Biden also has a plan to save 10 cents to 35 cents a gallon, seriously
Biden said Thursday that record gas prices were caused by the pandemic and Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine as he unveiled a two-pronged plan to increase supply and reduce demand.
He announced he would release a million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic reserve for the next six months and accelerate the switch to electric vehicles.
But his analysis of the cause of the crisis will attract criticism for opponents who accuse him of shifting the blame for his administration’s economic woes.
‘The problem we’re facing with gas prices has two roots,’ Biden told reporters at the White House.
‘First, the pandemic. When COVID struck demand for oil plummeted so production slowed down worldwide.
‘Because of the strength and the speed of recovery, demand for oil shot back up much faster than the supply. That’s why the cost of gas began to rise last year.
‘The second root is Vladimir Putin.’
At the start of the year the price of a gallon was about about $3.30, he continued, while today it is averaging about $4.22.
‘Nearly a dollar more in less than three months,’ he said. ‘The reason for that is because of Putin’s war.’
In Los Angeles, drivers are paying more than $6 a gallon.
The result has contributed to spiraling inflation and a disastrous series of poll numbers for Biden, as Democrats prepare for difficult midterm elections.
The White House has been desperately seeking a fix, and Biden unrolled his proposals on Thursday afternoon.
It will include asking Congress to impose fines on gas companies that aren’t producing energy from public land, as he seeks to tackle record prices at the pumps.+10View gallery
At the same time he will use the wartime Defense Production Act to accelerate the switch to electric cars, according to senior administration officials, by producing materials needed for high-capacity batteries.
Switching to electric vehicles, said Biden, would bring big savings for motorists.
‘Under my plan, which is before the Congress now, we can take advantage of the next generation of electric vehicles,’ he said.
‘That typical driver will save about $80 a month from not having to pay gas at the pump.’
A handy saving for drivers of electric vehicles which sell for an average of more than $56,000, according to the Kelley Blue Book – $10,000 more than conventional vehicles.
But there may be short-time pain ahead. Putin signaled there could be worse to come with a threat to turn off natural gas supplies to Europe.
And Biden admitted he did not know how long it would take for drivers to see an improvement at the pumps.
‘There’s no firm answer to it,’ he said when asked by a journalist. ‘But prices already came down when it was announced ahead of time.’
He admitted that there will be a ‘slight delay’ before his plans have an impact.
‘I’m talking a matter of days … weeks, but it’s hard to tell,’ he said.
The savings could be anything from 10 cents to 35 cents a gallon, he added.