Lankford challenges WH on energy crisis as gas prices top $4 a gallon in Okla. | New

WASHINGTON, DC – As gasoline prices in Oklahoma hit record highs this week, the junior Oklahoma senator joined fellow Republican senators in challenging the White House over its response to the energy crisis.

Average prices jumped above $4 for the first time in the energy-rich state. Oklahoma was one of only three states that managed to stay below $4 until last week.

Many factors have led to this price spike, and Republican senators are demanding that change be made to lead the country out of this crisis.

At a press conference two weeks ago, Sen. James Lankford said the prices were hurting Oklahomans, pointing the finger at the Biden administration for that pain at the pump.

“When Oklahomans ask me why the prices are so high, I can point it out,” Lankford said, pointing to a line chart titled “Biden drives up fuel prices.”

“Because the price of diesel is going up, that means everything that we buy that is transported by diesel truck has gone up in price,” he said. “We are feeling the effects on all areas of the economy because President Biden does not want to deal with the base of our economy, which is energy, which is energy prices.

White House officials are reportedly considering releasing diesel fuel from federal reserves to deal with soaring prices.

According to AAA gas prices as of Friday, the average gas price in Oklahoma now stands at $4.107, down from $2.754 a year ago. Diesel fuel sells for an average of $5.08 per gallon.

Soaring prices, which have more than doubled in the past year, have put a strain on many vulnerable families in Oklahoma. Many families have to choose between getting gas to work, putting food on the table, and paying mortgages.

“Having to consciously consider gas in my weekly budget again has really had an impact on how I plan meals,” Norman resident Jeffrey Lewis said Friday. “I can’t eat at restaurants as much as I used to.”

Lewis said he currently spends between $40 and $60 a week on gas.

“It’s probably going to end like the summer of the energy crisis. Maybe for the most vulnerable households, or the households that really really need help,” said Gregory Burge, director of the economics department of the University of Oklahoma.

“There are some kind of temporary measures that can sort of combine with these high energy prices, small tax refunds, credits for low-income families who have children, and we kind of know from the data that this is kind of a situation where you need to drive,” he said.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, natural gas consumption peaks in the summer when electricity demand is highest, with a lower peak during the winter months. Gas prices reaching record highs in all states have put vulnerable families in a difficult situation as the transition to summer begins, being the season of the highest energy consumption.

A House Energy and Commerce Committee staff briefing said, “Persistently high gas prices are a financial challenge for many Americans and disproportionately impact low-income Americans. , who are more likely to spend a greater share of their annual income on gasoline. Nine oil companies, on the other hand, are making significant profits, with the six companies testifying at this hearing collectively generating more than $76 billion in profits in 2021.”

According to the Energy Information Agency, the price of gas is affected by many factors, the main one being the price of crude oil, which comprises 61% of the cost of a gallon. The price of crude oil is affected by several factors, including global production levels, inventory balances, demand trends and geopolitical events, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Other factors influencing price are refining (14%), distribution and marketing (11%) and taxes (14%) costs.

“While we see prices stabilizing, there is still uncertainty which is creating volatility and I don’t think we are out of the woods yet,” Devon Energy CEO Rick Muncrief said during a briefing. hearing before the Energy and Commerce Committee on April 6. “In shifting our operations, Devon operates on private, state, federal and Indian leases and must go through numerous rigorous clearance processes before it can begin production.”

Muncrief made no further comment after the hearing despite the record prices.

Efforts to control soaring energy prices have had little effect. In March, President Joe Biden announced he would begin releasing 1 million barrels of oil a day for the next six months from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in a bid to drive down gas prices.

“One of the things I’m starting to worry a bit about is that for the first six or seven weeks of the Russian invasion, people were talking about, we’re just going to release some of our strategic oil reserves,” Burge said. “We have strategic oil reserves in our country and heading into the summer they were at pretty average historical levels. Now they are at unprecedented levels.

With no end in sight to this energy crisis, Lankford wrote two letters to the President asking to restore America’s energy dominance. Among his fellow Republicans, he called on the Biden administration to increase US oil production to ease the pain at the pump.

“I think it’s probably a bit of a stretch to say that it’s all tied to the actions that the Biden administration has taken, because clearly a big part of that is supply chain disruption and everything that’s going on. in Ukraine and the ongoing conflict,” Burge said of the Republican outcry. “I think the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.”

Gaylord News reporter Katie Hallum at Norman contributed to this report.

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