Republican representative points to administration's own policies that have led to price hikes
As average gas prices in the US are expected to reach $6 per gallon by August according to American Automobile Association (AAA), Energy Sec Jennifer Granholm was grilled for pinning the blame on Vladimir Putin and Russia's military operation in Ukraine.
During a Senate hearing on Thursday, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was pressed by Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri about the record high gas prices, questioning what the Biden administration plans to do to lower costs.
"I'm sure you've seen the reporting this morning," said Hawley, "AAA is projecting that gas prices will hit a national average, average, of $6 a gallon by the month of August. Is this acceptable to you?"
"No, it is not," replied Granholm, adding that "you can thank the activity of Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine and pulling us.."
"Nonsense," Hawley interrupted. "With all due respect, Madam Secretary, that's utter nonsense."
Hawley explained that prices were already on the rise well before Russia launched it's offensive in Ukraine, and that they have been steadily rising since August.
"In January of 2021, the average gas price in my state was $2.07. Eight months later, long before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, that price was up over 30 percent, and has been going up consistently since."
He then pressed the secretary on what the administration was planning to do to reverse policies that are reducing the country's own energy supply and throttling oil and gas production.
Granholm tried to brush it off, saying that Biden's policies were not responsible for affecting supply and demand before being once again interrupted by the Missouri senator who went into a tirade against the Biden administration, pinning the blame for the rising gas prices on the policies they have introduced since taking office.
"Here's what your president did when he first came to office," said Hawley. "He immediately re-entered the Paris Climate Accord, he canceled the Keystone Pipeline, he halted leasing programs in ANWR, he issued a sixty-day halt on all new oil and gas leases and drilling permits on federal lands and waters ... that accounts for 25 percent of US oil production. He directed federal agencies to eliminate all support efforts for fossil fuels, he imposed new regulations on oil and gas, and methane emissions; those were all just in the first few days! Are you telling me that's had no effect on our energy supply?"
The energy secretary then tried to point to a survey, which claimed that the majority of oil and gas executives believed Biden's policies had "nothing to do with the increase in price of oil," but Hawley once again interjected, claiming that he had no interest in the opinions of those people and that he was only interested in facts.
"Is that your testimony? Are you telling me under oath that these policies had no effect?" questioned Hawley, stating that Granholm's answers were insulting and demanding that she give a clear answer as to what the administration is doing to lower gas prices.
Grahnolm replied by giving a vague statement about the US Energy Department "calling for an increase in supply" and asking domestic and international oil and gas manufacturers to up their production, but gave no specifics as to how that process is actually being carried out.
The heated exchange comes as the national average cost of a regular gallon of gasoline in the US reached $4.589 on Thursday morning, beating records set just days prior. Washington has insisted that the rising prices are solely the fault of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and President Joe Biden, as well as other US officials have repeatedly referred to it as the "Putin price hike".