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Port: Joe Biden's oil industry conspiracy theories aren't helping anyone

“If they don’t, they’re going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions,” President Biden said during a Halloween news conference. “My team will work with Congress to look at these options that are available to us and others. It’s time for these companies to stop war profiteering, meet their responsibilities to this country, give the American people a break and still do very well.”

Oil Derrick
Oil Derrick
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MINOT, N.D. — We live in a time when truth, in ways ranging from the prosaic to life-threateningly dangerous, takes a back seat to confirmation bias. Millions upon millions of Americans are intent on believing what they want and not letting inconvenient things like facts get in their way.

Disgraced former President Donald Trump is infamous for holding forth blatant falsehoods that his idolatrous, credulous, boot-licking followers lap up with nary a thought given.

I regret to inform you that current President Joe Biden isn't much better. If he's any improvement at all over Trump, when it comes to politically convenient prevarications, it is only a matter of degree.

Take, for instance, Biden's recent claims about the American oil industry. “The oil industry has not met its commitment to invest in America and support the American people," he claimed during a self-serving address aimed at blame-shifting the skyrocketing cost of living Americans are struggling with.

He instructed the oil industry to either invest their profits in expanded production — an ironic demand given that Biden has spent much of his administration trying to block oil and gas development — or give the money back to the American people.

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“If they don’t, they’re going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions,” he said during a Halloween news conference . “My team will work with Congress to look at these options that are available to us and others. It’s time for these companies to stop war profiteering, meet their responsibilities to this country, give the American people a break and still do very well.”

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This is economically illiterate nonsense. Hokum that is on par with Trump claiming that the COVID-19 virus was "totally under control" "disappearing" before it went on to kill over 1 million Americans .

Oil companies don't set gas prices. Those are set by gas retailers, most of which are independent small businesses operating in a hypercompetitive market. And, yes, oil companies do have control over production, which impacts oil prices, we have to remember that the oil market is global. While America produces more oil than any other country, we're still a fraction of global production . Any effort by America's domestic oil producers to fix prices would quickly be undercut by production from other parts of the world.

There does exist a very real oil industry cartel that we all know about. It's called OPEC, and while its member nations control about 40 to 50 % of the world's oil production, their ability to control oil prices is usually short-lived at best. The cartel often can't even keep some of its own members in line .

No American oil company is a member of OPEC, and not even OPEC itself, whose members collude in the very fashion Biden is blubbering about, can accomplish the sort of price fixing our president thinks is happening among domestic producers.

If Biden wants American oil producers to produce more oil, he should quit threatening them with taxes, and get out of their way.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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