Vox Pushes Misrepresentations of Energy Crisis to Undermine Stronger U.S. Oil and Natural Gas Production

As gasoline prices continue to rise, certain media outlets have seemingly been working in overdrive to absolve President Joe Biden of any blame for the costs that consumers are paying at the pump.

The latest comes from Vox, which claims that “America can’t solve its gas price problem (or its Russia problem) with drilling.” Except that’s flat out wrong, as was demonstrated during the Obama administration when the United States did just that.

Let’s take a look at some of the most egregious claims in the Vox article.

On domestic policies, Vox outright gets it wrong:

CLAIM: “Biden has done nothing to halt oil leasing.”

FACT: President Biden halted leasing within the first week of taking office.

This is 100 percent false. In January 2021, just one week into his presidency, President Biden issued an executive order that placed a moratorium on oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands. Despite a federal judge ruling that the moratorium was actually an illegal ban last summer, the administration has yet to hold an onshore sale and has announced it will not appeal another judge’s decision to vacate the only offshore sale held in 2021.

CLAIM: “There was a temporary pause on new federal leases in the first few months of Biden’s administration when he placed a moratorium on them while the administration reviewed how to better integrate climate costs in lease sales.”

FACT:  The “temporary pause” for onshore leasing has been ongoing for more than a year. 

This “temporary pause” started in January of 2021 and still continues today in March of 2022, despite the review being published the day after Thanksgiving – 10 months after the illegal ban was implemented.

And administration’s justification of the review was to “better integrate climate costs in leases sales,” as Vox explains, but as the New York Times noted, “Interior Dept. Report on Drilling Is Mostly Silent on Climate Change.”

CLAIM: “The moratorium is now irrelevant, anyway, because a Louisiana federal judge ruled against it last June.”

FACT: The continued illegal ban is very relevant to the communities, businesses and workers that rely on federal oil and gas development. 

As mentioned previously, the illegal ban is still relevant despite the judge’s ruling because the administration has yet to hold an onshore lease sale, meaning that the ban is still effectively in place. In fact, the administration is fighting to have the ban officially reinstated.

This prolonged ban is having a major effect in states like New Mexico where half of the oil and natural gas production occurs on public lands and the industry comprises one-third of the state budget, including $1.4 billion a year for education.

And on foreign energy policy, Vox misses the mark too:

CLAIM: “LNG exports don’t solve Europe’s or America’s energy challenges. In some ways, they exacerbate them.”

FACT: Experts agree that U.S. LNG is helping keep Europe heated and running right now.

As Energy In Depth has shown before because natural gas is a global commodity, greater domestic production will increase global supply, which helps keep prices low for consumers here at home and overseas.

Elected officials, energy policy experts, and industry leaders have all called for increased production and exports to support our European allies in the midst of the crisis in Ukraine. As Samantha Gross, the director of the Energy Security and Climate Initiative at the Brookings Institute, wrote:

“American natural gas (as liquified natural gas, or LNG) is flowing toward Europe in response to their very high prices — a good business deal for U.S. companies, a counterweight to Russia’s power over European energy supply, and a gesture of good will toward our staunchest allies. Although several members of Congress are calling for limiting U.S. natural gas exports in response to inflation at home, it is a terrible idea, harmful to U.S. foreign policy and useless in lowering prices for American consumers.”

And Daniel Yergin of IHS Markit further explains how U.S. LNG exports support Europe’s response to Russia:

CLAIM: Actions like building LNG terminals and approving new leasing don’t help in the short term when people are struggling to pay high bills. It doesn’t achieve energy independence.

FACT: Holding lease sales and approving necessary infrastructure are part of the solution to address energy prices.

If expanding energy production and constructing energy infrastructure “doesn’t achieve energy independence,” then what will? As the American Petroleum Institute explains:

“Ultimately, energy policies affect the energy investment climate. Specifically, they impact the ability of producers – typically accountable to shareholders – to take the risks involved in spending billions of dollars to find and develop oil and gas. Mischaracterizing the way federal leases work does not help foster new investment and risk-taking.”

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