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EDITORIAL: The buck stops over there with President Biden

Democrats are stunned — stunned! — to discover that they’re being blamed for soaring gasoline prices when it’s really all Vladimir Putin’s fault. The disconnect is mind-boggling.

The website GasBuddy reports that Nevada has the nation’s second-highest average gasoline prices at $4.70 a gallon, trailing California’s $5.49. Nevada drivers barely had time to adjust to the shock as the price at the pump went up almost 50 cents a gallon overnight last week.

President Joe Biden and other Democrats blame Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Can’t do much right now,” Mr. Biden said on Tuesday. “Russia is responsible.”

There’s an inkling of truth to that. The Russian invasion has roiled world energy markets, driving up prices. But the president’s “the buck stops over there” deflection ignores that U.S. gasoline prices crept up throughout last year, long before Russia amassed troops on the Ukrainian border. Between January 2021 and December, average gas prices rose $1.32 a gallon on the West Coast, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

This would normally be welcome news to Democrats, who have made no secret that their climate goals depend on dismantling the fossil fuel industry. Indeed, Mr. Biden eagerly went about advancing that agenda from the moment he stepped into the Oval Office, issuing a series of executive orders designed to cripple domestic production.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Mr. Biden “hasn’t held an onshore lease sale and is the only president in at least two decades not to have done so in a given year.” The administration has also telegraphed its intention to use its regulatory authority to limit the oil and gas industry’s access to the financial system.

Commodity prices vary due to a host of entwined factors, but the message Mr. Biden and Democrats sent was clear. “Regulatory uncertainty and political hostility to fossil fuels discourage long-term investments,” the Journal noted, “which are needed to increase supply and keep energy prices in check.”

But with a midterm election approaching and a White House groping from crisis to crisis as gasoline rushes toward $5 a gallon, the president and Democrats are feeling the heat. Mr. Biden’s ban on Russian imports is largely symbolic, but a necessary move. To make up the difference, however, the administration now makes overtures to Venezuela — essentially a Russian client state — and the Saudis. How about taking the shackles off our own U.S. producers?

Renewable energy isn’t yet ready for prime time. So if Mr. Biden and his fellow Democrats continue to oppose incentivizing more domestic oil and gas production, they should come clean with the American public about the costs of such a decision and be willing to own the consequences.

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