AAPL President James T. Devlin, CPL, delivers letter to President Biden’s National Security Advisor in response to the administration’s order to lower gasoline prices
August 16, 2021
The Hon. Jake Sullivan
National Security Advisor
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. Sullivan:
On behalf of the nearly 11,000-member American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL) and our 41 affiliated local associations across North America, I am writing to you to express our concern with your statement made on August 11, 2021, in which you and President Biden called upon OPEC+ nations to increase oil production in order to lower gasoline prices in the United States.1 Echoing your statement, on August 12, 2021, President Biden told the nation, “I want to make sure that nothing stands in the way of oil price declines leading to lower prices for consumers […] We also made clear to OPEC – the major oil exporting nations of the world – that the production cuts made during the pandemic should be reversed as the global economy recovers, in order to lower prices for consumers.”2
Not only was this plead to adversarial nations embarrassing, but reckless, because it imperils American security at a time when our nation has finally reached near energy independence from countries that wish to do America harm.
As reported by non-partisan Real Clear Energy, America would not be where it is today without the utilization of our abundant natural resources and energy production. While many presidents who came before him shared the collective goal of achieving and maintaining American security and independence, President Biden and his Administration are acting in direct contradiction of those interests. In March of this year, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that the U.S. imported 6.1 million barrels of crude oil from Russia, the highest level in nearly 10 years. March also marked a milestone for Russia, which became our third-largest oil exporter. To make matters worse, June crude imports from Russia were reported at a staggering 7.5 million barrels, or nearly 30% higher than they were even in the highest month under President Trump (May 2019).3
But sadly, these dangerous trends were avoidable. Since his inauguration, President Biden has stood in the way of providing safe and affordable energy for the United States. In fact, on day one, the Biden administration declared war on the traditional energy industry, first by cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline permit just minutes after being sworn in, and by the stroke of a pen killing more than 10,000 American jobs4, and later by issuing Executive Order No. 13990 which imposed a “temporary” pause on new federal oil and gas leasing while the U.S. Department of the Interior “reviewed” the program.5 This latter action – with a supposed 60-day timeline – has now run well past all dates directed by the Executive Order as well as assurances provided by Interior Secretary Debra Haaland in sworn congressional testimony. Today, the “temporary pause” has exceeded 200 days.
The above highlights the inevitability that President Biden’s deliberate actions would lead to groveling before countries – who wish harm to the United States – to bolster our nation’s energy supplies when such a foreign policy was unthinkable just months ago due to the productivity of the domestic energy industry. If President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan means increasing reliance on adversarial nations for oil, it may be time to reassess the policy goals rather than increasing America’s security threats at home while the American consumer suffers in the face of increased inflation.
This sentiment has been echoed by industry leaders and stakeholders who are confused by a foreign policy that puts America last and imperils its citizens. “Calling for increased OPEC+ oil production demonstrates the fallacy of the White House Federal lands energy ban,” said Christopher Guith, Senior Vice President at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute. “We need to let the U.S. produce oil under the world’s strictest environmental standards and boost our economy instead of Russia’s and the Middle East.”6 According to Salena Zito, CNN political analyst and energy industry reporter for the Washington Examiner, “The energy industry in the United States has been one of the most robust sectors in our economy, leading right before the pandemic, we produced more oil than any other country in the world and we were self-sufficient in that area. Not only was that a job creator, and not only just directly within the energy industry but also the downstream industries that support it and the communities that then thrive on it and the school districts that benefit from it. But it also was very important in national security, which is why I thought it was curious today the national security head was telling, essentially begging the OPEC countries to produce more oil.”7
Unfortunately, these policy decisions have resulted in a nearly 42 percent jump in gasoline prices in just seven short months. According to AAA, states like California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming have seen prices unheard of since 2012.8 While President Biden feigns ignorance as to the “sudden” rise in gasoline prices, cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline permit – mere hours into his presidency – telegraphed to the energy industry, and the hard-working men and women who serve those industries, that the administration has declared war on its own American companies. The administration’s passive acquiescence to our stance against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline running from Russia to Europe is yet another example of putting American Energy last and increasing the environmental risks and a bit of a “Not in My Backyard” approach the administration seems to be advocating. This, coupled with an indefinite pause on new federal oil and gas leasing, signals to traditional energy companies – many of whom employ AAPL’s members – that the United States is closed for business. Even worse, these moves imperil our national security at a time of foreign instability as the Taliban regains control in the Middle East.
Moreover, according to Forbes, “It seems instructive at this point to note that neither Biden or Sullivan issued any similar request to America’s own producers of oil and gas, who could, if they wanted to, significantly ramp up oil production here in the United States.”9 This fact was echoed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott when he tweeted soon after your statement, “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—produce the oil that can reduce the price of gasoline. Don’t make us dependent on foreign sources of energy.” In fact, as of 2020, the United States had “actually achieved one measure of energy independence.” According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Over the 10 months ended May of 2020, the United States exported more energy than it imported” which was the “equivalent to about 20.8 billion gallons of gasoline.”10 AAPL members and the oil and gas industry are more than ready to meet any challenges faced at home without putting our economy and citizens at risk.
I call upon the Biden administration to reconsider this misguided policy of increasing our reliance on adversarial foreign nations for our energy needs when we have abundant domestic supplies at home. As we emerge from a global pandemic, it is more vital than ever that we build back prosperity for hardworking American families while strengthening longstanding foreign policy to protect America’s national security rather than weaken it.
James T. Devlin, CPL
American Association of Professional Landmen
1 Statement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on the Need for Reliable and Stable Global Energy Markets (The White House; August 11, 2021); https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/08/11/statement-by-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan-on-the-need-for-reliable-and-stable-global-energy-markets/
2 “Biden says OPEC must raise oil output to ‘lower prices for consumers’” (MarketWatch; August 11, 2021); https://www.marketwatch.com/story/biden-says-opec-must-raise-oil-output-to-lower-prices-for-consumers-11628710037
3 “Why Is the Biden Administration Attacking America’s ‘Energy Independence?’” (Real Clear Energy; July 28, 2021); https://www.realclearenergy.org/articles/2021/07/28/why_is_the_biden_administration_attacking_americas_energy_independence_787549.html
4 “Ted Cruz pumps up Keystone job numbers” (Washington Post; January 26, 2021); https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/01/26/ted-cruz-pumps-up-keystone-job-numbers/
5 Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis (Executive Order No. 13990; Presidential Actions; The White House; January 27, 2021), https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/20/executive-order-protecting-public-health-and-environment-and-restoring-science-to-tackle-climate-crisis/
6 “Biden asks OPEC what?” (POLITICO; August 12, 2021); https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-energy/2021/08/12/biden-asks-opec-what-797110
7 “Joe Biden ‘'put his foot on the neck’ of the energy industry, now he wants more oil: Salena Zito” (Fox News; August 12, 2021); https://www.foxnews.com/media/joe-biden-energy-industry-more-oil-salena-zito
8 Gas prices hit new highs – these states saw the largest weekly increase (NBC Michigan; July 20, 2021); https://www.woodtv.com/news/national/gas-prices-hit-new-highs-these-states-saw-the-largest-weekly-increase/
9 “Suddenly Worried About Gas Prices, Biden Wants OPEC+ To Produce More Oil” (Forbes; August 12, 2021); https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidblackmon/2021/08/12/suddenly-worried-about-gas-prices-biden-wants-opec-to-produce-more-oil/?sh=3be6a3111131
10 “Forget peak oil: America's booming oil industry has allowed the US to achieve a type of energy independence” (Business Insider; September 25, 2020); https://www.businessinsider.com/us-oil-exports-higher-imports-country-energy-independence-2020-9