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Stefanik’s Distorted U.S. Energy Production Claim

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In her speech nominating Rep. Jim Jordan as House speaker, Rep. Elise Stefanik distorted the facts about U.S. energy production and the reasons for higher gasoline prices and utility bills.

Stefanik, who is the House Republican Conference chair, made her case for Jordan on Oct. 17, during the first roll call vote for speaker, which ended with Jordan falling well short of the necessary votes to become speaker.

The New York Republican claimed that Jordan is the right person “for such a time as this” — a quote from the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible. She claimed, among other things, that “American energy production has been crushed by Joe Biden’s radical, failed far left policies, causing seniors, farmers and families to pay more at the pump and struggle with skyrocketing utility bills.”

In fact, U.S. oil production has increased since Biden took office. Gasoline and utility prices have gone up, too, but experts have told us the reasons have little to do with Biden.

In 2020, before Biden took office, domestic crude oil production averaged 11.3 million barrels per day in the U.S., according to the Energy Information Administration. In the last 12 months, crude oil production averaged about 12.5 million barrels per day, EIA data through July show. That’s an increase in oil production of roughly 10.7%.

And the EIA projects that production will average 12.92 million barrels a day in 2023 and 13.12 million barrels a day in 2024. Both averages would exceed the record set in 2019.

As for gasoline prices, the national average price of regular gasoline was $2.379 the week of Jan. 18, 2021, and $3.576, as of the week of Oct. 16. That’s an increase of a whopping 50% during Biden’s presidency.

Likewise, average electricity prices increased from 10.66 cents per kilowatt-hour, or kwh, in 2020 to 13.21 cents per kwh in the third quarter of 2023, according to EIA historical data. That’s an increase of nearly 24%.

However, the price at the pump depends on the cost of crude oil, which is set on the global market and based largely on worldwide supply and demand, as the EIA explains on its website. Experts have told us that the global supply has struggled to keep pace with the demand after the pandemic-induced economic shutdowns and during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Utility prices, too, are determined by the price of “feeder fuels,” which is set on the global marketplace, Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, told us.

“President Biden has no more control over retail electric, natural gas, heating oil or gasoline prices than did President Trump,” Wolfe said in an email. “‘Feeder fuels’ such as natural gas and coal to produce electricity and petroleum to produce gasoline are set in [the] marketplace rather than by ‘fiat’ by the White House.”

The House was scheduled to resume voting on a speaker Oct. 18.

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