence.
     Years of such policy left Europe flat-footed without alternatives to Russian energy imports, consequently disrupting global oil markets during the current Russian-Ukrainian War and contributing to the high global prices Americans are paying.
     Unfortunately, it is the clear and demonstrated aspiration of too many European politicians and the Biden administration to prevent new and more efficient infrastructure for oil, gas, and coal production to be built and “locked in” for decades of usefulness. Instead, they prefer to wring out what’s left of existing production and rely on imports while forcing their economies onto more costly, less reliable green energy alternatives.
     But here, Biden is attempting to engage in his own alternative history - a counterfactual scenario that is just as fictional. High gasoline prices are just part of his “incredible transition” away from the fuel that supplies 35% of Americans’ total energy needs and 90% of Americans’ transportation fuel needs.
     Despite the onset of renewable energy technologies, global demand for oil and gas hasn’t changed much and doesn’t look like it will in the near future. America’s oil and natural gas resources are energy assets for which to be incredibly thankful, as the alternative has proved to be devastating poverty.
     Biden’s radical energy policy has been reality-defying and based on an anti-fossil fuel fiction that is causing unnecessary hardship and costing Americans dearly.[5]

     Midway through September 2023, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) slammed President Biden’s energy policies, placing blame on his administration for relying too much on the country’s “enemies.”
     “We’ve watched the really horrendous decisions by the Democrats and the Biden administration,” McCarthy said. “They hurt America by cutting off what God has blessed this country to do, where we can be energy independent,” he added. “Raising the price of fuel, what that does is raises inflation.” McCarthy advocated for American “energy independence,” an agenda that has been the backbone of Republican energy policy. He argued that increasing domestic energy production could even be good for the environment.
     “If we replaced Russian natural gas in Europe, for one year, just one year, that would lower 215 million tons of emissions because our natural gas is 41 percent cleaner than Russian natural gas,” he claimed. The Speaker said Democratic energy priorities - specifically those that focus on renewable energy - only serve to dampen the economy and can exacerbate inflation.
     “The Biden administration has gone in and done an attack on the energy business, only wants renewable energy,” McCarthy said, adding that the actions of the Democratic administration have “made the price of energy higher.” “It doesn’t mean we buy less, it means we’re buying it from our enemies,” he quipped.
     “It is a sad place, but it’s all from Democratic policies from this administration. Not just hurting America and our economy but helping our adversaries be stronger,” he said.
     “That is why we need an American energy policy, which the House has passed, that makes America energy independent, utilizing all forms of energy from renewable, from nuclear, from oil and natural gas as well,” the California Republican added.[6]

     Socialism is the Big Lie of the Twentieth century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery. And, let’s admit it, the foundation of the Democratic Party’s position since the days of Franklin Roosevelt and has been socialistic. The foundation of Joe Biden's policy and that of the Democratic Party is still socialism.
     In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may show early signs of success. But any accomplishments quickly fade as the fundamental deficiencies of central planning emerge. It is the initial illusion of success that gives government intervention its pernicious, seductive appeal. In the long run, socialism has always proven to be a formula for economic failure and misery.
     A pyramid scheme is ultimately unsustainable because it is based on faulty principles. Likewise, collectivism is unsustainable in the long run because it is a flawed theory. Socialism does not work because it is not consistent with fundamental principles of human behavior. The failure of socialism in countries around the world can be traced to one critical defect: it is a system that ignores incentives. Consider all the failures of socialism since the days of Marx and Lenin. Consider the obvious failures of socialism around the world in Cuba, Eastern Europe, and China. Back in 2016, Haitian refugees were risking their lives trying to get to Florida in homemade boats. Why was it that people were fleeing Haiti and traveling almost 500 miles by ocean to get to the “evil capitalist empire” when they were only 50 miles from the “workers’ paradise” of Cuba?
     In a capitalist economy, incentives are of the utmost importance. Market prices, the profit-and-loss system of accounting, and private property rights provide an efficient, interrelated system of incentives to guide and direct economic behavior. Capitalism is based on the theory that incentives matter! American capitalism has proven to be the greatest economic system the world has ever known. The evidence of history overwhelmingly favors capitalism as the greatest wealth-producing economic system available.
     A fatal defect of socialism is its blatant disregard for the role of private property rights in creating incentives that foster economic growth and development.
     The main difference between capitalism and socialism is this: Capitalism works![7]

     The record of government interference in the economy of a country, whether in the United States or in countries around the world, is not pretty. Similarly, that of the Biden administration has not been a positive. The consequences of the actions of this liberal and socialist-leaning administration will adversely impact the American economy for years to come. The Biden administration’s program continues the trend of increasing the debt for our children that will have to be financed somehow in the future. As this socialistic program has evolved, we have seen the growth of inflation and increase in taxes. We have also witnessed a fall in the value of the dollar and decreased foreign investment in the United States, lower productivity overall, and reduced economic growth. The Biden meddling in the American economy has been a path to impoverishment. We need to bring this destructive policy to a rapid halt and reversal.

  1. Biden suspends oil and gas leasing in slew of executive actions on climate change, Emma Newburger, CNBC,
    27 January 2021.
  2. Biden’s latest attack on American energy is costing you, E. J. Antoni, Boston Herald; Pge 13, 18 September 2023.
  3. What types of energy does the US produce and consume? How much energy do Americans use?,,
    Accessed 18 September 2023.
  4. The Biden Administration’s Energy and Climate Policies in Its First Year, Ewelina Czapla,
    AMERICAN ACTION FORUM, 20 January 2022.
  5. Biden’s Radical, Anti-Fossil Fuel Energy Policy Costs Americans Dearly, Katie Tubb, The Heritage Foundation,
    28 June 2022.
  6. McCarthy hits Biden on energy policies: ‘We’re buying it from our enemies’, Nick Robertson,,
    17 September 2023.
  7. Why Socialism Always Fails, Mark J. Perry, AEIdeas, 22 March 2016.

  7 December 2023 {Article 602; Politics_87}    
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