Climate change be damned: U.S. oil production is about to soar to new heights.
In spite of President Joe Biden’s pledge to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, U.S. drillers will shatter their pre-pandemic record for pulling dirty crude out of the ground in 2023, according to a new official estimate released Tuesday.
Production will reach an eye-popping 12.4 million barrels per day next year after dipping during the pandemic, the Energy Information Administration said Tuesday.
The rebound shows how Biden’s promise to actually do something about the climate crisis already risks being crushed under intense political and economic pressures, including the need to reboot the economy while keeping gas prices low for average Americans.
The result is the political spectacle of an American president attempting to have it both ways: urging Congress to approve over $500 billion in new climate spending, while asking foreign oil powers to pump more crude and leaning on U.S. energy companies to raise output. Less than a year in office, Biden has approved more oil and gas drilling on public land per month than former President Donald Trump did during his first three years, according to a recent report by Public Citizen, a liberal advocacy group.
Higher gas prices aren’t just political trouble for Biden. They’re also encouraging U.S. oil producers to pull more crude out of the ground: Drillers are on track to top their 2019 peak of 12.3 million barrels a day by next year, when production of natural gas is also expected to reach a new record.
Experts on the economics of climate change said this dynamic shows the need for Congress to pass legislation that will encourage greater reliance on clean, renewable energy. Right now, those plans are being held up indefinitely primarily by a single Democratic politician from a coal-producing state, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.
“Increasing demand for oil and resulting emissions growth demonstrates the urgency of passing the electric vehicle and other clean energy incentives in President Biden’s climate plan as soon as possible,” Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate aide now with the Progressive Policy Institute, told VICE News. “But Biden must also walk a political tightrope right now of keeping inflation down and gasoline prices modest to help consumers until climate legislation makes EVs more affordable, accessible, and easy to charge.”
On Monday, another report found that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are roaring back after their pandemic dip, with growth being fueled by a rebound in coal-generated electricity. Greenhouse gas emissions grew even faster than U.S. economic growth in 2021, increasing at 6.2 percent compared to an estimated 5.7 percent for the economy overall, according to the Rhodium Group.