By Ed Hirs
This article was published by Forbes on Sept. 8, 2020.
Texas oil and gas producers were recently polled, and 76% fear a Biden presidency fractionally more than they fear an oversupply of oil. Why? The data for the progress of oil and gas during the Obama and Trump administrations are unequivocal. Let’s review.
President Trump campaigned in 2016 as a friend and supporter of oil and gas. He was going to save coal. How has he done?
The price of oil on January 20, 2017, was $52.33 per barrel. As of August 31, 2020, the price was $42.61 per barrel, a price decline of more than 18 per cent. For comparison, when President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, the price of oil was $38.57 and enjoyed a more than 35 per cent price increase during his time in office—and overturned the ban on U.S. oil exports. Sure, the oil industry has enjoyed looser environmental regulations during the Trump administration. The industry saves pennies per barrel while giving up $10 per barrel in revenues. (The bankruptcy lawyers are not complaining.)
President Trump pays lip service to the domestic oil industry. But to Saudi Arabia, his statements that lower oil prices are the trade for U.S. military protection and for looking the other way on the Khashoggi murder have mattered most. Billions of dollars have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of oil and gas jobs have been lost over the past four years.
How about natural gas? The Trump administration promised green lights for pipelines. The Constitution Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have been abandoned by their developers due to lack of support from the administration in protracted legal economic fights. These cancellations guarantee expensive energy for New England and the residents of Virginia and North Carolina. Producers and consumers, two groups of reliable voters, both lose.
Coal? For the week including inauguration day in 2017, domestic coal production totaled 16,497,563 short tons. For the week ending August 29, 2020, estimated domestic coal production totaled 11,058,044 short tons, a 33% decline. (There is nothing left for the bankruptcy lawyers)
Electricity markets? California is definitely worse off. Keystone XL pipeline? Still not built.
The Trump administration has failed to live up to its 2016 campaign promises. The Biden campaign has nothing to worry about. There are not enough U.S. energy producers and employees left to vote for a second Trump administration.