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Andrew Stuttaford: Gas Prices and The 'Incredible Transition'

There was a time when the Biden administration used to claim that the surge in inflation was a brief “transitory” thing, something to be deplored, but something that did at least have the merit of being temporary.

That didn’t work out.

And now, gas prices. . . .

The New York Post quotes President Biden as follows:

“[When] it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over,” Biden said during a press conference in Japan following his meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Now, of course, the president and his team do not appreciate the current spike in gas prices, an inconvenient development at a politically inconvenient time: Midterms and all that.

The Post:

The president then insisted that his administration’s actions, rather than increasing the price of gas, had actually been able to “keep it from getting worse — and it’s bad.”

CNET (May 22):

On Friday, the national average for a gallon of gas swelled to $4.59, according to AAA. That’s about a quarter more than the previous all-time high of $4.33, reached on March 11, and a 50-cent jump from just a month ago.


Well, it’s good that Biden acknowledges that the situation is “bad.”

Not only that, he accepts that “it’s affecting a lot of families.”

Who knew?

The reality of the “incredible” (in more senses of that word than one) transition, is that, if it is pursued as currently contemplated, energy — whatever the price of oil may do in the short term — is going to be becoming more expensive (and probably more unreliable, too, but that’s a different story), and for the foreseeable future. To climate warriors (and there are quite a few of those in the Biden administration) that’s a feature, not a bug. But the smarter among them them also appreciate the political dangers (which are not confined to the midterms) that come with this. Ideally, they would prefer transition-related increases in the cost of energy to be relatively slow, and relatively steady. Frogs in a pot — that was the model.

Well, if we’re the frogs, the unexpected disaster at the gas pumps has just given us a preview of what, on our present course, will be coming our way.

“Incredible” is not the word I’d use to describe it.



Note: Amended to reflect the fact that I should have referred to frogs, not lobsters. What’s more, I have learned that the story about frogs is, although widely used, a myth, unlike, of course, the prospect of a cheap carbon-free energy world being only just around the corner. 

Andrew Stuttaford is the editor of National Review's Capital Matters.

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Posted: May 24, 2022 Tuesday 12:08 PM