President Joe Biden’s tactics to deal with rising gas prices continue to be a baffling mix of incoherence and cynicism.
On one hand, Biden is draining America’s strategic stockpile of oil as quickly as he can, while also demonizing U.S. oil companies, shutting down new domestic production, and pushing green energy technology that is expensive, sporadic, and unworkable on a large scale.
On the other hand, he is now cozying up to a communist dictator to boost production in a thinly veiled attempt to save Democrats from almost certain defeat in November.
As The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, the Biden administration has agreed to lift sanctions on Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro to allow Chevron to pump oil in the South American nation.
“In exchange for the significant sanctions relief,” the Journal added, Maduro “would resume long-suspended talks with the country’s opposition to discuss conditions needed to hold free and fair presidential elections in 2024.”
“The U.S., Venezuela’s government and some Venezuelan opposition figures have also worked out a deal that would free up hundreds of millions of dollars in Venezuelan state funds frozen in American banks to pay for imports of food, medicine and equipment for the country’s battered electricity grid and municipal water systems.”
The problem, as with most things Biden does, is that it won’t work.
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Green-lighting Chevron to resume pumping “would put only a limited amount of new oil on the world market in the short term,” the Journal reported.
Venezuela “was once a major oil producer, pumping more than 3.2 million barrels a day during the 1990s, but the state-run industry has collapsed over the past decade because of underinvestment, corruption and mismanagement. Sanctions leveled by the Trump administration further dented production and forced Western companies out of the country.”
A former Chevron executive told the Journal that even if Maduro allowed U.S. firms to work “freely,” it would still take two years just to get Venezuela up to 1.5 million barrels per day, or about half of its production in its heyday.
But there are other issues.
One is that Biden’s move could be seen as selling out the Venezuelan dissidents the U.S. has backed in the effort to force Maduro from office. The Journal noted that like any dictator, he would reap the financial benefits of Chevron’s output with no guarantee he’ll follow through on the political reforms that could lead him to being tossed from office.
And in an aspect the Journal did not mention, one question is will Biden’s green energy allies, while likely sympathetic to Maduro’s left-wing politics, accept the president not just prompting greater fossil fuel exploration but also rewarding some of the very oil companies he has criticized for gouging U.S. motorists at the pump.
Further, Biden has just handed Republicans a vital election-year talking point: by going soft on one of America’s most despised foes, and a communist one at that, for the sake of trying to convince Americans he is doing something about gas prices.