‘Stay out of the way’: Oil states urge Biden to uncork U.S. drilling instead of turning to OPEC

Gov. Abbott insists ‘Texas can do this’

Republican leaders in oil-and-gas states want President Biden to get behind domestic producers instead of pleading with foreign governments to pump more crude as the administration seeks to counter surging fuel prices.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott advised the White House to “stay out of the way” after the administration announced Wednesday that it would ask OPEC and leading non-OPEC oil producers to boost their output in a bid to drive down world prices.

“Dear White House,” Mr. Abbott tweeted Wednesday. “Texas can do this. Our producers can easily produce that oil if your administration will just stay out of the way. Allow American workers — not OPEC — [to] produce the oil that can reduce the price of gasoline.”

Fellow Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt accused the administration of “punishing” his state with its unfriendly policies toward fossil fuels, which include the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and a freeze on new oil-and-gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

“It is disturbing that the Biden administration looks to foreign adversaries for help while punishing Oklahoma and other oil-producing states here at home,” Mr. Stitt said in a Wednesday statement. “As governor, I take pride in Oklahoma’s status as a global leader in oil and gas production and our history of powering the world for generations.”

He said that “President Biden should grow America’s energy independence and support domestic oil and gas production rather than turning his back on hardworking Oklahomans.”

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen called the administration’s approach “an insult to Americans in rural communities who would have benefited from the Keystone XL pipeline and the energy workers in states like mine who are suffering from the effects of the Biden administration’s ongoing federal lease ban.”

In March, Mr. Knudsen and 12 other GOP attorneys general sued the Biden administration over its moratorium on federal energy leasing.

“President Biden‘s lawless actions restricting domestic energy production began on his first day in office and now that the chickens are coming home to roost, he‘s asking countries like Russia, Iran and Venezuela to bail him out and pump more oil,” Mr. Knudsen said.

The Biden administration is reviewing the federal leasing program as he seeks to reduce U.S. emissions in the name of combating climate change.

Administration officials have noted that the moratorium only affects new leases, not ongoing drilling projects.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday the administration was engaging with the major foreign energy-producing countries — known collectively as OPEC+ — on “the importance of competitive markets in setting prices,” adding that Mr. Biden “wants Americans to have access to affordable and reliable energy, including at the pump.”

“While OPEC+ recently agreed to production increases, these increases will not fully offset previous production cuts that OPEC+ imposed during the pandemic until well into 2022,” Mr. Sullivan said. “At a critical moment in the global recovery, this is simply not enough.”

Mr. Biden was also accused in May of benefiting foreign governments at the expense of domestic producers when he waived sanctions on Western firms building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is slated to run gas from Russia to Germany.

On Thursday, the average price of a gallon of gas was $3.19, up more than a dollar from last year’s average of $2.17; according to the American Automobile Association.