President Joe Biden’s decision to reverse a series of Trump administration energy policies have harmed American consumers amid the Ukraine crisis, former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said.
Bernhardt, who led the Department of Interior (DOI) between 2019-2021, said Biden’s energy policies reflect activism rather than a coherent strategy to ensure low prices and sufficient supply for Americans. Fossil fuel industry groups and Republican lawmakers have repeatedly blamed the Biden administration for rising energy prices slamming consumers in recent weeks.
“As a candidate, President Biden was very, very clear that he had a different energy vision than the vision of energy independence — even energy dominance — that Trump had,” Bernhardt told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview.
“President Biden campaigned with a very different vision,” he continued. “His vision, I think to say fairly, would be a vision of climate activism over energy independence or energy dominance.”
Bernhardt added that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has filled the DOI with “some of the most activist folks that could have possibly been chosen.” He said the agency is largely crafting energy policies based upon Biden’s directives.
Shortly after taking office in January 2021, Biden issued a series of climate-related executive orders, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline permit and issuing a moratorium on new federal oil and gas leasing, following up on a campaign promise to “get rid of fossil fuels.” The Biden administration has yet to hold an onshore lease sale even after a federal court ruled the moratorium was illegal.
Haaland revoked a dozen key Trump administration energy policies in compliance with Biden’s executive orders in an April 2021 secretarial order. The DOI’s “American Energy Independence,” “Supporting and Improving the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program and Federal Solid Mineral Leasing Program” and “Executive Committee for Expedited Permitting” were among the policies reversed.
“I’m hopeful that these steps will help make clear that we, as a Department, have a mandate to act,” Haaland said at the time.
But Bernhardt pointed to both the lack of drilling and decline in applications for permit to drill (APD) issued by the Biden administration.
“If you look at the number of APDs issued in December 2020 and then compare that to December of 2021, you will see a nearly 80% reduction in APDs issued even though over 4,000 APD requests,” Bernhardt told the DCNF. “And if you look at the length of time it currently takes to do the processing of APDs and let’s say you looked at it between fiscal year 20 and fiscal year 21, you will see a lengthening.”
The U.S. increased domestic oil production during the Trump administration from 8.9 million barrels of oil per day to nearly 13 million barrels of oil per day between 2016-2019, according to Energy Information Administration data. The nation became a net exporter of total energy in 2019 — factoring in oil, coal and natural gas trade — for the first time in nearly eight decades.