Nobody likes to pay more for gasoline.
But we all should be pleased to do this when it keeps American money out of the hands of the Russian thug, Vladimir Putin, who is bombing residential areas in Ukraine mercilessly.
Today President Biden announced that the United States won't be importing Russian oil, which accounts for 3% of our oil supply.
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine about two weeks ago, gas prices have risen considerably. I recall that the Shell station in south Salem where I usually fill up was charging about $3.95 a gallon pre-invasion. When I drove by today the price for regular was $4.45.
Rising prices makes many people feel this way when they pass by a gas station.
Many people are living on a limited strict budget. Paying more for gas when you need your car to get to work hurts. Hopefully the Biden administration can find ways to help low-income people pay for gas until the price comes down.
Still, one thing is clear: Biden did the right thing.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine actually isn't a fight between those two nations. It is a fight between authoritarian tyrants who want to use military might to keep themselves in power and extend their control, and democracies who stand for the rule of international law and stable borders.
As President Zelensky of Ukraine has been saying, his country is battling for all of Europe, and indeed the world, against Putin's desire to restore the Soviet Union through military force. If he succeeds in taking over Ukraine, Putin and other authoritarian rulers will be emboldened to invade other sovereign nations.
Problem is, says Zelensky, only Ukrainians are fighting and dying in its war with Russia. So we Americans should be eager to do something much easier than what the brave Ukrainian people are enduring: pay more for gasoline.
We've been spoiled by low gas prices. Europeans pay much more than we do. I recall seeing today that the equivalent price of a gallon of gas in Europe is $7.21. They'd view even $5/gallon as a bargain.
Of course, for a variety of reasons Europeans drive smaller cars that get better gas mileage. We've enjoyed such low gas prices for so long, purchases of large SUVs and pickup trucks have been strong. That's made us more dependent on fossil fuels, even as more people buy electric vehicles.
Sadly, even though Republicans have been calling for an end to importing Russian oil, thereby depriving Putin of money he needs to feed his war machine, they will shamelessly criticize Biden when gas prices rise further, as they probably will.
It needs to be remembered that American presidents have little control over gas prices.
We live in a free market economy when it comes to oil and natural gas. Prices are determined in large part by worldwide supply and demand, a point made in an excellent article in The Atlantic, "America Is the World's Largest Oil Producer. So Why is Losing Russia's Oil Such a Big Deal?"
Since 2018, the United States has been the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. On paper, “we are energy independent,” John Hess, the CEO of Hess, said yesterday at CERAWeek, the energy industry’s annual conference. But what a funny kind of independence it is.
As he spoke, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed U.S. gas prices to more than $4.10 a gallon, setting a new all-time high. Energy independence has neither insulated the economy from geopolitics nor provided the U.S. with more industrial capacity in an emergency. It certainly hasn’t helped slow down climate change.
Energy independence was not, let it be said, an altogether terrible idea. It was, like, fine. When oil prices leap worldwide, major oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are able to insulate their citizens from the shock.
For geological and political reasons, they maintain some spare capacity, that is, oil-pumping capacity that can be turned on and off within six months. They consider fossil-fuel production to be a question of national security, and they regulate it as such.
The United States does not take this approach to its fossil fuels. The federal government does not claim any right to the oil or gas under private land. It has no policy tool to quickly increase or decrease drilling.
...This means that although America may be “energy independent” on paper, American consumers have won no benefits from this independence, and American officials cannot assert this independence in any meaningful way. Market dynamics, not overzealous regulations, have imprisoned the industry.
...Energy independence was not an awful goal. But true independence cannot be achieved by the market alone. The U.S. ensures that its food supply, timberlands, and water quality are not administered solely by the market. That same philosophy can apply to two of its most important natural resources: its fossil fuels and its climate.
The first goal can be achieved through more aggressive management of the industry; the second, by a phaseout of fossil fuels altogether. Only through such stewardship can the United States secure the true dividends of prosperity and freedom.